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Nell Lane West Didsbury

Update: Nell Lane was reopened on 22nd February 2010 after 76 days of closure.

Since the 8th December 2009 Nell Lane in West Didsbury has been closed to traffic, initially along its full length and for the majority of the closure, between Elizabeth Slinger Road and Princess Parkway.

On the 8th December 2009 two separate gas explosions, the second larger than the first, ripped through the Didsbury Gate development, situated in the historic Withington Hospital building causing severe damage and a partial collapse of the building.

The first explosion is said to have taken place when a workman cut through a gas pipe which he believed was safe and unused. He sustained injuries to his face, hand and back and taken to hospital. The explosion was large enough to concern local businesses and schools and many were evacuated to a safe distance.

The second explosion which happened around an hour later was caused by the leak from the first and was much larger. People as far away as The Heatons reported feeling the ground shake. The larger explosion caused the partial collapse of the building with the historic clock tower and much of the front section of the listed brick hospital wing being destroyed.

The historic front archway of the former chapel building was thankfully left standing, although in an unstable position.

Although initially people were thought to be missing, the eventual casualty count was relatively small and amazingly nobody was killed.

PJ Livesey, the developers of the Withington Hospital site were quick to help the residents of the building, many of whom were left homeless by the days events. 6 of the luxury apartments contained in the affected area of the building were destroyed.

Livesey have said that they intend to rebuild the Withington Hospital building brick for brick and estimate it will take up to 9 months.

During the Nell lane closure Livesey began work to stabilise the building by craning a huge scaffolding structure into place to support the unstable front arch.

They have since set up a stone masonry workshop on the site to speed up the rebuild.

P J Livesey technical director Ralph Brocklehurst, has said: “We are quite confident that we will have enough salvageable stone on site to re-build. The team is doing a great job going through everything piece by piece and it is like a giant jigsaw.”

More information: Livesey Update in January 2010 MEN: Search for missing after explosion MEN: Pledge to rebuild BBC: Man hurt in double gas explosion