On Saturday 21st June 1817 an open air stage coach travelling between Glasgow to Hamilton was involved in a fatal accident on top of the Priory Bridge at Blantyre. As the coach approached the bridge, an oncoming horse and cart startled the horses pulling the coach, and the passengers on top of the coach were alarmed as they were thrown from the side, as their coach toppled over. The coach didn’t topple right over, but fell leaning on top of the high Priory Bridge parapet wall, with such a movement and jolt that several passengers fell from the coach to the bridge.
One passenger however, was not so lucky. A young man, named Bennie was thrown clear of the parapet right over the side of the Priory Bridge itself, and fell below in the River Calder. He was hurt so badly, he lived for only an hour afterwards. His body was so shockingly disfigured, for he had fallen a great distance from above on to rocks below. No other person was hurt, although there were several outside passengers on the coach. Mr. Bennie was a millwright who had been working at Camlachie and had been travelling to see his father in Blantyre, when the accident occurred.
Those who know Priory Bridge will realise just what a great height this bridge is. The attached picture is a mock up of the scene I have created using an actual sketch of the bridge from a similar time period and showing a coach and cart of the day, poised ready for the accident to happen.