Watson Street Fire Glasgow 1905
Glasgow’s Forgotten Disaster of the Hidden People in Our Society
Like Grenfell Tower of 2017, the Watson Street fire was a failure in social housing
The events of the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower, Kensington are embedded in all our minds, lives lost, families shattered, numbed grief and utter despair.
An earlier fire in 1905 matches some elements of what was revealed from Grenfell Tower and the same displaced people were amongst its victims.
The Watson Street fire was one of Glasgow’s most dreadful disasters on Sunday 19 November 1905, like Grenfell there was a large loss of life of poor people, the ‘hidden people’ in our society.
The 1905 event is a not a prominent feature of the Glasgow story. It only features briefly in web pages about the City and in a short booklet written by the historian William Cross, FSA Scot, in 2005 ( at the time of the 100th anniversary).
The destruction of property in 1905 amounted to a pitiful £500 – but the loss of life was high, 39 individuals died of suffocation from smoke and flames and a further 24 were seriously injured.
There is no memorial to those who perished at Watson Street, it is Glasgow’s forgotten disaster.
The Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 makes a strange, terrifying parallel to Watson Street.
The BBC have produced a radio programme comparing the two fires.
The programme was first aired on 20 July, 2017, Radio 4 at 9am and repeated at 21.30pm. You may still be able to link!
Copies of the booklet " Death in a Lodging House : The Story of the Watson Street Fire of 1905" are available from the Author William Cross, FSA Scot. Paper copies. £5.00 ( inc UK p&p ) / £11.00 elsewhere Europe/ROW). e-mail the Author please for details. Contact / Cheques/ POs to William Cross at 58 Sutton Road, Newport, Gwent,NP19 7JF. UK. Email below. LIMITED STOCK You can also order the book on Amazon.uk and Amazon.com
Contact William Cross by e-mail
Soon half-clothed men started staggering out of the building, shivering in the cold. Firemen struggling to reach those trapped inside had to battle up the single stairway, pushing their way through the throng of panic-stricken men flooding towards the one exit. The fire had started on the fourth floor, just below the attic where yet more men slept
Newport Author helps BBC radio programme about the Grenfell Tower & Watson St Fires
William Cross says “ Just like ordinary people were stirred up to try to help the victims of Grenfell Tower, in the days following the Glasgow fire in 1905 folk from South Wales ( and across the country) sent parcels and money to the Glasgow victims. One Newport lady sent 2/6 to a hero of the night named Jack Finlay, who saved many lives. Jack also received invitations of marriage. ”
ANOTHER FORGOTTEN DISASTER
Spare a thought also for the victims of Colney Hatch Asylum Fire of 1903