Prominent figures gathered to discuss Manchester’s instant and ongoing response to the IRA bomb that rocked the city centre 20 years ago.
The event, sponsored by Roland Dransfield, focused on major regeneration programmes that have since shaped the city, as well as people’s constant willingness to ‘make Manchester better’.
It was held at the National Football Museum this morning and included thoughts from panel members Tom Bloxham MBE and Beetham Tower architect Ian Simpson.
Speaking on stage at the Insider North West breakfast event, which marked the 20th anniversary of the IRA bomb, Urban Splash chairman Tom Bloxham said Manchester’s collective reaction to the devastating bomb was ‘instant’.
“People got together to make things happen,” said Tom. “In other cities outside of Manchester, people would have looked ‘at the big hole in the ground (the Manchester bomb) for six months, arguing about who is going to lead on redevelopment.
“But, literally the day after the bomb, everybody got stuck in and weren’t particularly interested in getting one over on someone else (commercially).”
He added: “There’s an infectious appeal to Manchester and an appetite - and that made things happen, and continues to makes things happen.”
Insider North West editor Miri Thomas chaired the event and alluded to the estimated £700m of damage the bomb on Saturday, June 15 1996, caused.
Audience members also spoke of where they were when the bomb went off.
The panel, which also included Prudential fund manager Trevor Hankin and Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester, revealed their own stories relating to the day of the bomb, and also shared views on the rapid city centre transformation that followed .
Ian Simpson, senior partner at SimpsonHaugh & Partners, said: “The great thing about Manchester is that it’s not about ‘what we can’t do’.
“There’s a sense that people living and working in the city have a passion for it. They don’t quite know why, it’s just intuitive that they want to do better.
“And that goes for all the professionals and businesses in the city – they want to make Manchester better.”
Responding to whether he thought Manchester had missed any opportunities in the past 20 years, Ian added: “I’m not interested in missed opportunities. Everybody is doing the very best they can. We’ve had a recession that stopped a lot of cranes from being in the skyline.
“So I don’t think we’ve missed any opportunities. Any other city would give their right arm to be able to do what Manchester has been able to in the past 20 years.”
Roland Dransfield managing director Lisa Morton said: “The IRA bomb was a defining moment in Manchester’s recent history.
“Thankfully no-one was killed on that day. But sadly, many were injured and hundreds of millions pounds’ worth of damage was caused.
“However, the people of Manchester reacted immediately and with pride. The public and private sector has worked collaboratively to deliver inspiring regeneration projects which collectively have enabled us to compete with other cities on an international stage.”
She added: “This morning’s event was important to us for two reasons - it marked the 20th anniversary of the bomb by celebrating the city’s remarkable progress and also our own, as I launched Roland Dransfield in the summer of 1996.
“We have been fortunate to be involved in the PR and marketing of much of this regeneration and are passionate about Manchester, its buildings, its people - and its steely determination to keep improving.”
Noma, Manchester Metropolitan University and Nabarro also sponsored the event at the National Football Museum.