Glasgow Stair collapses

Shortly after 2am on 9th September 2013 a tread broke in a flight of stairs in La Crosse Terrace, Kelvinbridge. Apparently a student was climbing the stairs to her tenement home when the tread failed.

Residents were moved out after the stairwell collapsed

Picture from Glasgow Evening Times – shows the broken tread

Tenement buildings are common in Glasgow and typically contain a number of flats arranged around a communal staircase and close (entrance hall). Many were built by the Victorians. Since reading about the failure last year I have come across many more reports about other collapses in tenement buildings in the city.

The Glasgow Herald reported on these failures:

July 13th 1923

Some alarm was created in a tenement at 45 Henderson Street… …through the collapse of a stone stair. While a man was ascending the stair leading from the third to the fourth storey he felt some of the steps giving way. He caught hold of a conducting rail and had just secured a good grip when the entire stair collapsed. The heavy stones crashed down the wall of the tenement on to the second landing, cutting off all access for the time being to the third and fourth storey. A second and small portion of the stair collapsed shortly afterwards, and two constables had narrow escapes from flying pieces of stone. A peculiar feature of the incident is that while the stairs collapsed the various landing remained intact, and this was accounted for chiefly by the fact that broad iron beams run beneath the the stone flags which give entrance to the homes. Only the skeleton of the stairs remained yesterday with the iron hand-railing winding upwards through the gap to the top stair.

June 22nd 1936

A man was killed and a woman was seriously injured when part of a stairway in a tenement building at 109 Kent Road collapsed… …were passing each other on the second flight of the stairs when several of the stone treads and part of the iron railings gave way, the falling masonry carrying with it into the basement of the building part of the stairway on the first floor. Eight families occupying the first, second and top floors of the building were “marooned” for some time after the accident. In one case week-end supplies of food were delivered by ladder.

September 27th 1937

Frances Riley (7) was going down from the first floor to the street level at his home in 5 Norman Street when several of the stairs broke away from the others. He held on to one of the remaining steps and his screams attracted two men who rescued him. A few minutes later the step on which the boy had been standing also crashed to the ground.

November 15th 1937

For several hours on Saturday evening eight families in a Glasgow tenement were unable to leave their houses owing to the collapse of part of the stairway between the first and second floor. No one was injured in the accident which occurred at 299 Chledonia Road… … The steps that were dislodged crashed on to the stair below.

June 3rd 1947

The entire staircase in the close of a tenement building at 54 Kelvingrove Street, Glasgow, collapsed without warning yesterday. Mr Harry Millar, Kelvingrove Street, said that after hearing a rumbling noise he saw clouds of dust coming from the close at 54. Pointing to the cracks in the staircase outside his own flat, Mr Miller said that the position was becoming worse. A railway ran below the street and every time a train passed the entire building was shaken. Other residents recalled damage done when a land mine fell in Kelvingrove Park during an air raid several years ago. They believe the collapse of the staircase was due to the delayed effect of the raid.

October 14th 1948

A gardener suffered body and leg injuries last night when a stairway leading into a close at 10 Bower Street collapsed as he stepped on it.

April 3rd 1953

Two women were injured yesterday when part of a tenement stairway on which they were standing collapsed, throwing them 15 feet into a disused cellar. Mrs Clark was pointing out cracks which had appeared on the wall of stairway… …when the stairway collapsed.

December 1st 1977

Five families were trapped after a fire last night when a stairway collapsed at the bottom of a Glasgow tenement. The blaze started in a pile of rubbish underneath the stairway at 238 North Woodside Road.

January 5th 1983

Six people were rescued last night after being marooned in two third floor tenement home when part of a stairway collapsed… …a girder supporting the stairs between the second and third floors crashed on to a landing below.

November 2nd 1985

Five people were trapped in their homes when a stone staircase in a common close collapsed at 20 Melville Street.

February 26th 1988

Three workmen were injured and four families had to be moved from their homes after a tenement stairway collapsed yesterday in Glasgow. The stairs were being strengthened by a team of builders engaged in refurbishing the building in Clutha Street. The stairs to the first landing collapsed.

The Southeast Missourian reported:

December 20th 1954

Archie Logan got eight friends to help him carry a grand piano he had bought his family for Christmas up to his third floor apartment. Just below the third landing the stairs collapsed. Two men jumped clear. Logan, the other six men and the 500 pound piano plunged 40 feet.