Cheapside Street Fire Memorial – Glasgow, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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Cheapside Street Fire Memorial

This colorful mosaic remembers one of Britain's most deadly peacetime fires. 

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Glasgow was once a major port city, with many warehouses lining the waterfront, many storing the highly flammable products of the Scottish whisky industry. By the 1950s, many of these warehouses had fallen into disrepair.

Then on March 28, 1960, just after seven in the evening, fire crews were called in to put out an immense blaze in a warehouse that had been storing 21,000 barrels of whisky and 30,000 gallons of rum. Whisky-fuelled explosions rocked the building. Flames shoot up more than 40 feet in the air. Soon, the fire spread to neighboring buildings, engulfing an ice cream factory, a tobacco warehouse, and the Harland and Wolff engine works. It took firefighters a week to extinguish the flames, during which 19 firefighters died—the most ever lost during peacetime. 

Fifty years later, in March 2010, primary school children at the nearby Anderston and St. Patrick’s schools created a mosaic to memorialize the victims. The colorful mosaic features a saluting firefighter surrounded by flames and barrels of whisky.

A few meters away is a slate memorial that was also installed in 2010. This monument once featured a photograph of the incident but is now badly faded and needs to be restored. Another memorial stands in the Glasgow Necropolis, where the firefighters and others are buried.

Know Before You Go

Although the fire was in Cheapside Street, the memorial is on Anderston Quay, on the waterfront, close to the A804 bridge over the River Clyde.

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