Remembering Andrew Brown

When sad conversations about drownings in Blantyre arise with me, people sometimes say, “there must have been over a dozen or more people drowned over the years.” or statements of similar numbers.

That’s unfortunately wildly understated. There have literally been hundreds of drownings in Blantyre rivers over the centuries. One such story recorded the tragic death of a local man in 1898, but went on to record the frequency of such events.

The Hamilton Advertiser recorded On Sunday afternoon, Andrew Brown (20) miner, Windsor Street, Burnbank, was drowned whilst bathing in the Clyde, at the railway viaduct between Blantyre and Bothwell. With a companion named Cullen, he had gone to the river and whilst swimming, Brown was seen to sink when about 15 yds from the Bothwell side of the river. Another swimmer named Archibald, who was swimming some 50 yds off, was shouted to and he proceeded at once to the spot, but the body never appeared again, and although a search was kept up until midnight, was not recovered. The search was continued early on Monday morning and about 10 o’clock, the body was found not many yards from the place where it was last seen to disappear, by Robert Orr, miner, Auchinraith Rows, and William McCall, miner, Craighead Rows, who were using grappling irons from a small boat. This is the third year in succession that drowning fatalities have occurred at this part of the river.” 

Taking time to remember Andrew Brown here, it was noted that in the week of this ‘recovery’, William McCall was interviewed and stated that he had personally recovered 13 bodies from the River Clyde in the last few years alone! (and saved three lives). If an accident occurred, William and Robert were usually the men to fetch as they had proper equipment including a boat and grappling irons.

This bravery and effort was appreciated. In 1898, a committee was formed to receive subscriptions to secure the medal of Humane Society for these two gentlemen.

Photo: AI generated.

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