Something took over Robert’s body that day in the Glen Cinema
SEVEN-year-old Robert Pope was a regular at the Glen Cinema.
He had to be, as each film ended with a must see ‘hook’, guaranteeing most kids would return the following week.
When tragedy struck though, Robert, who was born in the town’s Maxwell Street, was with seven of his pals near the front and enjoying the film.
He recalled: “Something strange happened when someone shouted ‘Fire!’
“It was as though my body had been completely taken over by something.
“I just sat there, transfixed, and didn’t move a muscle until the entire hall had been virtually cleared.
“I couldn’t tell you how long I sat there like that.
“First thing I knew was when I heard a fireman saying, ‘There’s someone sitting down there’.
“He came down to the front and said, ‘What are you doing there, son?’
“’I’m waiting on the picture starting’, I answered.
“’There will be no more pictures today unfortunately’, he said before carrying me out.”
Robert’s pals had been waiting outside for him but eventually gave up and disappeared home, fearing the worst.
“I’m convinced it was my guardian angel that saved me,” said Robert.
“I can’t explain it any other way. Why would I sit there as quiet as a mouse while all around me there was chaos? I just don’t know.”
As soon as he got outside, Robert ran all the way home to 5 Maxwell Street – just in time to meet his mother.
He explained: “Someone had told my mum, Esther, that I had been caught up in the tragedy.
“I lived on the top flat and just as I got to the door, she was rushing out, putting her coat on.
“She hugged me like her first born and wouldn’t stop. I was confused. She even planted a big smacker on my cheek.
“But if I hadn’t arrived home before she left, she would’ve been on her way down to the hospital, trekking round, trying to find out what had become of me.
“That saved her a terrible ordeal.”
But two of Robert’s other friends perished on that tragic afternoon.
He said: “Willie and Robert Speirs were both injured in the Glen, but tragically William died a few days later in hospital from the injuries he’d suffered. That could easily have been me.
“People were dropping off the balcony into the stalls. It was mayhem.”
Robert worked with the Post Office in Paisley for 34 years, and said: “The film will act as a great keepsake, not only for relations of those who perished, but also for the people of Paisley.
“It was a terrible tragedy and it’s something that we should never forget.
“There are less and less survivors around now, so the film will help the memories live on.”