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Northwick Park Hospital’s heroic efforts in Harrow sewer disaster of 1975

In 1975, beneath the streets of St Ann’s Road in Harrow, a horrific incident unfolded, plunging two labourers, Manus Gallagher and Seamus Greene, into a fight for their lives.

Working in the depths of a sewer, they were suddenly buried alive when the ceiling collapsed, leaving them trapped in suffocating darkness under tons of soil.

Their voices silenced by the weight of the earth, Manus and Seamus clung to hope, their thoughts consumed by the desperate plea: “Get us out of here, get the weight off us.” For six agonising hours, they battled the suffocating darkness until their fellow workers, along with emergency services, managed to dig their way towards their friends.

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Northwick Park Hospital's heroic efforts in Harrow sewer disaster of 1975 Harrow Online
Image: London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

As word of the disaster spread, hopes turned to Northwick Park Hospital. The hospital personnel, alongside emergency responders, devoted themselves tirelessly to free Manus and Seamus from their underground confinement. After six hours of determination, their efforts paid off when Manus and Seamus were finally rescued and brought to safety.

Upon their rescue, Manus, with a fractured pelvis and internal injuries, asked for a simple pleasure – “a good big pint of beer.” Yet, his gratitude extended far beyond that. He paid tribute to the unsung heroes, the “marvellous people who had helped in the rescue,” including the dedicated hospital staff.

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In the midst of an unimaginable crisis, Northwick Park Hospital stood tall as a beacon of hope for Harrow. It reminded us of the incredible strength within us all and the remarkable solidarity that shines brightest in our darkest moments.

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