29th January 2005

Visitors are trapped in the Glasgow Tower

Ten people were trapped for more than five hours in a lift in the Glasgow Tower when a cable snapped, triggering the emergency brakes. The visitors – six adults and four children – were stranded 150ft up the structure in a glass box while rescuers worked to bring them down. Eventually, fire crews cut through the tower’s panels.

Rescue attempt failed

Visitor Gary True, who had been in the lift, told the BBC how the plan to rescue the lift occupants in a second car failed: “just as [the second lift] came up, it must have hit the same obstacle that we hit because you heard a bump and then there was a massive amount of smoke and a couple of flashes. That was the only scary bit.”

The 416ft (127m) tall tower had been named the world’s tallest fully rotating tower upon its opening although, as the BBC pointed out, “there was not much competition for that particular accolade”. It had been designed for erection in St Enoch Square, but was moved to the former dock site in Govan where it would complement the Armadillo, Hydro and Science Centre.

Exposed to the elements

Neil Baxter of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland told The Scotsman in 2016 that “the original planned location, at St Enoch Square, is enclosed. You’re always going to be more exposed to wind and the elements at a riverside site.” He said he believed that could be the cause of the tower’s problems over the years.

Quoted by the BBC, Baxter said there was a concern the tower could have fallen when one of its ball bearings sank into the ground. “You had the potential prospect of ruining not just the tower, but also causing some pretty substantial damage to the science centre.”

As well as the lift problems in January 2005, visitors were trapped by overheating lifts in July 2001, and the tower was closed for four years between 2010 and 2014, only to be closed again, three days after its reopening, after a fire.



Other events that occured in January

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