Friday 10 April 2020


The Provisional IRA detonated a huge bomb in London's financial district, killing three people and injuring more than 90.  The bomb contained around 100lb of Semtex, the components for which had been shipped from South Armagh and assembled on the mainland.  The device was delivered in a white van and a warning was telephoned through twenty minutes before it exploded.  However, the location provided was the London Stock Exchange, approximately one mile from the Baltic Exchange where the van had been parked.

The bomb exploded at 21:20 and devastated the area, primarily the historic Grade II listed Baltic Exchange building.  Around 14 other buildings were seriously damaged, including two medieval churches.  The Times reported that it was the most powerful bomb to hit the capital since World War II.  The blast was heard by people across the city, including Prime Minister John Major who was in his study at 10 Downing Street.  A similar device exploded a few hours later in the early hours of Saturday morning, at the junction of Staples Corner in north London.  No injuries were reported.

The aftermath of the Baltic Exchange bombing

The Baltic Exchange bombing occurred the day after the 1992 General Election in which Gerry Adams had lost his West Belfast seat to the SDLP.  There was speculation that the bombing was carried out in revenge, but the attack had actually been planned months in advance and the election result was irrelevant.

The three dead included a 15-year-old girl, Danielle Carter.  She came from Laindon in Essex and had accompanied her father to the area as he returned a car he'd been using for business.  He had just driven the car into the basement car park of the Commercial Union building when the bomb exploded.  His daughter was waiting in a parked car on the street above.  The car took the full force of the blast, but miraculously three of the four occupants survived.  At a press conference Danielle's mother described the terrorists as "scum".  Her younger daughter had received facial injuries in the explosion and when she was asked what she wanted for Christmas that year she replied simply - "Danielle".

The first paramedic on the scene had tended to Danielle and tried to revive her.  Lauded as a national hero at the time, the 51-year-old never recovered from the experience and tried to kill himself several times.  Five months after the bombing he murdered his girlfriend and was later remanded to a psychiatric unit.

This plaque was installed in the side of the Gherkin building

49-year-old Tom Casey was the doorman stationed at the front entrance of the Baltic Exchange.  He was covering a shift for a colleague who was on holiday.  Tom would otherwise be stationed at the rear of the building.  He came from Dagenham and left a widow and four children.  The third victim was Paul Butt, 29, a stock broker at the Baltic Exchange who had been walking past at the time of the explosion.

The financial cost of the attack was estimated at somewhere between £700million and £800million.  The Baltic Exchange had to be demolished and is now the site of the oval-shaped skyscaper known as 'The Gherkin'.