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Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Photo: Scotsman
C&A Modes

Photo: Scotsman
CW Carr & Aikman

On Nov. 10, 1955, fire broke out at C&A Modes department store on Prices Street, Edinburgh, hours after a major fire at the city's CW Carr and Aikman shoe and boot warehouse on Jefferies Street, according to The Scotsman newspaper.  


: Daily Record

Fire at Central Hotel in Glasgow in 1951. Clock tower sustained serious damage, according to Daily Record's "Unseen Glasgow" feature.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Photos: Glasgow City Council, Illustrated London News

On Nov. 1, 1889, high winds caused a collapse at James Templeton & Co's carpet factory in Glasgow. Twenty-nine people died. 

The website The Glasgow Story said:

"The workforce was composed almost entirely of East End women and many were buried in the ruins.

"The Eastern and Central Fire Brigades attended the scene under Superintendent William Paterson and they were assisted by the Glasgow Salvage Corps and policemen in their search for survivors."

In a July 2013 article recalling the tragedy, the Evening Times newspaper said:

The victims had been in a weaving shed on Glasgow Green, next to an extension being constructed at the original Templeton's Carpet factory.

"The four-story extension's walls had been partially constructed and only the roof remained to be put in place.

"It was November 1, 1889 and a cold and windy winter day.

"At 5.15pm and it was dark outside.

"Suddenly one of the extension walls was blown over, crushing the shed."

The victims ranged in age from 14 to 25.

Their names were, according to the Evening Times:

Sisters Elizabeth, 17, and Agnes Broadfoot, 21
Margaret Arthur, 20
Margaret Blair, 16
Helen Bradley, 21
Margaret Cassidy, 18
Lilias Davitt, 19
Agnes Dickson, 16
Jane Duffie, 20
Janet Gibson, 16
Dinah Gillies, 19
Jean Glass, 20
Sarah Groves, 22
Ellen Wallace, 23
Margaret McCartney, 17
Minnie McGarrigle, 24
Agnes McGregor, 17
Martha Mackie, 20
Elizabeth McMillan, 15
Rose Ann McMillan, 21
Jeannie Marshall, 22
Jemima Morris, 23
Grace McQuillan, 19
Margaret Shields, 22
Elizabeth Sinclair, 25
Mary Ann Stewart, 16
Annie Strathearn, 19
Mary Turnbull, 15
Annie Wilson, 14


Photo: Illustrated London News

On June 18, 1914, fire swept Kingston Dock in Glasgow.

According to the website The Glasgow Story:  "
Two workmen started the fire while boring holes using a red-hot bar" on timber soaked in creosote.

"The blaze spread quickly round the dock and destroyed all of the sheds and four wooden schooners moored in the basin."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ST ENOCH - 1903

On July 27, 1903, train at Glasgow's St Enoch station collided with buffer stop, killing 16 people and injuring 27 others.


Photo: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Heritage Trust

He was awarded the George Medal for heroism in the line of duty. Retired fireman James Dunlop, a survivor of the 1960 Cheapside disaster, died Sept. 28, 2014, at the age of 85.

Excerpt from obituary in The Scotsman newspaper:

On his first day as a qualified fireman, James Dunlop and his colleagues were called out to what seemed to be a routine incident in the city centre: smoke was seen issuing from a whisky bond in Cheapside Street.

James Dunlop drove the turntable ladder into Warroch Street, which flanked the west side of the bond.

In Warroch Street Dunlop’s colleague, William Watters, mounted the ladder, which was then extended so that Watters could direct water on to the bond.

As firemen searched for the source of the smoke there was an explosion.

The blast blew out the walls overlooking Cheapside and Warroch Streets and the falling masonry killed 14 firemen and five members of Glasgow Salvage Corps.

The masonry also damaged the South’s turntable ladder and Watters was left hanging by his safety belt high above the street.

Whisky barrels in the bond then rolled out of their racks and smashed open on Warroch Street, creating streams of burning alcohol which started to envelop the ladder.

Ignoring the flames surrounding him, James Dunlop extended the turntable ladder to its full height to release safety catches and then lowered Watters to the ground.

Both men made their way to safety as their turntable ladder was totally destroyed by the fire.

Six members of Glasgow Fire Service received bravery awards for their actions at Cheapside Street.

James Dunlop was one of two who received the George Medal.

His citation read: “Fireman James Dunlop displayed great personal courage by remaining at the controls of his ladder … and assisting Fireman William Watters to safety.”


Photo: Glasgow City Council

From Glasgow Story: Mark 1 Scoosher at warehouse fire at St Ninian's Street, Gorbals, on Nov. 23, 1969. Unique to Glasgow. Hydraulic boom featured infrared detector, steel spike and water monitor. Allowed operator to detect fire, break window and extinguish. 


Photo: The Doric Columns
Aberdeen Fire Brigade emergency tender, circa 1930, at the city's King Street fire station

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Fire brigade at scene

On Oct. 22, 1979, an express plowed into a stalled train near Dundee, Scotland, killing five people and injuring 51 others in the Invergowrie rail disaster.

The Courier newspaper recalled on the 35th anniversary:

Dozens of police, firemen and paramedics fought through weeds and thick foliage to reach the wreckage at Dargie Glebe.

"They were then confronted with a scene of almost unimaginable horror.

"The two carriages that had landed on the wet sand of Invergowrie Bay were beginning to sink and passengers were frantically trying to smash windows and doors so they could escape.

"Ladders and ropes were used to reach the carriages and injured passengers.
"One of the first task medics had to carry out at the scene was to amputate the leg of a 74-year-old woman."


"There was a flashover."

On Oct. 12, 1977, flames destroyed Hyndland Secondary School, Glasgow.

The fire brigade contended with low water pressure.

The West End News reported: "T
he Water Board were carrying out work within the area" and "urgent requests were made to have the pressure increased."

 Audrey Edmiston said: “When I arrived the roof was just falling in. There were sparks everywhere, and the smoke was thick and black.”

Another pupil, Catrina Campbell, said: "I witnessed the whole fire from the first moment we saw smoke coming from the top floor. I could feel the heat from the road below, and it was very spectacular when the windows blow out.”

In an account posted on the website Urban Glasgow, Michael Fleming, a fire officer assigned to the Knightswood Station firefighter, recalled "there was no sign of fire" on arrival.

"After about ten minutes of investigating inside the school a member of the public ran to the fire engine to inform us that smoke was coming from under the eaves of the roof on the far side of the school entrance.

"My crew of four men where sent to the roof void with a line of hose to attack the fire.

"When we got into the loft we spied the fire at the far end of the building and proceeded to drag our line of hose as near to the flames as we could when suddenly there was a flashover which cause us to exit the roof space as quickly as possible before it engulfed us all in flames

"The whole roof void was now an inferno.

This school was built in Victorian times and had lath and plaster walls and ceilings throughout which meant it had many nooks and crannies behind the walls and ceilings which allowed embers from the fire in the roof to drop to the ground floor inside the walls causing fires in classrooms all over the school.

"The speed at which this occurred was amazing. By this time there were many fire engines in attendance trying to save the school.

I remember my crew were fighting fires in classrooms all around us on the top floor when the water was cut off suddenly for about ten minutes.

"We retreated to the only classroom not involve yet in fire and waited in terror for the water to come back on again.

"That was the longest ten minutes of my life as we tried to think of some way to escape if the water was too late coming back on.

If I remember correctly workmen had been in the roof space with an acetylene cylinder working with tar before they went for their lunch that day."


On May 6 and May 7, 1941, German bombers targeted shipyards around the Scottish town of Greenock, killing 280 people and injuring more than over 1,200.

Bombs set ablaze 
Ardgowan Distillery on Bakers Brae and the flames acted as a beacon for waves of attackers.

In an oral history on the website Remembering Scotland at War, survivor 
Alex Hunter said:

"The east end of the town which had all the major industries, well there was a bomb fell, say the tanworks, the ladyburn engine sheds, Scott’s shipyard, both sugar refineries, Rankin and Blackmore’s and the distillery. These were major targets. And they hit them."

Margaret Chatters, another survivor, said:

The Westburn sugar house got a direct hit. Our house was damaged and all the windows blown out. My mother’s washing was out in the road."

For gallantry during the raid,
Firemaster A.S. Pratten, Sub-Station Officer William Neill and Fireman James Berry were awarded the George Medal.

The men entered a burning building and contained flames that threatened to destroy  material essential to the war effort, according to Wikipedia.

Firemaster's Report

Air Raid 6th May 1941

The Air Raid Warning “Red” was received at 00.49 and the Air Raid Message “White” at 03.25.

During the period of the raid 25 incidents were recorded at Headquarters.

These were expeditiously dealt with and with the exception of the undermentioned, presented no particular difficulty although serious damage was caused in several instances.

The most difficult fires to handle were at Belville St. (incident No.15) where, shortly after the arrival of the Brigade, a high explosive bomb destroyed the water main, (eliminating water pressure over a wide area), and the 5000 gallon steel dam provided for the area.

This circumstance necessitating relaying water from Victoria harbour, a distance of about half a mile.

The raid, although on a fair scale, was well within the scope of the local service.

A. S. Pratten
Fire Brigade Headquarters
15th May 1941

Firemaster's Report provided to website Remembering Scotland at War by Graeme Kirkwood