Uprising: Who is Paul Ruddock?

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Uprising is a docuseries created by Academy Award winner Steve McQueen. The BBC mini-series focuses on the events of 1981: the New Cross Fire, Black People’s Day of Action and the Brixton Riots. The series premiered last night, Tuesday, July 20, focusing on the first of the three.

Who is Paul Ruddock? 

On January 18, 1981, a party was taking place in New Cross, southeast London where there were nearly 100 guests.

The night was a joint birthday party for Yvonne Ruddock and Angela Jackson but at 5.40am, a fire ripped through the house.

The incident resulted in the death of 13 young black people and 27 injured with another being proclaimed dead in 1983.

Some believed it was a racist petrol bomb that had killed the youngsters but the Metropolitan Police stated the fire started inside the house.

Two inquests have been held which recorded open verdicts and no one has been charged 40 years on.

Paul Ruddock was the brother of Yvonne whose party it was at the New Cross house.

He and Yvonne were two of the victims who died in hospital following the fire.

According to his cousin George, Paul tried to save people when the blaze started.

“Yvonne’s brother Paul ran in and shouted, ‘Fire!’ I saw soot and debris in his hair”, George Ruddock told i.

“People started panicking and screaming. I remember the floor felt spongy and the heat was rising. Paul ran downstairs and that’s the last I saw of him.

“I recently learnt that Paul ran into the house several times. He tried to save us. Paul died a hero.”

George’s aunt Armza Ruddock was also there when the fire broke out at the house.

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Armza, the mum of Yvonne and Paul, told reporters at the time that she heard a “bang”.

She said: “I ran to the living room and saw the top of the armchair, the curtains, ablaze.

“The armchair blew up and I ran out. I shouted for help.

“The smoke was jet black. My knees went jelly.”

Uprising is a three-part documentary that will continue tonight, Wednesday, July 21.

This time, the show will focus on Black People’s Day of Action which took place in response to little being done about the New Cross Fire.

Around 20,000 people marched over an eight-hour period through London in protest.

Uprising is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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