It’s been a sad, eventful day in Blantyre as the community counts the aftermath of one of the most devastating fires in modern times. As you may be aware, Blantyre Miners Welfare Community Resource Centre burned down in the early hours of Monday 13th November 2017.
Despite being one of our most popular buildings, it is of some comfort to know that at least nobody has been injured and a huge thanks should go out to the Scottish Fire & Rescue Officers and Lanarkshire Police for keeping the surrounding areas safe as the drama unfolded.
Around 1.50am a resident in Craig Street called the Fire Brigade after spotting smoke coming from an unknown location in Calder Street.
The fire brigade was promptly called and arrived on the scene just after 2am, where they quickly assessed the situation and commenced connecting to the water supply. Police were already there and closed off Calder Street, shortly after also closing off Victoria Street and nearby Craig Street, stationing an officer beside ticker tape spanning the road width. The entrance to Asda car Park was closed off too.
By 2.55am, local resident Kieran McCool sent a photo of the blaze,
The fire was coming from the Miner’s Welfare Building at 3 Calder Street, which is divided into two parts, the part affected being the Community Resource Centre. By the time the Brigade arrived, the building was well alight, a blaze of considerable size the likes Blantyre has not seen for many years!
Rhys Sutherland contacted as at 3.10am to share this video.
In the early hours of the morning, the timber pitched roof on the older 1928 section, collapsed in on itself at the front part of the building above the offices, IT training room, the hall and conference rooms. The fire had by then spread to the large multi purpose more modern hall at the rear with the gym at the back also in danger.
Benny Fitzpatrick caught the blaze at its peak intensity at 4am sending us the video during dark hours.
The party wall between the social club and the resource centre offered little protection with the main hall in the Miners welfare also damaged.
Just before sunrise, Scott Balfour messaged these photos over to us.
Eleanor Kelly shared this photo at sunrise from beside the Welfare railings.
By 7.15am as the fire started to get under control, local man James Devine messaged us the following photos. James works for the Gas Board and was attending to make the building safe.
Mary Higgins shared this photo from the Asda Car Park at 8.15am showing the plume of smoke as the building was still alight.
Firefighters continued to dowse the front of the building at Calder Street right through the night and well into the morning, still tackling the fire at the back, large hall, which was also alight. Gemma Borland took this photo at 9.10am showing how the smoke had moved to the rear of the building, in the more modern hall.
Police took the decision to close off nearby Auchinraith Primary School and Nursery, including the Day Centre adjacent to the welfare. South Lanarkshire Council were notified and advertised the closure well in advance.
Messenger Lit Up Too
A total of 57 messages were received today by Blantyre Telegraph as individuals expressed their initial alerts, then later their concerns and questions. I’ve not yet been able to answer them all, but hope to get through them all by the end of the day.
National News Interest
The intensity of the fire attracted National news reporters, with approaches made to Blantyre Telegraph for further information from BBC, STV, the Hamilton Advertiser, Storyful, the Scottish Sun and others.
By 10am, the fire was still being tackled at the rear, with over 40 firefighters and 8 fire engines by then in attendance , some working since 2am. Nearby residents noticed a drop in their water pressure with some local streets having no residential water at all due to the sheer volume of mains water required to tackle the severity of the fire.
The blaze was eventually brought under control and the fire out by late morning. As firefighters assessed the damage, the latest photo by Max Pemberton shows the scene at 3pm, the roof trusses completely gone, the building gutted.
The Resource centre was a vital hub for this community. Many, many local organisations and businesses made use of the building, ourselves included. From political parties, to dance classes, keep fit classes, IT learning and youth drama, the centre was used almost every day. Its loss affects many hundreds of people.
Some of our heritage has been lost too. The Resource centre had contained exhibits donated and arranged by the late Jimmy Cornfield in relation to Blantyre’s important mining heritage. Other items like photos belonging to Andy Paterson now also gone. The intensity of the fire makes these more than certain to have been destroyed.
Questions are coming of a “what now” nature. We acknowledge many people must have had businesses there, parties and clubs booked, events of all sorts. We would respectfully ask you to refrain from speculation and await official statements about this from the Miners Welfare themselves. They will naturally be dealing with many issues today. Please be patient and allow the owners to get to grips with all this.
Fire Authorities have yet to make a statement and it is unknown how the fire started at this time. To keep people informed, we’ve gathered a few statements here:
Statements from Councillors
SNP Councillor Maureen Chalmers was quick to praise the responding services saying, “Absolutely gutted by the severity of the fire at Miners Welfare. Many thanks to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Lanarkshire Police Division for ongoing work keeping everyone safe.”
Labour Councillor, Mo Razzaq added, “Blantyre Miner’s Amateur Boxing Club have had a devastating fire in Blantyre Miners Welfare. They have lost all their equipment, boxing gloves and other kit.To help them in their time of need, we will be putting out collection tins in our stores. We will also be asking other local businesses to help with collection. All help will be gratefully appreciated and accepted”
Labour Councillor, Bert Thomson said, “Just went down to Blantyre Welfare, absolutely shocked to see devastation to resource centre. The fire has destroyed it. I was there the day the resource centre opend creating employment and venues for various groups. It was needed and welcomed in the community. I spoke to Mick Mcann this morning he is very upset. Both Mick and Andy Simm in particular have worked wonders over the years to make the Welly a success.”
Statements from Business Owners
Mo Razzaq, “We will be arranging public meetings in order to get all affected groups temporarily re-homed and work with Blantyre Miners with Andy Simm to mak this workable.”
Boogie Bounce, the keep fit class added, “I will be in contact with everyone who has booked on and paid for classes this week single classes or block to issue refunds. This may take a week or two to issue but I will be in contact with you all within that time frame. Thank you for all your messages…I am devastated.”
Blantyre Miners ABC said, “Guys just to let you know that the gym was completely gutted last night with the fire so we will let you know when and were we will start back”
Blantyre Indoor Bowling Club President, George Walker released a statement this morning, “I would like to advise all the members and visitors to Blantyre MWIBC about a fire that happened through the night at Blantyre Miners Welfare social club. The fire is seemingly in the community/resource centre area and does not affect the indoor bowling club. However, in the interest of safety, the police and fire and rescue services have instructed that the indoor bowling stadium (and nearby Auchinraith PS) remain closed until a ‘safe to enter’ instruction is issued.”
Reactions from the Community
Many people rightly are shocked at the news today and in true Blantyre spirit, started rallying round to help. Comments left on the page are numerous. Amongst them,
Ruth Gebbie What a sad day for Blantyre. This is such a well used community resource. I hope we can all come together and think of ways we can help until it is hopefully rebuilt.
Malcolm Anderson Distressing for those with an attachment to the recourse centre especially groups who use this facility daily or weekly. If my Church Blantyre Congregational Church can assist any groups please pm myself. Rev. Malcolm J Anderson.”
Catherine Devlin Such sad news in a part of Blantyre community that has lost so much already, took so long to get the funding to get that place up and running too, hopefully they will be able to get back from this, suppose at this point main thing is that no people are hurt
Emma McClure So sorry to hear this news. If anyone is struggling with childcare today due to nursery closure i would like to offer the services of Ally Bally Bee.
Janis Orr Memories of Highland Dancing in this building. A very sad day another part of the heart of Blantyre destroyed.
Lynsey Mcnee Such a shame as blantyre already have nothing for kids to do hope they get it sorted out quick.
A final note today, we hope the building was insured and look forward to hearing what will happen to it in future, hoping for a rebuild as quickly as possible.
Blantyre Telegraph offers its assistance in ANY way possible to the Miners Welfare, whether it is of a fundraising nature, to re-supply treasured items of Blantyre heritage, or simply a mechanism to get news out. It is truly a sad day for everybody in this town.