Paisley canal disaster
Family pleasure trip
A 60-foot canal boat designed for holiday day trips between the two towns operated from a dock belonging to a Mr. Barclay in Paisley. The charter had been in operation for approximately a week and had proven enormously popular with local people, who took their families on the journey on their day off from work as a pleasure cruise. The cost of a trip was just 8 pence, and with the day in question experiencing some unseasonable good weather, a lot of people were hoping to take a ride.
At 1pm in the afternoon of 10 November, the boat had returned to Barclay's dock, where a large crowd had gathered, hoping to join the cruise. As the previous load of passengers disembarked, the crowd waiting on the dock became anxious and began to push forward. This agitation increased rapidly, until those at the rear of the crowd surged forwards in an attempt to secure a place on the boat. Dozens of people fell into the canal, where a number drowned as they were unable to swim.
Panic and capsize
The real tragedy however, took place on the canal boat itself, when the number of people surging onto the craft at one end combined with the panicked previous passengers attempting to scramble off at the other caused the boat to capsize totally, trapping over 60 people in the narrow passage along the inside of the boat with no hope of escape.
Desperate attempts were made to rescue those in the water, and three people were pulled from the interior of the boat, but the majority of those inside the craft were unable to be rescued. When the barge was righted a week later, the final death toll was established at 84 people, of whom 66 were under 20 years old and 18 under 10. The Times carried articles on the disaster on 16 and 19 November.