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In 1973, 50 people died when fire swept through the Summerland entertainment centre in Douglas, Isle of Man


Darkest day in Manx history

The Summerland disaster is the worst day in Manx history and remains the third worst loss of life from fire on land in the British Isles since World War Two. Dr Ian Phillips’ book on the Summerland fire, revised in March 2021,  is the most comprehensive account ever written of the disaster.



The end of a holiday dream

The indoor Summerland leisure complex in Douglas was the first of its kind in the world yet two years after its completion in 1971, the hi-tech promenade venue was the scene of devastation as the blaze, sparked by three boys illicitly smoking, gutted the complex within minutes.

Catalogue of errors

The Summerland Fire Commission’s report concluded that there were “no villains” but that “human errors” and “poor communications” led to the disaster. No prosecutions were ever brought, however fire safety standards changed around the world as a result.




“The Summerland disaster is one of the most forgotten news stories in the post-war history of the British Isles.”

Dr Ian Phillips

“It was meant to be paradise”

This nine minute film, first shown on BBC One’s Inside Out North West programme to mark the 40th anniversary of the Summerland fire disaster, features interviews with survivors and members of the emergency services including the driver of the first fire engine to arrive on the scene.


^ This photograph appears with the kind permission of Noel Howarth ^

The Summerland Fire Disaster

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