It’s 11:36, and I’m in an office on Camomile Street, which runs between Bishopsgate and Houndsditch.
When I was walking to work from my flat in the Barbican, I went past Moorgate where they had just evacuated the station. Everyone seemed very calm, commuters and staff. I helped a guy with directions, and he headed off towards Liverpool Street station to get the Central line. I can remember thinking that if this had happened just after 9/11 I would have felt extremely un-nerved, but that x years later evacuating a station didn’t have the same impact and I assumed that it was “just a bomb scare”.
Continuing my walk along London Wall I noticed lots of police vans, ambulances and sirens but didn’t really think that much of it.
In the office, the sirens continued to wail as lots of police and emergency services headed towards Houndsditch, and as people trickled in we got more stories of stations being closed and a loud bang at Liverpool Street. Then we spotted that the police had cordoned off Houndsditch and the roads towards Aldgate. People started checking BBC News and pictures and Sky News online and getting calls from colleagues, family and friends about the bombs. Initially we heard that there had been an explosion on the Metropolitain line between Aldgate and Liverpool Street, which then became a power surge before reverting back to an explosion. The emergency services activity suggested that it was something serious.
I had a meeting in our main offices at 10, and coming out of that c10.45 Reception confirmed that the tube network had been shut down and that we had BBC News 24 playing in one of the main conference rooms. We went to watch, and saw reports of the bomb on the bus in Tavistock Square, and an incident map showing Edgare Road, Liverpool Street station/Bank and Aldgate.
About 20 minutes ago, the police evacuated the offices between ours and Aldgate and we heard reports of a bomb there on the news, but we’ve not heard anything and the police update to our IT Director was that they were only evacuating offices to give them more civilian-free space around Aldgate. We were told to lower the blinds and to stay away from the windows.
Now I’m feeling like I did with 9/11.
11:36 – I got Phil to sub my work email to Haddock so that I could get their updates from other parts of London and further afield. Anno and Ian mentioned that Brighton and Swindon stations were closed.
The office analysis is that it’s linked to the Olympics decision yesterday, although the G8 summit could be a factor.
11:37 – email from Hazel, responding to Helen Vicars, saying “I’m fine – just got to Bank station just as they were closing the network down”.
11:58 – email from Rachel Whorton (Vezey) saying that she’s alright and asking if I was.
12:00 – BBC news reporting
Two people died and large numbers of casualties were reported after at least six blasts on the Underground network and a double-decker bus in London.
A police spokeswoman confirmed there had been two deaths at Aldgate and UK home secretary Charles Clarke said the explosions caused “terrible injuries”.
12:07 – We’ve just had an email update:
This to let you know there there is no substantial change to my last message.
About half an hour ago there was a rumour of a bomb in Hounsditch, but the Police have told us this is not correct.
We (along with all London organisations) have received the following message:
“The number to contact for the Casualty Bureau is 0208 358 0101”.
I will continue to keep you informed of any developments.
12:15 – We decided to venture over to the canteen for lunch. Whilst the roads are eerily quiet, there are some cars and vans trying to find a way through the road blocks. There is a cycle-policeman and horse-policeman at the Houndsditch junction and policemen further down Camomile Street towards Aldgate. Today of all days I left my digital camera at home and my mobile is almost out of battery power. Gallows humour over bubble and squeak and chips, with the older hands reminiscing over the two bomb blasts that Norton Rose has been through in its lifetime.
12:45 – Recharging mobile, courtesy of Danny.
12:55 – Flickr photos
13:40 – Gary’s brother is in London today for a meeting in Holborn, and he’s reported that the police are evacuating everyone westwards towards Paddington.
14:17 – Ian’s sent in a link to pictures of Brighton station.
14:24 – A siren, the first for a while – sounds like it’s going down Bishopsgate, or Houndsditch.
14:31 – TfL and National Rail Enquiries have got their homepages set to running updates on transport options. Earlier this morning, TfL just had it’s normal page, without any indication of the disruption.
14:43 – Reading BBC’s consolidated “In depth” coverage
15:41 – email telling us that the police update is that things seem to be calming down and that cordons are being reduced.
16:26 – Heading home now.
17:21 – Home and reading emails from family and friends. I’m strangely chuffed to have sent the first email about the bombs to Haddock. But then again, my emotions today have been all over the place. It was very weird walking back through the City… as quiet as a weekend, but with lots of lines of people snaking their way towards the suburbs. All under blue skies and sunshine.
The BBC is now saying that there are more than 30 dead. Matthew Somerville‘s BBC backstage enabled rolling log of changes to the BBC News site must come into its own on days like today. Ditto Flickr as a photographic record of the day, the news coverage and people’s reactions.
19:32 – Just to end on a lighter note, I took some photos on my phone camera on my way home, and having discovered I couldn’t get them off using InfraRed or anything like that (not having PC to load the PC suite onto…), I thought I’d mms them to Phil… until i got distracted by the ‘send to e-mail’ option which has worked like a dream. I’d assumed i’ve have to input some too-complicated-to-bother-with settings, but no – simply type in the email address and send! So the resolution is rubbish, but they capture my views of the calm evacuation of Houndsditch, and the eerily quiet homeward-bound lines of commuters on foot.