On Sunday 28th January 1900, Blantyre residents awoke to news of a frightening and alarming incident, which shook them to the core. About one o’clock in the morning of Saturday 27th into Sunday 29th January Blantyre Police received information that a murderous assault had been made on a woman at Hart’s Land. (Harts Building was a former 2 storey tenement building on Glasgow Road which today would have been on the grass verge in front of the Sports Centre. The building opened directly out on to the Glasgow Road pavement.)
The police at once raced to the disturbance and found that the reported assault had taken place in the house of John Quirk, a miner who resided there with his wife and child. It is stated that the 2 individuals had been sitting up drinking in their house on the Saturday evening and had been on good enough terms when they retired for the evening. However, it is unknown what prompted this next action, but just before one o’clock Quirk got out of bed and began examining about the fireplace searching for something in the dark. He asked his little girl where the poker was, and received the reply that it was lost. Quirk was not happy at the reply and it was later found that the little girl had hidden the poker in advance on account of previously witnessing on several occasions Quirk’s tendency to get drunk and then beat his wife with the blunt end.
It was reported to police that Quirk, unable to find the poker or obtain its whereabout from his child, then proceeded to reach under his bed and brought out a razor sharp hatchet (small axe) with which he deliberately struck his sleeping wife in their bed with several blows. The woman awoke terrified and with one arm running with blood, got out of bed, away from the clutches of Quirk and hurried to her neighbours home, at the same time fearing for her daughter.
Her arm was terribly gashed with the swipes of the hatchet. Dr.Wilson was called, the child retrieved and the police called. Dr. Wilson dressed and stitched the wounds. The following day on the Monday, Quirk was brought before the Sheriff Davidson at Hamilton, was judicially examined and then jailed.
Pictured is Harts Land on Glasgow Road in the 1970s.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka © 2016 All rights reserved.