On this day 1971: 22 killed in explosion at Scottish shopping centre

The explosion at Clarkston Toll shopping centre killed 22 people, mainly women who had been working and shopping on the day of the blast. PIC: TSPL.
The explosion at Clarkston Toll shopping centre killed 22 people, mainly women who had been working and shopping on the day of the blast. PIC: TSPL.
Share this article
0
Have your say

It victims were mostly women and children out shopping and running errands on just another Thursday afternoon.

But October 21, 1971, the ordinary was blown to pieces at Clarkston Toll shopping centre when a gas explosion ripped through the precinct, killing 22 people.

A woman is led to safety following the explosion at Clarkston Toll shopping centre on October 21, 1971. PIC: TSPL.

A woman is led to safety following the explosion at Clarkston Toll shopping centre on October 21, 1971. PIC: TSPL.

READ MORE: A blast from the past at Scotland's forgotten dynamite factory
It was described as Scotland's worst peace-time explosion with life in this Glasgow suburb never the same for those who lost their loved ones that day.

More than 100 people were injured by the blast, which had the same impact of a 300lb bomb going off.

Those working in the shopping centre had been complaining of the smell of gas in the days leading up to the disaster.

READ MORE: The tiny Scottish island wiped out by disease
The all-clear was given to the 26 stores by the gas board on the day before the catastrophe.

They had been unable to identify where the leak was coming from, even after digging up the road.

At 2.52pm, the blast ripped through the precinct, destroying shops and lives in the process.

Around half the fatalities were unaccounted for overnight after becoming trapped in the debris.

Volunteers reported running into shops to save who they could, but many discovered dead bodies instead.

Doctors, nurses and police officers on their days off immediately went to work when they heard of the chaos on Glasgow's south side.

The Victoria and the Southern hospitals were overwhelmed with casualties, with injured being taken as far as Paisley for treatment.

An official inquiry found no one was to blame for the ignition of the leaked gas, which had leaked from a fracture in the main which had been caused by "stress and corrosion".

The gas then built up in an unventilated void, and was simply a disaster waiting to happen.