The Murray Place fire, August 1949

In the early hours of Tuesday 23rd August 1949, a fire broke out at the premises of Drummond & Sons Ltd, seed merchants at Murray Place, Stirling. The event was a disaster for Stirling’s main shopping centre of the time and resulted in several properties being damaged by the fire.

The two main buildings to be devastated were the Drummond’s building and the Maypole Diary Company’s shop. Both businesses had to relocate to continue trading. Drummonds hastily took over a shop at 62 Murray Place thanks to the generosity of owner Mr Adam of the Station Hotel. Incredibly, they had a managed to relocate and have a working telephone in operation by 5pm on the same day as the fire.

PD147 – Stirling Observer Annual, 1949

The Golden Lion was also severely damaged. A guest sadly suffered a heart attack as they were being removed from the building to safety. Remarkably this was the only casualty of the disaster. The hotel lost eight bedrooms and the ballroom but were able to carry on with social functions and wedding receptions.

Stirling Observer Annual – 1949

The North Bank of Scotland and Solicitors Hill & Whyte were also affected but the majority of their working papers were safe.

Four families at 7 Murray Place were left homeless and were placed in the new Torbrex House by Stirling Town Council.

Shortly after the fire, it was deemed necessary to demolish the façade of the Drummond’s building. The street was closed to traffic as the building jutted over the pavement.  Demolition experts from Glasgow removed delicate masonry as crowds looked on.

Three safes were recovered as part of the demolition. One safe was jammed shut and required special apparatus to open it. Inside were the undamaged documents and business ledgers of the company.

The property was eventually rebuilt in 1950 and contained within the Dean of Guild collection for Stirling Burgh are plans for this work.

SBC plan – Drummonds Seed Merchants, 1950

The Stirling Observer noted that estimates for the fire put as high as £750,000.