The 1996 Manchester bombing
was a bomb attack undertaken by the Provisional Irish Republican Army
(IRA) in Manchester
. The bomb targeted the infrastructure and economy of Manchester and caused widespread damage, valued by insurers at £411 million, to buildings in the commercial centre of the city
Details of the Bombing
It occurred at 11:16 a.m. (GMT) on Saturday 15 June 1996
, when the IRA detonated a bomb
containing 1500kg (3300 lb) of explosives. The bomb was located in a Ford lorry
parked two hours earlier in Corporation Street, between the Arndale Centre
and the city's Marks & Spencer
store, close to the centre of the city's shopping district. It was the largest IRA bomb ever detonated in Great Britain
, and the largest bomb to explode in Great Britain since the Second World War
Although warnings had been received in the previous hour and had allowed the evacuation of the area, 206 people were recorded by the ambulance service as having been injured. Most windows in nearby buildings were blown out, and falling glass caused the majority of the injuries. No one was killed. The blast was audible over 8 miles (13 km) away in residential neighbourhoods, though workers in the nearby Bridgewater Hall heard nothing, due to the soundproofing.
Several buildings close to the centre of the explosion had to be demolished, and many more were closed for months afterwards to allow for structural repairs. Overall, 50,000 square metres of retail space and 25,000 square metres of office space had to be reconstructed. Marks & Spencer
had to vacate their building and became tenants of part of the Lewis's
store. Since then, the city centre has undergone extensive renovation, along with the more general efforts to regenerate previously deprived areas of the wider city, such as Hulme
and helping with other parts of Greater Manchester, such as the Broughton area of the City of Salford
. The bulk of the city centre rebuilding work was complete by the end of 1999, and had cost £1.2 billion.
Subsequently, further redevelopment of affected buildings (notably the northern corner of the Arndale Centre) was not completed until 2005. Manchester had successfully bid to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games
in 1995. Much of the re-development of the City was planned to be completed before the opening ceremony
, which meant that some of the more intricate re-building was scheduled for a time after the aesthetic rebuilding had been completed.
A new walkway bridge was constructed to replace the one destroyed in the bombing (see image above of damaged bridge). The new bridge is cylindrical, instead of oblong, but otherwise fits exactly as the original had. The walkway is neither level (sloping downwards from the Manchester Arndale into Marks & Spencer) nor straight, as it was discovered that the original walkway entrances in the two buildings were not directly opposite one another, but slightly askew.
A pillar box that remained intact after the blast, despite being only yards from the centre of the explosion, now carries a small brass plaque recording the bombing (see photo). It was removed during construction and redevelopment work, and returned to its original spot once the street reopened.
At 11:16 BST (10:16 GMT), on 15 June 2006, a candle was lit at a memorial service to mark the tenth anniversary of the bombing.
The bombing was condemned by John Major's government, the opposition, and by individual MPs as a "sickening" and "callous and barbaric" terrorist attack.