New Ferry Explosion

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Next month it will be a year since the explosion at New Ferry. At 9.15pm on March 25th 2017, an explosion, caused by a gas-leak in a shop, destroyed all the shops in a parade along with many homes. Over thirty people were injured, two critically.

The Archbishop of York saw the devastation caused by the blast during a brief visit while he was on the Birkenhead Mission last September. He met residents and business owners and praised the community spirit. Urging the Government to provide financial help for those affected by the New Ferry explosion, he said; “People here are determined not to be defeated by the hazardous thing that happened here. I just hope that the town gets all the support it needs for the rebuilding of the community. Central government may be far away, but New Ferry is a very important community enterprise that must be supported.”

Demolition began on the worst affected buildings at the explosion site last October. Houses on Bebington Road, which took the brunt of the blast, have been demolished. But progress for many has been slow. Christopher Power and his family have not been able to live in their home since the blast. Like other local residents, they have had to wait for it to be made structurally sound again. Christopher said; “As police investigate the incident and make arrests, those affected feel abandoned by the authorities. For those who lost their homes and their livelihoods, I’m determined to speak out so that we don’t get forgotten.”

Over the past few months there have been discussions and ideas put forward for the future of the town at regular community meetings. More detailed plans are expected to come forward in 2018 from Wirral Council’s recovery operation team.

St Mark’s Church on New Chester Road has been supportive of the community. After the explosion the church opened its doors offering a place to sleep, a warm drink and pastoral support. The church has also hosted three consultation events on the future of the town.

 

A personal story

Christopher Power, a professional actor, was at home sitting on the sofa in his pyjamas unaware of the drama which was about to unfold. His wife and son were out and, unusually, he wasn’t anywhere near the front room window.

“Suddenly, there was a large explosion and all the windows were blown in. I jumped up and thought, ‘That’s a bomb - that’s a car bomb! I didn’t have time to go to the window or front-door. I ran through the kitchen, through the conservatory and out into our backyard, into a carpark behind and away from the blast.

I could hear people screaming and crying and pointing in the direction of the furniture store, which I knew had a dance studio on the floor above it. It was a miracle that nobody died that night, not least because a young person’s dance class had finished only an hour earlier.

There were people knocking at my door to see if was ok. I was totally in shock. I was panicking but managed to phone our vicar from church. I was then told to grab what I could which was my coat and phone I walked out of the front door to something out of a disaster film. It reminded me of a terrorist attack. I was shaking and in shock. I then slumped on the floor next to a lamp post.

I immediately sensed that people were praying for us, following the blast. Then, I learned that the social clubs and the two churches, St. Marks and Life Church, had opened their doors to anyone who needed somewhere to sleep that night or just to talk, or be fed. We were to use the Life Church’s services the second night, but that Saturday, once I had been re-united with Pauline and my son, we went to my mum’s in Birkenhead. We arrived late of course. At 4 am my wife received a call on her mobile. It was a friend from church, out in Pakistan. They’d heard about the blast on the news! She offered us her empty house, and we lived there,, whilst she was abroad.”