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Coordinates: 53°45′10″N 1°45′59″W / 53.752640°N 1.766420°W / 53.752640; -1.766420

Low Moor
Low Moor is located in West Yorkshire
Low Moor

 Low Moor shown within West Yorkshire
OS grid reference SE155285
Metropolitan borough City of Bradford
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRADFORD
Postcode district BD12
Dialling code 01274
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Bradford South
List of places: UK • England • Yorkshire

Low Moor is a village in the metropolitan borough of the City of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England.

Contents

History

Before 1790 Low Moor was nothing but a hamlet where a small number of cottages housed a few handloom weavers who sold their produce in places like the Halifax Piece Hall. The village changed beyond all recognition around 1790 due to the establishment and subsequent rapid growth of a the Low Moor Ironworks which was to become a worldwide name. The rapid rise in the number of employees caused a great increase in the local population and the need for housing, churches, shops, pubs and public buildings to meet their needs changed forever Low Moor’s image. The image was again changed during the 1960s and 1970s when the whole area was redeveloped.

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1916 Low Moor Explosion

On 21 August 1916 when the eyes of the world were concentrated on the titanic struggle in The Somme, there occurred at Low Moor, Bradford one of the most awful industrial disasters ever, in this country. This took place at the premises of the Low Moor Munitions Company, formerly the Low Moor Chemical Company, situated at the bottom of New Works Road, where picric acid, used in the making of high explosives, was being manufactured in large quantities. Efforts were made by the works fire brigade to bring a fire under control, but to no avail. The first of the Bradford firemen to arrive came from Odsal station and were later joined by 18 men from Central. A tremendous explosion occurred which blew them completely off the engine and, in the words of Chief Officer Scott:

within half an hour of turning out to the fire, all 18 men were in the infirmary or killed.

Explosions, large and small occurred at frequent intervals, each scattering blazing debris in all directions, and gradually the whole works were destroyed. At the adjoining North Bierley Works in Cleckheaton Road, a large gasometer containing 270,000 cubic feet of gas was ruptured by falling debris. The escaping gas quickly ignited and the heat could be felt almost a mile away. In the nearby railway sidings almost 30 carriages and wagons were destroyed and 100 seriously damaged. Damage to surrounding areas was extensive, with broken windows in all houses and shops for 2 miles around. Roofs were badly damaged, ceilings brought down and doors were broken, so that for several days, people could not live in their houses and were forced to camp out in neighbouring fields or live with relatives. Some properties were completely demolished by the blast and 29 houses in First Street were erected in 1919 to replace these. One thing which one eye witness recalls was the number of dogs running away in all directions, later to be found as far away as Wakefield, Huddersfield and Halifax. The official casualty figures given were - 34 people killed and 60 injured. These figures applied only to the works, but outside the works, many more were injured by flying glass and debris.[1]

Fire of 1992

The seat of the fire was located in a raw materials warehouse at Allied Colloids site in Low Moor, Bradford. The warehouse itself had two rooms allocated for the storage of oxidising and flammable products known as No.1 and No. 2 oxystores. No. 2 oxystore had steam heating as it was originally designed to store frost sensitive products.

On the morning of the incident steam heated blowers in the warehouse had been turned on to dry out moisture. It is thought that a steam condensate line was responsible for heating a number of AZDN kegs, which were stored at height in the No. 2 oxystore. The heating effect caused two or three of the AZDN kegs to rupture and spill white powder all over the floor. A passing employee thought that the powder was smoke and raised the alarm. It was determined that no immediate hazard was present and the AZDN data sheet was referred to before a clean up plan was devised. While waiting for confirmation from the appropriate vacuum cleaner manufacturer an employee noticed a plume of smoke/vapour and a hissing noise coming from a bag of SPS that was located underneath the AZDN kegs. Before the employee could douse the SPS with water the vapour plume ignited and became a jet flame of about 300 mm in length. Within a few seconds the jet flame became a flash fire which was transmitted all around the room.

It was determined later that the AZDN powder probably mixed with unintended spills of SPS and other oxidising products. AZDN in contact with SPS is likely to have been ignited by an impact, possibly from a lid and associated metal ring closure from one of the damaged AZDN kegs falling onto a bag or the floor.

The fire spread throughout the warehouse and smoke was blown towards nearby motorways. The fire was contained that day and the fire brigade was not stood down until 18 days later due to risk of re-ignition during clean up. Considerable environmental damage to the Aire and Calder rivers resulted from the firewater run off.

Failings in technical measures

AZDN kegs were stored in the same section of the warehouse as SPS and other oxidising substances, after being wrongly classified in the documentation. Segregation of Hazardous Materials[1]: Warehouse storage, Incompatible substances Raw Materials Control / Sampling[2]: Safety management systems Failure of the steam heating system or operator error meant that heating was applied in No. 2 oxystore as well as in the main warehouse. Plant Modification / Change Procedures[3]: Decommissioning procedures The oxystores and warehouse were not fitted with adequate smoke detection and fire fighting facilities. Active / Passive Fire Protection[4] The fire brigade and police should have been informed immediately the first incident had been discovered. As it was there was a 50 minute delay before the fire occurred and the emergency services informed. Emergency Response / Spill control[5]: Site emergency plan, Stabilising to safe condition, fire fighting Significant environmental damage was caused to the Aire and Calder rivers by the fire-water run-off. Emergency Response / Spill Control[6]: Fire fighting Secondary Containment[7]: bunds, catchpots, barriers.

Geography

It (very roughly) covers the area bordered by Odsal village green to the north, Wilson Road to the south, and Low Moor railway station to the east, Huddersfield Road B6379. Other important roads in the area are Cleckheaton Road, Brighouse Road and Huddersfield Road.

Key landmarks

The most dominant landmark in Low Moor is arguably the most dominant landmark in the entire village, Low Moor Iron Works CIBA. The iron works stand in the central part of Low Moor.

References


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