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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:

E Marsh, 50 from Preston (formerly Poynton)

Casualty of the blast
Mancunians looked out for each other

I was shopping with my 2 children aged 9 and 13 looking for a fathers day present in Warner Bros store when we got the security alert from a member of staff, having worked in Manchester years before, I reassured the children we would be able to resume shopping soon as it was probably a hoax and was commonplace a few years before.  We evacuated into Market Street and hung around a while like a few others then more and more stores came out JJB staff were kicking a football around and made their way towards Deansgate end. I then realised this may be serious so told the children we better get out of town, went down to Victoria station to get the bus home to be told by a policeman no buses will be going in or out of here, we had previously got off the bus on Corporation street about 10am and must of been very near the van.  Than I decided to make our way up to Piccadilly to get a bus or train out, my children's safety becoming more important.  took a large detour around the Arndale hoping the bomb was not in the CIS building. It really wasn't clear where this bomb was for a while.  Made it to Piccadilly gardens just about to get on 192 to leave town and looking down market street saw the bomb go up... I remember a huge cloud of pink smoke and the ground shook myself and my daughter instinctively bobbed down and my sons instinct was to run we both grabbed him at the same time and pulled him downwards, then got straight on a rapidly filling bus, driver set of as soon as the bus was full which was very quick, then a young man was running at the side of the bus and driver opened door to let him on, he said there is another bomb in Piccadilly gardens, well we were in slow moving traffic at that time, but we were soon on the move again and we were on the outskirts of Manchester when the ambulances were going in the opposite direction.  A selfish feeling came to me saying well we are safe, mother's instinct had I been on my own I would of been glad to help anyone but the opportunity was there to get my children out, we and all the 192 occupants were probably the fastest people out after the bomb went off.  My children seemed unscathed mentally or physically by this my cheekbones and my elbows hurt? I did not take medical advice. but 2 years later I went on to develop multiple sclerosis? Who knows? Just glad my children were not harmed, although there were no deaths there were some badly injured people I read later.

Rob Brophy, 28 from Manchester (now Los Angeles)

I was one of the "boys" at the window of Chethams School Of Music that Natalie mentioned before....It was the most surreal day. Ben, Simon and I (they know who they are!) were watching as GMP were slowly moving the cordon back and back way past us and over to Victoria Station. Like everyone else, we felt very safe. Bomb threats were part of our life and you never feel that you would ever actually be affected by one. Then in a micro-second we saw a flash, then a huge wall of dust, followed by the force of the blast pushing us back off our feet and almost 9 feet across the room. Then we heard it! A huge blast. It's so strange to know exactly each stage of that whole process. The flash, the dust, the enormous push and finally the bang. Wow, it really is coming back to me. The ceiling had fallen in and we were filthy, but we just got up and ran down the stairs to the courtyard. Adrenaline was kicking in and we didn't have time to think about what kind of position we had just put ourselves in. Ten years....wow, time flies. I now live in Los Angeles and times still have not changed. Everyone is vulnerable. Do I feel safer here than in England? Pull the other one....!

Nicola Whitehead, 29 from Wigan

I was working in Manchester city centre the day the bomb went off. I walked past the van with the bomb in that morning heading for work. Back then worked in a beauty salon which used to be opposite 'Spoils' and 'TopShop'. Luckily, we all got out and to saftey straight away thanks to the amazing efforts of the police and security. What did shock me though, was the ammount of people who did not take the warnings seriously and were continuing to shop! I ended up in Piccadilly Gardens. I remember hearing this noise then everything seemed to go in slow motion. I looked up at the Piccadily Hotel and the windows went to jelly. That day there was a small funfair and all the children were crying and screaming. I felt so helpless, was rooted to the spot. It truely was a very sureal moment that will live with me forever. Even now when i think about it, i can still see everything as it happened. My memories of 15 June 1996 will never fade.

Shanaz Islam, 34 from London

June 15th, 1996 it was a hot summer’s morning the day before Fathers day and the day of England playing Scotland in Euro 2006, I had gone to my gym on Deansgate very early so I could get home in time to watch the football. Just after 11am the police came to evacuate the gym I was at, if I remember correctly the gym was called Lady of Leisure and it was a stones throw away from Kendals. The police told us to gather our belongings and leave immediately as I was ready to leave I left immediately. I remember Deansgate being eerily quite especially for a Saturday morning. A police officer opposite the gym shouted towards me to walk towards the corner of Kendals I took about three steps and the bomb exploded and about five floors of glass shattered on top of me from the building next door. Some police officers rushed over to me and immediately carried me to a nearby police jeep to take me to North Manchester hospital, this was a job in itself as large parts of the city centre were cordoned off.   Luckily I didn't see the aftermath and the resulting panic, my immediate thoughts were whether I would be fit enough to attend the Italy V Germany match to be played at Old Trafford the following Wednesday. I remember being one of the first people to arrive at the hospital and the staff not knowing what had happened. I was seen straight away and what I thought would be a quick check up turned into a two and a half week stay in hospital. The glass had blown off skin from my right foot, which then needed a skin graft, and I required two operations on my lower leg as the glass had cut through and damaged the tendons.  It was only when I was out of hospital and back home did I realise the extent of the damage that had occurred. After intense physiotherapy over the summer I returned back to work 4 months later. Though ten years on I still have the physical scars on my leg and foot, I realise how lucky I  am  in that I am still alive and thanks to great support from my family, friends and work colleagues I am living a happy and fulfilling life, I now live in London but I still love the city I was born in and will always consider Manchester and its people the best.

Katie Smith, 26 from London

I was undergoing my Debenham's induction training that morning when we were called to evacuate the store. I remember standing at the top of Market Street, thinking it was purely a scare when the bomb blasted. The force with which it shook the surroundings was incredible and without thinking I ran towards the centre of Piccadilly Gardens. My lasting memory was seeking panic stricken faces, some people lying on the ground in shock and others looking towards each other to help and reassure - there was such a community spirit - it brought everyone onto the same level regardless of age, background or anything.

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