By Jason McKeown
The awful events of 11 May 1985 will never be forgotten by the Bradford City community. To help preserve the stories and the information surrounding the tragic events that resulted in 56 people losing their life, a brand new website has been launched – bradfordcityfire.co.uk.
Julian Gratton has created the site. 11-years-old at the time, Julian was at Valley Parade for that fateful match against Lincoln City. He explained to Width of a Post, “With the whole media coverage of Hillsborough recently it brought back a lot of memories, which led to me discovering there is no dedicated place on the internet for people to find out about the Bradford City fire.
“Sure there are sites that have a few pages about the tragedy, but I wanted something more. There are so many things I wanted to know about what happened and what I saw, hence the site.
“None of us are getting any younger. I just want to make sure that what happened at Bradford is not forgotten and that the stories from the people who were there, or treated the injured, conducted investigations or lost loved ones; are not forgotten.”
The painstaking level of detail Julian has gone to is hugely impressive. Although no City supporter would be unfamiliar with what happened, the eye witness accounts of the day and information about the subsequent Popplewell Enquiry are both moving and fascinating. Julian added, “I think the general facts are quite widely known. But there are so many things that I have discovered whilst putting the site together, which has driven me even more to add content and try to get people to contribute and visit the site.
“For example, did you know that the club had stewards as young as 12 and as old as 75, and all of them were volunteers? At the time this was common at a lot of clubs; but because of the Bradford fire this practice was stopped and stewards were properly trained in evacuation techniques and health and safety.”
Julian plans to continue adding content to the site in order to build up a vast source of information about the disaster. “The site has been going for about three weeks now,” he revealed. “I’m very determined and have a clear vision of what I want from it. Putting it together and hunting down the Popplewell Report etc has cost me time and money.
“Most evenings are taken up trying to convince newspapers to give me old copies and tracking down people for their stories, but I have a strong feeling that what I am doing is the right thing.”