What were you doing when Manchester was blown up by the IRA?

Saturday the 15th June 1996 was such a memorable day for anybody with any connection to Manchester. This was the day that the IRA planted the biggest bomb that had ever been detonated in Great Britain, a bomb so big that it completely wrecked the western side of Manchester city centre.

At 11.17am, a thunderous blast echoed all around the city. It was so loud that the rumble was felt ten miles away in all directions. As the dust settled, the people of Manchester were shocked and stunned by the sheer scale of the damage. Manchester had been attacked by the IRA several times before, but this latest attack was on another scale altogether.

The bomb had been hidden inside a Ford Cargo truck which had been abandoned roughly where the tramstop opposite the new entrance to the Arndale Centre is situated today. This 1.5 ton bomb was so big, it was the equivalent to thirty bags of sand. The blast which these explosives created smashed windows as far away as Hulme and Salford in either direction. There were very few panes of glass left intact in the city centre. The job of simply replacing windows took a year, the job of rebuilding the city centre is still ongoing to this day. Here is what happened at 11.17am that day, the police helicopter is hovering above the area now known as The Printworks.

I have researched the events of that day and written a book called Miracle on Corporation Street. This is a factual account of everything that happened that day, written as a novel. When I began writing this account, seen through the eyes of Andrew Miller as a young PC, I considered it would be a “novelette,” not quite long enough to call a full length book. Once I’d began researching, I soon realised that there were so many incredible stories from that day, that I could very easily write two books on the subject.

There were so many miraculous things which went on that day, like the fact that a traffic warden Denise Cartwright ticketed the Cargo truck and radioed her control-room to get it towed. Fortunately for Denise and the 100,000 people in the immediate vicinity of the truck, there wasn’t a tow truck available. Had there been, I shudder to think how many people would have lost their lives that day in Marks and Spencers, inside the Arndale and the Corn Exchange, or walking through Victoria Railway Station. But that’s just one example of the miraculous day that Manchester experienced on that hot Saturday morning. The rest of the unbelievable stories can be found in Miracle on Corporation Street.

The biggest miracle of all was the news that nobody had died that day, thanks to the efforts of Greater Manchester Police who somehow, against all the odds, managed to clear the area of 100,000 Saturday shoppers and workers in just over an hour.

Join a young PC Andy Miller on an incredible day in Manchester’s history. You won’t believe the things that went on.

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