AN OXFORD chemist who died heroically during the First World War in a factory explosion will be honoured tomorrow with a blue plaque at his former home.

Andrea Angel was keen to join the frontline at the beginning of the war but due to his chemistry skills and a shortage of explosives he was forbidden from signing up.

Instead the Christ Church chemistry lecturer was sent from his home in Banbury Road to the Brunner, Mond and Co factory in Silvertown, East London to oversee the production of TNT.

But in January 1917 a fire started.

Mr Angel and urged his workers to run to safety while he ran back in to try to extinguish the fire.

Minutes later a huge explosion killed him and 72 others.

Dr Martin Grossel, a former chemistry lecturer at Christ Church, researched his life and said his heroism deserved recognition.

He said: "It epitomises the civilian heroism during the First World War - his first thought was to go back to rescue his staff and help put the fire out.

"He must be one of the only civilians to appear on three war memorials, Christ Church, Exeter School and the Royal Society of Chemistry, it's very deserved."

A blue plaque will be unveiled at 15 Banbury Road on Saturday, as Mr Angel lived there and at number 17 from 1905 to 1917 with his wife and two daughters.

Dr Grossel said he first saw a picture of Andrea Angel in a photo album when he arrived at Christ Church in 1973 but there was little information about the man.

But some years later when visiting Exeter School he saw the same face staring back at him from a portrait and his curiosity grew.

More recently the family, who happened to live two streets from Dr Grossel's brother, got in touch to ask him to research his story.

"It's bizarre really, it's as if I was always meant to discover his story.

"He was a very successful teacher at university and took this into his role during the war - he cared deeply for his staff.

"It's great that his heroism is still being recognised more than 100 years later."

Mr Angel, 40 when he died, was also awarded the Edward Medal, recognising civilian bravery.

The Silvertown explosion was heard across London and destroyed more than 900 homes.

Brunner, Mond and Co expressed concerns about government plans to turn their plant over from caustic soda to TNT for munitions as it was in a densely populated urban area.

But in 1915 they caved to government pressure.

Sir Hugo Brunner, whose great-grandfather co-founded Brunner, Mond and Co, will attend the unveiling tomorrow at 3pm.