A Canvey councillor was reunited with two men he saved from a burning building 53 years ago after discovering he lives on the same street as one of their sons.

Allan Taylor, who is now a member for the Canvey Island Independent Party on Castle Point Council, was once in the London Fire Brigade and in 1964 he was one of the firefighters at the scene of a burning college in Cazenove Road, Stoke Newington.

In the building, a Jewish theological college where students trained to be Rabbis, were nine people who were suddenly trapped inside a building engulfed in flames.

The fire brigade came to the scene, Mr Taylor included, to save the students who were stuck on the roof as the bottom of the building was completely burnt out.

Before the fire brigade arrived, one of the students died in the building whilst another jumped out and seriously injured himself.

The remaining seven people went up onto the roof where they waited around ten minutes for the fire brigade to rescue them.

The firefighters put a ladder up the side of the building, climbed up it and then helped the students down.

Recollecting the incident, Mr Taylor said: “It was probably one of the worst, at the time, that we had dealt with.

“The heat was intense, not so much the smoke, but the heat it really burned.

“You couldn’t get in the building, everything was gone, the stairs everything.

“We were getting them out, putting a rope around them and lowering them to the ground."

The building that was engulfed in flames:


But 53 years later, Mr Taylor, who is now 78, was talking with his neighbour, Elie Elyovics, 32, who it turned out was the son of one of the men he saved, Solly Elyovics.

Mr Taylor added: “I asked him where he came from, and he said Stoke Newington. I said ‘oh, Stoke Newington’ I know it well.

“He asked me how I knew it well and I told him that I was at based near Stoke Newington and we had quite a few incidents over there.

“Then he mentioned this fire. I said, ‘yeah I remember that’ and he told me that his Dad was in there. That’s how it all snowballed. I thought wow, but that was about 50 years ago.”

“It’s just amazing. When we spoke about it, I couldn’t believe it. He lives just around the corner from me.”

So, on Sunday, Mr Taylor, who lives in Hardys Way, Canvey, met with Solly Elyovics, who was 18 at the time, and John Ginsberg, who was 22.

Solly Elyovics, who shared a room with Mr Ginsberg in the college, Mesifta Talmudical College, travelled all the way from Belgium to meet Mr Taylor for the first time since he saved his life 53 years ago.

He said: “I find it amazing that after 53 years I have found the fireman who took us down of that roof, and he is the neighbour of my son.”

It was never established how the fire was started, but Mr Taylor said that a common cause of fire in the 1960s was paraffin heaters.

Since these two men were saved, they each helped to create very large families.

Elie Elyovics said: “If you invited both our families here, you would need a hall to fit them in.”

The building was destroyed by the fire, but luckily Mr Taylor, and the rest of the crew he worked with on that day, were there in time to save most residents.

He said: “That roof, in the end it went. We went down there the next day and it was just totally gone.”