Stealing Blantyre Gas

During the cold winter’s of the last few years of the 1890’s, a theft was committed in Blantyre. Mr Peter Clark, a local miner decided to try to cheat the newly established residential gas network throughout Blantyre and between the 13th December 1896 and 26th May 1897 admitted to stealing almost 4000 cubic feet of gas from the Blantyre Gas Company. (about £1,000 worth of today’s usage)

In a spot check in 1899, the company queried the consumption in the area, as it was quite unusual at the time for any households to have gas in them. (Most gas at the time was consumed by Street lamps). Household gas inspections were not common either, but when the Gas Company called, Mr Clark, who resided at Larkfield, Blantyre had some explaining to do.

The meter was found to be tampered with to the point of being entirely removed sometime in 1896. The connection however remained incoming into the household and was unbelievably connected by a piece of tin piping crudely joining the two pipes outside his home and buried in 1 foot deep connection. The stench of gas outside was said to have further led to the investigation itself.

Mr Clark admitted the offence to the Gas company in 1899. The gas company gave Peter the opportunity to repay which he did in instalments between 1899 and 1902, however, upon repayment back of the last penny, the gas company took things further and reported the theft to authorities. Mr Clark found himself in Court in 1902. A lenient sentence was passed given he had not only admitted the offence , but had actually repaid every penny. To avoid days in jail, Mr Clark was fined £2 (about £220 today) for his misjudgement.

Source: Dundee Courier 17th June 1903

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