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Black Swan Public House, 148 Bow Road

On the evening of 23 September 1916, the L-33 a German Zeppelin under the command of Kapitan Alois Bocker bombed Upminster and Bromley during a World War I air raid. Anti aircraft fire from Victoria Park, Wanstead or Beckton damaged the L-33 whilst it was at 13,000 feet. Needing to shed weight it dropped more bombs, one of which destroyed the Black Swan on Bow Road. Other businesses damaged were Homelight Oil Company in Old Ford Road and Lusty & Sons Timber Yard in Bell Road. Eleven people were killed, including family members of the Black Swan’s landlord. These were his twenty year old daughter Cissie Reynolds, twenty one year old daughter Sylvia Adams, her year old baby daughter also named Sylvia and Mrs Potter their grandmother. Nine year old Sydney Reynolds, eight year old George Reynolds and Henry Adams (Sylvia’s husband) survived.

The L-33 was forced to land at Little Wigborough at around 1.15am, 24 September 1916, after taking further fire from anti aircraft batteries at Kelvedon Hatch. The surviving crew destroyed the Zeppelin before they surrendered to Special Constable Edgar Nichols at Peldon and spent the rest of the war as prisoners.

The Black Swan was rebuilt in 1920 and was reputedly haunted by the ghosts of Cissie and Sylvia. The pub was demolished when Bow Road was widened in the 1970’s.

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