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The IRA Bombing of Manchester - June 1996

On Saturday 15 June 1996, at a peak shopping time the day before Father's Day, a 3,000 pound IRA bomb exploded in Manchester, injuring more than 200 people and ripping into the fabric of the city's main shopping centre.
In a state of shocked disbelief, police had begun clearing people from the area some 40 minutes before the blast; fortunately, several telephoned warnings had been issued to newspapers, radio stations and to at least one hospital in Manchester an hour before the blast. Newspaper offices in Dublin and Belfast received similar warnings.

The day after the Manchester bombing Andrew's Postbox picture The completely restored bomb site in Manchester
Shambles Square Defiant Manchester rebuilds after the Bombing The Rebuilding of Manchester
Top Row: The devastation of Corporation Street was virtually total; the "ground zero" post box that survived the bombing. A brass plaque marks the event. (Photo: Andrew Theokas). Bottom Row: The new Shambles Square; Manchester defies the bombers and rebuilds itself; by 1998 rebuilding was well under way

An army bomb squad employed a robotic anti-bomb device to check an illegally parked Ford van, which had been recorded by several closed circuit security cameras in the city, when the bomb exploded.
Manchester's ambulance services counted 206 injured people. Most injuries were sustained from falling glass and building debris. In the immediately ensuing chaos, ambulances and private cars were used to shuttle victims to local and regional hospitals. Local authorities had to close Victoria and Piccadilly railway stations for several hours and to seal off the city centre. The evacuation of shoppers immediately took place from the Marks & Spencer's department store, which was directly at the centre of the site, outside which the lorry-bomb was parked.
Initially, the evacuated staff and shoppers stood outside, right next to the bomb, but when the emergency services realised this they shunted them to the nearby Victoria Station.
Why Manchester city centre was targeted by the IRA is uncertain, but it later became clear that the cause probably lay in the breakdown of the IRA "ceasefire" in the light of lack of progress with the British Government's ongoing talks about a permanent peace settlement in Northern Ireland.
It was estimated that up to 50,000 square metres of retail space and nearly 25,000 square metres of office space have subsequently needed to be reconstructed.
Whilst much of the city centre has now reopened, the immediate area surrounding the blast site, including parts of the Arndale Centre, the Corn Exchange, the Royal Exchange, Royal Insurance's Longridge House and Marks and Spencer's remain cordoned off and a considerable amount of demolition has had to take place.
Marks & Spencer's store, alas, was totally demolished, and the Royal Insurance Building is no more, as are several shops in the immediate vicinity.
Central government quickly set aside �1million of European Union finance and set in place a master plan for the redevelopment of the City Centre. They have also provided �150,000 to support an international urban design competition, which was launched just one month after the bombing, and which provided a cohesive plan for rebuilding.
The reconstruction has been overseen by the new City Centre Task Force, Millennium Manchester Organisation. The government allocated a further �20 million to Manchester from the European Union regional aid budget for 1997-99.
Four years later, and the whole area of the devastation zone is now completely restored. The Royal Exchange has been renovated, the Corn Exchange has been reborn as the Triangle, and the whole north side of the Arndale Centre has been rebuilt.
Shambles Square including the Old Wellington Inn and Sinclair's Oyster Bar - the two oldest buildings in the city of Manchester - have been physically moved some 100 yards to a new Shambles Square location off Exchange Square and opposite Marks and Spencer.
Finally, Marks and Spencer have rebuilt completely on the original site, the largest M&S store in the world.

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This page last updated 1 Dec 11.