Tales of the Riverman 44

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Bennie is buried beside his beloved Sarah in the Cemetery at Rutherglen, on a hill overlooking Glasgow, his City. It also overlooks the Cityford Burn, Spital Burn which flow into the Malls Mire or Jennies Burn or Polmadie Burn through Richmond Park and into the River Clyde. It is fitting that Bennie looks down on the waterways that meant so much to him.

They said that if you cut Ben Parsonage it would be Clyde water not blood that flowed out.

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Tales of the Riverman 43

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A young Bennie Parsonage was officially recorded as assisting George Geddes during 1917. From 1918 he became engrossed in the work of the Glasgow Humane Society, years of hard graft and of learning the wiles of Glasgow’s waterways

Sometime during 1918 two or three pals out in different boats were larking about. One produced a revolver that had been given to him by someone returned from the War. He pointed it at one of the boys, the gun went off, and the boy was killed. The boat was called the Mary. Bennie had the job of washing the blood from the boat.

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Tales of the Riverman 42

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In the next few issues of “Tales” I will tell some of the escapades of the first Parsonage “Bennie”.

It is 100 years since the Parsonage family took residence at the river, looking after the safety of people on the river and its surroundings and becoming the voice of the river. In 61 years a call for help never went unanswered, day or night. None of the family ever failed in a rescue attempt. In this period around 3,000 persons were rescued, though the exact number will never be known. Ben’s father, also Ben, a tube fitting maker had come up from England to work in the steelworks of Glasgow and married Annie Morrison. Ben was the eldest in a family of six.

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Tales of the Riverman 41

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I do not like talking about “cases” that may bring back unhappy memories to people, but recently I have been asked details about the television film “Plain Sight”-so here are some details of the Glashow Humane Society involvement.

Peter Thomas Anthony Manuel (13 March 1927 – 11 July 1958) was an AmericanScottish serial killer who was convicted of murdering a total of seven people across Lanarkshire and southern Scotland between 1956 and his arrest in January 1958, and is believed to have murdered two more, nine in all. Prior to his arrest, the media nicknamed the unidentified killer "the Beast of Birkenshaw". Manuel was hanged at Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison on Friday, July 11, 1958; he was one of the last prisoners to die on the Barlinnie gallows.

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Tales of the Riverman 40

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‘Yo Ho Ho, Sleigh bells ringing, stocking filled and all that. People rowing and sculling up and down the river dressed as Santa Claus, children making snowmen in the Park, robin red breasts, Christmas pudding, Mink turning white. Works parties, outdoor markets, the Crib in the City square. Shovelling snow, windsurfer sledging, safety warnings.

Yes we have had our moments over the Christmas/New year period; we’ve had the good and the bad, the happy and the sad.

Shovelling the snow away to enable all the emergency necessities to be available if required

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Tales of the Riverman 39

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‘Glasgow Courier, Saturday February 14, 1795. During the temporary thaw on Tuesday night, two Gabberts at the Broomielaw, one of which was loaded

with coals, were sunk by the ice; and another driven from her moorings. The Clyde, which was then broken-up, for about a mile above, and two miles

below, is again frozen over. A Gabbert is a type of lighter or barge, used in the 17th through 19th century. They are small one-masted sailing or coasting

vessel. Used mostly for inland navigation, especially on the River Clyde’.

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