“The women who have given evidence have shown commendable pluck in the face of threats,” said the fiscal, Mr D. W. Hiddleston, Hamilton J.P. Court when four High Blantyre men were up in the court for assault on 30th August 1935.
In one of the cases, sentence of sixty days’ imprisonment was imposed. The accused were Isaiah Beecroft, miner, 240 Main Street; Henry Rooney, labourer, 27 Maxwell Crescent; James Boyd, miner, and William Boyd, miner, both 78 Calder Street, all of High Blantyre.
They were charged with assaulting Alexander Woods and Alexander Paton, two High Blantyre men at the Masonic Hall, Main Street, High Blantyre, and also with forcing their way into the hall and committing breach of the peace and brandishing chairs. A similar charge against Thomas Beecroft, brother of the first accused, was adjourned until October 3, the fiscal explaining that he was at present in prison on another charge.
Alexander Woods, the victim giving evidence, said he attended a dance at the Masonic Hall given by the Blantyre Quoiting Club as a benefit for local men in ill-health. Shortly before midnight Isaiah Beecroft began to argue with him, and he was warned he was going to get in trouble.
He and Paton sat down between the dances, and Rooney and another of the accused sat beside them. While William Boyd was dancing past him, said Woods, suddenly stopped, turned, and struck him. The remainer of the accused then attacked him, and he was kicked and struck. There were about 50 couples the hall, and a general uproar ensued. None of the men came to his assistance, but several women helped him to the other side of the hall, and kept the men from him. The Fiscal—Why did none of the men assist? —I would rather not answer. The Fiscal —Have you been threatened as to what would occur if you came as a witness? —Yes. The Fiscal—You know there is a great deal of terrorism in High Blantyre created by gangs?— Yes.
Wood said the accused left the hall, but returned ten minutes later. The brothers Boyd tried to get near him, but women kept them back. Then saw Paton being trailed into the centre of the floor and kicked and punched. Some women rescued him, and took him to the platform. Then he saw chairs brandished by men trying to reach Paton. The dance was abandoned.
Alexander Paton said that when entering the dance hall he was spoken to by Isaiah Beecroft, who asked, _ ” What about the £10 fine ? Are you going to help to collect the money at the corner?” Paton replied he had nothing to do with this, and this offended Beecroft. Paton spoke about being seriously assaulted inside the hall. Evidence was also given by Eleanor Orr, 213 Main Street; Elizabeth Paton, 505 Main Street; Mrs Baird, Muir Street; and David Baird, Muir Street, all of High Blantyre. The four accused denied having taken part in the disturbance, but all were found guilty. Isaiah Beecroft, who admitted previous convictions, was sent to prison for 60 days. Rooney, who had one previous conviction, was fined £3, with the option of 20 days’ imprisonment; and James and William Boyd were each fined £2, with the option of days’ imprisonment.
Pictured is High Blantyre Masonic Hall photographed by myself in May 2014.