On Monday 28th March 1960, 19 Firemen And Salvagemen From Across The City Kissed Their Families Goodbye And Set Off To Work Not Knowing That This Day Was To Be There Last.

cheapside st

At Around 7.15pm An 999 Emergency Call Was Made By The Foreman Of The Eldorado Ice Cream Company, Reporting Smoke Coming From The Second Floor Window Of The Whisky Bond On Cheapside St. Owned By Arbuckle, Smith & Co Ltd.

Pumps From West Station Along With A Turntable Ladder From Central Station Were On The Scene Within 6 Minutes Of The Initial Call Being Made. Also Responding Initially Was The Fire Boat St Mungo And A Salvage Tender And Crew From The Glasgow Salvage Corps.

fireboat st mungo

Within a Few Minutes Assistant Firemaster Swanson Arrived On The Scene and Immediately Called For Another Six Fire Engines to The scene. A Few Seconds After The Order Was Given It Was Transmitted That A Huge Explosion Ripped ThroughThe Walls Of Premises on to Wardoch St and Cheapside Street.

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Just Over An Hour Later Firemaster Chadwick Assumed Command And Upgraded The Incident To Twenty Pumps, Eventually There Were Around Thirty Pumps And Various Other Specialist Apparatus On The Scene Of The Disaster.

At The Height Of The Blaze Over 500 Firefighters Including Off Duty Fighters From Greater Glasgow Area Were Involved In Fighting The Fire.

Witnesses reported seeing bright blue flames leaping 40 feet (12 metres) into the sky, with the glow visible across the entire city. Neighbouring buildings, including a tobacco warehouse, an ice cream factory and the Harland and Wolff engine works, were engulfed

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The Arbuckle, Smith and Co. warehouse contained over a million gallons of whisky held in 21,000 wooden casks, and 30,000 gallons of rum. As the temperature of the fire increased, some of these casks ruptured, causing a massive boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion that burst the front and rear walls of the building outwards causing large quantities of masonry to collapse into the street. This collapse instantly killed three firemen in Cheapside Street as well as 11 firemen and five salvagemen who were battling the blaze from the rear of the building in Warrach Street. The recovery of the bodies in Wardoch Street was not completed until 31st March. This burned out of control for several hours which took a week to extinguish.

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We Will Remember Them


       Glasgow Fire Service

Sub Officer James Calder – Glasgow Fire Service

Sub Officer John McPherson – Glasgow Fire Service

Fireman John Allan – Glasgow Fire Service

Fireman Christopher Boyle – Glasgow Fire Service

Fireman Gordon J. Chapman – Glasgow Fire Service

Fireman William W. Crockett – Glasgow Fire Service

Fireman Archibald Darroch – Glasgow Fire Service      Lodge Possilpark No.1330

Fireman Daniel Davidson – Glasgow Fire Service         Lodge Neptune No.419

Fireman Alfred C. Dickinson – Glasgow Fire Service

Fireman Alexander A. Grassie – Glasgow Fire Service

Fireman George D. McIntyre – Glasgow Fire Service         Lodge Rutherglen Royal Arch No.116

Fireman Edward R. McMillan – Glasgow Fire Service

Fireman Ian A. C. McMillan – Glasgow Fire Service                 Lodge Salfire No.1505

Fireman William R. Watson – Glasgow Fire Service


        Glasgow Salvage Corps

Superintendent Edward C. Murray – Glasgow Salvage Corps   Lodge Glasgow at Glasgow No.441

Leading Salvageman James A. McLellan – Glasgow Salvage Corps     Lodge Galen No.1285

Salvageman Gordon C. McMillan – Glasgow Salvage Corps   Lodge Salfire No.1505

Salvageman James F. Mungall – Glasgow Salvage Corps

Salvageman William Oliver – Glasgow Salvage Corps

The incident remains Britain's worst peacetime fire services disaster.

The men who were killed were buried in the rubble, but were later laid to rest in the fire service tomb in Glasgow Necropolis. A memorial service is held on 28 March each year, with representatives of the fire service and Glasgow City Council present. Memorial services and other observations were held in 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of the disaster.

cheapside fire memorial

The reverse side of the monument remembers those firefighters lost in the Kilbirnie Street fire in 1972.


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