Glasgow council to look at making Riddrie Park Cemetery safe, 20 years after tragic death

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Glasgow City Council is to look at making a cordoned off part of Riddrie Park Cemetery safe, 20 years after a tragic death.

Teenager John Storrie died after falling into an old pit shaft under the cemetery in July 2002, while walking his dog during flash floods.

Following the incident, a large part of the cemetery was closed off while safety works were carried out. Most of the cemetery then reopened to the public.

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Part of Riddrie Park Cemetery has been closed for 20 years.Part of Riddrie Park Cemetery has been closed for 20 years.
Part of Riddrie Park Cemetery has been closed for 20 years.

However, a section of the cemetery remains closed 20 years on. Signs on fencing around the site state that the council has closed off the area pending further ground investigations and risk assessments.

It adds: “Consequently, this area will remain an exclusion zone and the security fencing shall remain in place until further notice.”

Glasgow City Council has now confirmed that it will speak to the Coal Authority about the site and seek advice on how the cordoned off area can be made safe.

What happened in 2002?

Teenager John Storrie was taking his dog for a walk through the cemetery during flash floods. But in a freak accident, the a witness saw John being swept into an old pit shaft that had opened up due to the rain. It was thought he was trying to rescue his dog which had disappeared into the water.

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A specialist mine rescue team discovered and recovered his body five days later. John had been swept about 50 yards from the hole where the roof of the mine had collapsed.

Speaking at the time, John’s family said: ''We have lost a loved one but found a belief in humanity,” before thanking the 13 men of the Mines Rescue Service for “bringing John home to his family.''

The 18-year-old was buried at the cemetery, with mourners escorted from the cemetery gates to the graveside due to concerns about the safety of the site.

The sign at the fenced-off part of the cemetery.The sign at the fenced-off part of the cemetery.
The sign at the fenced-off part of the cemetery.

The cemetery was closed to the public while the Coal Authority carried out safety works, which included installing drainage and stabilising the ground around the area.

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Twenty years after John’s death, that section of the cemetery remains closed to the public, meaning graves of loved ones have been left unattended, with family or friends unable to visit them. However, that could change soon.

What did the Coal Authority say?

A spokesperson for the Coal Authority, said: “Following a ground collapse in July 2002, we undertook emergency safety works at Riddrie Cemetery in August 2002. This work included the excavation of the coal mining feature, the installation of drainage and the laying of geogrid matting to reinforce and stabilise the immediate area around the feature.

“The responsibility for Riddrie Cemetery sits with the landowner, although we would be happy to offer advice should they wish to carry out any further works at the site.”

What are Glasgow City Council going to do?

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “We will discuss this matter with the Coal Authority and seek their advice on how the area cordoned off within the cemetery can be made safe in future.”

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