Nichol’s Orchard Raid, 1917

Next, the story of a young ‘drawer’ who was caught raiding an orchard. (A ‘drawer’ was usually a boy or young man who pushed wagons of coal from the coal face to the pit eye or shaft.

William Nichol worked in such a profession. Living at 18 Caldervale Rows, Blantyre (Fin Me Oot), William had an interesting day off on Saturday 22nd September 1917.

He crossed Blantyreferme to arrive at the Boathouse Orchard on the banks of the River Clyde. In those WW1 years, the Orchard belonged to A.G Moore & Co, the nearby brickworks and colliery owners. Selling fruit in those hard times gave miner’s families nearby employment as well as the company doing “their bit” for the war effort.

I digress. William Nichol entered the orchard illegally in daylight hours and blatantly started bagging some apples and pears. In spite of being seen by a young boy worker and some women, he deliberately helped himself to the fruit. The boy worker then followed the thief, but when he noticed he was being followed by the child, he turned on him aggressively.

Police were called and caught up with him and the evidence. William found himself in court the following Monday where the Fiscal was not amused. Not only had he stolen fruit but he had assaulted a young boy. Justices James Russell of Newmains and James Sommerville of Stane fined Mr Nichol £2 (about £170 in todays money) or the alternative of 20 days imprisonment.

Pictured in this brilliant photo a decade or so earlier are the former abundant orchards at Boathouse.

From the forthcoming volume of books, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2019

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

Gord Fotheringham How often we as children raided that orchard….a good walk from the village but it was well worth it….
Andrew Mclinden Many a time, across the railway for us in Hillview Drive then down the Clyde !
Ian Burch Andrew Mclinden you’d be too fast to get caught
Andrew Mclinden Ian Burch That was my speed training, when you have the farmer pointing a gun at you then you run Fast, at least we where brought up with organic fruit !
Patty Smith So interesting…thank you for this

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