With a memorial being unveiled to remember the victims of the Moorgate disaster, Tony Hall remembers the beloved sister who died in the crash
Tony Hall can recall the day as though it were yesterday. In February 1975, he was a young soldier based in Hampshire when news reached him of a serious train crash on the London Underground.
As more details filtered through – that it was during the Friday morning rush hour and at Moorgate station – his thoughts turned to his older sister, Theresa, known as Terry.
Terry, 21 and in the prime of her life, was living with her boyfriend in Highbury and catching the same train to work every day.
That Friday night when her boyfriend called asking if anyone had heard from her, Tony’s already-worried family feared the worst.
“That was the worst weekend of my life,” says Tony, who is head of LU’s Track Access Control Centre. “It was absolutely terrible waiting for news. I swear that over the course of that weekend my Dad’s hair turned grey.”
Terry’s remains were the last to be removed from the train on the Tuesday and Tony and his dad had the terrible ordeal of identifying her body from a few possessions she had on her.”
Tony comes from a big East End family consisting of three boys and six girls of which Terry was the fourth.
“It was a terrible time for all of us,” said Tony, “but especially so for my mum, Joyce, and dad, John, who always felt guilty that one of their children died before them.”
Tellingly, it is the devastating effect Terry’s death had on this close knit London family that has since driven Tony’s own uncompromising attitude towards safety on the railway.
“I know from first-hand experience what it can do and I’d hate to think of other families going through what we’ve had to go through. That’s why I will never compromise on safety.”
Terry was born in 1953 and Tony describes her as a lovely, vivacious girl with a delightful personality who could stand up for herself. Good-looking and strong-willed, she had the world at her feet when she lost her life at Moorgate.
“We were close in age,” says Tony, “and though we’d row a lot, like any brother and sister, we were very close. Like me, she was a Gooner (an Arsenal fan) and she loved going to Highbury and standing on the North Bank. She wanted to marry Charlie George!
“For years, we couldn’t even talk about Terry even though certain records would come on from time to time and they’d remind us of her.”
While the whole family struggled to come to terms with Terry’s death, it was particularly hard for their mum who would often say to Tony that she wished some kind of memorial could be erected.
“When my mum died, I decided it was time to do something about it,” said Tony. “It took on a new significance for me. I went straight to Mike Brown and asked him why there was no memorial for Moorgate. He said because no one had never asked for one. In fairness to Mike, he was very positive and put the wheels in motion.”
From that point on, Tony says Mike and everyone at LU, including former Chief Operating Officer Howard Collins, was ‘magnificent’ and did everything they could to make it happen.
“I felt I owed it to Terry and my mum and dad,” says Tony.