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August 4th 1905

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The Blair gadgies

In the early years of this century, when the acreage of raspberries in Blairgowrie increased dramatically, the matter of picking the fruit became a major problem.

It was no longer possible to rely solely on local pickers and some form of accommodation was needed for the migrant labour. In the early years both the living quarters and many of the pickers (“the tramp class” ) were far from satisfactory.

A case was brought in the sheriff court against a Mr Smith of Perth Road, Blairgowrie under the Public Health Act. It was disclosed that his pickers were housed in what the local sanitary inspector called about the worst type in Blairgowrie, “built of rough wood with not a stick of furniture and the floor was earthen.”  There were, it was stated, twenty nine persons in one hut which was supposed to house only three people. The inspector was asked. “Were they lying symmetrically?”  “They were lying head to toe. The smell was most offensive and one could not walk in between without tramping on somebody. There were also people of both sexes sleeping in the huts.” 

Understandably, Sheriff Sim castigated the revolting conditions of the huts but fined Mr Smith only a very modest three guineas.

If Mr Smith escaped lightly, the reputation of Blairgowrie certainly suffered. Those growers from outside the town found that their fruit met with an increased demand, especially if they took the trouble to ticket it “Not from Blairgowrie.” 

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