London Beer Flood: Tottenham Court Road drowned in beer

The London Beer Flood was an unusual disaster in 1814, which saw eight people drowned in a sea of beer.


For most of this century the Dominion Theatre was home to the long-running Queen musical We Will Rock You, but 200 years earlier this site formed part of a large west-end brewery. Meux and Company's Horseshoe Brewhouse was the scene of the company's biggest disaster.


On 17th October 1814, a vat at the brewery ruptured, spewing out thousands of gallons of beer, which destroyed the other vats. Consequently, 323,000 gallons of beer flooded into the streets, through the notorious slums of St Giles. At the time, this was an area of great poverty and many families found themselves trapped in their basement tenements by the event. Eight people, including two children, were drowned in the flood.


Surviving locals grabbed pots, pans, jugs and hats to scoop up as much of the amber nectar as they could before the flood receded. Still it took several weeks for the hop stench to subside.