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Stonehouse


South Lanarkshire

The village of Stonehouse is located in Avondale, 3 miles (5 km) south of Larkhall in South Lanarkshire. There has been settlement here for over 2000 years, as indicated by the presence of stone cists now located in the grounds of the Mediaeval St. Ninian's church. Like many of the villages of the area, the history of Stonehouse is the history of weaving. Weaving was a vibrant industry for the village until the 1800s, when its demise led to the development of coal mining. Coal mining lasted here until the closure of the Canderigg Colliery in 1954. Stonehouse was once a junction on the Caledonian Railway, connecting Ashgill, Larkhall, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, but the lines closed in the 1960s first to passenger traffic and then completely, as the coal mines declined. The eight-span Stonehouse Viaduct to the north of the village was built in 1904 but its deck was removed in 1984, leaving only its piers marching statesmanly across the Avon Water.

The weaver's cottages at the centre of the village are now part of a conservation area and sites of interest nearby include Sodom Hill, the scene of a Covenanters battle in 1679, an Iron Age fort at Double Dyke and St. Ninian's church, where The Bloodstone, with a seam of red ochre running through it, is a memorial to one of the martyrs of the Battle of Drumclog (1679). A new parish church was also dedicated to St. Ninian in 1897 and the village also benefits from two primary schools, a library, a small hospital and the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park.

Stonehouse was designated as the sixth of Scotland's New Towns on 17th July 1973 by Secretary of State for Scotland Gordon Campbell (1921 - 2005) but the election of a Labour government in Westminster the following year and the reorganisation of local government in Scotland in 1975 brought a change in focus from moving people out of Glasgow to urban regeneration. The Stonehouse scheme was abandoned in 1976 by Bruce Millan (1927 - 2013) despite land having been compulsorily purchased and farms demolished.

Now closed, the Rex Cinema in Argyle Street is a remarkable Art Deco creation which was built in 1937 reusing fittings from the White Star Line ocean liner RMS Homeric that was being broken up in Inverkeithing. These included a fine mahogany staircase, grand chandelier and panelling from the first-class dining room. The Homeric was built in Danzig as the Norddeutscher Lloyd liner Columbus but came into trans-atlantic service for Britain in 1919 as part of German war reparations.


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