Four in Hand Drive, 1903

It is a very rare occasion on Blantyre Project, where I have an unlabelled, unknown and undated photo and able to tie it up to a description of the event and finally put an exact date on it! This happened recently, where I was able to match this photograph to a reporter’s description of an event in a local newspaper.

All I knew of the photo was I recognise High Blantyre men at the back Thomas Scott of Priestfield, The Craigs of Bellsfield and Birdsfield and Alex McLean who had an aerated water business. At the front, I recognise a couple of Low Blantyre men. There’s a smartly dressed coachman and of course a piper. I had no idea where the photo was or the date, although guessed it was before WW1.

By chance, whilst researching Blantyre stories in 1903, I found a reporters description of an outing by the Four in Hand Club, which I think this represents. The story and descriptions match what’s happening in the photo. The date of the report puts this as Wednesday 3rd June 1903, the leaves on the trees also lending weight to this being summer.

“On Wednesday afternoon the members of the Four In Hand Club had their monthly drive, the destination being Paisley. The company, which was the largest which had yet taken advantage of an evening drive left the Toll Bar (Stonefield Tavern) at 4 o clock and called at Shanks pub in High Blantyre, where the High Blantyre contingent was picked up.”

“Resuming, the road was taken to Kilbride and on to Busby, where the company was photographed in a leafy dell by Mr Thomas Robertson of High Blantyre. Thorniewood was thence passed and on to Paisley, the company having supper in the Globe Hotel. Here two hours were spent and humorous songs were given by Mr Gilchrist.”

“The company left for home at 9.30pm and came back by way of Glasgow, calling in at the Club Bar, Paisley Road where they were entertained by Mr Donnelly. Blantyre was reached shortly after 11pm and the drive was a most enjoyable one. Accompanying on this trip was a piper, George MacDonald and Bugler John Rae and as usual the ribbons were in the hands of coachman Jamie Donald, who ably controlled a pair of bays and a pair of greys, belonging to Messrs D.P McMillan of Uddingston. Needless to say, the turnout was the cause of much favourable comment on the route. “

This DOES all seem to fit. I can just imagine the large carriage being pulled by those 4 horses. The Bugler is clearly visible too. I’m confidently stating this photo was 120 years ago on Wed 3rd June 1903.

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  1. Linda Mackie-Marieskind

    Excellent detective work Paul and what a great photo!

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