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On 31st December 1929 one of Paisley’s saddest chapters in the Town’s history  took place in the Glen Cinema.

At an afternoon show, a cannister of film started to smoulder, causing smoke to enter the main cinema. In the panic to leave the cinema 70 children perished, crushed in their desperate attempts to get out.

Paisley Museum had a display on the disaster, and are in the process of updating the display.

Amongst the items on display are these tiny clogs (below,left)which were worn by one of the victims, Harry Green. Also on display (below,right) is a boy’s cap and an invoice from the Co-op for the cost of one of the funerals.

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Many thanks to Paisley Museum for allowing me to photograph the above display items .

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The Glen Cinema stood  right in the centre of the Town at the Cross. The entrance to the cinema was where Burton’s now stands. In this old postcard, above, the entrance can be seen to the left of the War Memorial. 

Another poignant photograph of the day showed the many abandoned coats, jackets and hats in the panic to get out of the cinema. (above)

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A Memorial to the children can be seen at Hawkhead Cemetery. The Memorial lists the names of all the children who died in the tragedy, many of whom are buried in the cemetery.

Amazingly, the building which housed the Glen Cinema still survives and now houses a furniture store. Above a false ceiling on the first floor of the store lies some of the original ceiling features of the cinema. The photos below are of the ceiling and were kindly donated by Richard Vassie.

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On the 31st December 2009, to mark the 80th Anniversary of the tragedy, a memorial service was held at the Cenotaph conducted by Bishop Philip Tartaglia, the Very Reverend Monsignor John Tormey and the Rev. Alan Birss.

Survivors of the tragedy assembled to remember the children who lost their lives and were injured  on that fateful day, and wreaths were laid by Emily Brown, one of the survivors, who was only 5 years old on that day, and Councillor Derek Mackay representing Renfrewshire Council.

Since then the Memorial Service has become an annual event, lest we never forget that terrible day.

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© paisleyonline.co.uk 2012

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