Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy 1939

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Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy 1939

Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy 1939. Hundreds of people climbed on the roof of the Railway Stand to see the game, Salford were playing Wigan in the Northern Union Cup semi-final held at the Athletic Ground in Rochdale, home of Rochdale Hornets at the time.

The Date: 1st April

Rochdale Athletics Ground Tragedy 1939

The Athletics Ground was packed to capacity and despite warnings from the police, people continued to climb up and it gave way under their weight. People were trapped under the collapsed roof and many were injured as the crowd stampeded onto the pitch fearing a further collapse.

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Royal Fusilier WW I veteran and father-of-seven Joseph Howles, aged 41, of Exeter Street, Rochdale, was one of those who died from his injuries. Joseph had recently joined the Rochdale Auxiliary Fire Service. Police identified him by finding his ARP badge at the scene.

Rochdale Athletics Ground 1939

Today, a Morrisons supermarket now stands on the site, but the Athletic Grounds was was the home of Rochdale Hornets Rugby League Football Club for over 90 years up until 1988. It was also used for speedway and BriSCA F1 Stock Cars.

Photos kindly supplied by Harold Howarth

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