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Historical Insights The Victoria Music Hall Stampede

An entire Bible class of 30 children from a local church died at Victoria Hall on June 16, 1883. June 16, 1883, Victoria Music Hall, Sunderland, England. Credit: Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Victoria Music Hall Stampede

A fun afternoon turned deadly on June 16, 1883, when a stampede at the Victoria Hall in Sunderland killed 183 children.

The afternoon of June 16, 1883, travelling entertainers put on a show at the Victoria Music Hall in Sunderland. Around 2,000 children attended, mostly unchaperoned. As the performance ended, it was announced that children with certain ticket numbers would win a prize as toys were handed out to those on the main floor. The 1,100 or so children in the gallery, not wanting to miss out, swarmed to the stairway. The exit door at the bottom had been opened only far enough to allow one child through and so the exit became plugged fast. “The children were massed in a body the whole of the way down the steps,” hall manager Frederick Graham said. At the bottom, the children were “crowded together 5 feet and 6 feet high in a struggling heap,” Graham said. Tragically, 183 children between the ages of 3 and 14 died from asphyxia in the disaster.