Norman Nolan lost his life in the line of duty on the 22nd October 1971. His Red Plaque was unveiled on the 22nd October 2023.
Norman Nolan died at the age of 28, fighting the blaze at Texas Mill in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, on 22 October 1971. The firefighter from Blackley had been aboard one of 30 engines sent to the fire in the mill, which burnt for several days and was reportedly spreading from the cellar. The firefighters faced “appalling conditions”, due to the density of the smoke. A firefighter was rescuing a member of staff that had entered to collect their coat but was then themselves overcome by the smoke and had to be rescued.
While standing on an external fire escape, a sudden building collapse buried Norman under rubble. Another firefighter that was also entrapped but was cut free however Norman could not be found. All personnel except those engaged with the rescue were withdrawn and despite the ‘severe hazard from further falls of the structure efforts were made to locate the missing man’. The body of Norman was unfortunately not located until the third day of the incident.
The ceremony to unveil the plaque was attended by Norman’s family and friends, as well as active and retired firefighters, and saw speeches followed by a recital by an FBU piper.
Greater Manchester FBU secretary Dave Pike said;
“Fifty-two years after firefighter Norman Nolan gave his life in the line of duty, the Fire Brigades Union is proud to honour his memory with a Red Plaque funded by the Firefighters 100 Lottery.
“His brave sacrifice is remembered by many across the Greater Manchester and beyond. This moving tribute will sit proudly in Ashton-Under-Lyne and will provide a place for reflection and remembrance for firefighters and the public. By coming together, we will ensure that Norman Nolan is never forgotten.”
A small replica of the plaque will be put in Blackley Fire Station in the near future.
Below are memories added by those who knew Norman Nolan or had a story that they wish to share with you. If you have a tribute for Norman Nolan that you wish to add, please include your memory below.
Please help support our Firefighters with the Firefighters 100 Lottery, a weekly online lottery created to support firefighters, their bereaved families and to honour the bravery and sacrifice of firefighters killed in the line of duty. With your help we can have schemes such as the Red Plaque Project for memorials to those lives lost.
Photo credits: Dom Salter