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  Students Who Perished  
  Student & Parent Listing 1936-37  
  Teachers & Visitors Who Perished  
     
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  Break Down Of Victims  
     
 
  Male Female Total
grade 5 26 41 67
grade 6 33 54 87
grade 7 17 17 34
grade 8 12 19 31
grade 9 7 4 11
grade 10 9 7 16
grade 11 13 10 23
Teachers 3 13 16
Other 5 3 8
       
TOTALS 125 167 293
 
     
     
  The New London Museum  
     
   
     
  The museum contains exhibits and artifacts from the 1937 disaster as well as a Tearoom. It is open to the public daily.  
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  The Cenotaph  
     
   
     
  The Cenotaph commemorates the New London School Explosion, displaying in granite all the names of children, teachers, staff and visitors who lost their lives.  
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  Where Is New London TX?  
  Click On Map To Enlarge  
   
  Located in East Texas South of Kilgore, between Tyler & Longview.  
     
     
 
 
  The Tragic Events Of March 18th, 1937  
     
 
 
New London, Texas, was known as the richest independent school district in the United States. Due to its oil wealth, the district was able to construct a state-of-the-art, for its time, school to house grades K-11.

On March 18, 1937 students prepared for an Inter-scholastic meet in Henderson. Then, at 3:17 p.m., an instructor in the shop class turned on a sanding machine which sparked. In an instant, a good part of the building disintegrated with an explosion that could be heard for miles. Almost 300 students and teachers died in the blast. The spark had ignited accumulated natural gas from a leak in a crawl space beneath the school.

Now, more than 75 years later, the London Museum, across the highway from where the original school was destroyed, keeps alive the memory of much of a generation who died on that terrible day.

This video was produced by Michael Brown Productions of Arlington, TX as a prelude to a feature documentary on the explosion and its aftermath which is planned for debut in the near future.

Experience the tragedy and triumph as you step back in time with a visit to the London Museum in New London, Texas.

The Tragic Events Of March 18th, 1937

In 1937 New London, Texas, in northwest Rusk County, had one of the richest rural school districts in the United States. Community residents in the East Texas oilfields were proud of the beautiful, modern, steel-framed, E-shaped school building.

On March 18 students prepared for the next day's Inter-scholastic meet in Henderson. At the gymnasium, the PTA met. At 3:17 P.M. Lemmie R. Butler, instructor of manual training, turned on a sanding machine in an area which, unknown to him, was filled with a mixture of gas and air.

The switch ignited the mixture and carried the flame into a nearly closed space beneath the building, 253 feet long and fifty-six feet wide.

Immediately the building seemed to lift in the air and then smashed to the ground. Walls collapsed. The roof fell in and buried its victims in a mass of brick, steel, and concrete debris.

The explosion was heard four miles away, and it hurled a two-ton concrete slab 200 feet away, where it crushed a 1936 Chevrolet.

Fifteen minutes later, the news of the explosion had been relayed over telephone and Western Union lines. Frantic parents at the PTA meeting rushed to the school building. Community residents and roughnecks from the East Texas oilfield came with heavy-duty equipment. Within an hour Governor James Allred had sent the Texas Rangers and highway patrol to aid the victims.

Workers began digging through the rubble looking for victims. Floodlights were set up, and the rescue operation continued through the night as rain fell.

Within seventeen hours all victims and debris had been taken from the site. Mother Francis Hospital in Tyler canceled its elaborate dedication ceremonies to take care of the injured. The Texas Funeral Directors sent twenty-five embalmers.

Of the 500 students and forty teachers in the building, approximately 293 died. Some rescuers, students, and teachers needed psychiatric attention, and only about 130 students escaped serious injury. Those who died received individual caskets, individual graves, and religious services.

If anyone has a personal story or one passed down from a survivor or rescuer connected to the New London School Explosion, we would appreciate your information.

Please contact us by email from the Contact Us page or write the New London Museum at P.O. Box 477, New London, Texas, 75682.

All contributions will be acknowledged and credited (if desired). Thank you.
 
 

  About This Website  
     
  This website is a replacement for the original website maintained by William (Bill) N. Grigg, Jr., son of William Grigg, Sr., a survivor of the New London School Disaster. Since Bill Junior's passing on September 22, 2001, this website was acquired and built using his format as a model.

We will continue to be a source of knowledge concerning the New London School Explosion. There will be some modernization and updating of the site, but in respect to Bill Grigg, Jr., the site format and look and feel, will never change.

                                                             - Robert Hilliard, Webmaster
 
 
 
 
   
   
     
Website Design and maintenance By Robert E. Hilliard
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