To mark the launch CATRIONA STEWART met with members of Impact Arts which is helping community groups develop creative projects related to the Firefighters Heritage Trail
IN THE Craft Cafe in Govan former firefighter Jim Smith is holding the attention of a group of amateur artists.
Jim, 71, attended many of the fires commemorated by the Firefighters Heritage Trail but today he's in Govan to talk about the Prince's Dock blaze of 1960.
Although Jim was not called out to the disaster he is bringing to life the work of a firefighter at that time.
Jim was invited to the Craft Cafe by artist James Gow who runs the work-shop, which is a scheme developed by Impact Arts.
James said: "The Craft Cafe is for people aged over 55 and this group is really up for finding out more about what happened at Prince's Dock.
"Although most live in Govan, and one woman worked at the dock, no-one remembers the fire and it has been quite emotional for them learning about what happened."
On December 1, a fire took hold of the German cargo ship Pagensand when she was two days out from Gothenburg, Sweden.
The captain radioed a warning and headed for the Forth initially planning to sail for Leith or Grange-mouth but finally choosing to make port in Glasgow.
Fire crews on fireboats stood by at Prince's Dock as the ship came in at night, and it was decided to wait until morning before tackling the fire. However, when firemen made their way below decks and opened the sealed compartment, 11 firemen and one docker were overcome by fumes.
A 13th man, Station Officer Douglas Mearns, of Brandon Crescent, Coatbridge, the last brought out, could not be saved.
A report from the Glasgow Herald reads: "Fire Brigade officers went to tell Mrs Mearns, who is a receptionist with a Glasgow dentist.
"An Evening Times reporter who called at the house in Coatbridge found the three Mearns children playing happily.
"News of their father's death was delayed till their mother arrived."
THE group at the Craft Cafe are developing personal writing pieces and paintings to be shown at the City Chambers exhibition.
Suzanne Gibson, 77, and Elizabeth Neilson, 75, are both working on a drawing of the dock.
Elizabeth said: "I worked at the dock until 1958 and I have no recollection of this event at all – none of us had heard of it.
"It's so important that local history is preserved so it's been very interesting working with Strathclyde Fire and Rescue."
A total of six projects are being created with different groups near certain stops on the trail.
Youngsters, aged 16 and over, on Glasgow's Activity Agreement – a scheme to help them get into the job market – are looking at the fire in Hope Street.
As detailed in the Evening Times yesterday, that blaze ended in tragedy with the death of Station Officer Archie McLay.
They will create pieces to be display-ed at an exhibition hosted at Glasgow City Chambers on May 8.
In a second project, Impact Arts is working with young unemployed people to create a sculpture to sit at Graham Square in the Gallowgate.
It will mark the site where four firemen – James Conn, Morrison Dunbar, Harry W McKellar and David Jeffrey – were killed in a warehouse fire on Christmas Eve, 1927.
School pupils in Maryhill will be invited to take part in an oral history project to record interviews with current and retired fire-fighters, and artists will also work with young homeless people to create artworks commemorating the Kilburnie Street fire.
IT is hoped the project will include making public art works to hang outdoors.
The scheme is being recorded by Conor Mc-Kenna, 19, who works with Impact Arts and will create a filmed record of the work, splicing it with photography from the fires.
Janie Hopkins was seconded in 2011 from Impact Arts to work with Strathclyde Fire and Rescue's (SFR) Community Safety Partnership Unit, a joint initiative including organisa-tions such as the police and the NHS.
She said: "Impact Arts is working with six groups of people, hard to reach younger people and isolated older, who may not normally have the opportunity to get involved in the city's herit-age. The creative projects will complement the plaques and be displayed on site, or through the SFR website. They are also going to be at the City Chambers. We are looking forward to that."
SFR assistant chief officer Lewis Ramsay said: "Local communities have been involved in developing the trail.
"I urge readers to visit the landmarks in their local area to see what has been done at first hand."