AN EXTENSIVE warehouse fire took place on Bonfire night in 1983.

It was at Renwicks Freight at the junction of Thornton Road and City Road in Listerhills - the site where Grattan’s warehouse now stands - and the glow from the blaze could be seen for miles around.

Bradfordian Ray Banyard, a former control room operator with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, heard about the blaze and rung the control room.

“I was off-duty at home and I had the radio on. I started moving the dials and thought I heard the words ‘make pumps 23’. In those days brigade radios were not encrypted so you could tune in and catch snippets.

Ray rang the brigade headquarters at Birkenshaw and asked where it was.

“They said it was Preston Street, which is quite near my home so I got my camera bag and went down to see what was happening,” he recalls.

When Ray arrived the building was well alight. “It was a very dramatic sight, with the glow, orange and red, coming out of the building. I knew a lot of the fire officers there and stood next to the chief fire officer.

“We were standing in big pools of water from the fire hoses. I asked where I was allowed to go to take pictures and they showed me where I could stand. In those days there were fewer regulations surrounding things like that - common sense prevailed.”

At one point they stood about a yard from the warehouse door and, looking through, I could see large bales of wool on fire.

“I took a picture of them. You could feel the heat, it was very intense. I was told that I could take pictures but - and I was told this very firmly - I was not to enter.”

He adds: “I feel very privileged that I was able to get these photographs and the many pictures I have taken at other fires.”

Ray still has the incident report from that night. “The call came at 9.15pm about a blaze in a one to four-storey building with a basement. It says the building is used for storage and warehousing.

“In attendance were 23 pumps - two from Nelson Street, one from Fairweather Green, one from Idle, two from Odsal, two from Cleckheaton, two from Keighley, one from Morley, two from Batley, two from Bramley, one from Pudsey, one from Leeds, one from Heckmondwike, one from Rawdon, one from Queensbury, one from Otley, one from Hunslet and one from Illingworth near Halifax.

“There were four turntable ladders, from Bradford, Cleckheaton, Batley and Hunslet.”

A number of other specialist vehicles also attended the incident.

Ray has been an unofficial photographer at the scene of many devastating blazes across the district during his 38-year career.

His pictures of this blaze are both dramatic and atmospheric, showing the intensity of the fire.

You can almost feel the heat from the blaze as it tears through the large bales of wool in the warehouse.

The bright white light shining from the many windows of the building shows the fire at its height, with smoke billowing overhead.

"There were so many officers in attendance, with four to five crew on every pump. I knew quite a lot of them," says Ray.

It would have been a really busy night for the fire service, with it being November 5 when call out to bonfire-related incidents are common.

"It is always a very busy night. Twenty three pumps at one incident is a lot," says Ray.

Formerly a railway goods warehouse, the building was in daily use.

The day after the Renwick’s fire Ray returned to the site.

“I went back the following day after the fire had been put out and was taken into the burnt out building. I was led down a spiral staircase into the basement.”

Two lorries in the basement were covered with soot but otherwise undamaged.

“When you stood there and looked around, it really was incredible that those lorries were not caught in the fire,” says Ray.

Specialist firms had already arrived to begin demolishing the building, which was a skeleton of its former self. "It had been virtually destroyed - there was not much left of it beyond four walls," says Ray. "There was a bit of smoke hanging in the air but that was it."

Coincidentally, on the same day, another incident involving business premises in Bradford took place.

Recalls Ray: “That morning there was a big explosion in a garage belonging to National Breakdown in Morley Street.

“At the time the Telegraph & Argus was a broadsheet and they featured a big double page spread of both incidents with pictures of each.”

Ray has never found out what caused the fire at Renwick's. "I asked a few times and was told it was under investigation and I still don't know," he says.