MANY photographs in our archives depict catastrophic fires, or, rather, the extinguishment of them by Glasgow’s Fire Service. Indeed, so many exist that it is hard to exactly identify specific incidents.

Common among almost all of the images is that a crowd will inevitably be on the side lines watching closely. Nothing changes, drama is always exciting.

In this photograph, from 1962, the city’s firemen can be seen fighting a blaze at the Princess Restaurant on the corner of Sauchiehall and Renfield Streets. At that time, the wider district of Glasgow was home to a record-high of 15 fire stations, with all overseen by John Swanson, M.B.E. It seems highly unlikely that it is Mr Swanson we can see balancing precariously on the top of the large crane, however, and it was hardly an enviable job.

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Photographs like this one can never truly capture the sensational atmosphere of the event – the noises and smells – and so instead we must look to the crowds to gain a notion of what it would have felt like to actually be there.

For instance, the coats and hats worn here suggest that May 1962 was not a warm spring whilst the flat, impractical, shoes of the lady closest to the front tell that neither was it a wet one. If only it had been.