It may be because my day job is construction related, but i’ve always been interested in Blantyre’s infrastructure. The development of street water systems, sewage disposal, installation of gas and power. These were truly revolutionary things to happen in any town and Blantyre was no different, upgrading to latest technology and improving public amenities. Lighting the dark Parish was a particular concern to local officials in the 1800s and when gas was installed servicing each of the generously spaced gas lamps in Kirkton and Glasgow Road, the town was lit and never looked back. In recognition of the hard work these men did, i wrote a short poem in Summer 2012. Pictured is one of the last gas street lamps in post war Blantyre, photographed in High Blantyre Main street in 1947. The lamp pictured is located where the now coal monument is in High Blantyre, the tenements now long replaced by the well tended gardens in front of High Blantyre Parish Church.
Gas lighter John
I’m wee John, the gas lighting man,
An it’s nineteen twenty two,
Ah light thon lamps in Blantyre town
Tae help ye get aroun
Wi ma torch n glove, every night
Ah Touch the gas, n whit a sight
Night turns day at every abode
Aw alang the glesga road
A dangerous job n awfy tricky,
A dyin job as here comes leccy,
A hunner posts, on each sunset,
So bairns in darkness wullnae fret
Curtains pulled on the old main street,
Days work done, n carpets beat
Wee John is here, it’s half the eight,
Time fir dinner, it’s getting late.
Ah see the day when thers so many posts,
Theyll hiv tae git me help
Apprentice gasman, ahll train n tell
Fir lamps will never light thersel
I wish thon posts were sma n low
Ma job wid surely be touch n go
Ma question tae you ah put
Jist who on earth pits them oot?
Ah’ve only got the wan good erm,
n it’s covered ah in bruises,
Fae working wi street gas aw day,
Imagine it wis in hooses!
Rosendale is lit, ma stories done,
An blantir is bright ah kin say
A final thought, ye’d like ma joab,
Ah git tae sleep aw day!
Paul Veverka 2012