On the 10th April 1992 The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated a bomb at 9:20pm. A large white truck contained the one-ton bomb, made from 45kg of semtex. The explosion killed three people. Paul Butt, 29, Thomas Casey 49, and 15 year old Danielle Carter. Injuring 91 people.
At the time of explosion I was sitting in a Chinese Restaurant called Eat & Drink, in Artillery Passage, 1.2 miles away from where the explosion took place.
I was 5 months pregnant and enjoying a night out with Jay, the father of my unborn child, and Freddie is 12 year old daughter. The restaurant was full with diners, many of them, city workers enjoying the Friday night atmosphere. At 9:20pm there was a Mighty, dooming sound, like nothing I’d ever heard before. Followed, by the window crashing in around me. Shards of glass covered the table, yet none of us were injured.
Moving out of the restaurant and into the street nothing could have prepared us for drama that was unfolding. As we came to the end of Artillery Passage and into Middlesex Street, there was bedlam. People were running through the street in shear panic. A man came towards me, his face unrecognisable, blood covered it. We stood frozen unable, to take in what surrounded us.
As we moved along Middlesex Street, heading for the flat in Petticoat Square, where I was residing at the time, the chaos unfolded like a film set, only the atmosphere intensified by magnitude. Reaching the entrance of the flats, a mile away from St Mary’s Axe, a policeman stopped us from entering. Residents were being evacuated.
We crossed to road making our way into the Bell Pub. Jay made a call to a friend who was living on the 39th floor, Shakespeare Tower at the Barbican. We were lucky to get into a taxi and stayed there for the night. I lay awake all night waiting for my unborn child to kick. Eventually in the early hours of the 11th April, I felt movement and was able to fall asleep. About the same time the IRA detonated another bomb at Staples Corner underneath the A406 flyover. The explosion could be felt from miles away.
Next morning I made my way home. As I stood on the balcony, outside my flat on the fourth floor, reality hit as I took in the view of destruction before me. I stood and cried. An eerie silence of devastation engulfed me.
On the Monday morning, 13th April 1992, I decided to head to the safety of my parents home in Hainault, Essex. As I boarded a tube on the Central Line, I noticed someone had left a brief case on the seat. I immediately pulled the emergency cord. Without waiting I walked off of the train and I stride up the escalator and straight out of Liverpool Street station.
The fateful night of Friday 10th April 1992 has stayed with me forever. I flash back as if it was yesterday. Sadly one of the residents from the flats also died that night from a heart attack. Was it due to the shock of explosion? Did the IRA kill four people that night?
As I post this blog my heart goes out to those remembering their loved ones, to the emergency services who fought a horrific battle and one I know, has battled with the images in his mind, since that night. To the many injured whose lives will never be the same. And for who I am today.
Today at St Mary’s Axe the Gherkin stands proud, and is proof that life goes on. Every day I see life as a blessing. Twenty four years on I look at my son, and Ithank my lucky stars.