Gunpowder Explosion 1863


Bridge House right stone, ThetfordThis next story took place 155 year ago in Blantyre Stores, in the Village, Low Blantyre in the building which is now the Village Bar on Station Road.

About two o’clock on Friday 23rd January 1863 three boys from Blantyre works were employed at Blantyre Stores for the day only. James Maxwell, William Maxwell and James Cameron, all aged either 12 or 13 years old, were engaged breaking down a sandstone block into sand in the Blantyre Store. Occupier William Graham, the provision merchant there, had left the young boys to the work and was not present.

The boy James Cameron whilst larking around, poured a quantity of gunpowder out of a bottle upon the floor, and set fire to it with a lucifer match! Suddenly it exploded, burning the face of the bov James Maxwell, and was such a strong explosion that it blew out the back brick wall of the store also blowing down the inner partition wall!

The other two boys escaped unhurt. The apartment at the front was occupied by a single woman, a mill-worker, but she was not in at the time the accident took place.

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018


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  1. I believe that James Cameron in this story is my 3rd great uncle who was born in Blantyre in 1849

  2. I believe James Cameron in this story was my 3rd great uncle. He was born in Blantyre in 1849 so he was 14 at the time of this explosion in 1863.

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