Wilfred McLaughlan: the forgotten firefighter killed in a Denton factory blaze is commemorated 50 years on

The firefighter was sadly killed when a roof collapsed - but his story hasn’t really been told until now.

Wilfred McLaughlan was attending a fire in a factory when the roof collapsed, on 25 April 1972.

A firefighter who was killed in a blaze, three days before he was due to retire, has been commemorated with a special plaque, thanks to the efforts of a retired fire officer.

Wilfred McLaughlan was tackling a fire in a factory when the roof collapsed, on 25 April 1972. He died later from his injuries.

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Retired firefighter Graham Bowker was told about the incident when he was posted at Mr McLaughlan’s former fire station five years after his passing.

While there had been limited coverage or discussion about Mr McLaughlan’s death in the time since, and he has no traceable family, Mr Bowker never forgot about him.

Bill Armstrong, Frank Holland, Mike Conroy (left to right) - Wilfred McLaughlan’s colleagues from Philips Park Station

When the site where the fire happened - Oldham Batteries in Denton - was developed Mr Bowker started researching the story and making enquiries about having a plaque established on the site.

The plaque was finally unveiled at the factory’s former site, now a wellness centre, on Friday 19 November thanks to his efforts.

Mr Bowker said: “As firefighters, we are always mindful of the debt we owe to our fellow firefighters who came before us.

“I first heard this story as a young firefighter, and it has always stayed with me even though it’s been around 45 years since.

“When I saw the site was being built on I thought it was the right time to start trying to ensure that McLaughlan and his sacrifice were never forgotten. We owe it to him to ensure that that doesn’t happen.”

The plaque is part of the Fire Brigade Union’s Red Plaque scheme, which seeks to memorialise firefighters who died in the line of duty with a plaque near to where the relevant incident happened.

The red plaque is unveiled for Wilfred

Fire Brigades Union regional secretary for the North West Ed Burrows said: “As firefighters we want to ensure that our predecessors are not forgotten.

“They helped build and develop our profession through their dedication and service, something we all benefit from today. Mr McLaughlan and many other firefighters have made sacrifices which we must remember, and the Fire Brigades Union is honoured to play a part in remembering Wilfred McLaughlan and his sacrifice.”