Isle of Man community commemorate 49th anniversary of Summerland disaster with memorial service

Video report by Isle of Man reporter Joshua Stokes

A special service has been held at the Summerland memorial to remember 50 people who died in a major fire in 1973.

It is often referred to as the Isle of Man's biggest tragedy, with many still grieving from the disaster.

The blaze, on 2 August 1973, was sparked by three boys who were smoking in a disused kiosk.

Around 3,000 people were at the resort when the fire ripped through the building.

A public inquiry into the fire in 1974 found there were "no villains" - just human beings who made mistakes.

According to the Summerland Fire Commission report, the disaster will "remain a permanent scar in the minds of Manxmen".

The remains of the Summerland site are still visible on Douglas Promenade today.

A smaller-scale Summerland building was rebuilt three years after the fire, but in 2005 the entire site was demolished by the government. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Summerland opened on 25 May 1971 and was designed to accommodate up to 10,000 tourists as one of the largest entertainment centres in the world.

The venue attracted thousands of people to the island due to the wide range of entertainment inside.

It had a dance hall, a rollerskating rink, five floors of holiday games and multiple restaurants and bars.

The remains of the Summerland site are still a permanent fixture on Douglas Promenade. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

The remains of the original Summerland are still visible on Douglas promenade, and are owned by the Isle of Man Government.

In a statement a spokesperson said: "The Summerland site remains in the ownership of the Isle of Man Government and continues to be marketed for development on its behalf. A programme of surveying work is being undertaken by the Manx Development Corporation to assist with this process."

A memorial to the 50 people who died was built in Douglas for the 40th anniversary, but some think it should have been built at the site. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

The annual commemoration service took place from 7:00pm in the Kaye Memorial Garden on Queen’s Promenade.

Mayor of Douglas, Councillor Janet Thommeny, presided at the service and the Mayor’s Chaplain, the Reverend Dr Michael Brydon, offered prayers before a minute’s silence was observed.

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