Bad Boys Birched, 1908

1920s Haytime at Udston

In early August 1908, the hay at Low Blantyre was being cut and stacked. Hard work for all the farm hands, made all the more difficult by a period of prolonged, warm weather. This story takes place near Blantyre Mill Farm, just off Station Road in fields which would later be occupied by village housing.

It appears that when the hay was being cut, one of the farm labourer stripped himself of his vest and carefully placed his pocket watch into it to protect it. He placed his vest on the fence as he got back to work.

During their school summer holidays, two boys came along. George Stevenson, a schoolboy of Middle Row, Low Blantyre and John Foley of Fore Row were walking past and spotted the vest, rifling its pockets and taking away the watch.

Police were fetched and from descriptions caught up with the boys who gave an explanation totally false. They were given the opportunity to return it but they explained they had hidden it, but unsure where. Two weeks were permitted for them to return it and when the time elapsed the watch had still not been returned.

So, the boys found themselves in the Court towards the end of August. The judges ordered the boys to receive ten strikes of the birch rod each. I wonder if the watch was ever returned or found again later? Or maybe its still buried somewhere in the village?

A ‘Haytime’ Photo from later 1920s at Udston is shared for illustration here, courtesy a while back from Jim Cochrane.

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