A Father’s Tragic Discovery

mainstreetMain Street, Blantyre  in June 1949 was the scene of a tragic accident destined to shape the lives of two Blantyre people. This is a story very hard for any of us to comprehend and is quite simply heartbreaking.

Mr Alexander Robertson returned from his work as an iron moulder, on the evening of Wednesday 22nd June 1949. He lived at 220 Main Street, Blantyre with his wife Sarah Orr Robertson (nee Bell) and three young children. The actual house is the one pictured to the very left of this photograph, taken about 2 decades earlier.

Upon arriving home, the door was locked and Alex thought his wife may have been out seeking medical advice for their youngest child. He called round to his father’s house which was nearby and realised the family weren’t there either. Thinking it best to return home he remembered that a neighbour had their spare key. Opening the door, he was greeted by a horrific sight. The little bodies of his three children lay in the one room, all dead. His wife was unconscious, but alive seriously ill from gas fumes. Alex immediately raised the alarm and called for help. Others immediately gave his wife artificial respiration. Medics eventually revived Sarah Robertson successfully and removed her to hospital.

Sadly, the three little children lost their lives by a gas accident, leaking into the home. They were Margaret (aged 4), Elizabeth (3), and little Alexander junior (3 months). Inconsolable Alexander Snr had to break the news to his wife of their loss, whilst she was in hospital.I have heard from a reliable source, that an elderly gentleman still alive today, who was a young detective had briefly questioned the lady.

Sarah however, just 1 day after hearing the news died at the Royal Infirmary on 24th June at 2.50pm, her death being registered at Townhead by her brother John Bell. She was just 30 years old and was interred with her three children. The cause of death was noted as Carbon Monoxide poisoning and her brother John Bell of 90 Victoria Street signed the death certificate.

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I’m retelling the story as Mr Robertson has passed away and of course the building doesnt exist anymore, currently replaced by a small grass park. It isn’t the site of anybody’s modern home. The only other building in the old picture above thats knocked down in the old Stones hotel, (middle of the picture large gable). All the other houses on the left and right side of the road are still there today. Reading back on this story, one has to wonder if the family were ill beforehand due to carbon monoxide or leaking devices.

The site today is a small park

The site today is a small park


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  1. I remember going to a grocers shop “Taits” at that location in the mid 70s. Dont have the date when the houses got demolished.

  2. That small park u mention was where the post office was in the sixties, also a number of other shops!

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