Pictured in this previously unseen photo from between 1900 – 1905 are High Blantyre children. Photographed by David Ritchie, perhaps near his home at School Lane, 4 of the 10 children in this picture have no shoes, treading the streets of Blantyre in their tough, bare feet. The photo illustrates the following narrative very well.
In Winter 1904 and into early 1905, a few gentlemen in Blantyre interested themselves in providing boots and stockings to children who were in poor circumstances. Ultimately, what was known as “The Bootless Bairns Scheme” was inaugurated. Parish Councillor, Robert Davidson was one of the original pioneers of the scheme and throughout the few months it lasted, he promoted concerts, collecting funds and also personally distributing the boots and stockings.
By Springtime 1905, 66 pairs of boots and stockings were given to children at various Blantyre schools who would consistently turn up to class in bare feet. The janitors would report to the headmasters after observing children arriving and ultimately the headmaster would take the decision as to who would receive boots. A balance sheet upon the scheme’s conclusion showed £19 15s 4d was raised whilst the expenditure made was over £22, creating a deficit which had to be made from later donations.