JAMES WATT STREET FIRE

Glasgow, like any other city, has had to deal with the tragedy of major fires breaking out during its history.
But certainly one of the most harrowing was the one that took place on November 18, 1968, in James Watt Street, in the Anderston area of the city near the Broomielaw.
The fire bore a terrible similarity to another dreadful event that had taken place only a few blocks away in Cheapside Street, just over eight years previously.
Both fires started in bonded warehouses and both resulted in the loss of many lives.
The fire in James Watt Street broke out in an upholstery factory situated in an old three-storey bonded warehouse.
Because it was a high security building, like many others in the area, all the windows had been heavily barred to prevent break-ins.
But the security measures also made it impossible for most of the workforce to escape.
Only three people managed to escape the inferno. Another 22 perished as they desperately tried to find a way to flee the blaze that sent black smoke billowing into the sky and could be seen for miles around.
Some had been trapped in a lift between floors while others died trying in vain to break out through a padlocked fire escape.
The workers escape had also been hampered by the wooden staircases which were consumed by the fire.
In total, 20 fire appliances were brought in to fight the blaze and bring it under control but the building was reduced to a burnt out shell.


The burnt out shell.

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

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