AIR disasters have become etched on the memories of so many here in the North West.

The crash that decimated the Manchester United team in Munich in 1958 and the dreadful fire on the runway of Manchester Airport in 1985 will always be remembered.

But what about another air disaster that has been dubbed one of the worst in the region but is perhaps lesser known?

It happened right here in Bolton — on our famous Winter Hill — in 1958, the same year of the Munich disaster.

It was February 27, just weeks after the world discovered the shocking news from Old Trafford – and many loved ones were lost.

Bad weather played its part, just as it had in Munich.

This was a winter that had its fair share of snow and dreadful conditions.

The events unfolded when a Bristol 170 Wayfarer which was ferrying passengers on, ironically, a visit to Manchester from the Isle of Man, crashed into Winter Hill in atrocious weather.

Just seven people survived.

Thirty five representatives of the Manx motor trade – mechanics, engineers and motor traders who were on their way to visit the Exide Battery factory in Greater Manchester - were killed in the disaster.

The passengers and crew had set off from Ronaldsway in the Isle of Man on a charter flight to Manchester Ringway. It was due to arrive at 10am.

The pilot on that fateful day was Captain Michael Cairns, first officer was William Howarth and the flight attendant was Jennifer Curtis.

Chairman of Horwich Heritage Stuart Whittle and president of Horwich Rotary David Griffiths have written about tragedy.

WHEN a plane hit Winter Hill at 9.45am on Thursday February 27, 1958 just seven people would survive.

So many would never make it out of the mangled plane.

The badly cut first officer was able to free himself and crawl through thick mist and deep snow to the television mast and raise the alarm.

Local people would join the rescue party. John Sanderson was a licensee of the Jolly Crofters and a member of Horwich Rotary Club.

There were major problems facing the rescuers but along with sub-postmaster Jack Speight and local man John Shawcross John Sanderson drove up George’s Lane to join a party of men from the quarry to dig through the snowdrifts to enable rescue vehicles to get to the site.

When they reached the wreckage they realised there was little that could be done for most of those on board.

Those still alive were given morphine injections and carried down the hillside on stretchers to waiting ambulances to be taken to the Royal Bolton Infirmary which was, of course, at this time in Chorley New Road.

See next week’s Looking Back for more on this .

Captain Cairns and first officer Howarth both survived as did the flight attendant Jennifer Curtis who was discovered still strapped into her seat.

While the crash was a dreadful event something good did come out of the disaster.

A friendship developed between the Rotary Club of Horwich and the Rotary Club of Douglas.

Members of the clubs have made exchange visits over the year and this year, on the 60th anniversary, people will come from the Isle of Man to share in a short remembrance service at the mast.

Howard Callow, who is an active Rotarian said: “I was only four when I lost my father. This date will forever be important to so many in the Isle of Man.”

Members of Rotary from Douglas and Horwich and some guests will then gather at the Horwich Heritage Centre to see the plaque and other exhibits and to watch the films that were made to cover the events of that fateful day and the 50th anniversary services in Douglas and Horwich in 2008.

Stuart Whittle and Ted Wisedale from Horwich Heritage were responsible for putting together the Horwich Heritage film commemorating the 50th anniversary of the crash.

Their film also included footage and interviews conducted by television presenters at that time.

Stuart and Ted were able to contact and interview a number of people who remembered the events of that day and some who helped with the rescue.

These people included Ken Whittaker, Neil Weaver and Jim Stutchbury who were some of the quarrymen who helped to dig a way through to the crash site.

Further information came from Gordon Burton who was, as a young police officer, one of the first on the scene and Peter Tonge, a Bolton Evening News journalist had to immediately report back on the devastation he witnessed first hand.

Dr Sheila McKinley was contacted who attended to the injured and Kath Pyle who helped out at the Jolly Crofters pub which became the headquarters for the ever increasing group of press who had converged on Horwich.

It is now 10 years since these interviews and footage were taken and they have become even more poignant as some of those who gave this information have since died.

Thankfully their memories will continue to live on for future generations.

Horwich Heritage will be opening its 60 years since the Winter Hill Air Crash exhibition on Saturday February 24 from 10am to 1pm at its Heritage Centre just off Longworth Road. The exhibition will run for two months and admission is free.