This story has been pieced together using several news reports. This is the tale of a Burnbank girl tortured by scandal, and featuring heroic actions of 2 Blantyre men.
In 1924 Mary M‘Gladdery was a young woman who lived at 309 Glasgow Road, Burnbank and for many years until then had been the merriest and cheeriest of the all female factory workers at Saffronhall, Hamilton. Latterly, in 1924, however, she had become quieter and reserved.
Ill health had plagued her in 1924 and when this resulted in the loss of her employment, things weighed heavily on the girl’s mind.
One Saturday in June that year, she left her home around 11am and never returned alive. She had gone to the large gate at the entrance to Bothwell Convent and inquired if she could be admitted to the grounds of Bothwell Castle. In those days you could only visit the Castle by appointment but Mary was allowed in when she stated she was going to see a friend.
Later, several children on the Blantyre side of the Clyde saw Mary M’Gladdery on the river, slip off her shoes and outer garments placing them on the lush green Summer grass, and then write something on a piece of paper. Suspecting the woman’s intentions, the children ran along the river and raised the alarm. First to respond to the alarm, was Peter Mair of Shuttle Row, and James McKenzie of Middle Row, Blantyre, who quickly made their way to the scene, then bravely dived into the river and brought Mary to the shore. But she was dead.
During the subsequent investigation, further up the river bank some more of her clothes were found, and on them was an envelope bearing her name and address. On the inside of the envelope was written the following poignant message:— “This is the only way out of it. My life has been tortured by scandalmongers. Hope this will be advice to other girls.—M M’Gladdery.”
In her weak state of health, the girl had time on her hands and had apparently been paying too much attention to idle chatter. Indeed, on one occasion she complained to the police about certain gossip which she had overheard. But on being told not to take the slightest notice it, she seemed reassured, and left in quite good spirits. It is unknown what scandal or gossip, or bullying drove her to these actions. It was the sad end of a heartbroken young woman who felt she had no choice and indeed, her death had been the THIRD in only 10 days on that stretch of the river. The tragedy of this popular lady brought forth much sympathy in the district.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018
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