Famous Scots - Cheapside Street Fire
On the evening of 28 March 1960 a fire broke out in a bonded warehouse owned by Arbuckle, Smith and Company in Cheapside Street, Anderston, Glasgow.
The Glasgow Fire Service was initially alerted by a 999 call at 7.15pm from the foreman of the Eldorado Ice Cream Company which was near the whisky bond. He reported smoke coming from a second floor window of the warehouse. In response two pumps from West Station with Sub Officer James Calder in charge was sent, along with a Turntable Ladder from Central Station. Also responding initially was the Fire Boat 'St Mungo' and a Salvage Tender and crew of the Glasgow Salvage Corps.
The first fire crews arrived at 7.21pm and after a quick reconnaissance three more pumps were requested to attend. Crews were informed by civilians that smoke and flame had been seen on the Warroch Street side of the building and additional crews and equipment were sent to invesitgate. Assistant Firemaster Swanson had now arrived on the scene and having been fully appraised of the situation increased the number of pumps (fire engines) to eight. This message was sent at 7.49pm and seconds after it was transmitted a major explosion blew out the walls of the premises virtually destroying it.
The warehouse contained over a million gallons of whisky and rum under one roof. This burned out of control for several hours, as off-duty firefighters from Glasgow and fire brigades from the surrounding areas were called in to assist. In total of 30 pumping appliances, 5 Turntable Ladders and 4 support vehicles were sent to the scene from around the area.
Witnesses reported seeing bright blue flames leaping 40 feet 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.
At the height of the blaze, 450 firefighters from the Greater Clyde valley were involved in fighting the fire, which took a week to extinguish.
The incident remains Britain's worst peacetime fire services disaster.
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 BLEVE explosion that caused the front and rear walls of the building to burst outwards causing large quantities of masonry to collapse into the street. This collapse was the reason for the death of all nineteen Glasgow Fire Service and Salvage Corps men killed at the incident.
Firefighters and salvagemen killedThe following is a list of the fire fighters/salvagemen killed on 28 March 1960 during this event:
Fireman John Allen – Glasgow Fire Service
Fireman Christopher Boyle – Glasgow Fire Service
Sub Officer James Calder – Glasgow Fire Service
Fireman Gordon Chapman – Strathclyde Fire Brigade
Fireman William Crockett – Glasgow Fire Service
Fireman Archibald Darroch – Glasgow Fire Service
Fireman Daniel Davidson – Glasgow Fire Service
Fireman Alfred Dickinson – Glasgow Fire Service
Fireman Alexander Grassie – Glasgow Fire Service
Salvageman Gordon McMillan – Glasgow Salvage Corps
Fireman Ian McMillan – Glasgow Fire Service
Fireman George McIntyre – Glasgow Fire Service
Sub Officer John McPherson – Glasgow Fire Service
Leading Salvageman James McLellan – Glasgow Salvage Corps
Fireman Edward McMillan – Glasgow Fire Service
Salvageman James Mungall – Glasgow Salvage Corps
Superintendent Edward Murray – Glasgow Salvage Corps
Salvageman William Oliver – Glasgow Salvage Corps
Fireman William Watson – Glasgow Fire Service
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.
Firstname: Cheapside Street Fire
Date of Death: 28th Mar 1960
Cemetery: Glasgow Necropolis
50 Cathedral Square
PostCode: G4 0UZ
Region: Glasgow and Clyde Valley
Please Note, the marker on this map indicates the Cemetery location, not the location of a particular grave.