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“Contemporary Account of Modern Blantyre” by Paul Veverka
Extracts from “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
It has been quite some time since a snapshot of contemporary life in Blantyre has been captured in writing. Not since the aforementioned Statistical account of 1952 written by Rev A MacKenzie, has the town been described in any great detail or from a modern perspective. There has been no other greater aesthetical change to Blantyre than in the intervening period from World War 2 until now, and especially so, during the 1970’s where commerce, industry and property in Blantyre saw radical change.
The following account sets out to describe Blantyre for future generations and was written by me during 2016 and 2017. It is in effect, a brief tour highlighting places and buildings that I believe are notable for future readers to look back upon. I say ‘brief’ here, for this entire chapter is expanded upon in far greater detail in my other books. For the record, it is not a statistical account, for which only the minister can write, but it would be amiss of me whilst writing a book of the epic magnitude of “Blantyre Explained” to have missed out the opportunity to describe contemporary Blantyre for future historians to ponder upon.
Kilbride Parishes. Stoneymeadow retains a rural charm that has existed for centuries. Mature and young trees, that in summer can create shady and cooler, overhead canopies surround the Turnpike road built in 1790. A popular place for people out walking for leisure, surrounding fields are green and still relatively unpopulated.
Opposite Stoneymeadow Garden Centre, is a small path leading into a forest of tall coniferous trees. With one side of the forest bordering on to the busy A725 East Kilbride Expressway, this small path winds through the trees up to a former small cemetery on a mound which remains hidden from passing sight and is still largely unknown.
The junction of Dalton road unusually for this area currently has no building or business on its corner. Beech trees adorn the hedgerows. Nearby to the junction, a rough farm path leads from the road, eastwards towards Mid Letterick, past abandoned and derelict cottages. At Letterick, nothing much remains of this old farmhouse but the shell of the house itself. Abandoned outbuildings made of stone, iron and concrete are disused, the former cattle enclosures indicating the former use as a dairy. The stone build 2 storey Mill on the Cocksburn is still extant although has no water wheel. Some of the iron pieces of the former wheel can be found in the nearby stream next to the beautiful, but small Flag Bridge. The tranquil area always feels peaceful and at the time of writing is covered in carpets of bluebells and primroses. Nearby, the Cocksburn dam and reservoir are still there. Stone built, the dam is now showing signs of disrepair mostly through new tree roots growing through the structure. The whole area remains largely undiscovered by the majority of Blantyre residents, despite its ease of being reached.
We move southwards again back to the Stoneymeadow Road and arrive at Allers Farm, now being used a dog kennels and dog grooming business. The property is owned by Mr. Alan Reardon and is well maintained. Next to the farm, a brand new modern home has just been built this year, facing out over to Crossbasket. Sadly the three foot stone dyke walls along the public road have seen better days and where they have collapsed, in places are now repaired with unsightly timber fences or indeed a gap just left. Unfortunately, it has stripped some of the charm of the area and created a rather stop-start feeling to the overall character of the place, perhaps created by individual ownership of each nearby property. I hope future readers take an initiative for this old heritage to be fully restored.
We arrive next at Glenrose, a small house, formerly one of the lodge houses for Crossbasket. Nestled just off the Stoneymeadow road, directly across from the Calderwood Lodge house, this house is currently undergoing a modern renovation and extension, especially at the North side facing on to Crossbasket Estate. A stone milestone post over 200 years old can still be read outside Glenrose incorporated into the wall at the pavement. The former stone pillars of Blantyre Works Village line the entrance of the well maintained Calderwood Lodge house, itself part of East Kilbride parish. The macadam Carriageway on Stoneymeadow Road is well maintained and without potholes.
Heading Eastwards on Stoneymeadow Road, we next come to The General’s Bridge, which has remained almost exactly the same for a couple of Centuries. Passers by will miss the beautiful stone Gothic arch underneath, but the scene on top of the bridge is as similar and familiar today to townsfolk, as it would have been when first built. The road narrows slightly, the horizontal bridge iron railings now replaced (rather cheaply) with scaffold poles. Despite this, the bridge retains its character and I think is one of the most beautiful places in Blantyre.
Next, we arrive at Crossbasket Estate, which in the last few years has seen several very important changes not only for Blantyre, but also in preserving the heritage of this wonderful old Castle. This month, the inside of the Castle comes to the end of its 3 years incredible renovation. Owners, The Timoneys have fully restored the outside stonework, as well as completely renovating all rooms within the Castle, preserving it for future generations. With the addition of a large function hall, the Castle is soon to re-open to paying guests as a five star exclusive wedding venue. It is quite the change in direction from its former private residential and religious uses. There is no other building more beautiful or aesthetically pleasing in Blantyre than this one. To record this marvellous transformation, I was thrilled to have been able to record its entire history over the last 6 Centuries in a separate book. The Estate grounds have seen some changes too. A new access road was created over the existing field, fencing off the lands to the East belonging to other private owners. Last month, a new entrance was created, complete with large iron black gates, lights and pillars, in a style sympathetic to the Castle. In the estate grounds, directly across from Neilson’s Pet Cemetery and over the River Calder are several new modern homes, being built actually into the landscape on the site of the former Crossbasket Lade. These eco-friendly flat roofed, homes are set in a most beautiful valley setting and look directly upon the Castle.
August 2015 saw the opening of Crossbasket Nursery School, a state of the art children’s nursery accommodating up to 90 pupils of pre -school age. Located directly across from the unchanged Main Lodge, the nursery boasts exceptional standards of cleanliness, education and well being for each child. It’s an eco friendly building, fitting for this modern era and I’m sure will be around for many generations.
Beyond the Greenhall Coach house, itself unchanged for many years, is Crossbow Estate. This private estate is gated and sits amongst woodland. The homes built at the Millennium, are built to a good standard, with sizeable gardens and of a pleasing appearance.
The old estate of Greenhall is Crossbow’s neighbour. Greenhall is currently a popular public park, although suffering in recent years through council funding, when children’s play park equipment were removed. Although beautiful, is often subjected to fly tipping. The grand house demolished in the 1960’s is now a car park, which gets inundated daily by dog walking businesses. The park is popular in winter for sledging, something which has unchanged in several decades. The wooden stepped staircase leading down to a wooden footbridge crossing the river Calder, has started to show signs of neglect. The council maintain the park and fences were recently repaired. Some of the more mature trees are now toppled or damaged by storms. The last few years’ storms have seen some of the tall coniferous pine trees lining the road, now halved. The nature trails provide a welcome retreat for the people of Blantyre and pleasing walks along the river. Controversy is brewing however, as a large proportion of the tall and mature trees in this woodland, are proposed to be felled for safety reasons. The monies raised from this activity are proposed to regenerate the trails and perhaps be used for future planting. At the time of writing, this is uncommonly known, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out when disclosed amongst the wider population. Greenhall is one of Blantyre’s most fine green areas, and enjoyed by many.
Across the A725 slip road is Smellie’s Land. The large, 1970’s detached home is situated in a field between the A725 and Greenhall Estate, with impressive views down to High Blantyre. A large shed, covered in green cladding has recently been built this year. The nearby A725 has never been busier with road traffic. It is a vital link between East Kilbride and Raith Interchange (which at time of writing is halfway through significant redevelopment). Queues and congestion are common in peak times and I wonder just how much the Raith construction works will alleviate this.
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