Danger Signal to Deaf man

Tragedy befell a Blantyre man on 21st December Christmas 1927. Along with two others, John (or James as some reports confirmed) Cook (20) of Chalmer’s Land, Blantyre set out for stroll, and eventually reached Bothwell Bridge, where a pond beside the river was frozen.

Cook, who was a deafman, but impetuous youth, suddenly left his companions and slid across the ice. Richard Wright, his friend noticed that certain parts of the ice seemed rather thin, and he called the attention of Cook by signing him using signals he would understand trying to make him aware of the danger. Cook laughed and waved his hand.

Suddenly a crack was heard, and the John Cook disappeared, straight under the River Clyde ice!

Richard attempted to cross the ice, but got himself into difficulty in the thin ice, and it was only with a struggle that he reached the riverbank again. The other companion ran for aid, while Richard got to the opposite side and obtained a large branch, which he held over the hole where Cook had disappeared, but all efforts were absolutely in vain. No hands came back up to grab that branch.

It was fifteen hours later, with the aid of Glasgow expert, that the body was recovered by means of grappling-irons. John Cook was popular and well known in Blantyre, where he resided with his mother. His father and sister at the time were in America, and only a few weeks before his death, John had his photograph taken professionally, to send to them for Christmas along with other presents.

The funeral of John Cook (20) took place on Christmas Eve 1927 with crowds of sympathetic spectators lining the streets.  Amongst the spectators was  Richard Wright, the man who made a gallant rescue attempt. It would not be the last time the River Clyde ice claimed young lives.

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

This 2010 photo by Jim Brown demonstrates perfectly the scene of the accident near Bothwell Bridge and the EK Expressway flyover and how ice, even nowadays can build in thin, dangerous layers in that location.


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