Firefighters reflect on the loss of nineteen colleagues on 63rd anniversary of a Glasgow fire

A service of remembrance has been held in Glasgow to commemorate nineteen firefighters who lost their lives while tackling a fire at Cheapside Street 63 years ago.

The fire, which happened on the evening of 28 March in 1960, resulted in the largest peacetime loss of life suffered by fire and rescue services in Britain. 

Crews attended a fire that tore through a whisky bond warehouse, causing an explosion that saw the building's 60-foot-high walls collapse.

The men, including fourteen from Glasgow Fire Service and five Glasgow Salvage Corps, were honoured at a memorial service at Glasgow Necropolis, led by SFRS chaplains Rev Gordon Armstrong and Father Jim Thomson.

SFRS Chief Officer Ross Haggart was joined by Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Stephen Wright, Local Senior Officer for Glasgow David Murdoch, and Councillor Bailie James Scanlon, in a wreath-laying ceremony to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the tragedy. 

CO Haggart said: "I am privileged to be here today to remember each of the nineteen brave men who tragically lost their lives fighting the Cheapside Street fire on a March evening in 1960."

"For many of us, gathered here 63 years later, we pay tribute to each of them as professional firefighters and colleagues, but they were also fathers, husbands, brothers and sons.

"This bravery and selfless devotion is inherent in every firefighter. It’s what drives them to join the Service and is what sees them commit themselves without question to environments that some can never even imagine.

"This year has also seen the tragic passing away of Firefighter Barry Martin following a fire in the former Jenners building in Edinburgh.

"Our past helps to shape who we are and who we want to be. I am proud to say that the spirit and bravery of those colleagues lives on in those serving today."

The fourteen Glasgow Fire Service members who died at Cheapside Street were Sub Officers James Calder and John McPherson and Firefighters Christopher Boyle, William Crocket, Archibald Darroch, Alexander Grassie, George McIntyre, Daniel Davidson, Edward McMillan, Alfred Dickinson, William Watson, John Allan, Gordon Chapman, and Ian McMillan.

Also lost were five members of the Glasgow Salvage Corps - Deputy Chief Salvage Officer Edward Murray, Leading Salvageman James McLellan, Salvagemen Gordon McMillan, William Oliver and James Mungall.