That’s a headline that may generate some interest amongst people of a certain age in Blantyre, but i wouldn’t be referring to the popular entertainment venue of the 1960s and 70s. This story takes place a full 100 years earlier on the evening of Saturday 21st August 1875. The story was reported in the Edinburgh Evening News and is retold here.
A good deal of excitement was caused in the wee small hours of Saturday morning in Blantyre. The people residing at Hastie’s Farm , Stonefield were awoken by some violent knocking at their door. On going out to find out what was going on, they were confronted by a giant of a man who was clearly drunk. The man repeatedly said he “wanted to get into his bed”, much to the alarm of the farmhouse owners. After some time, they managed to get rid of him, by calmly talking and the man seemed to go back towards the (Glasgow) road. They went in, but were on guard and listened for his return.
Some time later, they again thought they heard somebody about the place, although this time with fear as the noises were coming from the house itself. They walked carefully into one of the unoccupied bedrooms and were alarmed to see the tall man laying comfortably in bed amongst their good , clean sheets. The window was ajar which had obviously been his point of entry. Upon being discovered, the man rolled over and promptly fell out the high bed to the floor in his stupor. Being near to the Police Station, one of the Blantyre constables was fetched who quickly detained the intruder, took him to the station and later on to Hamilton jail.
The giant man was Alexander Craig, a navvy living in nearby railway huts. Spending his wage on a night at Blantyre’s taverns, his eventual condition obviously led him to mistake the large farmhouse for his own railway hut lodgings. However, there is more to this story.
Whilst the police were being fetched and Alexander lay on the floor of Hastie’s farm, Mr Hastie had to run outside as a call of “fire” was heard. Whilst the Alexander story unfolded, a secondary commotion took place. One of the farm carts was ablaze. A number of neighbours soon turned up to put out the fire but were unable to save the cart and it’s contents, which belonged to Mr Wright, a farmer at Spittal. The cart was believed to be insured. Alexander had been the only person seen in the yard, but with no witnesses, he was never charged.
Once the police had left with Alexander in custody, Mr Hastie and the kind people of Glasgow Road residences had managed to put out the fire. Thankful that it hadn’t spread and beyond sleep, Mr Hastie decided to sit in his scullery and treat the makeshift firefighters with some of his own whisky which is reputed to have been consumed in significant quantities.
Around 5.00am as the sun came up and after 3 or 4 hours solid drinking, the 3 remaining locals who had helped set off from the farmhouse for home. However, as Mr Hastie bade them farewell from his door, to his surprise the men started fighting amongst themselves from the nearby road. Punches and kicks, 2 of them set about the third, robbing him of his boots. Mr Hastie stood by the door, watching and later reported to Police, he had signed heavily and said out loud to himself “Blantyre. I don’t have the strength for this anymore“.