Dennis Williams

Firefighters working in the wreckage where victims of the IRA bomb were found among the debris at the Grand Hotel in Brighton
A policeman watching over the badly damaged Grand Hotel in Brighton, following the IRA bomb blast
The Telegraph
Arthur Scargill at a mass rally in 1984, during his time as NUM leader
The telegraph

The Argus

AT 2.54am on 12 October, 1984, an explosion echoed across Brighton and Hove. The events of that night would be felt across the western world for years to come.

On the evening of 11 October politicians and conference delegates were congratulating the Sussex police on a job well done.

Arthur Scargill and the miners union had failed to disrupt the conference or draw attention away from events in the Brighton Centre.

Senior police officers went to bed feeling for the first time in days that the pressure was off.

However, nothing is over until it’s over.

Chief Superintendent Dennis Williams was rudely awoken just after 3am on 12 October.

‘ You awake Governor?

Bomb gone off at the Grand.’

‘I went a whiter shade of pale.’

Cabinet survives IRA hotel blast

The Guardian

Saturday 13 October 1984 11.45 BST

At the scene, police officers confessed their amazement that so many had escaped death. This may have been due to the strength of the Victorian building absorbing some of the blast. 

Mrs Thatcher’s bathroom was demolished two minutes after she had left it, but two of her senior ministers, the Industry Secretary, Mr Norman Tebbit, and Mr Wakeham were trapped in the rubble. Mr Tebbit was brought out after four hours and Mr Wakeham after six.

The Prime Minister insisted that the conference should continue as normal and went on to deliver her keynote speech. The bombing, she said, was ‘An attempt to cripple our Government – and that is the scale of the outrage.’

She and her colleagues had been surrounded by close personal protection for more than two months because of a tip-off about an IRA assassination squad.

Three Special Branch officers guarded her personally and other officers were posted on the first, second and third floor landings.

The Chief Constable of Sussex, Mr Roger Birch, asked for an independent inquiry into the security arrangements to be conducted by the Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire, Mr John Hoddinott.

Commander Bill Hucklesby, head of the anti-terrorist squad, went to Brighton to help with the investigations being carried out by the Sussex police, led by Detective-Chief Superintendent Jack Reece. Also involved were Assistant Chief Constable David Scott and Chief Superintendent Dennis Williams.

The museum wishes to thank Dennis Williams

Copyright Ian Collington and Paul Beaken