Fire service in 60th anniversary tribute to emergency crew who perished in Glasgow’s Cheapside blaze

Tragedy witnessed fire service’s biggest peacetime loss of life

Funeral of 19 firemen who died in the Arbuckle Smith whisky bond fire at Cheapside Street in Glasgow in March 1960.

The Fire Service is paying tribute to 19 firefighters and crew who died tackling a warehouse blaze 60 years ago in what was the biggest loss of life to the organisation in peacetime.

Fourteen firefighters and five members of the Salvage Corps died while tackling a blaze at the Arbuckle, Smith and Company whisky bond in Cheapside Street, Glasgow, on the evening of March 28, 1960.

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An explosion inside the building caused its 60ft walls to crash down into Cheapside Street and Warroch Street.

Arbuckle Smiths Whiskey Bond in Cheapside Street near Anderston Quay in March 1960. Flames shoot high as the fire spreads.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said it remains the largest peacetime loss of life ever suffered by Britain's fire and rescue services.

As the SFRS is unable to hold its annual service of remembrance due to restrictions on public gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, Chief Officer Martin Blunden will go to the city's Necropolis on his own to lay a wreath at the firefighter memorial statue on Saturday.

He said: "Today we remember the 19 men who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people of Glasgow from harm.

"The loss at Cheapside Street was catastrophic. It continues to resonate to this day, and the spirit and bravery of these firefighters will never be forgotten.

Arbuckle Smiths Whisky Bond Cheapside Street near Anderston Quay on the River Clyde in March 1960 - Aerial view

"It is, of course, unfortunate that we can't hold the conventional service of remembrance this year.

"However, while we have been unable to gather together today, the memories of those who fell are still uppermost in our minds on this poignant date.

"These men were devoted fathers, husbands, brothers and sons. Their bravery represents a proud part of our history, and our thoughts will always be with their families."

List of victims

The men who died were sub officers James Calder and John McPherson; firemen John Allan, Christopher Boyle, Gordon Chapman, William Crocket, Archibald Darroch, Daniel Davidson, Alfred Dickinson, Alexander Grassie, George McIntyre, Edward McMillan, Ian McMillan and William Watson; superintendent salvageman Edward Murray, leading salvageman James McLellan and salvagemen Gordon McMillan, James Mungall and William Oliver.


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