On 17th August 1923, the Blantyre Police made a grim discovery. Their search for a Mrs O Brien ended in the worst possible manner when her body was found in the mill lade , leading off the River Clyde. Mrs O Brien had been missing since the previous Friday.
The discovery was made by James McDermid, a miner residing at Shuttle Row, Blantyre who while passing along the river bank observed the hair and part of a blouse on the surface of the water at the entrance to the lade. With the assistance of another man, he succeeded in withdrawing the body. The Police were immediately notified and Mrs O Brien’s body was taken to the mortuary where shortly after a family member identified the body.
However, during the weekend after, rumours started to circulate around Blantyre to the effect that Mrs O Brien had apparently met her death by foul means. It was said that the woman had been seen struggling with 2 men on top of a nearby refuse bank, overlooking the river late on the Friday evening. Upon these rumours, the police found articles belonging to Mrs O Brien on the refuse tip strengthening the rumours of foul play. Fear spread throughout the Village area.
The police however, were less quick to jump to conclusion and in effort to end the rumours made public statements that there had been no marks on the body indicating any sort of struggle. It was concluded in the press that the woman had likely slipped, but this did not sit well with Blantyre residents who made the story a talking point for some time later.
Source: Glasgow Herald Archives
** Update: Her name was Mary McCard OBrien, she was 38 when she died. The death certificate, rather than simply saying DROWNING had the rather more sinister tone stating, “Asphyxia from Drowning”