Nine died in Glasgow's hurricane hell

THE chaos, police said, was worse than the Clydebank Blitz.

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  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
    The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland
  • The hurricane wreaked havoc on Glasgow and the west of Scotland

Hurricane force winds of up to 110 mph – the worst in living memory – swept across Clydeside on the night of Sunday/Monday, January 14-15, 1968, trailing death and devastation.

Glasgow awoke to the news that nine people had died across the city. The victims were:

l Two mums and their daughters, who were killed when a six-ton multi-chimney stack crashed through the lower roof of a tenement next door at 555 Dumbarton Road, Partick.

l A girl of five in Cranstonhill.

l A young pregnant Malaysian nurse in Maryhill.

l A middle-aged woman and a man in Woodside.

l A woman in Queen's Park.

All were killed by falling masonry.

Hurricane Low Q was the most terrifying storm to hit Scotland since January 28, 1927, when the most violent gust recorded was 102mph.

Though weather forecasters in 1968 had, on the Sunday evening, given warnings of gales, the ferocity of Hurricane Low Q took everyone by surprise.

Gusts of 103mph at Glasgow Airport, and of 96mph at Prestwick Airport, were the highest ever recorded there.

Across central Scotland, 20 people died and 250,000 homes were damaged. More than 2000 people were left homeless.

In Greenock, where five people died – three of them trapped in a dredger that capsized off the town's Princes Pier – the scenes were said to resemble a battlefield.

In Clydebank, at the height of the storm, a fire brigade officer, said: "It's chaos. There are some emergencies we can't even get to immediately. All our men and equipment are being used to the full."

In Dumbarton, burglar alarms in shops sounded all night long after windows were blown in by the storm.

In Bearsden and Milngavie, one milkman hacked through four fallen trees so his customers could get their milk.

But it was Glasgow that bore the brunt of the hurricane. Some 300 houses were destroyed.

Transport and electricity services suffered serious interruption – 67 railway lines in the area were blocked.

Down on the river, shipyard cranes swayed and shook. Ibrox and Parkhead football stadiums were also damaged.

The damage city-wide ran into millions of pounds and Lord Provost John Johnston said he regarded the city as being in a state of emergency.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson spoke of the "disaster" that had befallen Scotland.

The Queen sent a message of sympathy to all those who had been bereaved and those who had suffered in the devastation.

Homeless people were put up in temporary accommodation at Foresthall, Shettleston Public Hall, and Govan South Town Hall.

Five hundred mattresses were made available to the city from Civil Defence stores.

Quick assessments were made of the damage. By the Tuesday morning it was estimated 54 buildings had collapsed or were in a state of collapse. There were nearly 1000 broken or missing chimney-heads.

The damage took many months to repair.

In time, the hurricane faded from the country's imagination – but the memory lived on for many.

TOMORROW: The hurricane killed my best pal

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