On Monday 18th September 1939, demolition work commenced to start knocking down some of the older tenements in Alpine Street, located just off Glasgow Road. (Alpine Street doesn’t exist anymore, but it was located approximately where the corner of modern John Street is today, more to the side of the Sports Centre.)
William Joseph Maxwell was just 16 years old at the time and found himself on the demolition squad, working for local contractors.
Suddenly, and without warning, the gable end of the derelict tenement collapsed and the full weight of the stone fell upon William. The pile of stone, wood and debris also fell upon three other colleagues.
Two were dug out and escaped without injury, one was only slightly injured but it was poor William who would suffer at the hands of fate. Maxwell suffered a head injury to the base of his skull, and was taken to hospital. The injury had affected his spinal column and unfortunately, the next day William sadly died.
The funeral took place at Airbles Cemetery on Friday 22nd September 1939, for William was taken home to be near where his parents resided. Mr Andrew Maxwell, Williams father was grief stricken at their home at 98 Gateside Street, Craigneuk. The accident is a stark reminder of the dangers of working without today’s modern safety equipment and perhaps a tale of how the young can feel immortal or at least be more inclined to take risks in all they physically do.