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Chaos at chasm.

Byline: By Ray Marshall

In the early hours of a Tuesday morning on July 15, 1969, Water Board workmen were sounding the road in Grainger Street for escaped water.

To their amazement, within a very short period of time, a giant 20-yard-long chasm, six yards wide, had opened up the road.

They were staring down an 18ft-deep gash in the roadway. It was like something out of the TV horror story, Quatermass and the Pit.

Streets were immediately blocked off and traffic jams started to pile up all over the city.

Only the day before, heavy traffic was passing over the road with just a metallic crust of road surface between the vehicles and an 18ft fall into the void below.

A water pipe had burst and shops at the lower end of Grainger Street were struggling to keep open.

Today's examination of the chasm showed that the damage was worse than first thought.

The city engineer, D T Bradshaw, and the district surveyor, George Leigh, got together for immediate talks. Water Company workmen hurried to connect water supplies so that council workman could move in to check the full extent of the damage.

Inspector Peter Morrison, of the Northumbrian Police, said: "There was just a crust of tarmac in one section with nothing underneath it."

It took a massive combined operation to keep the morning rush-hour traffic moving and it was expected that Grainger Street would be closed for a week.

Besides this story on the front page of the Evening Chronicle, there were headlines telling us that a gunman was shot dead in Glasgow after 11 people were wounded in a shooting rampage.

After running amok with a rifle and a sawn-off shotgun and spraying the street with bullets, he had leapt into a lorry and was chased by police.

He was eventually cornered on the top floor, in an old lady's flat. He was dead when police broke in. This July day also brought the year's highest temperatures of 87 degrees and it was still rising, according to the London Weather Centre.

It was so hot that a trial in the city, termed the `one-armed-bandit trial' was held up because of a sweltering courtroom.

Temperatures were 78 in the shade and an adjournment was ordered.

TV at that time was showing programmes such as Z-Cars, on BBC1, Fraud Squad and One Step Beyond, on Tyne-Tees.

But what dominated both the newspapers, television and radio was the impending moon landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. They finally set foot on the moon on July 21.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 17, 2003
Words:428
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