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Flixborough 1974 Memories – David Adams

I started work with Nypro in November 1972, I was 24 years old.

I was employed in the laboratory as a Shift Chemist, which means I worked on a 24-hour shift system.

On 1 June 1974, I was working in the laboratory when I heard a loud noise, followed by a rushing sensation which I described at the Court of Enquiry as the sensation of an approaching train. I made my way out of the laboratory and left the building. No sooner had I left the building, there was an explosion. The building was demolished behind me. I made my way to the perimeter fence, to the river and eventually towards the road. By this time, I had caught up with my colleagues, David Isle, Luciano Lissiak and Ian Tune. A Police car was waiting there. One of the Police officers stopped a passing car and asked the driver to take me to the Hospital. The driver took me.

Once I was at the Hospital, I was checked out. I only had superficial injuries but was trembling with shock. It was chaos at the Hospital. Windows were broken and there seemed to be people everywhere. A temporary emergency telephone had been installed and I joined a queue to get a message to my Mum who was living in Doncaster. We were told to keep conversations short as others were waiting. I called my Mum “Hello Mum, there has been an accident at work – I just want you to know that I am OK – I must go now”. “Oh, alright love” she said, and I hung up so the next person could use the phone. When Mum saw the accident on TV that evening, she could not believe that anyone had escaped. She contacted my brother and told him to go and make sure that I was alive.

Were you asked to come back to the site?

Yes, I returned to the site. Tony Pollard (one of the Managers) visited me at home and asked if I was willing to help. British Steel had loaned a number of explosion meters (sometimes called gas-alarms) to the Fire Brigade. The Fire Brigade asked some employees who knew how to use these gas-alarms to ‘patrol’ areas around the burning factory. The gas-alarm would give an early warning of a build-up of a potentially explosive atmosphere. I was more than happy to do this. The Salvation Army set up a food station and supplied us with sandwiches and tea. This experience of patrolling my patch helped me to come to terms with the terrible thing that had happened. The Fire Brigade and the Mines Rescue Team were just getting on with the very difficult situation they were confronted with. I was happy to be able to help in any way.

When I was no longer required, I helped to man the emergency telephones which I think were located in a British Steel owned house in Cliff Gardens. I ‘manned’ the phones during the night with my colleague Trevor Cunningham (or Cunnington).

Firemen assess the fire at the Nypro site.
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