Centenary of fire tragedy set for August

This year marks the centenary of the Low Moor Munitions Company explosion that killed 40 people - with fire chiefs poised to re-dedicate the memorial in honour of those who died.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 19th June 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:10 pm
Some of the officers who lost their lives during the 1916 Low Moor Munitions Company explosion that killed 40 people.
Some of the officers who lost their lives during the 1916 Low Moor Munitions Company explosion that killed 40 people.

The explosion, which occurred on August 21, 1916, claimed the lives of five firemen and one officer from the original Bradford Fire Brigade.

Their names are commemorated on a large statue of a ‘fireman’, as they were then known, standing in pride of place at the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) headquarters, situated at Birkenshaw.

Fire chiefs have now announced that they are planning to rededicate the memorial on Sunday, August 21.

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They would like to make contact with anyone who has a connection to the attending firemen on that fateful day.

The Roll of Honour for those who died in dutiful service includes station officer Charles Sugden (aged 44) and five firemen: Knighton Pridmore (46); Fred Normington (38); Eli Buckley (29); Edgar Shaw (24); Joseph Edmund Binns (28).

A fire followed by a series of over 20 explosions led to the attendance of the fire brigade in New Works Road, Low Moor.

The brigade responded with a fire engine from Odsal, the nearest station, and two from Bradford with a compliment of 15 firemen and three officers.

The Odsal men began to fight the fire but just after the arrival of the Bradford men there was a series of tremendous explosions which engulfed the firemen, throwing the “Hayhurst” fire engine in to the air.

Six men from the attending fire crews were killed that day and the other 12 were hospitalised, some seriously injured.

Due to the secrecy surrounding the war effort, and particularly the production of munitions, the disaster did not attract the publicity it would have in peacetime.

Theories were voiced, but it’s thought that the danger of working with picric acid without proper safeguards was the actual cause.

WYFRS Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “Some paid the ultimate price that day and we as fellow firefighters would like to stand shoulder to shoulder to rededicate our memorial on the centenary of the disaster.”