taking our culture forward

As a Nursing Sister in the operating theatre at Nobles Hospital on 2 August 1973, Margaret Cleator had a unique expereince of the wider story of the Summerland fire as it was experienced at the hospital.

Then a 27-year-old, Margaret was returning to the hospital from her afternoon break when she heard the fire sirens going in Douglas. She did not think much of it, but she understood that this was something monumental when the staff from A&E came down to gather intravenous fluids and passed on the news that the fire was at Summerland.

A large flood of people soon started to come in, and Margaret was relocated up to help with A&E, where she began sorting people into spare rooms to be seen, many of whom had suffered horrible injuries. With thanks to staff coming in from leave and even volunteer medical professionals from amongst the visiting tourists, the hospital managed the crowds in need of attention.

When Margaret did eventually get home, late that night, it proved to be the only time she ever needed medication in order to sleep, so bad was the impression of burns left in her mind.

Also described in this conversation are the weeks that followed, where one of the two operating theatres in the hospital was wholly dedicated to burns victims until the final visitors were able to be transferred away to their local hospitals.

Margaret’s experiences 50 years ago were treated with a “just get on with it” approach, but, looking back now, she offers interesting reflections on why the Manx might never have fully understood what the disaster truly means for so many.

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


When you click play on one of the interviews below there will be a slight delay as the audio file is downloaded. Large files or slow internet connections will increase the length of this delay.

  • Margaret Cleator interviewed by James Franklin (28 April 2023)