is a civil Parish in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, with a population of 17,505. The Parish is situated in the northwest of the Parliamentary district of Hamilton. From north to south the length of the parish is six and a quarter miles long. It extends for six miles in length, from north to south, and varies greatly in breadth, not averaging more than one mile in the whole; it comprises 4170 acres, of which, excepting 200 acres of moss land and plantations, all is or was once, arable.
It should be noted that when referring to Blantyre Parish, that it does not refer to the town of Blantyre. The former village of Blantyre is actually in Blantyre Parish, which comprises of much land in all directions around Blantyre’s populated centre.
It’s boundaries consist mainly of rivers, but also in a few places, by roads and fencelines. The Parish is bounded by the River Clyde to the north and northwest forming a boundary with Glasgow, Uddingston and Bothwell. To the west the boundary is parts of the Rotten Calder river forming a boundary with East Kilbride and Cambuslang. The boundary to the east is primarily formed by the Park Burn, but also of field boundaries before the Park Burn rises separating Blantyre from Hamilton. The boundary to the south is the Rotten Burn. It is incorrect to say that the Parish boundaries are all rivers or water.
Whilst Blantyre Parish predates 1845, it should be noted that from 1845 to 1930, civil parishes formed part of the local government system of Scotland: having parochial boards from 1845 to 1894, and parish councils from 1894 until 1930.
The civil Parish of Blantyre can be dated from the 1700’s, after ceasing to be a Barony. Several failed attempted have been made through the ages to make Blantyre a Burgh. However, it would take until 1845, for legislation to be enforced which gave parochial boards power to administer the poor law.
Described in 1846, the parish is in the presbytery of Hamilton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; that year, the minister’s stipend was about £184, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16 per annum. The parish church at that time was not in good repair. Located in the Kirkton graveyard, it was erected in 1793, and only held about 300 persons. The lands formerly belonged to the Dunbars, of Enterkin, in which family they remained till the Reformation, when they were purchased by Walter Stewart, son of Lord Minto, treasurer of Scotland, upon whom, on the suppression of monastic establishments, the ancient priory of this place was bestowed by James VI, who also created him Lord Blantyre. The scenery is, in many parts, exceedingly beautiful; the parish is generally well wooded, and diversified with gently undulating eminences and fertile dales. The rateable annual value of the parish was £8280.
In the 1859 name book, it was described as, “A Parish in the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire, bounded on the west by Cambuslang and East Kilbride; Glassford on the south; Hamilton, and Bothwell, on the east; and on the extreme north by Old Monkland, This Parish at its widest part is not more than two miles, and about six, from north to south, Nearly the whole has been feued off the Right Honbl. [Honourable] Charles Lord Blantyre, who possesses the patronage, The ruins of “Blantyre Priory” is the principal antiquity in the Parish, “Blantyre” village has the Parish Church, and School, as well as an adventure School in it. “Blantyre Works” employ a great number of the population – Copied from Name Sheets of 11 – 14 of this Parish – R. H”
Civil parishes in Scotland, as units of local government, were abolished by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929. By 1975, following the Government Land Act 1973, local councils revised how former Parishes were managed. The geographical area is sometimes still referred to as Parish, however, for purposes to compare and against previously published statistics.
A Town, Not a Village
Did you know Blantyre is officially a “town” and has been for some time. Blantyre being described as only a ‘village’, is an old, in accurate notion not many people under 50 years old use and there’s good reason for that, for the former village of Blantyre became a town in May 1975.
Fondly but incorrectly referenced, some Blantyre residents of a ‘certain age’ will I’m sure always refer to Blantyre as a village, as they remember the old days and descriptions or perhaps be simply unaware the change was made. It’s a mindset that won’t change for some people, and no big deal really, as the term “village” conjures up images of small, quaint, friendly places.
When I enquired in 2012 to South Lanarkshire Council Planning, they confirmed to me that Blantyre is a ‘town’ rather than village. I decided to investigate more just in case. Other historians don’t seem to have written much about this before. Some clarification was much needed, especially after I noticed a rogue assumption elsewhere that Blantyre “couldn’t be a town, as it didn’t have a town hall or mayor“, despite those two requirements only applying to classifications in England! (Of course in Scotland, there are no mayors, official post holders known as Convenors, Provosts, or Lord Provosts depending on the local authority).
However, you can see perhaps how the mistake is made. Pathe News referred to Blantyre as a town as early as 1930’s, despite it still being officially a village back then. Many other newspaper reports prior to WW2 described Blantyre as a town or village, or simply didn’t bother at all about finding out the real classification for their reports. Rightly or wrongly, an elderly generation perpetuated the term ‘village’, even beyond its “sell by date” in 1975.
So, some evidence, as it was actually quite easy to check.
The Scottish Government shared their clarification with Blantyre Project, after enquiry, adding, “A town is usually a place with a lot of houses. Generally, the difference between towns and villages or hamlets is the sort of economy they have. People in towns such as Blantyre usually get money from industry (factories etc.), commerce (shops etc.) and public service (working for the town), not agriculture (growing food), as may have been the case in Blantyre in previous Centuries. The subject can be difficult for people who lived on either side of the 1973 Government Act who may not wish to adopt change.
Although modern wards consider population size, the number of people who live in a place does not in isolation tell us if it is a town or a village although it can be a factor in helping to classify designations. For example Bothwell nearby to you has less than half the population of Blantyre but residents there often refer to themselves as a ‘conservation village’. For the record, when referring to Blantyre, we use the classification, town, but it would be worth checking with the local authority. We hope this clarifies your enquiry.”
Classification of land in Scotland is actually different from the rest of the UK. With exception of crown, Parishes, Burghs, boundaries, councils and subsequent later wards are all treated differently, thanks to Scots Law.
South Lanarkshire Council wrote back to me, backed up by Hamilton Reference Library, commenting,
“The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 was an Act of Parliament of the UK that altered local government in Scotland on 16 May 1975. That day, the county council was abolished and the area absorbed into the larger Strathclyde region, which itself was divided into new Council Areas in 1996. With it came the declassifications of Parish’s within Lanarkshire, and a modern step forward to reclassifying and acknowledging growth in villages and towns. Although towns and new towns existed in Lanarkshire prior to 1975, the recognition that some villages were prospering or growing beyond village classification had to be incorporated, leaving Lanarkshire with 13 towns of “Biggar, Blantyre, Bothwell, Cambuslang, Carluke, East Kilbride, Hamilton, Larkhall, Lanark, Lesmahagow, Rutherglen, Strathaven and Uddingston. The classification of ‘town’ was assigned to Blantyre due to it’s size, nature of it’s economy being industry based, a quantum shift away from agriculture and farming and on the noted basis that it held a regular market and fair, something a village does not.”
The evidence was there in black and white and it changed the way I describe Blantyre, always taking care to mention it’s a town, rather than darting back and forth between village and town.
With South Lanarkshire Council, the recognised authority on the subject confirming Blantyre is a town, the Scottish Government, reference library officials and land registration all confirming the same, with not one small reference left to us being a village, the case was clear and closed. Blantyre is now a town.
It would be amiss of me in this article not to mention that the Village of Blantyre once started out at the small populated centre around Kirkton Cross. Other little hamlets or villages nearby like Stonefield, Auchinraith and Barnhill grew to merge and helped construct the mass populated area we know as Blantyre today. We refer commonly today as the village area in Blantyre, now being beside Station Road, named after the former Mill Works Village created by mill owners in the early 19th Century. It’s good that at least the name “The Village” is still part of the town of Blantyre and is certainly a term used only to describe that area. We’re about to have TWO villages in Blantyre, with the current Avant Homes development in High Blantyre being officially named “Greenhall Village”.
I still don’t mind hearing Blantyre described as a Village or a town but ahead of publishing a definitive book of a million words about Blantyre, I needed to put this to bed, clear up the assumption and with fact, correct it once and for all. If you see Blantyre is currently a Village written anywhere in a modern setting, it’s wrong.
It’s no big deal really but it’s highly likely that Blantyre will still be described as a ‘Village’ by some, for this remaining generation before the term finally dies out and we all end up using the proper reference of a town.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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