Paisley Abbey

A commemorative event will take place this weekend to mark the 90th anniversary of the Glen Cinema Disaster.

The commemoration will take place in Paisley town centre this Saturday 7 December and will begin with a lantern procession involving more than 150 young people from community groups and schools starting at Dunn Square at 5.15pm and traveling up St Mirren Brae, towards Abbey Close.

Paisley Abbey

Following the procession, a service at Paisley Abbey will see local performers, and community groups pay tribute to the victims, survivors and their families.

As part of the Paisley Abbey service Renfrewshire Makar, Brian Whittingham will read his poem about the disaster while singer-songwriter Carol Laula will perform a song, written with actor and musician Tom Urie, specially commissioned for the 90th commemoration.

A number of invited guests will attend the service including survivors Robert Pope and Emily Brown along with their families.

The Glen Cinema tragedy took place on 31 December 1929 when a smoking film canister caused a panic during a packed children’s matinee where more than 600 children were present. As a result of the crush that followed 70 children died and more than 30 children were injured.

News of the disaster was far-reaching with letters of condolence being sent to the town from people across the globe. The impacts were global as well – as the Cinematograph Act 1909 was then amended to ensure all cinemas had more exits, that doors opened outwards and were fitted with push bars. A limitation was also placed on the capacity of cinemas and a requirement for an appropriate number of adult attendants to ensure safety of children.

Louisa Mahon, Head of Marketing, Communications and Events at Renfrewshire Council, said: “The 90th anniversary of the Glen Cinema disaster gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to the victims, survivors and families who were affected by the terrible events that took place that day.

“This weekend’s commemoration will allow us to reflect and raise awareness of the disaster and its far-reaching impacts and reflect on this very tragic point in Paisley’s history.”

In addition to the procession and service a commemorative film ‘The Glen Cinema Disaster’ directed by Paul Mothersole has been commissioned with ticketed, free screenings taking place on Saturday 7 December between 1 and 4.15pm at POP Community & Arts Space in the Piazza. A small exhibition of printed letters held in the Secret Collection will also be on display in POP from 7 – 20 December.

Also, as part of the 90th anniversary commemorations an artist will be commissioned to create a public piece of art, in collaboration with the local community to commemorate and raise awareness of the disaster.

Members of the public who wish to pay their respects are encouraged to attend the lantern procession as there are only a limited number of tickets available for the Paisley Abbey service on a first come first served basis from InCube Shop, 9B Gilmour Street.

The event taking place on 7 December is in addition to the annual memorial service and wreath laying which takes place at Paisley Cenotaph on the morning of 31 December, which is run by community members and supported by Renfrewshire Council.

The Glen Cinema 90th anniversary commemoration event is funded through Renfrewshire Council’s Future Paisley programme.

To secure a ticket for The Glen Cinema Disaster film screening please visit: https://glencinemadisasterfilm.eventbrite.co.uk

A limited number of free tickets will be available to the public for the commemorative service at Paisley Abbey on a first come first served basis from InCube Shop, Paisley Office, 9B Gilmour St, Paisley PA1 1DG from Friday 22 November. The shop is open from 11am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday.