Cheating the Gas Meter 1931


How did people manage to cheat their gas meters in Blantyre in 1931?

Reports suggest it was a common practice for people to put false coins in the gas and electricity meters and then to repay the collectors later for the supply they obtained by these means.

Such was the statement of an agent in Hamilton J.P. Court on 14th August 1931. Mary Stewart of 4 Wallace Street, Blantyre, pleaded guilty to obtaining ten units of electricity inserting cardboard and false coins in the meter. An agent for her said that the accused had no money, and placed these substitutes in the meter, intending to give the proper money to the collector when he called. She had done so before, and indeed, many people in Lanarkshire obtained a supply that way owing to lack of money at the time they needed utilities. They had no intention of defrauding the company. In Mary’s case, a fine of £1 was imposed. Pictured is a coin operated gas meter from the 1930s.

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On social media:

John Mc Nulty A pin through the glass or a heavy magnet taped to the glass were other options to stop the wheel spinning and therefore not registering the electricity used.I wonder how many people used these cunning tricks,I know of a few good people who did.

Liz Ali Ali Ya wee Rebel yi lol x

Marion Mcphee aye or filed a hapney on the steps at the back door

Richard Strang Some had a cog at the back you could put a butter knife in through the slot and turn it. I used to do it on my electric metre in my bedsit

Thomas Barrett Should have seen the guys face when he opened our meter and there was two ten bob notes.

John Mc Nulty My Bro asked the meter reader to turn his back while he took the pin out.

Margaret Neil Mckeown I loved listening to my granny telling us stories about the metre man. They used to use a cut out piece of linoleum, and when the metre man came they would if you were lucky get money back and this was taken to friends houses so they could get the money in the metre before the man got to the door .

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