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Remembering the Docklands Bombing 25 Years On

At approximately 7pm on Friday 9th February 1996, a truck-bomb exploded close to South Quay DLR station, killing two people and injuring over 100 others.  At the commemoration yesterday to mark the 25th anniversary, survivors commented on how they feel forgotten.  Certainly the incident seems to have faded in the public consciousness faster than the bombings at the Baltic Exchange and Bishopsgate a few years earlier, or the Manchester Bombing four months later.  This is peculiar, given the loss of life and the attack’s political significance as the end of the Provisional IRA ceasefire.

Perhaps the relative lack of awareness of the Dockland Bombing speaks to an early success of business continuity management.  Presumably, in targeting Docklands, the Provisional IRA sought to replicate the success of previous attacks on the City of London; and cause massive disruption to the financial services sector.  However, firms in the sector had learnt quickly from those previous attacks and had invested heavily in their disaster recovery capabilities.  Thus, despite destroying a Midland Bank building and South Quay Plaza I and II (and causing £150m of damage), disruption to businesses was kept to a minimum.  Sadly, the same could not be said in Manchester four months later when an even larger truck-bomb devastated the city centre.

The 7/11 bombings, nearly a decade later, demonstrated that technical disaster recovery is only part of an overall solution; but the resilience demonstrated by businesses impacted by the South Quay bomb is still an important milestone in the evolution of business continuity management.  So, as we remember the victims and survivors of the attack, perhaps we can also take some professional pride in the fact that the incident is not as well known as it really should be.