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Alan Christian and John Boyde were two young firemen who came to play extremely important roles in saving tens of lives in the Summerland Fire.

Alan Christian drove the first fire engine to arrive at Summerland on 2 August 1973, where he helped set up a hose on the northern side of the building. There he was joined by the first engine from Laxey, with John Boyde on board.

John was a part of the team that broke down the locked fire escape door on the northern side of the building, discovering a crowd of people passed out on the landing and up the stairs. Without any breathing apparatus at all, they went into the building and carried or dragged out these people to be resuscitated by Alan Christian and an off-duty doctor named Richard Ham.

John and the other fire fighters from Laxey then went into the building, where, some three hours after the start of the fire, they discovered the final survivor, who was unconscious but alive thanks to the startlingly level-headed precautions they had taken.

Alan and John here talk us through their experiences before, during and after the fire, reflecting not just on their unique experiences of the Summerland Fire, but also offering a picture of the service at that time, their professional understanding of the findings about the fire that emerged afterwards and what might have been if other actions had been taken.

This interview was conducted as a part of the Summerland Remembered project commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Summerland Fire on 2nd August 1973.


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  • Alan Christian and John Boyde interviewed by James Franklin (19 June 2023)