Local Man – Efforts Noticed

Well done to Blantyre man John Dunsmore, who has given up his own time and expense to renovate and restore a lovely monument to a local 20th Century Blantyre hero, Mr. John Gray.

The monument is located in High Blantyre Cemetery and this week John Dunsmore visited the grave to embark upon his restoration project. As you can see from the “before” photo and indeed from John’s “after” photo, his efforts have been productive and I’m sure are highly appreciated by all.

If you’re wondering who John Gray was and why there is a monument to this little known Blantyre man, here’s some historical information and story about John Gray and why there is a stone there in his memory.

Well done to BOTH John’s over each time period!!

The Story of John Gray, Courtesy of Blantyre Project:

“John Gray, Robert Orr and William (Wull) McCall were members of a small group of late 19th Century and early 20th Century men known locally as “Divers” because of their swimming and diving skills and local knowledge of the Clyde, who were called out when somebody had drowned in the river.

A sad tale unfolded on Sunday 23rd March 1913 at the Village Mills, Blantyre. A tragic double drowning took the lives of two people, one of them only a boy. Some boys had been playing near the edge of the River Clyde which was flowing higher than normal due to Spring rainfall. To everyone’s horror, John Morran Reilly of Cross Row, Blantyre , aged 11 fell from a high retaining wall between the lade and the river and was carried away in full spate.

The alarm was raised and immediately nearby was John Gray, a miner residing at Shuttle Row. Without any thought for his safety, and not even stopping to remove any clothing, John plunged off the wall into the dark and murky flowing water. He caught hold of the boy and was in the process of swimming back to safety, when his aches and pains of his mining profession played a cruel twist of fate, encompassing him with cramps.

Witnesses commented on the difficulties he appeared to be having with his arm and leg, which was forcing both man and boy under the water. In panic, Little John tried to clamber on top of the miner as people on the shore could only look on helplessly. To screams of shock and horror, both John’s fell below the white water rapids and drowned.

John Gray was 31 years old, was married was married with 3 children. He was also a reserve soldier with the 93rd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It was later reported that Gray had previously rescued somebody in similar circumstances. A special postcard was commissioned in memory of John Gray, an open air concert was held and even a local sponsored football match, all for the man who was dubbed “The Blantyre Hero”.

This tragedy occurred immediately outside of the Mill, down the river bank from Shuttle Row, the birthplace of David Livingstone.”

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