New Ferry has not been a bustling shopping town for a long time - but it has never looked like this before.

On March 25 a hugely powerful gas blast tore this small community apart and nearly three weeks on, we were allowed to take a closer look at the scene of devastation it has left behind.

Like many ECHO reporters, I have been to the edge of the blast site in recent weeks - but it feels strange walking amongst the rubble for the first time - eerie almost.

Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts
Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts

And that is despite the hive of activity taking place during our visit, a large digger is busy at work and plenty of blokes in hard hats are shouting inaudible instructions at each other, but it still seems quiet and still.

That鈥檚 because all around us we can see little pieces of evidence of what existed before the explosion that changed everything around here.

Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts
Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts

A child鈥檚 cuddly fox toy is sat - dirty and dog eared - on a waste bin, looking almost perplexed at the desolate scene around it.

I鈥檓 particularly taken aback by what has remained unscathed.

In an upstairs bedroom, which has been ripped apart indiscriminately, a photograph of a young person on the wall has been left in pristine condition - a fairly acute symbol of the randomness of it all.

Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts
Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts

One of the builders on the site is keen to show us something, which he says aptly demonstrates the sheer power and severity of last month鈥檚 explosion.

And he is right.

Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts
Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts
Nearly a month on after the New Ferry gas explosion on Boundary Road, New Ferry. Picture Jason Roberts

A large chunk of plastic uPVC window frame is wedged thoroughly into a garden gate - protruding through from both sides in an almost grotesque fashion.

He next points us towards a nearby white wall, peppered with red spots from the scores of bricks flung at it when the blast hit.

The area where the Complete Works dance studio previously stood is the barest place in the blast zone - the building was so thoroughly destroyed by the explosion that there is very little left of it, and the most of the rubble has been cleared away.

There are a few books left strewn on the floor, a couple by Kingsley Amis and a child鈥檚 school journal.

Much has been made about how New Ferry - an area which has been in decline for some time and in real need of investment - could use the events of last month as a catalyst for regeneration.

But for those living and working here it must be hard to feel any optimism - the small row of shops and businesses nearest to the site has been totally wrecked.

We can just about see inside some of them - renowned local butchers Griffiths, for so long a staple of this community, is now reduced to a chaotic pile of glass, brick and dirt - it is really sad to see.

As our builder friend points out, it is what we can鈥檛 see that is saddest of all - referring to the number of displaced people and families who have lost so much and still have no idea why this has happened to them.

As we are leaving the site there are two lads who seem to be being allowed back into their homes for the first time.

It鈥檚 a small signs of progress but getting back to normality is going to take a very long time.