Sunday Card Players

On Sunday 7th June 1903, police raided an illegal betting operation in Blantyre.

Sunday car players had congregated in the famous rendezvous at the field near the Auchinraith Colliery, a field encircled by the Auchinraith branch of the railway. The field notoriously used for gambling given its enclosure by the railway on 3 sides, with only one way in and out. (Presumably easy to keep an eye out for authorities). Today this field would be approximately where the Springwell housing estate is.

Despite the complaints of both Colliery owners and farmer, bands of local men, mostly fairly young continued to gather for playing cards on Sundays. On some weeks, as many as 200 men were spotted. On this particular Sunday, following an early tip off to police, officers from Burbank and Blantyre police stations made their way together to the field around 2pm.

80 people were found gathered, in the midst of card games and 15 arrests were promptly made of the ringleaders including some Polish miners. The following Monday, the 15 found themselves in Hamilton Justice of Peace Court charged with illegal card playing, cursing and inciting a crowd to assemble. As 3 men pleaded guilty, the judge told all that he was annoyed that the quiet peace of Sundays in Blantyre had been broken by these illegal activities, and how the residents nearby had grown weary of crowds near their homes.

Three men were fined 30 shillings, or 21 days imprisonment and the other 12 men, pleaded not guilty, prolonging the outcome for further court dates.

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