35 years since Bradford tragedy

Picture of Bradford City FC stand on fire

35 years ago, Bradford City FC was devastated by fire.  It was one of the worst stadium fire disasters in history.

On 11 May 1985, 56 people died and hundreds more were injured when the timber stand, which had been built in 1908, caught fire.  At 3.40pm the TV commentator reported the fire.  In less than 4 minutes, in windy conditions, it engulfed the whole stand. It was a shocking event that rocked the city of Bradford and the country as a whole.

A committee of Inquiry chaired by Sir Oliver Popplewell was held to investigate the causes and find ways to improve safety. The resulting investigation discovered there had been no fire extinguishers in the stand for fear of vandalism, and most of the exits at the back were either locked or shut and there were no stewards present to open them. In his interim report, Popplewell made a number of observations, one of which was his view that a lack of inter-agency communication was a contributory factor to the outbreak of the fire.

In the years since the Bradford fire, sports grounds in the UK have been transformed and are amongst the safest in the world.  This includes the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sports Act 1987.  This legislation, brought in after the Bradford fire, extends the provisions for local authority safety certification to include covered stands with accommodation for more than 500 spectators in sports grounds not designated under the 1975 Act, known as ‘regulated stands’.

The SGSA continues to work closely with football grounds, local authorities and others on all issues of safety, including fire safety.  Our overall aim is improve the safety of the sector, both domestically and internationally and ensure everyone can enjoy sport safely.

Our thoughts are with all of those affected by the Bradford City fire 35 years on.