On the floor of a packed pub, parents were wondering how their early night in a nearby Premier Inn ended up like this. “We were just settling down after Britain’s Got Talent and we heard the fire alarm,” said Paul Cochran, who had brought his wife and young twins from Ireland to see the sights of London.
On the floor of a packed pub, parents were wondering how their early night in a nearby Premier Inn ended up like this.
“We were just settling down after Britain’s Got Talent and we heard the fire alarm,” said Donal Cochran, who had brought his wife and young twins from Ireland to see the sights of London.
“Once we got downstairs, it was clear from the amount of police that it wasn’t a fire and we were just ushered out of the building and into the street.”
The Royal Oak Pub opened their doors to the families whose hotel was inside the police cordon as Saturday night’s tragedy unfolded.
David Dickson was having dinner in Borough market when a woman ran in to the restaurant shouting that she’d seen a man with a machete. “It was panic. We all tried to get out of there and we didn’t know where was safe”.
The safety and warmth of the pub prompted young children – past their bedtimes – to fall asleep in their confused parents’ arms.
It was more than an hour before Premier Inn workers in hi-vis jackets arrived in cars to take the most vulnerable to another nearby hotel. One man had a heart murmur and another was cradling an ice pack on his hand.
The rest of the evacuees were led out on foot, but as families woke up their sleeping loved ones, no-one was sure how far they’d be going.
The police cordon of blue-and-white tape had stretched from the edge of the adjacent road around almost every conceivable way out of the area.
One man I spoke to lived just inside the cordon – as he tried to get back to his flat, pedestrians looking for answers were being forcibly removed if they didn’t comply with the constant shouts of officers ordering people back.
The police went from door-to-door at blocks of flats, urging people who had made it back to stay inside and to lock their doors.
It made getting out of the area an incredible task for even those familiar with London Bridge and Borough’s winding backstreets.
People were asking for directions to places across the capital, proving how popular a destination the area is.
After walking for two hours, with policemen escorting us away when we arrived at another of police cordon, our zigzag journey ended at the Sky News satellite truck as the sun came up.
There is more tape, decorated with red stripes labelled ‘inner cordon’ and the streets are emptied of the Saturday night revellers.
The sirens and flashing lights are joined by the last of the minicabs ferrying people home. But for the families shuttled from hotel bedroom to pub floor and on to another venue, their sleepless night continues.