Stonefield Parish Church Group, 1916

Penny Robertson, who lives in Australia sent in this wonderful photo this week, adding, “I have just discovered your website and have been fascinated to read about the history of Blantyre. My grandfather was Daniel Sprott (a brother of William Sprott who was killed in the Auchinraith Coal disaster of 1930).  My grandmother was Margaret McQuater.  

They emigrated to Australia because my grandmother had TB and there was nothing else that could be done for her.  They had photos of Blantyre all around their home and one of the Stonefield Parish Church, where they were married.  My grandmother’s mother, Marion Aiton, emigrated with them.  Amazing to go so far at her age. They had two sons, William (my father) and Andrew, when they came to Australia and had two more sons after arriving.  My grandmother actually returned to Scotland for several years with her two boys because she missed it so much.  My father was a Squadron Leader of an RAF squadron in WWII and used his back pay to send them back to Scotland in 1953.  Anyway, I have a few old photos so thought I would send this one to see if this kind of thing is of any interest to you.  I can see my grandparents in the back row.  My grandfather, Daniel, is third from the right, wearing a flat cap (which he did all his life!), and my grandmother is to his right. I think the photo must have been taken around 1915 or 1916.  Just guessing.”

With such a great photo, I always like to add a little more and was able to respond with:

“I don’t have too many notes on the Sprott family but know they were typically associated with the area at Glasgow Road, Auchinratih Road and Jackson Street, which all centred around Stonefield Parish Church. It’s of no surprise that this was one of the many churches in Blantyre, they settled upon as their own.

I noticed Daniel was a good 10 years older than Margaret, a relationship quite common in those wars years when men of fighting age were away at war. I see it often when researching, women being courted and eventually marrying older men. Daniel was a railway clerk and with Margaret being a typist, I wonder if they met in the same office? Or worked together? It does sound a better, healthier life than the other Sprott men endured down mines.

When they got married Margaret was living at 2 Joanna Terrace. They would have been quite used to seeing tram cars going by their windows each day and were well positioned beside Blantyre’s many shops. It would have been a nice place to live and not typical of all the miners rows so prevalent elsewhere in Blantyre at the time.

Regarding your excellent photo, I picked out Rev Thomas Pryde right away due to his minister collar. He was the man who married your grandparents. I don’t recognise the location as Blantyre so this could be a day trip or visit elsewhere? The little building in the background looks like a small church or hall, but I don’t think in Blantyre. I think you’re spot on with 1915 or 1916 as a date for this picture. The women’s fashions were evolving and the large Edwardian flowery hats which were so desired before WW1, were considered frivolous and extravagant for wartime years. Fashions are much more modest and reserved such as in your photo. Another telltale sign of this picture is the lack of young men in their 20s. The males are either aged over 30 or under 17, quite apparently so in this photo, as the men of ages between those years would all be off fighting the most horrific war.

Everybody is wearing their Sunday best clothes, and the lack of coats and trees around them indicates a summer outing. I think this is the congregation from the church captured on a day out. Thanks for sharing”.

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