The view from Byron Wood school
by Errol Edwards
I attended Byron Wood as a pupil between
1973 and 1976, in those days it was known as Burngreave Middle.
My first teacher was Miss King, I remember her having long
brown hair, and she was very attractive (She may read this).
It was a clear October’s day in 1973 and
I was gazing through my classroom window. Byron Wood has magnificent
views of Sheffield on a clear day, you can see right round
to Meadowhall and back round to the University Arts Tower
and beyond, although back in ’73 the landscape was a
I was gazing in the direction of the Wicker
Arches when suddenly there was a massive explosion sending
debris high into the sky. It felt as if the explosion had
been detonated for my benefit as I was looking directly at
it when it occurred. A large plume of smoke soon developed,
filling the sky.
No one knew what had happened, Theresa Green
casually suggested it was OK as they were only demolishing
All Saints Church (Saint Peter’s is now built on the
original site). I was quick to point out that All Saints Church
was further round to the left of view, on the junction of
Lyons Street and Ellesmere Road, this explosion had taken
place further toward town.
Mr Baker, then Headmaster, came in to the classroom
and instructed Miss King to move everyone to the other side
of the classroom away from the windows. This only added to
the sense of excitement. The teachers didn’t know what
was happening which led me to think there might be another
explosion soon! There were no mobile phones, teletext or internet
for people to find out quickly what had happened, it was a
case of wait and see.
We would soon learn that it wasn’t some
elaborate stunt for our benefit, in fact there had been a
tragic accident. A large explosion had erupted on Effingham
Street, at the Gas works killing six people and injuring twenty-five.
It was a disaster which was described as being ‘like
the blitz’ by some eye witnesses.
I would be interested to know if I’ve
jogged any memories. You could send any recollections or additions
to the Messenger at:
Abbeyfield Park House, Abbeyfield Road,
Sheffield S4 7AT.
or email: email@example.com
The Star reported on 24th October 1973: “Four
Men are dead and at least 25 people injured after a million
gallon gas tank blew up in Sheffield today”.
The explosion occurred at the East Midlands
Gas Depot on Effingham Street while converting the tank to
diesel. The incident was so significant emergency services
were called from all over the city as well Rotherham.
Debris from the blast went through the roof
of Hille Engineering factory, demolished cars and blew out
the windows of nearby buildings.
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