Waterloo Row

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Workers Village

Waterloo Row

The Courier and Advertiser, Thursday, January 26th 1928

Waterloo Fire

Seventeen houses were destroyed and 108 people rendered homeless by a fire which occurred in Blantyre yesterday.

Waterloo RowA row of miners’ dwellings, Waterloo Row,  was wiped out by the flames, and last night the village hall was crammed full of furniture, bedding, pots and pans, clothes and other effects rescued from the fire.

Two men narrowly escaped death when a fireman entered a room to rescue an old man and the roof collapsed in on them, imprisoning them; other firemen, however, pluckily hacked a way through and got both men out.

Public Hall Stacked with Furniture.

Distressing scenes accompanied a fire which broke out this forenoon in one of a row of houses occupied by miners in the old part of Blantyre, Lanarkshire, seventeed dwellings being destroyed and twenty families, comprising 108 persons, rendered homeless.

The houses, known as Waterloo Row, formerly called Glasgow Row, situated on the banks of the River Clyde, near the birthplace of David Livingstone, the Explorer.

During a downpour of rain, flames were seen issuing from one of the houses belonging to a family named Cassidy. Fanned by a heavy wind, the fire spread rapidly, and the tenants in the homes adjacent had to leave without making any attempt to save their belongings.

After the first alarm many of the householders and their young folks rushed back to their homes, and hurriedly dashed out with furniture and clothing.

When the Fire Brigade arrived, it was immediately seen that the fire had a firm grip of the entire property, and efforts were then made to save whatever came first.

Surrounded by Flames

A fireman named Nicolson, had a marvelous escape from death. Whilst entering a room to rescue an old man, a wooden roof fell in, and he and the old man were confined within a circle of fire.

The blazing props of the house prevented their exit and to many watching, death seemed certain. Other fireman, immediately hacked their way through the burning debris, and rescued them.

The gale fanned the flames along the row and it soon became evident that nothing could save the property. Men, women and children struggled frantically to save their goods, and in many cases the tenants had narrow escapes.

In their anxiety to get the furniture out to the street they dared the flames by which, however, many were driven back. The origin of the fire is unknown.

Furniture Filled the Street

Great volumes of smoke filled the air and handicapped the hundreds of willing helpers as they strove to remove household effects. Soon, the street was filled with stacks of furniture, carpets, pots, pans and other articles.

Gradually the fire ate it’s way fiercely to the end of the row. Meanwhile, the wind carried showers of sparks and debris in the direction of the stacks of furniture and piles of household goods. To prevent them from being engulfed too, the crowds of helpers began to remove the articles to the village hall, which soon filled.

With the exception of the fireman and the aged tenant, no other person suffered injury.

The plight of the homeless occupants of the row was pitiful. Women, men and children were huddled by the roadside watching the destruction of their homes and in many cases unable to save anything. Many were in tears.

Finding Accommodation

Efforts are being made to find temporary accommodation for the homeless, but houses are extremely scarce in that area. Many other miners however, are arranging to take in as amny as possible until their measures can be adopted.

The names of some of the homeless families are:-

Thomas Dolan, John Liddle, David McAdam, Peter Nelson, James McCue, John Campbell, Michael Cassidy, James Mohan, Robert Fisher, Edward Boyd, Peter Daws, Michael Higgins, John Gormley, William McIntyre, Alfred Wilson, Alexander Mackenzie and John Cassidy.

Blazing Inferno

The story of the fire was told to the press by a Mrs Brown, whose house was situated near to the scene. Mrs Brown was among first who raised the alarm. “No one seems to know how it started”, she said, ” as the house where it began was empty”.

“The flames seemed to take an awful hold on the house and the wind rising suddenly, fanned them into a blazing mass, which seemed to sweep the street all at once”. “Women and children ran screaming from the house next to the burning dwelling and for a time they were panic stricken. Great clouds of smoke filled the air and made the work of the willing helpers disagreeable but they pluckily continued their efforts to remove the furniture.“

Deputy Chief Constable Syme and Super-indendent Pedan of Lanarkshire County Constabulary, superintended the work of the firemen. The Cambuslang, Larkhall and Bellshill fire brigades were all summoned.

The Houses were owned by Messrs William Baird and Co, coalmasters.

Blantyre has been in the public mind in recent years on account of the efforts which are being made to save the house that David Livingstone, the African missionary and explorer, was born.

The house had been scheduled for demolition, but enough money has been raised to save the property.


 Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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