LAST week's Bury Times article about the excavation of the Old Knowsley Street Railway Station rekindled the memories of many readers about a tragic event there 55 years ago.

Two people were killed and 200 injured when a wooden footbridge at the station collapsed on Saturday, January 19, 1952.

All the victims were Blackburn Rovers supporters who had made their way to the station enroute home after their team's 2-0 victory at Gigg Lane.

A subsequent investigation concluded that the causes were the lack of maintenance and the failure to train bridge inspectors. The immediate cause was said to be the corrosion of iron straps and the rotten timbers. Ageing was aggravated by a water column beneath the bridge.One reader who saw last week's story rang to say her father, from Blackburn, suffered two broken hips in the fall. But a flask in his possession remained intact. Another reader said he was just a boy when the incident happened but remembered the bridge collapse with clarity.

In its edition of Wednesday, January 23, 1952, the Bury Times carried a front page story and pictures about the tragedy. The article led with the fact that a public inquiry was to be held by the Transport Ministry together with a separate investigation by British Railways.

According to the report, the Blackburn Rovers supporters were on the bridge as they waited for the train home.

How the Bury Times of 1952 reported the incident: "A few minutes before their train was due they fell amid shattering timber and soot on to the track 20ft below. Two-thirds of the bridge gave way. The remainder is being demolished by railway workmen with a steam crane.

Three hundred people, including women and some children, were on the footbridge and stairs leading to the platform.

Then, without warning, there was a crack and the floor of the 40ft long bridge collapsed.

Men, women and children went hurtling down 20ft to the track below. Debris showered down on top of them and a cloud of choking soot and dust billowed high above the station roof. Some of them lay trapped beneath the wreckage of the bridge. Some who had tried to jump clear sprawled across the line, while others crawled on all fours to the edge of the platform.

An SOS went out to police, ambulance and firemen. Among the first to be lifted clear were two children, both wearing their team's colours. For 80 minutes, in the glare of floodlamps, ambulance men, police and fire crews led rescue parties to the heap of injured lying for more than 30 yards about the track.

Doctors took off their jackets and rushed into the debris to give on-the-spot treatment to the badly hurt. The station waiting rooms were turned into first aid posts. Scarves were torn up for bandages and planks from the broken bridge were used as splints.

One witness said afterwards: "It was a battlefield. Everyone was piled on top of each other."

Station master Mr G.U. Gray was announcing train times at the opposite end of the platform. "We had just got the 4.35 special away when the crash came," he said. "I saw that the bridge had collapsed and people were falling on to the line.

There must have been more than 300 people there. The gates near the platform steps were closed and passengers were queuing up the steps and along the bridge."

At Bury General Hospital, the scene resembled a pit-head casualty station. Injured people, with blackened faces and clothing torn, huddled together waiting for treatment. Stretchers were lined up along the hospital corridors.

Fifteen-year-old Jim Wilkinson of Blackburn was among the youngest fans injured in the crash.

"I hardly knew what had happened," he said. "I seemed to fall asleep and when I woke up there were bodies all around me."