Siren – With A Reason

So – for once, a siren on a Monday morning with an actual reason. Colin, Linda, Duncan, Steve, Zoe, Lizzie and Thomas were all with me and assumed that the siren that went off at Morden Wharf Road was just another example of the one that goes off every Monday when actually it had a proper reason to go off at 3.30 am – and went on for ages.

It was actually a real fire in a chemical processing plant and all over Twitter if I had been awake enough to be looking at it – Duncan got up and went to look for the source of the siren, and took this:

and, with my new-found, if intermittent ability to embed video, here’s one by a chap called Jason Connelly on YouTube, found by Darryl who had his windows open all night (as did we all, Darryl, as did we all…)I love the smell of unidentified chemical in the morning…

I know it’s a serious thing, but when Duncan first sent me the photo I couldn’t help thinking it looked like an old master painting of a harbour on a desert island; all it needed was a silhouetted tall ship and some yo-ho-ho-ing from the tavern and my sleep-deprived imagination would be living in a low-res haze of romance instead of reading the BBC News report…

Still at least we all know what that ‘air raid’ siren that we were hearing every Monday morning at 7.00am was – a test – and, it would seem, for good reason…

Here’s another rather beautiful photo of an unbeautiful thing, by Asibi:

the attachments to this post:

fire on Greenwich Peninsula 28 05 12
fire on Greenwich Peninsula 28 05 12


18 Comments to “Siren – With A Reason”

  1. Rosalind Francis says:

    Thanks for posting this, I was woken up by the alarm and couldn’t figure it out. At least I know now it was real and that “funny smell” was also real!

  2. Andrew says:

    The Standard are reporting that the siren was coming from a different building to the one that was on fire, but it was sounded as a precaution.

    ‘This building, one of only a few in London required to have a siren for safety reasons, was not affected by the fire.’

    Does anyone know what the siren building is and what nasties lie within?

  3. So – something worse than unidentified chemicals? Erk!

  4. Nervous around Onions says:

    What’s the point of sounding a siren if nobody knows what it’s for?

    I presume that the intention was to warn people to stay indoors. But if nobody is informed of that they’ll just go outside for a look…

  5. carrie says:

    Nervous – I agree – no point in a siren to tell people to close doors and windows if none of us know what it’s for!

  6. Dan says:

    It wouldn’t be anything to do with the Alcatel submarine works would it?

  7. Mary says:

    First of all I don’t know anything about the fire – (slept through it). Second I don’t know anything about any chemical factories in that area – and wait with interest to be corrected.
    BUT – Dan – its not a submarine factory its a factory which makes some parts for submarine cables – which push electronic signals under the Atlantic or whatever. All very, very high tech. There is also a large paper warehouse in the area. And the brewery.
    As far as I am aware the only works in the area which were on the list inspected by the Department of the Environment were the sugar works distillery (which has gone), and the power station. Again, I stand to be corrected on that.

  8. Dan says:

    The Environment Agency’s website lists the Alcatel Lucent site as having a licence to store radioactive material:'AX4076'&extraClause=YEAR~2005&textonly=off&latestValue=&latestField=

    I was wondering if the siren might be part of the deal to safely store this type of substance.

  9. Will says:

    I think it’s an excellent way of getting people to shut their windows – it certainly had that effect on me, purely to keep the noise out

  10. Keith says:

    A there I was thinking there might be a struggle for the next “An Alphabet of Greenwich” post.

    I phoned 101 (the non-emergency version of 999) at around 5am, to ask if I needed to take the family to the countryside. Met police control room told me about the fire but didn’t tell me the siren meant that I should close the windows. In fact, the control room didn’t even seem aware of the siren, they were said siren was the noise of all the fire engines.

  11. Anne says:

    Extraordinary idea to have a precautionary siren and not tell anybody, police included apparently, what it means.

  12. Pedro says:

    I thought that air raid sirens meant that you had to make a dash for your shelter. Was North Greenwich full of women and children clutching gas masks!

    Agree that an alarm is futile if no one knows its meaning.

  13. Natalie says:

    Will has a point, that siren wakes me every Monday, I then close the window and spend the next hour trying to gain the 15 minutes kip I’ve missed. Thus getting me up later. Nice to hear i’m not going mad as my immediate neighbours in GMV have never heard it.

  14. Lainey says:

    The 7am siren is usually from the Thames Barrier when they are getting the barriers up/down to control the water levels… It’s also for flood warnings? I was thinking it a tad early for the barriers to play that noise this morning

  15. Lainey – I think the 7.00am siren isn’t the Thames barrier, I seem to remember an email where they’re as baffled as we were. I think this is the same one; it’s just we never knew where it was or what it was for. At least it’s been useful…

  16. Mr M says:

    Well I didn’t see it, smell it or hear it. But when I read about a fire at a chemical works near the Blackwall Tunnel only one place sprang to mind, and looks like I was right.


    You’ve got to love that (under)statement.

    Has nobody else walked past it and wondered at the logic of storing hundreds (more likely thousands) of gallons of industrial chemicals stacked up high just yards away from the A102 and Thames footpath and only a few hundred yards from the tunnel entrance? I’m sure Elf’n'Safety have it risk arsessed.

  17. IslandDweller says:

    Was woken at 0330 and could not get back to sleep – so I was Mr Grumpy yesterday!
    I even phoned the police at 4am (on 999) to ask what the siren signified and they had no idea. What the heck is the purpose of waking a large part of east and south east London in the middle of the night (virtually no transport running at that hour so evacuation wasn’t even an option) if no-one knows what the siren is meant to warn you about….

  18. Mary says:

    In my post last night was a planning application:

    Brenttag UK Ltd. 215 Tunnel Avenue, SE10 OQW
    asking for consent for the storage of hazardous substances

    the planning officer dealing with it who can give information is and the plans are at Woolwich Library.