London Beer Flood
The London Beer Flood happened on 17 October 1814 in London, England. At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping teenage employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble.
The brewery was among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. Eight people drowned in the flood or died from injuries. The brewery was eventually taken to court over the accident, but the disaster was ruled to be an Act of God by the judge and jury, leaving no one responsible.
[The Boston Molasses Disaster is a similarly bizarre and unfortunate event]
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1935 (photograph: Gisèle Freund)