Lochfauld Row was the site of a notorious incident that occurred on the evening of Saturday 19th December 1914 when a steamer called The Annie, carrying a large load of cargo, stuck the canal embankment and became grounded.
A contemporary report from the Kirkintilloch Herald reports “sensational scenes” and describes how the puffer was stranded and the residents of Lochfauld summoned by the crew to help stabilise the listing boat.
It appears that on Saturday night about 11 o’clock a steamer named the “Annie,” bound for Falkirk with a cargo of merchandise, struck a projecting rock at the edge of the canal near Lochfauld Row. It was found that one of the hull plates had been displaced, and that the vessel was taking water freely, and the men in charge decided to berth the steamer at the canal side. They, however, found that the steamer was listing towards the canal, and assistance was summoned from the Row. Quite a number of miners gave a helping hand. Steel pins were driven into the edge of the bank, and by means of ropes the steamer was made secure. What happened immediately afterwards no person seems rightly to know, but it being Saturday night there was a lot of drinking going on among the miners. At all events a squad of the miners took the law into their own hands, and began to loot the vessel. The men in charge went off for police assistance, and ultimately reported the matter to the police at Port Dundas. They in turn informed the constable at Lambhill, who, on going to the canal, found the job to big for one officer to tackle. This was about 5 o’clock in the morning, and by that time the whole cargo had disappeared.
Some of the miners evidently saw this as a golden opportunity and started looting. The crew fled and made for Port Dundas a few miles away where they raised the alarm. By 5am on the Sunday morning the Annie had been completely emptied of its cargo which had contained large quantities of foodstuffs such as butter, raisins and flour, and valuable commodities such as boots, blankets, sheets, furniture – along with casks of whisky and cases of beer.
The event drew onlookers from Jellyhill to Lambhill but the police investigation centred around the cottages and the fields around Lochfauld. Their search yielded piles of clothes, kegs of butter and other provisions, under beds, buried in fields, whisky hidden in teapots.
Among the list of goods carried by The Annie were:
The report states that the ship contained “sufficient goods to stock good-sized provision establishments”.
But the looting party was swiftly brought to a close as police officers came on the scene the next day to recover the stolen goods.
The details in the Kirkintilloch Herald report reveal a chaotic series of events, for example, that:
“in a house the officers came across nineteen boots and shoes, all odd ones.”
And also that
“One woman had a large quantity of butter hidden away in a washing pot underneath the bed, while a keg containing 112 lbs. of butter, a box with 56 lbs. of currants and a quantity of children’s clothing were discovered up in an ashpit”.
An ashpit was a dry outdoor toilet…
The Herald reported:
“Some of the arrests made were quite of a sensational character. For instance, one man refused point blank to put all his clothing on, and had to be apprehended as he was.”
But the romantic Whisky Galore elements of the story can eclipse the shame the episode brought to the row, as well as the swift justice that was exacted on the miners found guilty of looting. Crushing fines were levied and prison sentences, for men and women, were harsh – leaving some children as young as nine years old alone to look after themselves.
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