On this day 1968: Hurricane devastates Scotland, killing 20

Three cars crushed by fallen masonry in Bruntsfield Gardens after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

Three cars crushed by fallen masonry in Bruntsfield Gardens after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

Share this article
2
Have your say

Our nation is no stranger to howling winds and dangerous weather, as nearly 50 years ago 20 Scots died across the country during the storm.

Homes, shops, cars and churches were all desolated by the strong gusts brought on by Hurricane Low Q, which first hit land on the night of 14 January 1968.

A car outside Garland & Roger sawmill was crushed by masonry after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

A car outside Garland & Roger sawmill was crushed by masonry after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

With Glasgow and the Strathclyde area first in the line of fire, winds of over 100mph caused havoc by knocking over chimneys and punching holes into the roofs below them. Cars became entombed in stones, with winds so strong that even bootlids and body panels were torn loose.

By the end of the evening, nine Glaswegians had lost their lives, 69 tenements were now to be demolished and a thousand chimney heads had crumbled into buildings.

READ MORE: Remembering Glasgow’s floods of 2002

In Scotland’s capital city - parents William and Elsie Anderson died after a chimney stack came crashing through their ceiling.

Workmen tear down damaged railings after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

Workmen tear down damaged railings after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

In Edinburgh’s Bruntsfield Gardens, no less than four cars were crushed by falling chimney heads. The then-Alexander Hay’s garage in Burdiehouse lost its roof, damaging a further four cars inside the property, while a further three took the full force of a 10ft wall’s collapse.

Carrick Knowe Primary School was also badly damaged, with two auxiliary classroom huts being blown right into the gardens of five houses in Carrick Knowe Avenue.

Even the Forth Port Authority was affected when construction work on its grain silo was temporarily halted due to a 120ft tower crane buckling in the wind.

Emergency services worked round the clock to attend to the injured and make buildings both accessible and safe again. Thirty-four people, of which ten were children, had to be evacuated from their tenement in Balfour Street after a chimney stack fell through a skylight and tore away part of the internal stairs. Four families were trapped on the top floor for five hours before firemen could rescue them.

Workmen clear fallen masonry after the roof of a building caves in after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

Workmen clear fallen masonry after the roof of a building caves in after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

One of four small turrets around the main tower of the Abbey Church fell more than 60 feet and dug six inches into solid concrete in the grounds of the church, while plate glass windows at Burdiehouse Church were blown in.

In addition, the city’s Scott Monument lost one of the 80ft-high pinnacles from its first tier. It smashed a floodlight on its way down, embedding itself a foot into the ground.

The effects of Hurricane Low Q took months to clean up, with many city officials branding it as the worst hurricane in living Scottish memory at the time.

Cars damaged by fallen masonry after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

Cars damaged by fallen masonry after the January gales in Edinburgh in 1968.

Back to the top of the page