Every so often on Blantyre Project, articles, photos and information from different sources, collide to form a bigger, better picture of events and this is one such occasion.
Taking an extract from the High Blantyre School Log, a report in the Hamilton Advertiser newspaper and a photo amidst my collection (which I’ve colourised), we’re able to piece together this little bit of Blantyre history.
This is an extract from a School Log Book from an entry written 116 years ago in 1906. Taken from the pages of High Blantyre School diary on Hunthill Road, it dates to December 1906. The words on page 116 include a transcript of a story from the ‘Hamilton Advertiser’ newspaper which reported a celebratory presentation made to a model pupil incredibly in recognition of nine years attendance at school without one day’s absence!
The presentation made by the School Board to Miss Minnie Ritchie, daughter of David Ritchie, a joiner and consisted of a gold watch for her perfect attendance. With thanks to Alex Bowie who once sent me several photos of Minnie, we have a picture of her to accompany the story.
We know this photo dates from 1906 or 1907, Minnie being 14 years old. When the School Board learned of her achievement, they and other officials were so impressed that two weeks later, they decided to buy her a matching chain to wear with her watch. There is some logic from the School Board meetings to suggest this may have acted as an incentive to other children in the hope that attendance would be increased in general by all pupils. In this photo, Minnie is dressed up and wearing a chain, which may just be the very one given to her for her perfect attendance. I personally think so and that being the reason the photo was taken.
Minnie was born in 1892 and died in 1989. From the various photos Alex sent me of Minnie, from a baby to an older lady, this one exactly fits this story. Frustratingly I cant see her wrists if she’s wearing her gold watch!
Reflecting on what Minnie accomplished as a child, this was indeed a worthy presentation. The log entry confirms she attended school for 3,751 days from 23rd November 1897 to 23rd November 1906 without missing one day, not even through sickness. I’m inclined to think that not only was this a reflection of Minnie’s dedication and good character or her willingness to attend school, but likely an indication of that same sentiment by her loving parents and their desire for their daughter to do well.