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The BBC's Richard Wells reports from Manchester
"The heart was ripped out of the city"
 real 28k

The BBC's Richard Wells reports from Manchester
"Hundreds of people turned out"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 20:30 GMT
Bombed city centre reopens
International designers have created a modern look for Manchester city centre

Manchester city centre has reopened, three and a half years after it was devastated by an IRA bomb.

The official opening ceremony took place on Wednesday evening in the new Exchange Square, at the heart of the city's shopping district.

A parade of 50 drummers and flame-carriers led a procession before gathering in the square for street theatre and a fireworks display.

One million square feet of shopping space was wiped out when the 3,300lb bomb exploded on 15 June 1996.

The device injured more than 200 people and caused damage estimated at up to 700m.

This postbox survived the blast
A rebuilding project costing up to 1.2bn is still under way but the city centre is not being restored to its original state.

Instead new streets and buildings have replaced much of the old architecture from the 1960s and 1970s.

The often criticised Arndale Centre has been redesigned.

Two listed pubs have been taken to pieces and relocated, brick by brick, among the modern new buildings below the city's cathedral tower.

The cathedral itself has been reintegrated into the city centre with the creation of an entirely new pedestrian street, called New Cathedral Street.

Exchange Square, described as a "playful new space" with rows of lights, a water feature and pop-art windmills, was designed by Martha Schwartz of New York.

But the centrepiece of the rebuilt area is a brand new 85m Marks and Spencer store, the biggest branch in the world. It will open on Thursday.

The blast injured more than 200 people
The Exchange Square grand opening comes just a day after police in Manchester warned their officers to be extra vigilant over the threat of another terrorist bomb attack.

It is thought Manchester, London and other mainland city centres could be vulnerable to renegade republican terrorists in the run-up to Christmas.

City council leader Richard Leese said security was a prime concern in the redesign, with lighting carefully considered, no nooks and crannies remaining and CCTV across most of the area.

But he added that the people of Manchester had waited for more than three years to regain their city centre, and nothing would keep them away from their city
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See also:
19 Nov 98 |  Entertainment
Manchester theatre bounces back
23 Nov 99 |  UK
Reporter arrested over bomb claims
24 Nov 99 |  UK
Picture gallery: Manchester reborn
23 Nov 99 |  UK
Christmas bombing fears

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