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<b>Tuesday 23 December:</b> Rawtenstall explodes, Nora Batty is remembered, Police station attacked and Santa Clas arrives

Published on December 23rd 2008.

RAWTENSTALL, north of Manchester, has suffered a huge gas explosion. A 50ft fireball caused the temporary closure of the A56 connecting Greater Manchester with East Lancashire. It also knocked out land phone lines and the electrical and gas supply to much of the Rossendale Valley. Two hundred homes were evacuated. The gas supply may not be restored for several homes until after Christmas Day.

TODAY IN DUKINFIELD a thanksgiving service will be held for actress Kathy Staff, who played Nora Batty in the BBC sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine. The 80-year-old, who was from Dukinfield, died last week. The Vicar of the St Mark’s Church has been astonished by a flood of support and condolence letters and cards. Hundreds of mourners are expected to attend a public service at the church led by the Reverend Alison Cox.

ARSONISTS have struck at a north Manchester police station, destroying two vehicles and causing damage to the building at Newton Heath. The vehicles in question were an unmarked Ford Fiesta and a marked Transit van. In a statement neighbourhood inspector Chris Hadfield said: ""The fire spread to the police station but luckily only caused minor damage.”

DESPITE THE GATHERING clouds of doom over the economy, a Swedish businessman, Clas Ohlson, is planning to open a large store in Manchester Arndale in the New Year. Santa Clas’s seasonal announcement will result in sixty jobs in the city centre. The hardware store will sell electrical goods, kitchen and bathroom fittings, tools and gardening equipment.

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