1926 Blantyre Pit Row


Before Sheriff Mercer, at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Monday 1st November 1926, seven men were charged with forming part of a disorderly crowd of over 700 people in Glasgow Road, Blantyre.

This was a time towards the end of the great mining strike and feeling amongst the unemployed miners were still running high, especially to those who were deemed to have broken picket lines or returned to work at concession. The men were charged also in acting together to attack some of the miners coming from Auchinraith and struck a constable by hitting him on the head with a brick and other missiles.

Content this was over 90 years ago and in the distant past, the men were:—Francis McLernon, miner who lived at 8 Hardie Street; Michael McKee, 16 Hardie Street; Charles McDade, a barman of Rosendale Place, John Reynolds, colliery fireman of 2 Craighead Rows; John Dennis of 12 Alpine Street; James Stevenson of 76 Merry’s Rows; and James Meechan of 64 Craighead Rows—all of Blantyre.

According to the principal witnesses for the prosecution, who came trom Strathaven and Meikle Earnock and were “barracked” by the crowd, they were met as they left the colliery at the foot of Auchinraith Road by an angry large mob. The frightening situation for those miners who had returned to work, was made worse by being surrounded by a crowd, which gradually increased in number to about 700.

There was much shouting, and the situation became very serious when stones began to be thrown. Two of the men from the colliery made their escape by jumping on a passing lorry on Glasgow Road. The mob turned to the lorry smashing the windscreen and attacking the tyres. Owing to the damage that was done to the vehicle, however, they had to jump off and run down a side road, away from the mob.

Another man from the colliery was severely kicked and mauled. Finally, the police came to the scene and attempted to hold the crowd in check. One constable was hit with a stone or similar missile on the head, and batons were drawn and the mob partly dispersed.

The assaulted men were put on a tramcar by the police and they got away to safety. Large groups of men still hung around in the vicinity of the disturbance for a considerable time,. Fearing a repeat of the Blantyre Riots of the 19th Century, police extracted individuals as ringleaders picking them out from among the remaining mob and apprehended them within half an hour of the actual disturbance.

The defence rested mainly on pleas of alibis and the question of identification. Their trial concluded on the evening of Wednesday 3rd November 1926. Each of the accused was convicted and sentenced to 40 days imprisonment.

In finding the accused guilty as libelled, concluded the Sheriff, the law would not stand for  riotous acts by any gathered mob.

Pictured around the same era is the corner of Glasgow Road and Herbertson Street, not far from the disturbance.


From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

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