On the trail of Glasgow's fire heroes

GLASGOW is to honour its fallen firefighters with a city- wide heritage trail.

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A heritage trail is to be created to honour Glasgow's fallen firefighters
A heritage trail is to be created to honour Glasgow's fallen firefighters

A series of plaques will be unveiled at sites around Glasgow where brave fire crews paid the ultimate price as they battled to save lives.

And the scheme, the Firefighters' Heritage Trail, has been awarded £54,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Glasgow has a distinguished and dramatic firefighting history.

Over the years, as a major port and industrial and commercial centre, the city has seen devastating and tragic fires.

Some of those fires claimed the lives of firefighters who fought gallantly to contain the destruction.

To honour fallen men, a trail has been created that will tell the stories of some of the people and places that played a role in the history of firefighting in Glasgow.

The creation of the trail has been made possible thanks to the award from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A total of 12 memorial plaques have been set into the pavement at sites around the city where firefighters died on duty.

The trail will be extended to pinpoint further sites of Fire Service history in Glasgow.

These will include sites of major incidents where members of the public lost their lives, current fire stations and several of Glasgow's historical fire station buildings that have since found new uses.

The trail will be supported by an illustrated guide to help people setting out to view the plaques and other historical sites along the way.

As well as the printed guide, there will be a web presence, with more extensive records of Glasgow's firefighting history, including archive press reports and video footage, personal testimonies, background information and picture galleries.

It is intended that communities across the city will play a part in the project.

Work is already under way with charity Impact Arts to involve volunteers, schools and community groups in creating interpretive pieces and films to illustrate the stories, memories and history of the sites.

The finished pieces will be available to the wider community via the web and events in the city.

Planning for the trail is being carried out by the Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Heritage Committee, chaired by Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay.

In 2010 the committee organised the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Cheapside Street Disaster, in which 14 firefighters and five members of the Glasgow Salvage Corps were killed in a whisky bond explosion.

In 2012 the committee also organised the 40th anniversary commemoration of the Kilbirnie Street fire, in which seven firefighters were killed in a warehouse fire, and organised the refurbishment of the Fire Memorial at the Necropolis.

The Cheapside and Kilbirnie Street anniversaries were marked by wreath laying ceremonies at the Fire Service memorial at the Necropolis, followed by services in the Cathedral.

City councillor Aileen Colleran will unveil the first plaque, in Maryhill, at the junction of St George's Cross and Woodlands Road, which honours Sub Officer Adrian McGill, who died in a tenement fire there on November 18, 1972.

She said: "I am a member of the Fire Board and did the reading in Glasgow Cathedral during the memorial service for the Kilbirnie Street fire so I am delighted to be unveiling the first plaque.

"It is about informing and educating people about the site's history and raising awareness of fire safety issues.

"Glasgow used to be a tinderbox city and while that is no longer the case, people do still tragically die in fires.

"The trail will also be an attraction for tourists who are interested in the city's heritage."

Fire Brigade Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay said: "Adrian McGill was a hero who sacrificed his life in an attempt to save a woman trapped by fire.

"The unveiling of the plaque to Adrian McGill marks the start of the Firefighters' Heritage Trail which will add a poignant yet inspiring layer of interest to Glasgow's streetscape."

catriona.stewart@eveningtimes.co.uk

QUEEN STREET

January 15, 1832

Fire in former Queen's Court results in death of Fireman James Bruce in fall from ladder.

Location of plaque: At Queen Street and Ingram Street.

ROYAL EXCHANGE SQUARE

December 5, 1856

Fireman John Harrison killed in collapse of part of burning building between Buchanan Street and Queen Street.

Location of plaque: Entrance to passageway beside Exchange Coffee Shop in Royal Exchange Square.

RENFIELD STREET

January 7, 1898

Four firemen – James Hastie, John Battersby, David Smith and Charles Orr – killed in collapse of burning chemical works at 152-170 Renfield Street.

Location of plaque: On western side of entrance to Herald/Times premises at 200 Renfield Street.

HUNTER STREET

November 24, 1904.

Fireman William Rae died from injuries as the result of an explosion at the North British Railway Company oil gas works.

Location of plaque: On pavement on north side of entrance to Collegelands.

ARGYLE STREET/MILLER STREET

July 2, 1921

Two firemen, Frederick True and James Farquharson, killed in collapse of burning building.

Location of plaque: On Argyle Street at junction with Miller Street.

GRAHAM SQUARE

December 24, 1927.

Four firemen – James Conn, Morrison Dunbar, Harry W McKellar and David Jeffrey – die in warehouse fire.

Location of plaque: East side of Gallowgate entrance to Graham Square.

PACIFIC QUAY

December 1, 1960

Station Officer Douglas Mearns dies while fighting fire in German cargo ship MV Pagensand.

Location of plaque: Adjacent to south end of Millennium Bridge.

CUMBERLAND PLACE

November 16, 1967.

A house fire claims lives of four children under six and Station Commander William Clark.

Location of plaque: Cumberland Place at junction with Cumberland Street.

THEATRE ROYAL, HOPE STREET

November 3, 1969.

Sub Officer Archie McLay dies in fire in the then STV Studios.

Location of plaque: South of entrance to theatre.

141 Deanston Drive, SHAWLANDS.

March 29, 1970.

Station Officer James Mathieson died while fighting a fire in flat.

Location of plaque: On Deanston Drive at corner with Strathyre Street

70/72 KILBIRNIE STREET

August 25, 1972

Seven firemen – Andrew P Quinn, Alastair Crofts, Iain R Bermingham, Allan Finlay, William Hooper, Duncan A McMillan and James W Rook – die in warehouse fire.

Location of plaque: To the east of Francis Street junction with Kilbirnie Street.

MARYHILL ROAD/GREAT WESTERN ROAD

November 18, 1972

Sub Officer Adrian McGill dies tries to recue a child from a flat fire.

Location of plaque: In front of Alpine Bikes at junction of Maryhill and Great Western Roads.

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