RETRO: ‘Like an atom bomb’ Sheffield gas works explosion 1973

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Photographs of Sheffield like these are usually from times of war.

But the scenes of devastation in these images actually stem from the 1970s.

On October 25, 1973, a gasworks explosion in Sheffield killed six men and injured many others near the city centre.

A disused tank which was once used to store gas in Effingham Road blew up, damaging properties in a quarter-mile radius. 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.

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.