This Way for Blantyre, 1905

In 1905, trams had not yet been connected between Blantyre and Cambuslang, with the terminus at Priory Bridge. As such, a significant trade of horse drawn vehicles had sprung up after 1903 to capture passing pedestrian trade wanting to journey onwards either to Cambuslang or from Cambuslang to Blantyre. The service filled a need and joined the 2 tram services until 1907 when the Blantyre to Cambuslang line was opened.

Competition in 1905 was fierce as brake traffic tried to win customers and sometimes this traffic attracted problems. One issue was leaving the horse drawn brakes, whilst the driver sought out passengers nearby. This was considered a dangerous practice, i.e leaving the horse unattended in busy areas.

One case was that of John Richardson, fruit merchant and carriage hirer, who found himself in court in April 1905 charged with leaving his horse and buggy to stand at Clydeford Road, Cambuslang on Sunday 19th March. He’d only been away for 10 minutes, but it was enough to attract the attention of authorities. Richardson pleased not guilty but Inspector Fraser and Sergt Gordon, two police officers had watched him leave the animal. The traffic between Blantyre and Cambuslang on Sundays was considerably greater than during the week and there were plenty of people around.

Sergt Gordon said that Mr Richardson, instead of waiting his turn (a bit like modern taxis), had left his horse and proceeded to jump the queue for alighting passengers shouting “this way for Blantyre!” This was regarded by other drivers as “poaching”.

Mr Richardson said in court that it was common for other drivers to keep an eye on the horses of others too, but the Fiscal said the man in charge of a horse is solely accountable for it. It was said Mr Richardson had left the horse which at the time was surrounded by boys and could have at any time been startled and bolted with the brake.

The Justices reminded everybody of their need to protect the public, especially as these ‘cabmen’ often went into their rest building to play dominoes at quiet times, often leaving their horses. A danger was perceived and Mr Richardson, duly charged.

An example of a 2 horse brake is attached. I can well imagine these vehicles shuttling the Blantyre and Cambuslang passengers back and forth.

Leave a Reply