Warning to Brake Drivers, 1905

At the end of March 1905, Robert Smith of Cambuslang and Robert McSkimming, a hawker of Stonefield Blantyre pled guilt to having on 12th March that year driving their brake carriages recklessly and in a furious manner.

The men, both drivers between Blantyre and Cambuslang, whilst carrying paying passengers had raced each other on the road heading into Blantyre to the danger of others around them, all in vain attempts to quickly get back to Cambuslang and pick up the next paying customers who were already waiting.

The court heard how the introduction of tramways in 1903 to Blantyre had created a huge industry of brake hirers (horse pulled taxis) from 1903 and by 1905 at the time of this incident, dozens were often seen waiting for customers, of which there were plenty. Sunday was the busiest day with as many as 30 brakes lined up waiting for their turn for a hire.The justices made an example of this case, fining the men a whopping 20 shillings each or alternative of 14 days prison.

This trade would be short lived. As lucrative as it was from 1903, by 1907 with the introduction and connection of trams between Blantyre and Cambuslang, the brake hire industry stopped in that location overnight, with these drivers all seeking alternative employment or moving to other locations. That competitive phase therefore only lasting 4 years.

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