Laidlaw and Fairgrieve mill fire ( Jan 1983)
Laidlaw and Fairgrieve mill fire ( Jan 1983)

This was the scene at Laidlaw and Fairgrieve’s Ladhope Mill when fire ripped through part of the Low Buckholmside spinning plant in Galashiels.

Seven crews of firefighters from across the Borders were joined by colleagues from Edinburgh.

The blaze on Wednesday, January 19, 1983, destroyed the yarn store, canteen and quality-control department, but firemen won a two-hour battle to stop the flames spreading to the main production unit. Sixty nightshift workers were evacuated.

Firefighting operations included the use of a turntable ladder from the Lauriston station in the city and control was in the hands of Lothian and Borders Assistant Firemaster McMutrie and Galashiels-based Assistant Divisional Officer Mel Wilson.

The alert was raised when the automatic fire alarm sounded at brigade headquarters.

Laidlaw and Fairgrieve’s personnel manager Alan Manzie praised the efforts of fire crews. “They were marvellous”, he said.

The firm lost a substantial amount of stock, but production was resumed the same week.

Police launched a probe and it was revealed that two days earlier a fire had been started in a small box of yarn. Following the investigation a man was charged with culpable and reckless fireraising.

It was busy few hours for firefighters. At 9.30 the morning after this blaze the Loanside Hotel in Lauder was gutted. Fire crews rolling up hoses at the mill were quickly dispatched to Lauder.

– compiled by Bob Burgess