Low Blantyre

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Blantyre, a parish of NW Lanarkshire, containing the villages of Blantyre, Blantyre Works, Auchinraith, Auchintibber, Barnhill, and Stonefield.-Blantyre village, called also High Blantyre or Kirkton of Blantyre, stands near the right bank of the Rotten Calder, 3 miles W by N of Hamilton, and 8¼ SE of Glasgow. It has a post office under the latter, with money order and savings' bank departments, and a station (High Blantyre) on the Strathaven branch of the Caledoinan. Pop. (1831) 255, (1871) 393, (1881) 701.-Blantyre Works, or Low Blantyre, lies 1¾ miles to the NE on the left bank of the Clyde, opposite Bothwell, with which it is connected by a fine suspension bridge, and near Blantyre station (with a post office under Glasgow) on the Clydesdale section of the Caledoinan. Founded in 1785, it is neatly built; and at it are the dyeworks of Messrs Monteith & Co., and a weaving factory, where the great African traveller and missionary, David Livingstone (180373), worked in his boyhood as a `piecer.' In Blantyre he was born; and within a short distance of his birthplace it is proposed (May 1881) to build, at a cost of £4000, a memorial U.P. church, in the tower of which his statue will be placed. Pop. (1835) 1821, (1871) 1304, (1881) 1029.-Auchinraith, Auchintibber, Barnhill, and Stonefield are respectively 3 furlongs E by N, 1½ mile SSW, ½ mile N by E, and 13/8 mile NE, of High Blantyre; and had a population (1881) of 684,435,188, and 3235.

Bounded NE by Bothwell, SE by Hamilton and Glasford, W by East Kilbride, Cambuslang, and Old Monkland, the parish has an extreme length from N by E to S by W of 6¼ miles, a breadth from E to W of from 3 furlongs to 2 miles, and an area of 4027 acres, of which 73 are water. The Clyde, here a clear, majestic river, from 79 to 104 yards wide, sweep 4 miles round the Bothwell and Old Monkland boundary, and its swift, shallow affluent, the Rotten Calder, winds 7½ miles along all the western border of the parish, whose surface between the two streams presents no prominent features, but rises southward-from 51 feet above sea-level at Haughhead to 148 at Blantyre Farm, 205 at Coatshill, 214 near Roweshill, 461 near Crossbasket, 552 near Auchintibber, and 695 near Lodgehill. The rocks are mainly of the Carboniferous formation, including limestone, sandstone, coal, and ironstone; and, while the limestone has been largely- quarried, two clayband ironstone mines were working in 1879 at Blantyre and Blantyre Park, and three collieries at Auchinraith, Craighead, and Blantyre-the last the scene of two terrible explosions -on 22 Oct. 1877 (220 killed), and on 2 July 1879 (26 killed). A mineral spring at Park, strongly impregnated with sulphur held in solution by hydrogen, was much frequented by Glasgow families towards the middle of last century, and still is famed in scrofulous and scorbutic cases. The soils are various, deep peat-moss in the extreme SW, and elsewhere ranging through fertile kinds of sand, loam, and clay. Great improvements have been wrought by draining and by adoption of the best methods of culture, and barely 500 acres are waste or pastoral. A water supply was introduced (1880-81) at a cost of £10,000. At Calderside near Auchintibber, is the Camp Knowe, a conical hillock 200 yards in circumference, and anciently girt by a ditch; but the most interesting relic of antiquity is the tottering fragment- two gables and a vault-of Blantyre Priory, founded for Austin Canons before 1296 by Alexander N. Built of red sandstone, and perched on a wooded crag, 9 furlongs down the Clyde from Blantyre Works, it stands right opposite to Bothwell Castle, whence the view of it is thus described in Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal (ed. by Princ. Shairp, 1874), p. 50:-` On the opposite bank, which is finely wooded with elms and other trees, and the remains of an ancient priory, built upon a rock; and rock and ruin are so blended together that it is impossible to separate the one from the other. Nothing can be more beautiful than the little remnants of this holy place; elm trees-for we were near enough to distinguish them by their branches-grow out of the walls, and overshadow a small but very elegant window. It can scarcely be conceived what a grace the castle and priory impart to each other; and the river Clyde flows on smooth and unruffled below, seeming to my thoughts more in harmony with the sober and stately images of former times, than if it had roared over a rocky channel, forcing its sound upon the ear.' Of course there is (at least in Scottish Chiefs) a subterranean and subaqueous passage leading from the castle to the priory, and through a window in the latter Wallace is said to have sprung over the precipice, eluding thus a body of English pursuers. Walter Stuart, commendator of this priory in 1580, was created Lord Blantyre in the peerage of Scotland in 1606, having eight years earlier purchased the barony of Blantyre, which was all feued out in small parcels, still held under his present descendant, Charles Stuart, twelfth Baron Blantyre, of Erskine House and Lennoxlove. Two proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 23 of between £100 and £500,18 of from £50 to £100, and 27 of from £20 to £50. In the presbytery of Hamilton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, its minister's income amounting to £307, Blantyre has a handsome parish church (rebuilt 1863; 900 sittings) and another church at Stonefield (1880; 1000 sittings), as well as a Free church, a U.P. church, an Evangelical Union church, and St Joseph's Roman Catholic church (1878; 620 sittings). The public schools of High and Low Blantyre and Auchintibber Roman Catholic school, with respective accommodation for 400,400, and 527 children, had (1879) an average attendance of 383,314, and 274 (plus 137 evening scholars), and grants of £335, 2s. 6d., £225,18s., and £224,6s. (plus £65,15s. 6d.). Valuation (1881) £38,081,5s. Pop. (1801) 1751, (1821) 2630, (1841) 3047, (1851) 2848, (1861) 3092, (1871) 3472, (1881) 9760.—Ord. Sur., shs. 23,31,1865-67.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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