Plasticers inferno that almost claimed Kirkcaldy factory, way back in 1974

People look on as the roof of the factory collapses
People look on as the roof of the factory collapses

A spectacular blaze burned a large section of a Kirkcaldy factory to the ground in June 1974.

The premises belonging to the company Plasticers Ltd went on fire on the evening of Monday, June 10 and as a result a third of the entire Junction Road building was reduced to a charred shell.

The aftermath of the fire at Junction Road

The aftermath of the fire at Junction Road

But, despite initial worries, the firm’s management reassured the work force that their jobs were safe and the fire would not result in any redundancies.

Only minutes after the 80 employees had clocked-off for the day, the store-room and machine shop of the site transformed into a blazing inferno.

Firemen rushed to the scene and fortunately, managed to confine the outbreak to that section, saving some 70 per cent of the factory from fire damage and preventing the flames from spreading to the neighbouring maltings of Robert Kilgour & Co Ltd.

At the height of the blaze, families in adjoining Kidd Street, were warned to prepare for evacuation, but in the end this proved unnecessary.

Officials from the firm’s headquarters in Drighlington, near Bradford, were on the spot less than 24 hours later after flying by private plane to Glenrothes and then motoring to Kirkcaldy to assess the damage.

Plasticisers Ltd, was founded in 1940 and was part of a family business stretching all the way back to 1750.

They had opened their Kirkcaldy factory in 1971.

Speaking to the Fife Free Press at that time, the firm’s chairman, Mr ID Slack, confirmed there was no danger of any redundancies, and that production would continue to a limited extent.

“There is no question of anyone being laid off,” he said.

The firm had immediately moved to rent accommodation outside of the Lang Toun to help with some of the work.

Mr Slack added that as soon as electricity was restored to the factory within a couple of days, he expected output to reach 70 per cent of normal production capacity.

“I would like to pay tribute to all the local engineering firms who have offered every kind of assistance from space to machinery, and even offers to do work for us,” he said.

“The response has been tremendous and I can’t thank them enough.”

He said that most of the plastic processing equipment being manufactured by the firm was not in the section severely damaged, and there was no danger of their failing to honour any of their contracts.

The blaze was first spotted shortly after five o’clock on Monday evening by Mr Andrew Christie, an employee of the firm, as he was checking and locking up the factory for the night and he immediately raised the alarm.

Four units of Fife Fire Brigade plus a snorkel were quickly on the scene and attacked the blaze which had taken a firm hold of the building.

Road blocks and diversions in the area caused havoc with the peak hour traffic, and a huge pall of smoke could be seen over a wide area.

Passers by and employees who had just left the factory, watched as the roof of the centre section of the building collapsed and, four hours later, the remains of the machine room were still smouldering.

On the Wednesday, the site has cooled down sufficiently for a demolition firm to move in to begin clearing up the debris and making the building safe.

The Junction Road end of Beatty Crescent, which flanked the side of the factory, was also blocked off during this time.