Thomas Cavanah at Harts Land


open-fireOn 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

On social media:

The Blantyre Project always worried about telling the sad stories, but they are part of Blantyre’s history too.
Bill Hunter This type of incident happened to my Aunt who stayed in Bairds Rows. She was badly scarred on her back and carried the scars until she died 2 years ago. Her nightdress caught fire.
The Blantyre Project do you know what year that was? If not too upsetting for you or family or distant enough back, I could perhaps investigate that a little more.
Bill Hunter She was born in 1920 and stayed at 3 Bairds Rows, Blantyre. It was home to her Grandfather, William Batty, Under Ground Fire Inspector and her Grandmother, Helen Dick or Batty and her parents Francis Paterson annd Jessie Batty orPaterson. I would think it would have happened between 1920 and 1930.
The Blantyre Project thanks. I have added that to my “to do ” list.
Betty McLean In 1915 my grandfather’s four year old daughter had a similiar experience and died. His hands were burned in his effort to put out the flames.
Elizabeth Dobson Grieve I fell into a fire as a toddler and my right hand was burned. Mum always said that was how I was now left handed
Bill Graham It is strange that so many people fell into open fires, the same happened to me and my right hand was burned, I still have the scar to prove it

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