Quiet before the Storm, 1905

New Year 1904 going into 1905 was a strange affair for many people in Blantyre. Whilst 1905 was ushered in by the usual ringing of Church Bells, blowing of horns etc, the New year had an exceptionally quiet beginning.

The street presented quiet scenes with hardly anybody about, and the few folk who were out, seemed to be out for a purpose, other than first footing. Newspapers of the time reported that the custom of first footing seemed to be on the wane, perhaps “now only belonging to past ages.”

This all seemed to be due to the fact that New Year fell on a Sunday that year. It was quiet. A children’s service was held in the hall of Livingstone Memorial U.F Church and in the afternoon the Salvation Army fed 330 poor children. Blantyre Silver and Auchinraith Brass bands marched around the district playing popular songs like “A guid new year” etc.

However, by stark contrast was the following day, an exceptionally busy day owing to the fact it was Monday and on this particular Monday, Blantyre was perhaps the busiest place in all Lanarkshire. Owing to a quirk of license agreements, Blantyre’s pubs were permitted to open, but elsewhere not one pub was open between Blantyre and Wishaw!

So, the tramcars were full. People arriving from all over Lanarkshire. From early morning, fully laden trams poured into Glasgow Road and this continued all day giving the streets a very animated appearance. The publicans seemed totally unable to cope with the traffic and they ended up regulating the crowds coming to their premises by opening and closing the doors to queues!

Fortunately the New Year holidays went past without incident.

1905 Blantyre Salvation Army

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  1. Michael Glangevlin McGovern

    Paul – my Blantyre-born mom Helen Dolan always spoke of “first footing”. I have heard many versions of it – from a blond or a red-headed man first coming over the theshold at the stroke of midnight, to other versions. What is your or others’ understanding of it? Again Happy New Year from New York.

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