Danger of fatal poisoning by gas in a Blantyre household of ten was averted by the presence of mind and promptitude of the mother.
In the early morning of Wednesday 23rd August 1933, she awakened in a dazed condition. She rose from bed and fell on the floor. She found her husband, who was sitting by the fire, in a dazed condition, and two of their children in bed were completely unconscious. The family was that of Mr and Mrs James Travers, who resided in a room-and-kitchen house at 87 Baird’s Rows, near Craighead, Low Blantyre.
Mr Travers was an unemployed miner, and had a family of eight. In an interview with local reporters, Mrs Travers said she had “noticed a strong smell of gas all of the previous day, and had a peculiar sensation in her head.” She was threatened with sickness during that day. She went to bed about eleven o’clock at night, while her husband sat at the fire and had a smoke, with the intention of retiring later. He evidently became overcome by escaping gas, and was completely unconscious. Between one and two in the morning his wife awoke, and was surprised to see that her husband was not in bed. She made to rise, but stumbled and fell. In so doing, her right leg was bruised by coming into contact with a piece of furniture. She shouted to her husband and tried to waken him from his coma.
Her cries brought the other members of the family from the room, and they were then concerned about the three children, who were sleeping in the other kitchen bed. They were Francis (9), Katherine (11), and Michael (5). The youngest child was not so badly affected as the other two, who were unconscious. Mrs Travers opened the door to let in fresh air. Alex. M’Murdo, who resided next door, had just come in from his work, and heard sounds coming from the Travers’ house. He and his wife hastily dressed and went to their neighbours’ assistance. One of the sons of the Travers family went on his bicycle for a doctor, and on his way met two policemen and notified the incident. At once the officers proceeded to the house, whilst the son continued his search for a doctor. A gas official was summoned, and he subsequently sent for workmen. Francis and Katherine were removed to neighbours’ houses, and a day later, were still confined to bed. Mrs Travers suffered the effects of this experience for some time after. It was later found that Department officials discovered a large gas rupture in the main pipe outside the Travers’ home. Pictured is Baird’s Rows, Blantyre.