Today marks 25 years since an IRA bomb was detonated in Manchester City centre, injuring more than 200 people and devastating a large part of Corporation Street.
A red pillar box survived at the epicentre of the blast, and was restored to its original location as a symbol of the city’s triumph over adversity.
Police evacuated roughly 80,000 people from the area on Saturday 15th June 1996, a busy shopping day in the city ahead of that year’s Father’s Day.
The bomb was the biggest bomb on the UK mainland since World War Two, but despite the large number of casualties nobody was killed when it went off.
Just before 10am a security guard at Granada Studios took a phone call from a man who said he had planted a bomb that would explode in an an hour.
Bomb disposal officers attempted to remotely defuse the device with a robot but their attempts failed. Just after 11.15am, the 3,300lb bomb exploded, shaking buildings and shattering windows.
Sir Richard Leese
Today, Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The city centre has been transformed in the quarter of a century since the IRA bomb went off.”
He explained: “This regeneration journey was already underway in 1996 and continues today, even as we begin to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While some plans were accelerated as a result of the damage caused by the IRA bomb, it would be wrong to see it as some sort of turning point in the city’s history.”
Sir Richard added: “Hardly anyone lived in the city centre back then. Now tens of thousands of people call it their home.
“We’ve seen the number of jobs based here grow dramatically too so that one in five jobs in Greater Manchester are now located in central Manchester.
“We’ve seen the city centre expand too, with new districts such as Spinningfields, First Street and NOMA, the evolution of the Northern Quarter and the emergence of Ancoats and New Islington.
“We’ve also witnessed the birth of exciting new cultural venues and events, and the reinvigoration of existing ones.”
Nobody has ever been charged over the blast, although Greater Manchester Police insist the case remains open.
VIDEO: Julie lives just outside the city centre and remembers hearing the blast.