Harrods bombing saw IRA target Christmas shoppers with deadly car bomb

It's been nearly four decades since the nation was in left in utter shock by a devastating terrorist attack targeting a busy department store in central London.

It was at around 1:21pm on December 17, 1983, when the IRA detonated a fatal car bomb outside Harrods, putting the lives of Christmas shoppers at risk.

Six people were tragically killed in the terrifying blast and 100 others were reported to have suffered injuries.

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The deadly explosion destroyed one side of the famous store, with broken glass raining down on the pavements.

Members of the provisional IRA who planted the bomb had sent a warning half an hour before the detonation, but the area hadn't been fully evacuated by the time the blast happened.

Children had even still been in the store visiting Father Christmas when the car bomb went off and witnesses recall seeing mothers holding onto their kids in 'terror' as they feared for their lives.

Speaking to the BBC at the time, Nik Lawrence described the destruction the attack caused.

He said: “The window blew in but the glass was caught by the special net curtains, weighted at the bottom. If it hadn't I would have been cut to pieces.

“A mother clutched her two children in terror at the top of the stairs. I was strangely calm and tried to calm her but couldn't.”

Metropolitan Police Inspector Stephen Dodd, 34 at the time, was among the six people to have lost their lives in the horrifying explosion.

His daughter Susanna, who was just seven years old at the time of the attack, has said she never recovered from the loss of her father.

Writing about his brave rescue efforts that day in News Letter, she said: "Dad, despite knowing he was in tremendous danger, continued to direct people away from the deadly car bomb."

The bomb had been packed with shrapnel including nails, screws and bolts and the police inspector received 'horrific injuries'.

Susanna added: "As a consequence of this IRA terrorist attack my dad sustained horrific injuries as he had been adjacent to the car bomb.

"Dad subsequently died on Christmas Eve. I was seven years old and I can still remember it being Christmas and praying to Father Christmas to bring my dad home.

"I have never recovered from the loss of my poor dad and I still think of him every day."

Two other police officers, Sergeant Noel Lane, 28, and Constable Jane Arbuthnot, 22, also tragically lost their lives that day.

Journalist Philip Geddes, 24, had heard about the IRA's warning and rushed to the scene, where he was also killed.

The other two victims were members of the public, 25-year-old Jasmine Cochrane-Patrick and 28-year-old US citizen Kenneth Salvesen.

Graeme Clark, a police officer who was called to the scene of the attack, said the street was covered with 'tiny shards of metal and other debris'.

After hearing the news that fellow officers had been killed, he recalled how colleagues informed their families they were okay.

He told the BBC: "In the days before mobile phones, everyone wanted to phone someone to let them know that they hadn't been involved themselves, and I recall the sight of a queue of policeman outside a phone box, taking it in turns to call home.

"Once inside the box and out of the public's immediate view, I lost it, of course. A very sad day."

Margaret Thatcher, the serving prime minister at the time of the attack 39 years ago, described it as "brutal and barbaric".

She said: "It's difficult to understand the minds of people who can do that. There are very evil people in our society, and we have to do everything we can to catch them."

In a statement following the bombing, the IRA claimed that their Army Council had not authorised the car bomb.


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