1935 Toddler’s death due to chemicals

1935 Betty Robertson , aged 2

1935 Betty Robertson , aged 2

A sad tale now. In mid July 1935, a young Blantyre girl died from a mysterious illness, and two other children ended up in a serious condition. The dead girl was Betty Robertson (aged 2), the eldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Robertson, of 54 Craig Street. The three girls of similar age who were simultaneously taken ill were Iris Gilmour, daughter of Mr John ‘Gilmour, a mason, and Hannah Hogg, the younger daughter of Mr Wm. Hogg, a Blantyre postman.

On Thursday 11th July 1935, Mrs Gilmour had been doing her household washing in the wash-house at the rear of the Craig Street property, and had used some common chemical preparation. The three children were playing about the wash-house. Mrs Gilmour had occasion to go to her house, and on her return she was concerned to learn that each of the children had, while playing with their hands in the water, sipped up some of it in unknown quantities. The illness symptoms came with startling suddenness, when simultaneously all three children were seized with sickness.

The parents became alarmed, and at once sent for their respective doctors. It was readily seen that the girl Betty Robertson was in a serious condition, and the doctor had her rushed off to the Sick Children’s Hospital at Glasgow. In spite of the attention given to her the little girl died shortly after admission. The sudden collapse of the child was puzzling to the doctors in attendance, and they received the sanction of the parents to hold a post-mortem examination. The death certificate stated that death was due to catarrh in the stomach. In the case of the other two girls it was not found necessary to send them to hospital, and both other girls eventually became well again.

This story could be told in any era. We should always take care when using artificial chemical of any sort and more so if children are around. I cannot imagine the heartache that family must have gone through.

On Social Media:

  • Marian Maguire How very sad, a simple accident, a lesson to us all.
  • Margaret Leggat Carswell Rip little angel x
  • Jean McIntosh Such a sad story. A different era. Today the child would have been taken straight to A & E by ambulance, car or taxi. In those days would have to pay for the doctor, no phones, cars, unless you were wealthy. We are lucky and we take it for granted x
  • Elizabeth Weaver Poor wee soul – and imagine the guilt that woman would live with for the rest of her life.

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