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24 September 2014

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Manchester bomb

Crowds watch the smoke from the Manchester bomb
Shock: in the wake of the blast

Manchester bomb: your stories

It's ten years since a massive IRA bomb blew the heart out of Manchester city centre. In the run up to the tenth anniversary, read some of your stories from 15 June 1996. Or send us your own memories of that day:

Below are some your memories of 15 June 1996, the day of the Manchester bomb. There are many moving accounts, so please read down the page. Unfortunately, we are not able to publish all those sent in. But thanks to everyone who has shared their story:

Martin Wilde, 48 from Stockport

Injured girl
Many were injured by falling glass

It was our 10th Wedding anniversary on Friday 14th, and both working full-time we decided to come into Manchester on the Saturday 15th to visit the Granada Studios tour- sadly now no more - and found the traffic down Peter St. and Deansgate more like a Monday rush hour. Vehicles were going through the Peter St/ Deansgate junction against the lights, a young constable stood in the centre trying his best to direct the queues, discuss the situation with his station via radio, and handle the barrage of questions from  people both on foot,and in cars, chaos was not a good enough descriptive for it. We managed to pick out some information from drivers trying to get up Peter St to St Peters square, " Turn round quick mate, there's a bomb on Deansgate. OK, I'm in this horrendous traffic, with a threat of a bomb near our chosen destination, my wife by now noticeably agitated, " Take me home now !!" she urged, and the intonation in her voice was threatening to say the least, she wanted to see our children again, today. I managed to force my way into traffic crawling in the opposite direction up Peter St, round the square, then up Portland Street. Everywhere, traffic was chaotic, seemingly like ants when the nest is disturbed, we should be here, but where are we going to? All too soon the question was answered, we parked outside Ancoats hospital in a bit of space left unnoccupied and without warning, the ground shook, and a percussion wave filled the air as the approaching explosion announced its arrival. As the roar of the explosion passed us, it left behind an eerie silence, as if a spectre had swept over the city. As the sound of sirens, alarm bells, car alarms and other devices announced that the damage was done, a huge plume of white smoke arose round the Arndale tower, carrying with it countless pieces of paper, tossing them around like wedding confetti. Behind the confetti, sparkling in the sun like diamonds, fell the shattered glass from every window to be seen. That was our last view of Manchester that day, the Studio Tour will wait, and we drove home in silence, glad to see the family, anxiously waiting our return.

Alex Forsyth, 28, Manchester

It was the day before my 18th birthday and i was working in Kendals part time. I had arrived late for work that day as i had begun my birthday celebrations the night before and was just concentrating on getting through a days work with a bad hangover. Not long after arriving in work word got around that there was a bomb scare in or around the arndale, no one took it particuarly seriously at that time, people chatted amongst themselves about it but there was no real sense of panic. It was my turn to take in a stock delivery that morning so i took the lift down to the sub basement to the store rooms to pack away the delivery. I had been down there about half an hour when i heard a deep rumble that lasted about 3-4 seconds, i stuck my head out of the store room door and couldn't hear or see anything! I assumed it was one of large stock crates being wheeled past by someone and carried on with what i was doing. After another ten minutes i finished putting the stock away and made my way upstairs, i will never forget what i saw after that. I walked out onto the ground floor to find the store deserted, i could hear alarms going off everywhere, i made my way into foodhall to find all the exterior windows were blown in, in the cafe the was still knives and forks stuck in food where people had been eating. I began to panic as i was trying to take in what had happened and what i should do. I decided to get outside, as i walked out onto deansgate i was confronted with carnage, glass was everywhere, shopping bags that had been dropped in the panic, there were people being treated by paramedics at the side of road covered in blood. I spotted one of our security guards and he told me that a bomb had gone off near the arndale and that i should make my way towards salford central station to the safe zone, as i walked down bridge street there were more casualties sat on benches and pavements being treated for glass wounds. I found the rest of my colleagues outside the mark addy, they were releived to see me as it had been half an hour since the bomb detonated and they had know idea where i was, i was just relieved to be out of the city and away from the scenes i had bared witness to on deansgate. It was the day after the bomb that it all really hit home, news came out about the time the lorry had been parked and left on corporation street, 09:20, i had supposed to be in work at 09:00 that day but didnt arrive till about 09:40 because i had overslept (birthday celebrations), i realised that i had walked right past the lorry when it was parked on corporation street after i had got off the bus and made my from the bus station down to kendals, i gave me goosebumps to think that i had been so cloe to something to that had later caused so much terror and desruction.

Gail Tucker, 50, Tucson, Arizona

Police officer
Praise for swift actions of police

On that day I was going into Manchester from my home in Prestwich to meet a friend of mine for lunch. We always met in St Annes Sq around 11.00am. I went in on the train and we arrived at Victoria and I decided to go to the bathroom before making my way over to meet her. As I walked back out through the waiting room the blast occurred and all the ceiling glass came down upon us and in seconds I was standing amidst rubble. The screaming began and mayhem and it was hard to know which direction to take in case another was to follow.I went out of the building and realised that my leg was bleeding profusely so we all waited down by the car park for a while and then as the emergency services were screaming all around I began to walk back out of the city and eventually caught a bus back to Prestwich. All this time I had no idea how or where my friend was. Apparently it took her 5 hours to exit the city. The shock was something that kicked in a few days after What struck me the most witnessing something like that was the way that people helped and assisted each other and genuinely showed concern for their fellow man.

Sylvia Bridson-Burkett, 64 from Alabama, USA

It seems hard to believe that dreadful event happened ten years ago.  At that time I was living in Crumpsall, three miles from the city centre and remember hearing the bomb explode and then listening with disbelief to the radio.  As I was employed at North Manchester General Hospital I went into work to see if I could be of any use.  I distinctly remember listening to distraught relatives trying to locate family members who had gone into Manchester shopping that day and wondering if they were now patients in our hospital.  The one person who sticks in my mind is the lady who was brought into our casualty with hundreds of pieces of glass in her face and how our surgeons spent many hours in the operating room delicately removing them. I wonder how she is doing now and how well she was able to recover psychologically.  Seven years ago I came to live in the USA.  On 9/11 my husband and I were about to board a plane when the twin towers were hit, so we were part of the knock on effect of that event. It seems so sad that in this, the 21st century the human race has learnt so little, and that perhaps we will never be able to live and let live. Occasionally I am able to return to Manchester and it is wonderful to see the progress taking place and how our wonderful city is transforming. Did they not realise that it takes more than a bomb to break the spirit of a Mancunian?

Janet, 39 from Walkden

15 June 1996 was my wedding day and I could not believe it what had happened when we heard about this. Although we did not get married in the city centre it still shook us and I can never forget our wedding anniversary now. But Manchester was devastated and I think we lost some of our heritage but it is good Manchester was rebuilt. 

1996 Manchester bomb: Where were you?
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last updated: 26/06/06
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