The Youngest Detective, 1905

It was said in December 1905, that Blantyre had, in one particular four year old boy, the youngest detective in Lanarkshire. However, this story starts with somebody else.

John McCann, a brusher from Stonefield, Blantyre took advantage of the situation when a vanman left his vehicle in Low Blantyre. John decided to remove a parcel from the back of the Caledonian Railway lorry which contained a woman’s new silk dress. When the vanman returned from his delivery, he immediately noticed the parcel missing and reported it to police.

Blantyre officers arrived on the scene and were initially stumped. However, a four year old boy playing nearby, inquisitive about the police presence soon told them that he had ‘seen a man taking the parcel’. When police asked which direction the thief had gone, the boy replied “in there” , pointing to the doorway of a house nearby.

Police simply walked over the street to the door of the house, chapped the door and found the accused answering the door, with the half opened box still in his hand. Literally caught red handed. The expensive silk dress it was assumed was his intended present for a lady friend and was worth £10 (an amount which today would have been around £1,000! McCann had stolen the item whilst drunk.

In Hamilton JP Court on Christmas Eve, John McCann was sent to prison for 10 days, and would certainly have had time to reflect on what he did, spending Christmas and New Year at his Majesty’s Pleasure.

Looking into this more, I found that John McCann lived at 16 Greenside Street, just off Glasgow Road. Today, the site of his former home would be approximately where the grass is to the side of the Sports Centre where modern Christmas events take place.

Leave a Reply