On Wednesday 25th March 1900, five year old Thomas Cavanah rose out of his bed at Harts Land on Glasgow Road.
The little boy, named after his father, also Thomas Cavanah, felt the cold of Winter and so he stood barefoot in his thin nightclothes with his back to the open coal fire.
To the horror of his family he came through screaming with his underclothing having ignited and he, along with the nightwear was soon in flames. His father Thomas was already at work, and so it was his mother, who leapt into action by grabbing a blanket and rolling the little boy within the blanket on the floor, which extinguished the flames.
Little Thomas Cavanah however, was severely injured and despite being taken to hospital, the lad died the following afternoon.
A particularly sad and horrific tale, this happened on what is now the grass and bus shelter in front of the Sports Centre. It is yet another reminder of the constant danger to families of open fires and flame within vulnerable properties and I’m sure their parents in their grief in future years would have reflected upon what more could have been done to prevent the tragedy.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
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