Burngreave Messenger.
Issue 41 May 2004

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 lot different.

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: messenger@burngreave.net

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.

Website Extra.Download PDF newspaper cuttings of the original Sheffield Star article (file size 2.54mb).

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View over field of dandylions with city centre and arts tower in the distance.
Copyright © Carl Rose   
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Index for Issue 39 March 2004.