1949 Whins Camp Outbreak


1949-blantyreferme-wm1948 didn’t end so well for the residents of the Whins Camp at Blantyreferme.

In the same year that the residents of Dechmont Camp had been forcibly removed and sent across to their new homes at Blantyreferme, an outbreak of gastro enteritis that December took the shine off the new accommodation.

Housed in the former Army Barracks, decommissioned in 1945, the 57 families fears were confirmed when some of the children came down with illness just before Christmas 1948. On the first Wednesday in 1949, a meeting was called and residents agreed that the children should NOT be allowed to continue going to school until doctors took notice. In short, they called a school strike, relaying their intentions to Dr. W.A.F Hepburn, the County Director of Education.

The illness spread and in January 1949, the first adult at the camp contracted the illness and by the time the press had the story, a further two adults were suspected as having the disease.

During 1949, the Whins children, almost 80 of them attended local schools at Blantyre, Hallside and Cambuslang. In each case they have to walk almost 2 miles before reaching bus connections. The parents had continually asked for transport to be provided for the children and combined this request into the strike.

The strike was broken eventually when the County Medical officer and Transport Director both agreed to address the problems and visit the camp to witness conditions for themselves. At the time over 350 people were living in the wooden huts, which were still considered an improvement by comparison to their previous conditions at Dechmont.

At the camp inspection, authorities removed 13 of the children to hospital but released 2 shortly after. One of those children had to later return to hospital and it took many months for the camp to be disease free.

Pictured here in 1949 are some of the mothers at that very meeting in 1949, along with some of their kids.

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016

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