Gripped by Fire, 1909

At 12.30 on the morning of Tuesday 17th September 1909, flames were observed coming through the roof of a double cottage in Blantyre.

The fire broke out at a house called, “Redburn” which consisted of 5 rooms and a kitchen in each, situated in a residential area just off the Blantyre Ferme Road.

The tenants were Charles McAra , food and drug inspector and James Barr, a colliery fireman. Both families had already gone to bed when it was first noticed the house was on fire. When the alarm was raised, the fire had taken a firm hold of the building. Both families quickly dressed and hurriedly ran out carrying a few possessions.

However, so rapidly did the fire spread, it soon became very dangerous to enter again and as such they only managed to salvage a few of their possessions. The damage amounted to £1,500 and thankfully both families were covered by insurance.

In the weeks which followed, the incident got Blantyre officials and residents talking about how inadequately prepared Blantyre was in general in being able to fight fires. Rumours spread that Blantyre was to get an appliance and the derelict police station at the corner of Auchinraith Road on Glasgow Road would be used as a fire station. However, this proved to be false. The incident also got people thinking about the importance of insurance and firms selling such insurance took advantage of that sentiment by sending out reps to Blantyre to drum up some business.

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