Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Click on any image for a larger version

As we know, Nelson's Pillar was subject to two explosions in March 1966. The first took care of Nelson, the viewing platform and about a third of the column directly below it.

My purpose in the present post is simply to draw attention to some side aspects of these events including the damage done and not done by the army in the second explosion.

First the precise time of the first explosion. You can see from the photo above that this was at 1.32am (on 8 March).

Second, for those who may not have been paying attention at the time, the force of the first explosion went upwards taking Nelson and his plinth with it. However on the way down, the plinth crashed into the remainder of the column and lodged there. I've put this photo in so you can have a better look. Click on the photo for a larger version.

And finally, before we come to the second explosion, and out of pure nostalgia, I've included a photo of an old style bin lorry, which I'm sure very few of my readers will remember.

And now to business. The army did a lovely job blowing up the remainder of the column as you can see from this photo.

What we sometimes forget is the amount of scaffolding that went up before the army explosion. It went right up to the top of the remainder of the column. And of course it was inevitably collateral damage in the event.

Now, nobody ever claimed that the army didn't break windows. It would have been a miracle if they hadn't. The urban myth was that the first explosion didn't break any windows and the army broke every one in O'Connell St.

You can see some of the collateral damage done by the first explosion in this post. Note Burton's men's clothes shop, for example, in that post.

Well they got another belt from the army (above)

And the army took out at least one of The Happy Ring House's windows. But clearly not all. And they didn't stop the clock, unlike the original explosion, as shown above. The army explosion was at 3am on 15 March.

And, if you draw back, you'll see that most of the windows on the higher floors were undamaged.

And if you look further up the street you'll see that the vast majority of the windows have escaped.

One of the exceptions to this is Worth's, the jewellers. If we look back to the other side of O'Connell St, Worth's have had a lot of window damage. However this is nothing new and had been specifically mentioned at the time by the expert civilian observer of the army blast.

This is probably the appropriate point to recall that compensation claims for damage done in the first explosion were over four times those for the army job, and the latter may have included the scaffolding above, making the comparison even more favourable to the army.

The glazier's truck is fairly snappily on the scene, but only in the immediate area of the pillar.

The job of the wrecker's ball is made slightly easier as the base is not solid. The narrow internal stairway went from ground level right up to the viewing platform.

This is what I call a motion still, if you let your imagination free you'll see what I mean.

You can access a whack of my Nelson material from here.

So, as the fiftieth anniversary of Nelson's ascent, and subsequent and immediate descent, draws to a close, we say bye bye Nelson.

I don't expect to be around for the centenary.

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