On this day: When a beer tsunami lashed the streets of London

Two hundred years ago on October 17, 1814, a bizarre catastrophe turned the lives of Londoners upside down when wooden tanks of the City’s largest brewery broke down and one million litres of beer flooded the streets. The beer tsunami caused the death of nine people.

On October 17, 1817, one of the iron bands of the Horse Shoe Brewery’s largest wooden tank could not bear the load and snapped. An hour later, the whole tank cracked and the hot, fermenting brown ale spouted out with such a formidable force that it destroyed the stone fence which stood at the rear courtyard of the brewery. A total of 1.4 million litres of beer spilled out onto the streets. The brewery was located in St. Giles, which was a slum area of London filled with cheap flats inhabited by mostly prostitutes, criminals, and the needy.

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