Cheapside Street fire: 19 lives lost in blaze that lasted a week

The whisky bond blaze remains one of the deadliest peacetime disasters suffered by Britain's fire service.

It has been 63 years since the devastating Cheapside Street fire in Glasgow – one of the deadliest peacetime fire service disasters in British history. 

The lives of 19 men – 14 firefighters and five Salvage Corps members – were claimed while tackling a blaze at the Arbuckle, Smith and Company whisky bond, on the evening of March 28, 1960.

Fire crews arrived at the scene after receiving a 999 call from a foreman from a nearby business, who spotted smoke coming from a second floor window of the warehouse.

The flames caused a huge explosion within the building, housing over a million gallons of whisky and rum, which caused its 60ft walls to crash down onto Cheapside Street and Warroch Street.

The blaze raged out of control for several hours, engulfing three of the neighbouring buildings, with smoke and flames tearing 40ft into the sky.

There were 450 firefighters tackling the blaze at its height as off-duty firefighters and fire brigades from the surrounding areas were called in to assist.

It took a week for the fire to be fully extinguished.

The 19 who lost their lives were laid to rest at a tomb in Glasgow Necropolis, where a memorial was unveiled on the 60th anniversary of the tragedy.

Being remembered on March 28 are:

  • James Calder
  • John McPherson
  • John Allan
  • Christopher Boyle
  • Gordon Chapman
  • William Crocket
  • Archibald Darroch
  • Daniel Davidson
  • Alfred Dickinson
  • Alexander Grassie
  • George McIntyre
  • Edward McMillan
  • Ian McMillan
  • William Watson
  • Edward Murray
  • James McLellan
  • Gordon McMillan
  • James Mungall
  • William Oliver

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