As Christmas 1906 approached, most Blantyre residents looked forward to the brand new year arriving in 1907 and “drawing their curtains” on a year most wanted to leave behind.
Christmas was first however a welcome break from hard work and ended up being fairly traditional as it started snowing on Christmas afternoon, after a particularly “green and wet” mundane December. Once the snow started, as people sat to their Christmas dinner, it didn’t stop until the evening of Boxing Day, by when Blantyre was covered in about 3 or 4 inches of soft, powdery snow. To the delight of all children and hardly any adults.
Whilst that romantic picture may have been liked by some, 1906 was a year where many local houses had been condemned for dampness and were inadequately heated. Pipes quickly froze and when further snow fell before Hogmanay then quickly melted into slush ridden roads, it was a stark reminder that the year had been a miserable one.
Trade in the year 1906 had been particularly bad. Blantyre shopkeepers counted tills which rang less than in 1905 and this was largely due to the difficult conditions the miners had faced as the collieries had returned lower quotas of coal. It was difficult for miners to make any sort of decent wage and this affected households and traders. Miners blamed too many people now working in the mines, making it difficult for them to earn as much as they once did.
However, there was also a sense of optimism as New year 1906 into 1907 approached. A wage increase had been achieved and there was big news that Bardykes Colliery, once the employer of 800 people was to open again, with a good chance of fairer numbers working in every other mine.
Blantyre Foundry (where First Buses now is) which had been idle for so long had finally been taken over by Messrs Goodwin, Govan and Bruce and was due to re-open in January 1907, the new owners putting all the workers who stood down, back to work. As well as ironwork, the new owners had announced they would also require builders offering roofing and structural work as well. There was a keen feeling to get back to work, the miners only choosing to be on holiday on Hogmanay and New Years Day, returning to work the very next day after.
Pictured are some snowy photos of Blantyre over the decades. Children playing in the snow in 1958 at Baird’s Rows, snowed in at the EK Expressway in 1987, the big snowfall at the Calder and Westcraigs in 2010 and a snowy Christmas 2012 in High Blantyre.