7/7 anniversary: Dagenham Tube driver remembers bomb horror

Walking wounded leaving Edgware Road tube station after the bomb attack. Pic: PA

Walking wounded leaving Edgware Road tube station after the bomb attack. Pic: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Next week marks a decade since the London 7/7 bombings, the terrorist attack which claimed the lives of 52 victims and injured more than 700 others. In the first of our two part anniversary series, Anna Silverman meets Jeff Porter, a Tube driver who was driving behind the Circle line train that was targeted in the Edgware Road attack

Tube driver Jeff Porter

Tube driver Jeff Porter - Credit: Archant

A Tube driver who dodged death during the 7/7 bombings will be bypassing the 10th anniversary of the attacks by fleeing to Land’s End.

Jeff Porter was driving a Circle line Tube on the fateful day in 2005 when a train in front of him was targeted in the horrific terrorist strike.

He was so traumatised by the event that it was months before the scale of it sunk in – but after years of counselling he’s able to talk about the moments that followed the blast.

“There was an orange bolt of light which was a fire ball of explosion coming up the tunnel, then everything went dark and the screaming started,” Jeff said.

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“It didn’t make any sense at all. I had no idea what had happened – I was so close to the bomb but I couldn’t hear anything at first. It took about six months until I started to remember sounds and things that happened on the day.”

The 56-year-old, who was a councillor in Dagenham’s Goresbrook ward at the time, said even now there’s chunks he can’t remember because his traumatised brain has blocked out the details.

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Jeff was driving to Edgware Road with 500 to 1,000 people on board the train.

After the explosion they stayed in the tunnel for an hour before being evacuated – guided only by emergency lighting and inhaling thick clouds of soot and smog.

It was a while before emergency services were given the go-ahead to reach them as it was thought another bomb could detonate at any time.

Jeff says it took months for him to trace a narrative of what he thought had happened that day – and even now he’s chosen to avoid the inevitable coverage the 10-year anniversary will bring.

“I won’t be doing anything to mark it,” he said. “I’ll be in Penzance and I’ve done that deliberately.

“I’m on leave from work at the moment, I’m trying to avoid it all because I imagine there will be lots of coverage.”

Following the bomb attack Jeff was signed off work for three months before gradually easing back into the swing of things slowly.

His career on the London Underground now spans 29 years.

“I remember what a terrible event it was, it was so out of the ordinary and unexpected,” Jeff added.“I’ve had a lot of discussions with therapists about what happened in that minute straight afterwards that I can’t recall.

“I know it’s the closest I’ve ever come to death. The trauma is ever-present, lurking in the back of my mind.”

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