It's ten years since an IRA bomb blew up in Manchester city centre. It causes widespread damage - but no fatalities. Every Cloud: Ten Years After The Manchester Bomb is on at Manchester's Urbis until December:
"Every Cloud is an installation of work recalling the huge dust cloud thrown up by the impact of the bomb, re-created by Manchester school children, constructed from 80,000 pieces of paper.The IRA bomb went off just at the end of my second year at uni. It was a Saturday morning and I was in my student house in the Higher Broughton area of Salford, about two miles away. Suddenly, *BOOM* - the whole house shuddered and the windows rattled. I raced to the window expecting to see a lorry crash at the crossroads at the top of our street.
The exhibition also presents recorded testimonies and impressions of people who experienced the events of that day. "
We were gobsmacked when we heard what had happened. One of our friends worked at Marks & Spencers (the bomb was in a van just outside the store) and they'd all been evacuated to Victoria Station about an hour beforehand, when the warning call was made. I think even over there they had had casualties from flying glass.
The rebuilding of the bombed area went on throughout my final year at uni and continued long after I'd left. I've got vivid memories of the damaged buildings - M&S, the Royal Exchange and the massive hole in the side of the Arndale - twisted girders and cables, water dripping from broken pipes - being able to see right inside to shops and offices.
Going back for the first time in years a couple of months ago I hardly recognised that part of town - all tarted up with designer shops, bars, a big screen and an observation wheel - only the area around the cathedral felt familiar.
I was glad to see that the post box outside M&S, which survived almost unscathed while everything in the surrounded area was devastated is still there, and now wears a plaque commemorating its history.
Greater Manchester Police: Manchester bombing footage
Manchester Evening News: City museum marks bombing
BBC: On this day - 1996: Huge explosion rocks central Manchester
BBC: Manchester bomb: in pictures
BBC: Manchester bomb: where were you?