On the morning of 15th June 1996 many people in Manchester were enjoying the fine weather and England’s progress in Euro 96. The City Centre was busy with people last-minute shopping for Father’s Day, but that was about to change…
At 11.17am a bomb containing 1500kg of home-made explosive detonated in a van parked outside Marks and Spencer on Corporation Street. The van had been abandoned at 9.17am, the first warning received by Granada TV at 9.41 and the vehicle was identified by Police at 10.02. Luckily there were more Police on duty than normal because of the Euro 96 match taking place that afternoon; in the next hour they managed to evacuate around 100 000 people from the City Centre. However, after the experience of the 1992 bombing, some people were reluctant to comply with Police instructions.
This was the largest bomb on the mainland since WWII and the City Centre was devastated: buildings within a 200m radius of the bomb suffered structural damage, with broken glass out to 700m. No gas mains were ruptured and no serious fires occurred (although the roof of the Arndale Centre was alight for a time), or the devastation would have been much greater. The most seriously damaged retail premises were:
- The Arndale Centre, the largest shopping centre in the city, was partially demolished;
- The second largest Marks and Spencer store in the UK had to be demolished;
- The Royal Exchange, containing over 100 small retail units, required major repairs; and
- The Corn Exchange, home to nearly 150 small traders, was also seriously damaged.
About 20% of the total office space available in central Manchester was also rendered unusable, including:
- Arndale House (above the Arndale Centre) which required major repairs; and
- Longridge House, containing the offices of The Royal and Sun Alliance, which had to be demolished.
Over 30 people had to be rescued from the wreckage of buildings after the attack, and over 200 needed hospital treatment. Of the casualties treated in hospital, the vast majority (62%) had been injured by flying glass; although a significant proportion (20%) suffered blunt trauma injuries. Fortunately, almost all casualties were able to go straight home from A&E with only 19 admitted to hospital.
Tomorrow we will start to look at how the City began to recover.