Endurance of Charles Allan, 1905

In January 1905, a story circulated around Blantyre about a remarkable feat of endurance and bravery by Blantyre man, Charles Allan.

Charles, a labourer who repaired chimney stacks, was sitting astride a chimney 60 foot from the ground with colleague worker, Andrew Messer. They were repairing the head of the chimney stack when Charles noticed Andrew had started shaking violently. As Andrew began to lose consciousness, Charles took in the situation and in an instant grabbed out and over to his colleague, just in time to save him from falling backwards.

Charles, unable to move for his own safety at that great height, could do nothing but hold on to his leaning workmate with just one hand clasping at his arm and clothing, to prevent him from falling.

He shouted for help, but being so high, his calls weren’t heard, due to the noise of passing trains on the nearby railway, just a hundred yards away. The strain became greater and his colleague leaned further back, suspended in the air.

For a full hour, he was unable to attract any attention, until finally a workman in an adjoining colliery happened to look skyward and realised something was wrong. Horrified, he quickly raised the alarm and a further half an hour later, the two men were rescued and lowered to the ground.

Andrew Messer had been overcome by the fumes from the chimney and it took him a further 2 hours to rally, completely unaware of the drama which had unfolded. Charles Allan was strained from the stress of holding his 14 stone colleague for so long. His heroic efforts was a marvellous story in Blantyre for a long time thereafter.

The location of this event isn’t stated, but the reports of the 60 foot chimney, nearby railway and colliery all point towards this happening at the former Auchinraith Bakery pictured.

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