20 Years Since The Manchester Bomb

The IRA parked a white and red truck on Corporation Street, packed with 1,500kg of explosives, on Saturday 15th June 1996.

Manchester Bombing

Coded warnings were phoned into the media just before 10am, saying a bomb would go off in one hour.  Around 80,000 people were already in the city centre, and a huge evacuation followed. 

Wai San, who was working in the Arndale Centre, has told Heart at first they didn’t take it seriously:  “I actually thought it was some sort of fire drill or practice run. In those days, no one was really on a high alert to terrorism. Everyone was really relaxed, laughing joking, buying ice creams and ice lollies because it was a really nice hot sunny day.” 

A police helicopter ordered people to move further back, Councillor Pat Karney was one of the crowd who had been evacuated from Market Street.  “I’ll never forget those words ‘til the day I die- ‘Emergency, leave the city of Manchester’. None of us knew what it was about.” 

A robot was sent in to diffuse the bomb, but it was too late. It went off at 11:17am, sending a cloud of smoke 1,000 feet into the air. It rained down glass and debris on the people below, up to half a mile from the blast itself.

“Everything seemed to slow down for a few seconds… it almost seemed silent... then shards of glass smashing on the ground. People started screaming, running, panicking. I saw people with blood to their arms and faces. People were running in all sorts of directions.” Wai San remembers.

Thanks to the evacuation, no one was killed, but more than 200 people were injured.

Paramedic Les Birkhead from the North West Ambulance Service was one of the first responders on the scene. He’s told Heart despite the warnings and police evacuation, they had no idea what they were responding to:  “The information that came to us was that it had been a gas explosion, and that’s the initial call that we started to attend. It was only a couple minutes into the journey that we got this further information that it was potentially a terrorist attack. As we turned onto Fountains Street, we realised the enormity of what had happened.” 

The bomb caused £700 million worth of damage, and prompted a regeneration of Manchester City Centre. As a result, it’s often said that the bomb was the best thing to happen to Manchester, Cllr Karney disagrees:  “If you were there on the day and you had this helicopter saying ‘Emergency get out the City Centre’, people were just screaming, you can’t just say it was one of the best things to happen to Manchester.”

Recently Played Tracks

On Radio: Russ Morris

4pm - 7pm

Email the show

Text 'VARIETY' to 82122

Russ Morris

On TV: Feel-Good Christmas!

4pm - 5pm

Watch heart TV

  • Paul McCartney Wonderful Christmastime

    Now

    iTunes

  • The Pogues, Kirsty Maccoll Fairytale Of New York

    16:04

    iTunes

  • Kylie Minogue It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

    15:57

    iTunes

  • Band Aid Do They Know It's Christmas?

    15:53

    iTunes

Heart VIP

Local

Autumn Weather

Find your local four day weather report here.

Listening To Radio Win With Heart

Make Heart the soundtrack to your day and you could be a winner with great prizes up for grabs throughout the day.

Shopping Our Advertisers

Find out more about some of the companies advertising on Heart North West.

Follow Heart on Twitter