The day an IRA bomb in Bognor's Woolworths caused mayhem

It was 5.57pm on Saturday, August 13, 1994, when the London Road precinct was rocked by an explosion.

The IRA had left a bomb made of 2.5lbs of Semtex packed into the pannier of a cycle left locked to the cycle rack outside Woolworths.

It was one of the last mainland explosions in which the terrorists were involved, though the choice of Bognor as the target puzzled everyone.

The explosion left 15 shops along the precinct damaged as well as some of the flats above them.

Amazingly, no one was hurt as the precinct was emptying of the holiday crowds who had packed it that sunny summer day.

Woolworths took the brunt of the explosive force. The store's glass and metal facade was twisted and shattered by the impact of the detonation.

But the company was determined to bounce back and show the bombers they could not disrupt the English way of life.

Just 65 hours after the bomb went off, the store's front doors were open for shoppers again.

And pour in they did. The scaffolding might have only just gone up. The cycle rack might have been a wrecked monument to the atrocity. A policeman might have been standing guard outside.

But no-one was going to let that deter them from searching from a bargain.

The reaction of Woolies typified the determination of all those affected by the bombing to just get on with their lives.

A company spokesman said at the time: "Very thankfully, no customers or staff were hurt in the incident as the store was empty at the time.

"Most, if not all, of the glass on the outside of the store was broken, and as the windows blew in a certain amount of stock was damaged.

"All the damage has now been repaired and the store started trading by about 10 o'clock Tuesday morning after a fairly stupendous effort by everyone involved."

That was the wonder of Woolies – but no more, sadly.

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