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Low Moor Explosion Bradford City Fire Brigade Memorial

A Grade II Listed Building in Birstall and Birkenshaw, Kirklees

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.7467 / 53°44'48"N

Longitude: -1.6935 / 1°41'36"W

OS Eastings: 420309

OS Northings: 427855

OS Grid: SE203278

Mapcode National: GBR JTM3.4N

Mapcode Global: WHC9P.Y3Q1

Plus Code: 9C5WP8W4+MH

Entry Name: Low Moor Explosion Bradford City Fire Brigade Memorial

Listing Date: 9 September 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1464699

Location: Birstall and Birkenshaw, Kirklees, BD11

County: Kirklees

Electoral Ward/Division: Birstall and Birkenshaw

Built-Up Area: Bradford

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Summary


First World War memorial (fire brigade), unveiled 1924.

Description

First World War memorial (fire brigade ), unveiled 1924.

MATERIALS: Creetown Granite.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial comprises a resolute life-sized and accurate representation of a fireman in contemporary uniform, advancing forward and holding a hose and branch pipe, mounted on a pedestal. The figure stands on a moulded base that has carved corner scroll brackets that are separated by garlanded swags. It is set on a tall pedestal with an inverted cornice, simple moulded architrave and plain rectangular panels, recessed corner pilasters, and a two-tier plain plinth, mounted on a square base.

The south-east (front) panel of the pedestal reads: ERECTED/ BY THE/ BRADFORD CITY COUNCIL/ IN COMMEMORATION OF/ THE DEVOTION TO DUTY/ OF THE UNDERNAMED/ MEMBERS OF BRADFORD CITY FIRE BRIGADE/ WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN/ THE EXPLOSION CAUSED BY A FIRE AT/ LOW MOOR MUNITION WORKS/ ON THE 21ST AUGUST 1916:/ NAMES.

History

The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever, with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England; however, only a small number of these were built to commemorate the loss of civilian lives in war related incidents. One such memorial commemorates the six firemen killed by the Low Moor Chemical Works explosion on the 21 August 1916 and is situated at the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters.

Picric Acid (Lyddite) was the most commonly used high-explosive shell filling at the beginning of the First World War. By 1916, Low Moor Chemical Company, which became the Low Moor Munitions Company, was producing between 150 and 200 tons of picric acid a week. On the 21 August 1916, a fire began in an uncovered drum of picric acid, which quickly spread through the factory buildings, and after about 10 minutes 21,000 pounds of picric acid blew up in a series of explosions killing 40 people and seriously injuring 60 others. The dead included six members of the Bradford Fire Brigade who were caught in the blasts; two from the Odsal Fire Station and four from the Central Fire Station. Virtually the whole site was destroyed; in addition, the fire and damage spread to adjoining properties, including a dye works, an iron works, the North Bierley gas works, and to nearby railway sidings.

Due to wartime censorship, the incident was barely reported and it did not become widespread knowledge beyond Bradford until the 1920s, when a granite memorial to the firemen was erected. The memorial was designed by the city architect W Williamson and unveiled at Scholemoor Cemetery on 4 March 1924, by the Lord Mayor, Alderman H Trotter, at a well-attended ceremony, which was presided over by Mr T Bolland, Chairman of the Fire Brigade and Licensing Committee. The monument originally stood in a rectangular enclosure edged by a low wall supporting balustrades, set between stone posts capped by urns, but in 2003 it was removed from the enclosure and was transferred to the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, where it now stands in a prominent position overlooking the junction of Whitehall Road and Bradford Road. To mark the centenary of the explosion, the memorial was restored and re-dedicated at a service in August 2016.

Reasons for Listing

Low Moor Explosion Bradford City Fire Brigade Memorial, of 1924, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community on the Home Front, and the sacrifice it made during the First World War.

Architectural interest:

* an imposing figurative war memorial in a prominent location and well-executed in granite;

* the advancing figure of the fireman is well-crafted and well-detailed and its accurate modelling includes a contemporary uniform and a hose and branch pipe.

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