Margaret McLaughlin, 22, was the prettiest girl in the neighbourhood. The McLaughlin family was - and is - a highly-respected family in the Catholic community in Carluke. In 1973, Margaret was a shorthand typist in the Post Office in Motherwell. Her eldest sister Jane worked there too, and normally the two young women travelled home together. On the Friday of the murder however Jane was taking a lift home with a friend. Nevertheless, Margaret was not alone on the journey home - her younger sister Rosemary worked in Glasgow and was on the same train Margaret joined at Motherwell

Rosemary McLaughlin was then 20, three years younger than Margaret. They had a brother, John, a year older than Margaret. Jane was 27 - and then there was another brother, Edward, who was 31 and had already left home. He had found a good job in England - at Lloyd's bank in Watford. This was certainly not a family to deserve such a terrible disaster as the murder of Margaret.

On the evening Margaret was murdered she went for the 8:03 train from Carluke to Glasgow. She was on her way to visit her future sister-in-law in Partick, on the other side of Glasgow. Margaret's fiancee, Bob Alexander, was the manager of a pump-making firm. A young successful businessman, he was in South Africa on a sales trip at the time. Margaret's engagement ring was a magnificent one - the whole neighbourhood had seen and admired it. Margaret was going to stay with Muriel over the weekend. The two of them were to go shopping in Glasgow for items for the wedding. Margaret also intended to return a pair of trousers she had bought from a department store there: they were in a carrier bag inside her suitcase. Margaret always dressed smartly - she had a flair for fashion.

The McLaughlin girls always took a well-known shortcut between their home and the railway station. Coming from the station, it meant walking along the railway embankment, then down the embankment slope after it had crossed the "Colonel's glen".(where the murder took place). The path was rough, it followed the railway fencing down the embankment until the ground levelled out at the playing fields which separated the glen from the housing estate when the McLaughlin family lived.

On the fateful Friday, Margaret and Rosemary took this shortcut home together at about half past six. Both of their parents were home. Their father Hugh was not working - he had recently been ill and was still recuperating. Jean, their mother, helped the girls prepare to go out again that evening.

Rosemary had a meal with Margaret, then left for an earlier train to visit friends. Jean McLaughlin gave Margaret some money for the trip - then Margaret left for the 8:03. It was raining and she put her umbrella up. She re-traced her steps - along the road to the snicket, across the playing field and into the glen. No one has ever come forward who saw her after that.

Return to top of front page

Return to Main text