Flixborough, Lincolnshire – Thankful Village #21

Flixborough has an extra reason to be thankful. It is strangely sited, perched on a hill high above a tired looking industrial park. There are wind turbines surrounding the village in every direction.

In 1974 a chemical plant on the industrial site exploded leaving 28 people dead. It was one of britain’s largest ever non-nuclear explosions. Every roof in Flixborough was lifted or set ablaze, yet no villagers were killed. Barely a window remained in tact.

On my first visit to Flixborough I left with only a pocket full of music and pictures. The disaster proved hard to pin down in song.

The people of Flixborough and those that remembered the explosion were reluctant to speak to me. The media descended on the village in 1974 and local press often mark the anniversaries.

I returned a year later to speak to Derek Green and his son Andrew. Derek has lived as a farmer both before and ever since the Nypro disaster.

I arrive early as I do everywhere and circle the village, trying to understand the relationship between the slightly broken settlement and it’s equally crumbling industrial half sibling.

The pub is dead, the building is on offer to the community to make something of it. I find a small gauge railway track with a cat skeleton by it’s side. The disused line takes me to the industrial site, much of it padlocked and rusted, though some of it still working. Everything is 1980. I record the rain on a Coke can. I have mud on my shoes and I worry about the first impressions I will give Derek.

We talk of nothing other than thankfulness and gratitude. Their world exploded and they survived by chance.