Fatal Accident Building School, 1899

I’ve uncovered evidence that a Blantyre man lost his life whilst building one of the local schools.

I think this story is little known and have never heard of this before posting. The story of a worker losing their life on a Blantyre construction site, especially whilst building a school, deserves to be mentioned here.

The date is Friday 15th September 1899. Workers building the new Auchinraith School at the top of Craig Street were finishing up for the day and looking forward to some downtime. Amongst them was 29 year old James Behin, a stonemason’s labourer who lived at McAlpines Buildings on Glasgow Road, Blantyre.

Along with another labourer, James Behin was engaged in carrying a plank along the wooden roof trusses, when he missed his foot and fell to the ground. His head came into contact with a large wooden beam whilst falling the 15 foot to the ground, his head further hitting the ground upon impact.

He was at once taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary with severe concussion, unconscious. He remained unconscious all weekend, until sadly on the Monday, he passed away. This was a story the School Board didn’t want to be widely known, but was picked up on by some reporters, eventually finding its way into the Hamilton Advertiser some time later. For generations of children attending the school, little did they know of the tragedy which had happened above their heads when their place of education was being built. James Behin is remembered here.

Photo Illustration: Courtesy Blantyre Project. Being far enough back in time pre photography, this is how my AI software imagined this story.

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