BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

BBC Homepage
Inside Out
East Midlands
North East
North West
South East
South West
West Midlands
Yorks & Lincs
Go to BBC1 programmes page (image: BBC1 logo)

Contact Us

   Inside Out - North West: Monday 28th October, 2002


Stockport air crash and firefighters

The Stockport air disaster in 1967 was one of the most shocking plane crashes of recent years.

Today the disaster is a distant memory and many have forgotten its unsung heroes.

But the men and women who risked their own lives to save others are finally being honoured three decades later.

A civic memorial was recently unveiled at the scene of the crash at Hopes Carr in Stockport.

The disaster

It's 35 years since the Stockport air crash in which 72 passengers and crew were killed.

Survivor Vivienne Thornber
Survivor Vivienne Thornber owes her life to the rescuers

The disaster happened when a British Midland flight crashed whilst trying to land at Manchester Airport.

The plane fell out of the sky when engine failure led to a loss of control.

The passengers stood little chance of survival so it's remarkable that there were 12 crash survivors.

The crash impact area suffered a massive amount of damage. Amazingly, there were no fatalities on the ground.

The crash victims died horrifically after being trapped by the collapsing seats on the plane as the fire spread.

The rescuers watched in horror as they saw people dying.

Scenes of devastation

The crash scene at Hopes Carr was one of total devastation with site resembling a battlefield.

House hit by plane
The devastating crash scene

There were many stories of incredible courage.

Heroes like the late PC Bill Oliver repeatedly risked his own life to pull survivors out of the burning wreckage before it exploded.

He was the first on the crash scene, and he pulled out two women as the plane became an inferno.

Former policeman PC John Heath was with the late PC Bill Oliver when they helped to rescue 12 survivors including Vivienne Thornber.

Others like Brian Quinn ran to the crash scene and scaled a ladder to get into the fuselage.

Baker Brian Donohoe was another hero who risked his own life to rescue the survivors.

North West crashes

North Westerners have experienced several traumatic air crashes and incidents over the last few decades. The Stockport air disaster was one of the most traumatic crashes in that it happened over a densely populated area.

It was a miracle that hundreds didn't lose their lives.

The unsung hero of flight G-ALHG was Pilot Harry Marlow, who survived the crash. He brought the plane down in a safe area, avoiding a gasometer and block of flats.

Local heroes

It is only now that crash rescuers are now being given the recognition that they deserve.

A monument commemorating the rescuers was unveiled in Hopes Carr this month.

Brian Donohoe with David Hamilton
Hero Brian Donohoe was one of the first on the scene of the crash

The memorial is largely the work of one man - author Steve Morrin who has campaigned long and hard on behalf of the rescuers.

His book "The Day The Sky Fell Down" provides a moving account of the crash and the remarkable story of the rescue attempts.

Finally a new generation are learning how these long-forgotten heroes played a courageous role in Cheshire's darkest day.


See also ...

On the rest of the web
Air disasters
Airline safety
Airwise news
British Midland Airways
Civil Aviation Authority
Manchester Airport Stockport Council
Major airline disasters

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

This week's stories

The Pilgrims' Way
Take a journey on one of the South East's most historic routes.

Cornish tea
Inside Out goes behind the scenes at Cornwall's tea plantation.

Storm chasers
Join the storm chasers in search of Yorkshire's worst weather..

More from Inside Out

Inside Out: North West
View the archive to see stories you may have missed.

BBC Where I Live

Find local news, entertainment, debate and more ...

Meet your
Inside Out
Go to our profile of Ana Boulter (image: Ana Boulter)

Ana Boulter
your local Inside Out presenter.

Contact us
Contact the North West team with the issues that affect you.

Free email updates

Keep in touch and receive your free and informative Inside Out updates.


Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy