The Demon Drink, 1879

A Letter about Blantyre, sent in to the Hamilton Advertiser in 1879.

“Sir, Labouring, as I am, in the midst of this mining district to do the people some good, I have been wondering what could be done in order to make the late calamity (The Pit Disasters) a turning point for good. There is no class of men that need any sympathy more than the coal miner; their work is of the most laborious kind and their comforts few and far between.

Now, it is well known by every clergyman and mission worker that “goes” through the homes here, that drink is the greatest of curses to this community. It does far more continuous evil than an explosion every year.

It makes brutes of the men, turns the little home into a very hell, and robs the family of every comfort worthy of the name of home. The children must go in rags and they behold scenes every Saturday night of the most brutalizing description, as your own newspaper declared, that the very Saturday night after the sad disaster, there was more blood than tears shed.

Now, who is to blame for much of this terrible state of things? We must say the Magistrates, who really have the control of the licences. Look what a state the little poverty looking town of Stonefield is in by such a flood of cursed public-houses every few steps (Glasgow Road), and now another large double shop is being refitted and will soon open as another first-class whisky shop. That the Magistrates in Hamilton can see such shameless work going on is a sad commentary on the immorality of our times. Besides the general poverty caused by the presence of the public-house in this place, the last explosion has left several families very destitute. WM. C. McDOUGALL. “

The 1870’s saw many shops, businesses and public houses open up in Blantyre as an influx of miners saw the community expand rapidly. Businesses owners keen to capture this new, large market were opening up at a pace and it would appear that given the number of new premises, there was enough business to go around! This letter IS hard hitting though, an insight into some of the hardships and although some assumption may be in his words, I fear it was probably an accurate state of affairs.

Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 197/1879. Page 2. With thanks to Wilma Bolton for sending this over.

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