RETRO: What would happen to Sheffield in a nuclear blast?

The feature on what would happen to Sheffield in a nuclear blast was in The Star in 1981
The feature on what would happen to Sheffield in a nuclear blast was in The Star in 1981
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Sometimes you can’t beat a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Others, you look back at the time The Star found out what would happen to Sheffield in a nuclear war.

The big one: how Sheffield would be affected by a nuke, focusing on Tinsley

The big one: how Sheffield would be affected by a nuke, focusing on Tinsley

This is the feature the newspaper ran in the 1980s, focusing on a ‘nuclear family’ in Sheffield and what they and other families like them would need to do in order to survive an atom bomb on the city.

A popular BBC drama, Threads, released in 1984 posed the same question: what would happen to the city in a nuclear event?

Shot on a budget of just £250,000, the film used several Sheffield locations including Sheffield Royal Infirmary and the since-imploded Tinsley Towers.

According to our archives, this feature was written in 1981, at the peak of the Cold War, in which a nuclear attack on Sheffield - a centre of industry - was thought to be a very real threat.

An uplifting graphic showing where radiation would spread

An uplifting graphic showing where radiation would spread

The feature shows the centrepoint being Tinsley - where the factories are - with the immediate blast radius destroying everything in its path, letting loose 300mph winds.

Everything in zone A and B in the photo above would be smashed, in zone A around Tinsley and Attercliffe, 300pmh winds would destroy homes completely and block roads.

In zone B, the city centre, there would be 190mph winds and heavy irreparable damage to houses, including most of Rotherham.

Zone C would cover most of the outskirts of the city on the other side, with heavy to medium damage to houses. Roads would be passable with some difficulty.

This was the nuclear family in our feature - unfortunately their names are lost. Is one of these you?

This was the nuclear family in our feature - unfortunately their names are lost. Is one of these you?

Finally, zone D, covering Barnsley, Mexborough and Derbyshire, would have windows broken and damaged tiles etc, but otherwise would escape relatively unscathed.

Even in the areas where you might be OK - like Chesterfield and Doncaster - radiation would then spread across all of South Yorkshire, depending on wind direction.

Cheering.

Thankfully, it doesn’t seem too likely, but perhaps this handy graphic can be of some comfort in future...

The family take shelter with a microwave, some peanut butter and a candle - known to be the key supplies needed

The family take shelter with a microwave, some peanut butter and a candle - known to be the key supplies needed