VIDEO: The tragic Sheffield disaster which killed six and injured dozens 45 years ago today

The huge blast killed six men.
The huge blast killed six men.
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It is a tragic disaster many people in Sheffield will never have even heard of – but on this day 45 years ago today, six people died and dozens were in injured in a huge explosion at the city’s gasworks.

It was on October 25, 1973 when a section of the city was left looking like the aftermath of a war after a shocking tragedy unfolded near the city centre.

Six men died in the blast – caused when a disused tank, once used to store gas in Effingham Road blew up. 

Now, 45 years on, a memorial is being unveiled at the site of the tragedy.

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The explosion damaged properties in a quarter-mile radius.

Cars were damaged and dozens were injured in the explosion.

Cars were damaged and dozens were injured in the explosion.

Reports in The Star in 1973 said there was ‘a huge flame like a volcano, it must have been a sheet 200ft high’.

An eyewitness added: “I have never seen an atomic bomb, but that must be what it is like.”

Another said: “I have seen two World Wars but have never known anything like this.”

A fleet of ambulances attended the scene, with extra paramedics coming from Rotherham.

Dozens of vehicles were crushed when a disused tank exploded.

Dozens of vehicles were crushed when a disused tank exploded.

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Several cars were badly crushed and more than 50 showered with debris.

The tragedy happened while the tank was being converted to hold diesel oil and contractors had been removing water from it.

During the work, the contractors had not realised the tank still contained some highly flammable liquid.

Unfortunately, workmen had used a flame cutter on the tank.

An inquest was opened and verdicts of accidental death were reached.

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The National Grid has unveiled a memorial to those who died and were affected by the explosion.

Forty five years to the day, Jean Taylor, from the Retired Employees Association, unveiled a memorial plaque at the Royal Victoria Holiday Inn attended by relatives of those who died or who were affected by the explosion.

National Grid has recently started work to dismantle the last remaining gasholder in an area that has been associated with gas production and storage since the early 1800s.

Hannah White, Land Regeneration Manager at National Grid, said: 'We are grateful that so many relatives who were personally affected by the explosion chose to get in touch with us and were able to attend. We also had people who helped in the rescue efforts including fire and police officers.

'It's fitting that a permanent memorial is now in place at the site. As our works progress to dismantle the last unused gasholder at the site it is a sobering reminder that our constant and rigorous focus on health and safety must never wain nor be taken for granted.'

The six men who died were William Donaldson, Cyril Kennedy, John Lomas, Patrick Sleight, Harry Smith and Harry Wilson.

The memorial plaque has been permanently sited next to the existing war memorial within the Effingham Street site.