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January 11th 1887

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The wheelbarrow craze!

It started off in America and spread to Scotland- the craze of pushing a wheelbarrow from place to place. It served no useful purpose but somehow caught the imagination of the people.

James Gordon from Dundee saw the possibilities early on and made a very successful round trip from Dundee to Forfar, Kirriemuir, Alyth, Blairgowrie and back to Dundee. The fervour was such that he was well behind schedule when he finally arrived to a cold but enthusiastic crowd in Alyth at nearly midnight.

“Man I couldn’a help it,”  he said. “The Kirrie fowk wanted to keep me a’thegither. I couldn’ get away; but I’ve done no bad in Alyth.”  He was put up at no expense at the Commercial Hotel.

The next day he travelled to Blairgowrie accompanied by a piper to the half-way house. When he arrived at Blairgowrie he was met by a crowd of between two and three hundred cheering people at the bridge. He stayed overnight at the Railway Hotel, setting off for Dundee at 7am the next morning well content with the generosity of his enthusiastic supporters.

Others attempted to cash in on the craze. Two weeks later Mrs McGowan of Canal Crescent, Perth, a mother of four with an unemployed husband, set off to walk to London pushing a perambulator containing an eight month old baby. Mrs McGowan, the report states, was of a wiry disposition well fitted to endure a long journey. (The baby also presumably possessed a powerful constitution). There was a large crowd as she walked through Perth. “At intervals along the route collections were taken up and a considerable sum was obtained before she left the town boundary.”  But already a less friendly attitude was in evidence. There were hostile letters to the press and when a week later a blind man, David Martin, set off from Perth to Dundee with his wheelbarrow there was public indifference.

The craze had already run its course.

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