Page last updated at 02:25 GMT, Thursday, 15 June 2006 03:25 UK

Bomb 10 years on: Where were you?

Most Mancunians have strong memories of the explosion that rocked their city in June 1996.

But where were you when the bomb went off - and what were the first thoughts that ran through your mind?


Mark Radcliffe
Mark Radcliffe: "Incredible no-one died"
My wife and I were in a subterranean bric-a-brac emporium just off Albert Square when the whole place shook. Everyone stopped and looked confused.

We came up the stairs and out into the street and heard the sirens and saw the billowing dust. I'm not sure if we really took in what had gone on.

I remember we got into our car and drove away just as the emergency services started cordoning off the streets.

I don't think we really realised what had gone on until we got home and turned the television on, and friends and family started phoning to check we were okay, as we'd told a few people we were going into Manchester that morning.

It still seems incredible that no-one died that day, and you never quite lose the feeling that if things had been just slightly different, we could have lived our last day then. It reminds you how precarious life is in a way.

Looking at the gleaming, glassy city centre now it's hard for people who weren't there to imagine the scenes of devastation, but it's indelibly stamped on my mind


Rachel Carter
Rachel Carter: "I couldn't believe what I was seeing"

I was on my way to work on Market Street and as I got on the bus in Salford, the bus driver informed me that there had been a bomb scare in the city centre and because of this he didn't know how far he could take us all in.

By this time the bomb had just exploded. We got as far as Cathedral Arches and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

I remember as I got off the bus I was confronted by a whole line of ambulances. The road was totally covered in glass and looking up towards Deansgate you could see the giant mushroom of dark grey smoke.

No-one really knew what to do, people were wandering aimlessly along the street. I didn't know whether Market Street was open and I was already late for work. I went to a phone box and rang the answer.

I can still remember the noise of shop alarm systems teamed with an eerie lack of traffic.


John Stalker - pic courtesy of MEN syndication
John Stalker: "I heard the 'krump!' of a bomb"
I was about six or 700 yards away. I heard the 'krump!' of a bomb that's absolutely distinctive.

There's no mistaking it for anything else.

All my instincts as an ex-bomb squad detective and as a journalist, which then I was, was to turn my car in the direction of the bomb but I had my grandchild with me so I went pretty fast in the opposite direction.

They were intending to achieve sheer terror... To beat people in to submission, to terrify them into creating some kind of political change.


Richard Leese
Richard Leese: "The Town Hall shook"
Instead of joining thousands of Mancunians enjoying glorious sunshine, I was bunkered in the Town Hall with Labour Party colleagues carrying out a post mortem on May's local election.

There was no room for doubt when the bomb went off, apart from the noise, even the Town Hall shook under the blast.

We had children with us and the first reaction was to get them out of the building and out of the city centre.

The second was to contact family and friends, particularly those I thought could be in the city centre that morning, to make sure they were ok and to let them know I was okay.

Then it was back to business, checking the emergency plan was in operation, dealing with the immediate impact, and starting the process of recovery.

Were you in Manchester when the bomb exploded? What are your memories of the attack?

I was on my way into town for some new glasses. As the train pulled into Piccadilly, I noticed hundreds of people on the platform, I met a workmate who told me what they thought had happened. The scary thing about it was the trains were coming in, but none seemed to be going out. I made my way to the front of the station - the police weren't letting anyone in or out. It was then that someone noticed a parcel lying beside a car outside on the concourse. The police made us all move back but by this time, the station was packed solid and very hot. I realised I could be stuck there for some time so I tried to find a train that was leaving. I found the London train and jumped on to Stockport where a member of my family eventually managed to pick me up. A very bad day indeed but it was about to get worse - I'm a Scot and a bit later that day, Scotland were beaten by England in a euro championship game - the one where Gazza scored his wondergoal! On reflection, as traumatic as it was to be there at the time - in a funny way, it helped pave the way for what the city was to become - a fantastic city centre, and a credit to Mancunians everywhere.
neil doyle, glossop

I was getting ready to go for my train at Manchester Victoria. I was nearly 9 months pregnant with my second son so I was doing a bit of last minute shopping. I had just got into the train station when there was a horrible loud bang.The whole place shook,there was dust everywhere & falling glass.There were people shouting & screaming. None of us were quite sure what had happened, then we saw some police officers who told us that a bomb had gone off. I was so scared but I was not hurt. My midwife checked me out when I got home & all was ok but three days later I went into labour. I had my son on the following day - the 19th June. He must have decided it was safer on the outside than on the inside.
Joanne Owen, Bolton,Lancs

I would have been in Manchester, in the Arndale, right by where the bomb went off but for the fact we'd delayed going in. We were doing the weekly shop at Kwik Save in Rusholme - strange thing is I didn't actually hear the bomb go off, and seeing the Fire Brigade's accident tender I thought there'd been a crash on Mancunian Way. It was only when we got home and started hearing the reports on the radio, we figured out what had happened. It was a very weird feeling. Despite all the regeneration, I think some of the old character of Manchester that lived in places like the old Corn Exchange, which used to be full of all sorts of eclectic little shops and stalls, has been lost beneath regeneration and redevelopment. I quite liked Manchester's grotty old self!
John Ireland, Bolton

After reading it was 10 years since the bomb, I decided to read on ... On the day on the bomb I was in my parents back garden in Alkrington which was at least 5 miles from the City Centre. We all heard and saw the smoke from the bomb, which proves how powerful it was. The fact than no one was killed or seriously injured was a miracle. I have since moved away from Manchester but I was visiting with my family this past week and it looks fantastic now and after years of hard work it has paid off. It is a city to be proud of!
Fiona Kelly , Jersey, Channel Islands

At the time of the Manchester bomb i worked in the Royal Exchange, we were evacuated to Deansgate. I remember being in a bar behind Kendals when the bomb went off, all the staff from our company has be escorted there to keep us all together. I had just phoned my husband to tell him what was going on and that I was ok. We had only just returned home from honeymoon that week. I put the phone down and the blast happened. The building shook, there was panic as people tried to escape through the emergency exit which had been padlocked which made the situation worse. I had the ringing in my ears for weeks after from the sound of the alarms.
Tanya Andrew, Rochdale

I'll never forget standing opposite House of Fraser, waiting for the police to take the cordon down, assuming it to be a false alarm. When the bomb exploded it still took a few seconds to sink in that it was real, all the shop windows had shattered in an instant. There was only 1 policeman, shouting at everyone to move away from the noise but my first reaction was to stay where I was in case another one went off. I moved to join everyone else down King St West, where lots of people were congregating. I queued forever to use the phonebox and call my parents, they had heard the bomb from home. They set off in the car to find me and I set off walking in the vague direction of home. I was amazed so many cordons had gone up so quickly allowing emergency vehicles quick access to the centre, but it took hours for us to find each other. My feet were bleeding from small slivers of glass in my shoes, but I had nothing to complain about. Its a miracle the human cost wasn't greater. The place looks great now, but I do still have fond memories of the old Corn Exchange.
Liz, Manchester

On the morning of the blast, I arrived in town, I walked across the road which led under the Arndale Bus station area. I found out later that i walked a hundred yards from where the van was left. I was working at 'Best Trading Co' which is now called Republic near Millies Cookies'. After opening the shutters for business, we were left confused as to why there were so few shoppers around. We thought nothing of it until 10am came and still we hadnt sold a thing. I walked out of the store and looked up and down the Arndale centre. I could literally count the number of people in the place on one hand. We were then told by a security guard that we were to leave immediately. As we walked out of the Arndale, you couldnt help but notice the amount of emergency men & women with their vehicles, cornering off certain areas so we did what every young retail team would do - we went for a cheeky drink at the Catheral Archies! Looking back, I know this was a stupid mistake as the Arches had 90% glass along its front. I still remember to this day the sound it made. It can only be described as 'sucking the air' close to your ears...then there was the bang. The glass went through, flying in every direction. I heard a young child outside screaming. Thank God no-one in there was seriously hurt. I managed to phone home using my friends mobile phone. I rang home and spoke to my Mum... All i knew was that with no public transport going in and out of the city, I had a long walk home ahead of me. Matt Walsh
Matt Walsh, Swinton

I had a Saturday job in the Arndale at a shop that never re-opened. My dad dropped me off at St Mary's Gate for work at around 9am. We stopped behind a maroon car that looked exactly like the one later shown on Crimewatch as the getaway car. After being evacuated we were moved to one of the top floors in Debenhams where we played board games to pass the time. My colleague and I were watching the helicopters above circling when the bomb exploded - giving birth to a huge mushroom cloud. We really didn't think there would actually be an explosion. The building and floor shook violently and people stumbled in what seemed an unreal and exaggerated way. I can only remember this in strangley filmic slow motion. There was a scrum to leave the building but one man held a shattered glass door open to let people out - his hand dripping with blood - while people ran up Market St to the gardens. The rest of the day was spent trying to contact friends and family as all the telephone boxes were out and back then, only the elite few had mobile phones. We were moved to Piccadilly Gardens where some elderly people were struggling to breathe due to heat and shock. When I eventually got home I couldn't speak and no one knew quite what to say other than offering up a constant stream of sugary tea. Manchester has enjoyed a staggering rate of regeneration and a true renaissance - but please don't ever say this was the best thing to happen to the city.
Anon, Manchester

My friend Judith and I had walked past the van at 8.30am.We did our usual route - M&S first, St Annes Square and then Kendals. We had just got our tea when we heard the expolsion and were asked to leave the building. Once outside it was carnage. Windows blown out, people screaming. We were told to run as fast as we could passing people bleeding. I remember seeing one chap with a big piece of glass stuck in his leg. We just ran and ran and ended up in a pub next to Strangeways. My friend rang her husband from the pub to come and get us. Another family were in the pub who had run from the blast, they had a boy with them about 8 years old and to keep him occupied he was making paper birds. As they left he handed us the two birds he had made it was such a moving momemt. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. Judith and I have kept those paper birds to remind us of that day and that family.
Ann Matthews, Dukinfield

I will always remember sitting with my Gran in her back garden in Chorlton when the bomb went off. It was a beautiful sunny day, I heard a massive clap of what I thought was thunder. My Gran knew instantly it was a bomb, and low and behold it was confirmed shortly after on the radio.
Hugh, Manchester

I was working in a travel agents opposite Marks & Spencers where the bomb was. I still remember I was doing an enquiry for a flight to Paris. We had a coded warning to search the premises but at 10:10 we received the evacuation code. We didn't even have time to get our bags. We headed up Market St away from the cordon but people were ignoring the warnings and still heading towards the bomb. Our evacuation point was at the town hall. I remember the guys from Top Shop were playing football. I'd rang my mum to let her know I was ok but my boyfriend had come into Manchester to shop for my birthday which was in 2 days time. My mum was quite calm as I had got upset. All was ok for a while but the police helicopter was hovering overhead. About 11:15 a row of dark blue vans pulled up and the men shouted at us to get back. There was an almighty sound like a firecracker not a boom and everyone just hit the floor. My assistant manager threw himself on me to protect me as we were still sat on a bench. There was a split second silence then you could hear the glass tinkling as it rained down and then all the shop & car alarms went off. The smoke column was massive, I couldn't take my eyes off it. It was chaotic after that and I rang my mum back to say it had gone off - she was the one who then got upset. After about 15 minutes I saw my boyfriend running towards me - he'd spotted the travel agency uniform! We walked to Ardwick Green and got the bus home, I'd never been so glad to see my family. Had the IRA not giving a warning that day I doubt I would be here now as the shop was devastated. However, after 10 years Manchester has emerged as a fantastic place for shopping & entertainment. The rebuild has been immense and the new buildings compliment the old. Viva las Manchester!
Sarah, Stockport, UK

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