IT was the afternoon of Hogmanay, 1929, and families were getting ready to celebrate a New Year.
Men and women were finishing work and mums and dads were busy cleaning their homes from top to bottom as was the tradition to welcome in a new year.
And for many a family it was a time when children could go to the pictures while all was busy around them.
The latest movie which caught the excitment of hundreds of young boys and girls was Desperado Dude which was showing at the Glen Cinema.
So off they went from homes all around Paisley and other parts of the area to head to the cinema at Paisley Cross where the entrance lay almost where Burton’s menswear shop now sits.
It was the children’s matinee, with cowboys and indians slogging it out in a battle for control of America’s Mid-West.
The picture had just started when smoke started drifting eerily though the main auditorium.
There was panic all around – scraming and shouting and children running everywhere trying to escape “the fire”.
But the tragedy of Black Hogmanany was that there never was a fire.... it was just smoke from a freshly-watched film being put back in its metal box in the spool room.
As smoke filled the auditorium and around 1,000 excitable children didn’t know where to go kids hurtled down two flights of stairs so fast and in such numbers that they piled up behind the escape door, which led directly out to Dyers Wynd.
In fear of their young lives, others leapt from the balcony into the stalls.
Tragically, many would never see another day.
Others headed directly for exit doors, but they could not be opened. Designed to open inwards and padlocked, it proved futile and widespread panic intensified.
As news of the disaster filtered through to unbelieving Buddies, vast crowds gathered at Paisley Cross – people wanting to help – but inadvertently hampering rescue operations and making it nigh on impossible for parents and relatives to pinpoint loved ones.
The local jail was converted to a makeshift hospital as beds at the Royal Alexandra Infirmary had quickly filled up moments after the first bodies had been taken from the cinema.
The following day, Paisley awoke to the dreadful news that 71 children had died in the worst cinema disaster in British history. Forty more were injured.
A march from Gilmour Street marked the fifth anniversary of the tragedy.
Five years ago, Paisley library staged an exhibition which brought together many of the survivors.
And to mark the 80th anniversary of the incident, Paisley filmmaker Paul Mothersole, who was involved in the 2004 exhibition, has put together a DVD titled The Legacy of the Glen Cinema.
To this day, Buddies have never forgotten what happened and a plaque commemorates the disaster at the site of the cinema, which is now a furniture store.
The memory of those who died on ‘Black Hogmanay’ lives on.