A survivor's tale from Glasgow hurricane of 1968

SOME people have more cause to remember the 1968 Glasgow hurricane than others.

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The scenes of devastation in Dumbarton Road in the hurricane's aftermath
The scenes of devastation in Dumbarton Road in the hurricane's aftermath

Shirley Murphy, now 52, was just seven at the time and had spent the Sunday night of January 14 playing with her best friend, nine-year-old Nancy Gowran, who lived next door to her, at 555 Dumbarton Road.

They didn't want to part. Nancy pleaded with her mum to allow Shirley to stay overnight in her family's flat.

Her mum agreed, but when Shirley ran to No 559 to ask her parents' permission for a sleepover, they refused.

She was not to know it then, but the decision would save her life.

At some point during the 110mph winds that battered the city and west Scotland overnight, a heavy chimney stack from the top of Shirley's block toppled over on to the block where Nancy lived. Nancy and her mother were killed – as were another mum and daughter, Anne Best and three-year-old Angela.

Today, Shirley lives with her family in the same road. Her old home, where her mum still lives, is a few blocks away, on the other side of Dumbarton Road.

Shirley said: "I think my mum and dad just wanted us to spend time in our own houses and to sleep in our own beds. My mum didn't like us staying out anywhere else.

"I wouldn't be here today if I had been allowed to stay over.

"The storm was just terrible. I've never experienced anything like it.

"We were at the gable end and me and my younger sister Kay were sleeping. My mum came through and dragged us out of our beds.

"The whole building was shaking. All the neighbours came into our living room.

"One neighbour had a dog that didn't like children. But the dog was terrified that night. He was very docile.

"My grandpa lived with us. He slept in a bed in the kitchen. He slept through it all – he hadn't heard a thing.

"But the soot had come down the chimney during the night – his face was black."


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