John McEwan joined the Glasgow Fire Service and was for many years in charge of the workshops in the North West Fire Station and then at Cowcaddens when the GFS was absorbed into Strathclyde Fire Brigade. John was later based at Brigade Headquarters in Hamilton. He attained the rank of Station Officer and worked on many innovative projects including the famous Glasgow ‘Scooshers’, the multi purpose Hydraulic Platform Pumps and the Fireboat St.Mungo to name but a few.
John also attended the Cheapside Street Whisky Bond Fire on 28th March 1960, having initially seen the flames from his fire service fllat in Castlemilk and on contacting Area Control was informed of the events unfolding at Cheapside Street. For the next four days he and his team were involved in extricating the two turntable ladders that had been wrecked as a result of the explosion that caused the walls to collapse simultaneously in Cheapside Street and Warroch Street. He recalled that during this operation, he was only allowed home for meals and a change of clothing.
Growing up in the North West Fire Station John was someone who was always there, a face as familiar as one of my own family. When he moved from Castlemilk to a flat in the North West, his daughter Marion and I became friends which brought me closer to John. I even went out with Marion for a while (she later dumped me in favour of one my friends!!).
When John retired from Strathclyde Fire Brigade in 1983 he worked for the Greater Glasgow Health Board’s transport section and when retired on age he became involved in the voluntary sector working with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
John was always interested in my work with the preservation movement and would sometimes come along to our events with his wife Anne. I met up regularly with John and Anne (usually in Morrison’s cafe) and it was always a joy to be in their company. They were a foil for each other with Anne joking that she was still searching for John’s millions that he had kept hidden from her and John saying she had absolutely no chance of ever finding it! They always brought an air of happiness with them.
Both John and Anne became increasingly unwell with John being admitted to St Margarets Hospice. I last visited him on Sunday 13th February 2011 and it was obvious that he was very ill indeed. He did however manage a walk around the hospice (which he did on a daily basis), stopping only to introduce me to members of staff. It was with a heavy heart that I shook John’s hand and said my farewells for I knew that it would probably be our last meeting.
When Marion called to say that her Dad had passed away I must confess to shedding a few tears.
John McEwan was one of life’s thorough gentlemen. He was someone for whom I had the utmost respect and someone I was proud to have known and called my friend.
On behalf of myself and all the other members of the Scottish Fire Heritage Group, may I offer our sincere condolences to John’s wife Anne, his daughter Marion and sons Ian and Gordon, our thoughts are with them at this sad time.
Aye Ready – Aye Remembered – Never Forgotten
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