Playing at Craighead Rows

On Tuesday 29th July 1902, play during the school holidays went terribly wrong when several children were seriously injured at Craighead Rows, Blantyre.

That Summers evening workmen were making some repairs and had been working with tar. Barrels of Tar lay close to the Criaghead Rows, (miners homes, just off Glasgow Road). When the men finished, a large number of local children gathered and started lighting the various pools of tar lying on the ground, playing in delight at their mischief. Suddenly the flames raced along a line of tar straight to a full barrel, and a huge explosion followed! Children were knocked to the ground with some bad injuries.

Very few of the children escaped any burning, the most serious of the injuries being Andrew Cochran, Kate McDougall, William Murphy, Alexander Murphy, Isa Smith, John Wogan and Peter Mair. I’m hoping they all made a recovery.

Sticking on the subject of playing at Craighead Rows, these photos were taken 53 years ate in 1955. By then, the rows were also called “Baird’s Rows’. Pictured out the back is little Pete Smith. The picture was shared by his brother Anthony Smith when the family lived in the raws themselves.

Whilst his father took the photo, Pete had made a slide out of crates and planks of wood, clearly enjoying himself and making his own safe entertainment. Dangers of course have always existed whilst kids play outside, making their own adventures, but thankfully for the best part, playing outside for most of us was a joyful, simple pleasure of childhood.

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