A NATIONAL strike by firefighters in pursuit of a long-standing pay demand began in mid-November, 1977, and would continue for nine weeks.

All over the country, troops were brought in to provide emergency cover, using a fleet of old-fashioned civil defence tenders known as ‘Green Goddesses’.

Over the first full weekend of January a serious fire broke out at the elegant, four-star, A-listed Grosvenor Hotel in Glasgow.

This paper reported on the Monday claims by service personnel that the hotel might have been saved if Navy and Royal Marine firefighters had been provided with turntable ladders and modern equipment to tackle the outbreak. They had spent seven hours trying in vain to contain the fire, which caused some £3 million of damage.

Two Royal Navy ratings who had gone into the hotel’s steakhouse kitchen wearing breathing apparatus were trapped for several minutes when the roof collapsed. A rescue team was beaten back by smoke and flames before the two men escaped through a back door.

Hotelier Reo Stakis, who owned the Grosvenor, said he was “deeply grateful” to the armed services and that every effort would be made to rebuild the property, “but until the building cools and the experts have time to assess the damage, it is impossible to say what will be done”. He rated the Grosvenor among the top five hotels in his Scottish chain.

The Herald quoted a striking firefighter as saying that the operation, which he had watched, had been “deplorable”; armed services personnel had fought the blaze from the outside rather than from the inside, which, he said, "is an admission of defeat".

Among the Grosvenor's guests had been a 61-year-old woman from California, who had been a resident there for 14 years.

Read more: Herald Diary