Tragedy echoes Manx inferno
Saturday 31 October 1998
On Thursday, 2 August 1973, more than 50 people perished when flames swept through the Summerland complex in Douglas, Isle of Man. Thousands of local people and holidaymakers were enjoying themselves in the building, when three schoolboys, who were smoking in a plastic pay desk, inadvertently started a small fire. The flames spread rapidly and within minutes the entire Summerland building was alight. In just one hour it was a charred wreck.
The official report into the fire made 34 recommendations which the inquiry team hoped would prevent similar tragedies and blamed human error for the incident - although it said there were "no villains". Many pointed to the fact that there was no sprinkler system in the building. Others said the disaster was worse because of a material used in the construction.
Pauline Wynne-Smythe was named as a heroine in the report and is credited with saving the lives of 300 people on the night. As manageress of the complex's Marquee Showbar, Mrs Wynne-Smythe kept calm among the mass panic, leading people to safety.
It is a horror that was brought to the forefront of her mind as she listened to radio reports of the Gothenburg tragedy while driving to work yesterday morning. "I still have nightmares about that night," said the 54-year-old Mrs Wynne-Smythe."Whenever a fire happens, such as the Bradford disaster, I automatically think I know what they're going through."
Mrs Wynne-Smythe said the enormity of Summerland tragedy did not hit her until two weeks later. "It was delayed shock," she said. During the funeral of a fellow member of staff killed in the blaze, she finally cracked under the strain. "I was on tranquillisers for three years afterwards." (PA)
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should convert and not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...
£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Engineer is required to...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + £4200 car allowance: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Suppo...