This photo was taken around 1910 by David Ritchie, a Blantyre joiner with an interest in early photography. It shows a party of Blantyre people out on an excursion to the Crown Hotel, at Campsie Glen.
I’m going to be bold and suggest this is the ‘Blantyre Four in Hand Club’, a former driving club set up for the purpose of providing great days out in such open-top vehicles. The “Four in Hand” refers to the reins, with such vehicles usually pulled by four horses. There was a tradition to this with the coachman always dressed in utmost finery, providing the most comfortable and efficient service he could for all the passengers. This was a treat, an experience for men and women for a day out. With lunch and refreshments at destinations, the excursions weren’t always for children.
Blantyre Four in Hand club was known to exist in the first decade of the 1900s.
On the last Thursday in April 1909, the club members (both male and female) met at the Stonefield Tavern, Glasgow Road, Blantyre and boarded the horse drawn vehicle travelling to Hamilton, Larkhall then Blackwood, arriving at Lesmahagow at 5.30pm. This was to be the first trip of the season for the “Blantyre Four in Hand Club”. Fine, dry days were perhaps chosen for such trips, as the party would have had to stop to take cover in showers. On that particular day, the party had an excellent supper in the Commercial Hotel in Lesmahagow before the return journey took them back to Blantyre for 10.30pm. As in previous years, the vehicle was provided by William Wallace of Hamilton and led by four spirited bays, smartly handled by the club’s driver. Bob Stevenson and John Donnelly, buglers entertained the company with some playing en route.
I’ve suggested some connections associated with this club. Mr Thomas Rae, owner of Stonefield Tavern at the time was also the President of the Hamilton Four in Hand Club. Mr Rae, upon selling his hotels went into the business of manufacturing aerated water. In other photos of the Four in Hand Club, the McLean aerated manufacturer business owners are on the carriages, perhaps business acquaintances of Mr Rae. Additionally, in other photos, the Craig family from Bellsfield Farm are on the carriages and perhaps it was them or the McLeans who provided the horses on such occasions?
I cant find reference to this club after WW1, perhaps the club, like so many others being a ‘home casualty’ of war itself.