31 December 2021
On 31 December 1929 more than seventy people, mainly children, were killed in the Glen Cinema disaster at Paisley. ...
The Glen Cinema disaster occured on 31 December 1929, resulting in the deaths of more than seventy people, most of whom were children. The fire started in the projection room of the Glen Cinema and, as the panicked children tried to leave, they were overcome by smoke. Around 1,000 people were in the auditorium at the time of the fire and an escape door, which led into Dyer's Wynd, was padlocked. It was actually a crush around this door that caused the deaths, rather than the fire itself.
An enquiry into the disaster found that the fire brigade had inspected the cinema and found it safe, on the morning of the fire. Cinema manager Charles Dorward admitted that cinema exits were locked during a performance, to prevent people entering the cinema without paying. The fire was found to have been started by a short circuit in a box of film, which had been placed on top of a battery.
More than £5,300 was raised by the people of Paisley for a relief fund which arranged seaside holidays for the bereaved families.
The cinema was rediscovered by archaeologists in 2005 and two plaques close to the spot commemorate those who lost their lives.
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