Lad’s River Drama, 1906

A peculiar story happened in Blantyre in July 1906 which ended up being a waste of police resources and embarrassing for all concerned.

On Sunday 7th July 1906, around 11pm a worried mother reported to police that her boy was missing and she feared he had drowned. The story given to police was that around 9pm, a number of boys, coming back home from a day playing, were crossing the weir at the Blantyre Mills, when one of the boys slipped and was quickly swept into deep water. They had apparently searched for him, before sheepishly raising the alarm to adults.

The frantic mother’s tale was enough for police to deploy Messrs Orr and McCall who through the night, fetched their Ambulance boat, were brought up to speed about the accident and by 6am were out on the stretch of river, joining in the search party, commencing dredging operations.

By 8am, after searching for 2 hours, they were waved over to the riverbank by the boy’s father who informed them that a wandering boy of same name and description had allegedly been found and brought to the police station in Carfin. The strange news was enough to stop the search, whilst a relative was quickly sent to Carfin to see if it was the missing lad.

And it was. By the afternoon, the missing boy who had been feared drowned was brought back to Blantyre to the relief of his worried parents. However, the boy and his companions were in trouble. There were no signs he was wet or been in the river at all raising some questions as to how he was in Carfin. It turned out that the July Fairground had been in Blantyre and packed up on the Sunday. The lad had decided to “run away with the circus” by his own decision, one the showmen wanted nothing to do with when discovered. The lad ended up wandering Carfin before being picked up by police. The tale given by the boys to the mother was a despicable fabricated one, to cover their friend’s decision to leave Blantyre. There was no fall from the weir. No river drama and I strongly suspect the parents would have been more angry at the son’s friends, than their own son for putting them through such anxious times.

The weir is pictured in that era in this great photo, which shows the demolition of the nearby mills.

1904 Demolition of Gas Works

Leave a Reply