Rotherham men killed in Sheffield gas explosion to be honoured

Rotherham men killed in Sheffield gas explosion to be honoured

By Michael Upton | 18/09/2018

Rotherham men killed in Sheffield gas explosion to be honoured
The scene of the explosion. Pic courtesy of

FAMILIES of three Rotherham men killed in a huge gas explosion 45 years ago will attend a service in memory of the victims, where a permanent memorial will be unveiled.

National Grid has confirmed plans for a public tribute to Patrick Sleight, Cyril Kennedy and William Donaldson near the site of the former Effingham Street gasworks in Sheffield, which exploded in October 1973.

Six people died, dozens were injured and others were showered with debris in the blast.

Mr Sleight, from East Dene, Mr Kennedy, of Clifton, and Mr Donaldson, of Ravenfield, were among a gang of five working on dismantling a gas tank when it blew up.

Another Rotherham man, Derek Copson, was reported to have left the site to buy sandwiches for his workmates just before the explosion and returned to find the scene of devastation.

Hannah White, land regeneration manager at National Grid, said: “We are delighted that so many relatives who were personally affected by the explosion have chosen to get in touch with us.  

“We’re developing our plans for a memorial event which will include a permanent reminder of the disaster 45 years ago.”

National Grid has recently started work to dismantle the last remaining gasholder in an area that has been associated with gas production and storage since the early 1800s.

New techniques now allow gas to be compressed and stored inside gas pipes rather than gasholders. 

This means that the old holder is no longer needed and can be removed to free up the site for potential future development

Ms White said National Grid was still keen to hear from any relatives or friends of Harry Smith, who was also one of four of those who died who were from the Rotherham area. 

Anyone who can help should call the organisation’s community relations team 0800 8199 071 or email

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