CHEAPSIDE STREET FIRE

One of the worst disasters in Glasgow's history was the fire that broke out in Cheapside Street in the Anderston area of the city on March 28, 1960.
Fire and smoke billowed up into the night sky and was visible for miles around.
A total of 14 members of the Glasgow Fire Service and five men from the Glasgow Salvage Corps lost their lives fighting the blaze.
The fire started in a bonded warehouse that contained over a million gallons of whisky and rum. Within minutes of the firefighters arriving at the scene there was a massive explosion literally blowing the building apart.
The firemen and three appliances were buried in masonry.
As the fire spread it engulfed the tobacco warehouse, an ice cream factory and the Harland and Wolff engine works.
Fed by a huge lake of whisky, the fire took a week to extinguish completely.
Apart from the volatile nature of the liquid what made the fire dangerous to fight was the location of the building itself. The streets around the warehouse were very narrow and made it difficult for the emergency teams to get close enough to tackle the fire effectively.
Much criticism was later laid on the siting of the whisky warehouse in such a built-up area.
But nobody who remembers that night will ever forget one of Glasgow's most harrowing tragedies of the 20th century.

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There's a huge public argument over how large a wage rise the firefighters deserve (Sunday Post 01/12/2002), but Catriona Fox knows from personal experience how much of a risk they take and reckons they're worth a far higher rate of pay.
In 1960 her father was among the 19 firemen killed on Cheapside Street.
Catriona, who was 23 at the time, still remembers that night vividly. This is her story.

Dad never came home

My Dad, Eddie, was a fireman with the Glasgow Salvage Corps.
I was actually born and brought up at the fire station on Albion Street and lived there with my brother, who was 15.
Hearing the alarm bell go was a common occurrence and I had grown used to watching my dad and the other firemen head off to a blaze.
On March 28, 1960, we'd just finished our tea when the bell went off. I watched Dad put a tender hand on Mum's shoulder and tell her reassuringly that he wouldn't be long.
That was the last time I ever saw him.....

By 8pm we hadn't heard any news, so we phoned the duty room, but they couldn't tell us anything.
We switched on the TV and were shocked when a newsflash said there had been a massive explosion within minutes of the firefighters arriving at the scene, blowing the building apart. A number of firemen were believed to be buried in the masonry.
As soon as we heard the news, all the families congregated in the courtyard, supporting one another and waiting anxiously for more information.
At 10pm the firemen returned with grim faces, bearing the terrible news that five of the men from the station, along with 14 other firemen, had been killed. My dad was one of them.
I was a Daddy's girl, and it was unbearable. It was also painful to see the effect it had on my mum. After that night she almost seemed to lose the will to live. She was tormented by nightmares until the day she died 26 years later.
After the tragedy, we moved away from the fire house and things were never the same.
Not a day goes by when I don't think about my dad and that awful night. Every time I hear a fire siren the painful memories come flooding back.
Firefighters do the most horrendous of jobs. My Dad went out to work one night and never came back, so I know only too well the dangers they face.
My dad used to tell my mum that she would be better off financially when he was dead. Sadly, he was right.
I wouldn't discourage anyone from being in the fire service as we need our firefighters. In fact, my older brother was a retained fireman and continued after our dad's death.
Firefighters are all heroes and I think that should be reflected in their wages.
They deserve a good standard of living and that's why I give them my full support in the battle for a proper rate of pay.

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TAKE ME BACK TO THE GOVAN FIRE BRIGADE PLEASE.

For more there is a link with
The Strathclyde Fire Brigade Preservation Group

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TAKE ME BACK TO THE GOVAN HERITAGE TRAIL INDEX PLEASE.

TAKE ME BACK TO THE LANDMARKS INDEX PLEASE.

Take me back

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