Jock McBain (b1865-d1947)

Prior to 1928, if you wanted to cross the first Suspension Bridge spanning the River Clyde you would need to buy a ticket or token which cost a halfpenny. These were sold by Blantyre man, Jock McBain who lived at Waterloo Row. I’ve been looking at the life of this man.

John (Jock) McBain was born in 1865 and moved from Queensferry to Blantyre around 1891, pursuing work as a coalminer. He married Margaret Henshelrood Muir in December 1892 and they settled down at 17 Waterloo Row, in the Village works, Blantyre. They had a son, James McBain who was born in 1908. They’re shown on the 1911 census with 7 children.

Back in 2015, South African man, Hamish McBain, the grandson of Jock told me, “My grandfather was later the bridgekeeper of the ‘Pey’ Suspension Bridge. I recall visiting him in the small tollbooth on the bridge. At some point the family moved to 2 Viewfield Avenue. He died in 1947. My recollection of the Viewfield Avenue housing my grandparents lived in during the 1940’s is very different from what exists there today. I remember a small two-room upstairs apartment and a common wash house at the end of the building where the women in the building took it in turns to light the fire to heat the water.”

Hamish continued, “My father, James qualified as a bricklayer and was later the manager of Hamilton Brickworks. In late 1947 after the death of his father he was persuaded to emigrate to Gwelo in Southern Rhodesia to establish a brickworks there.”

Jock’s house would have been busy with people coming and going all the time arriving to buy their tokens for the bridge and he would have been affected by the fire of 1928 which destroyed Waterloo Row, leaving families homeless.

Hamish’s other grandfather also had very strong Blantyre connections being Robert Russell of Wheatlandhead Farm, but that story is for another day!

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