IT IS almost six decades since an earthquake big enough to hit the headlines around the world made Glasgow shake.

‘Homes Shake in Mystery Blast’ said our front page that day, describing how hundreds of homes in Paisley, Inchinnan, Knightswood, Milngavie and Bearsden felt the tremor, described by the Geophysical Journal International as “sufficiently violent and extensive to be widely reported.”

“People in a wide area awoke in alarm as their beds rocked violently,” we reported.

“’It was the biggest shock we have had in a long time,’ said Mr J Caldwell of Brora Drive, Bearsden.

“The house moved enough to waken my wife, my daughter and me.

“It was like an earth tremor.”

It was the third ‘big’ quake to be registered in the city, although smaller tremors happen more frequently than you might think.

On December 14, 1910, a Glasgow earthquake was reported as having ‘shaken buildings and set bells ringing’ and in July 1570, an earthquake reported to have been around five on the Richter Scale occurred in the city and detailed in the British Geological Society report ‘The Seismicity of The British Isles to 1600’.

In 1964, police stations were inundated with calls and Miss Doreen Lambie, a telephone operator from Inchinnan, gave a very detailed account.

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“The house shook alarmingly,” she explained. “It seemed to me that there was a definite boom of an explosion first and that was followed by a distinct tremor.”

The West Glasgow Earthquake was covered a little less sensationally in the New York Times.

“Glasgow Has A Sort Of Quake,” ran their underwhelming headline.

“An unusual tremor shook a 60‐mile‐wide area of Scotland today, centering in Glasgow. The Weather Bureau here said it could have been “a natural earth tremor,” although earthquakes are practically unknown here.

“Dishes and other material in houses were broken, but there was little other damage.”

March 1964 was significant for another reason in Glasgow’s history – it marked the completion of the final piece of the Clyde Tunnel.

Originally designed to allow 9000 cars to cross the river from Linthouse to Whiteinch, more than 65,000 motorists use it today.

It is still regarded as an impressive feat of engineering and workmanship.

After the Second World War, a boom in car ownership became a problem on Glasgow’s congested roads and it was decided a new Clyde crossing was required. The possibility of a new bridge downstream of Jamaica Street was ruled out because of the amount of shipping traffic and so, in 1948, plans were agreed to build a tunnel.

However, the project suffered a financial setback and it was not until nine years later that Sir William Halcrow and Partners was able to put the plan into action.



Around 250 tenements, a church and bowling greens were demolished to make way for the tunnel.

The seven-year project involving a tunnelling shield, similar to one used a century earlier in the Thames Tunnel, digging out two separate tunnels. Beneath the tunnel decks run foot and cycle tunnels, and below those the tunnels’ services. The 2500ft-long construction was a gruelling task.

Working in a circular cage, the conditions were cold and wet. The air in the tunnel was compressed to prevent the rock collapsing and the workers were required to sit in a decompression chamber at the end of each shift.

Two men died during construction.

The northbound lanes were opened by the Queen on July 3, 1963, with the southbound tunnel opening in March 1964.

Do you remember the Glasgow earthquake of 1964? Get in touch to share your memories. Were you involved in building the Clyde Tunnel? We would love to hear your stories and see your photos.