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From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
Origins of Victoria Street
Unlike the other streets leading south we’ve explored so far and with exception of Auchinraith Road, Victoria Street joined Low to High Blantyre, cutting right through Blantyre and has many homes and public buildings.
During the 19th Century until the mid 1870’s, small track led up a slight gradient from the Glasgow to Hamilton Road, up towards the Stonefield Farm ending at that property. The farm was elevated overlooking fields at that time and the small, expanding village hamlet of Stonefield (itself then only a few homes and shops.) This track was extended during the 1870’s and 1880’s leading up to what is now the crossroads at Calder Street, providing easier access to Netherfield Place and Dixon’s Rows. The track was known as “the Clay Road”, a good indication that it likely did not have a good surface.
During the late 1890’s, Blantyre was still going though rapid population growth due to the coalfields. At this time, upgrading the narrow paths and thoroughfares was an important reinforcing of infrastructure. The Clay Road was then further extended during the 1880’s and 1890’s from the crossroads right up to Main Street on High Blantyre to the South. The track generally inclined upwards the further south you travelled as it does today and was narrow, muddy and frequently used by miners as short cuts.
The track had previously simply been a field boundary for Stonefield Farm. It was essentially a route over fields, with no buildings at any side. Likely to have simply had the topsoil and turf taken off. In the first decade of the 1900’s, the Clay road was widened and constructed over with a more permanent surface forming what is now Victoria Street. A section of the original Clay Road still exists today at the very top of Victoria Street at the junction of High Blantyre Main Street. The road at that point significantly narrows back to the size it was then which was not much larger than the width of a horse and cart. It’s for that reason cars cannot exit off Victoria Street directly on to Main Street.
Victoria Street was named so, following the death of the Monarch Queen Victoria in 1901, coinciding with a new century and the ‘Clay Road’ name abandoned, it had been given the name “Victoria Street” by 1910.
Buildings on Victoria Street
During the late 19th and 20th Centuries, some very prominent and public buildings existed on Victoria Street, some still do! On the eastern side behind the school was the Schoolmasters house and the Police Station near Calder Street Junior Secondary School. Also ASDA warehouses. On the eastern side there were shops, Health Institute as well as a Hospital for Infectious Diseases. These properties are explored fully in other Blantyre Project books.
However, it is perhaps the homes and number of families that lived in Victoria Street that defined it as a popular place. Alongside the schoolmasters house and Victoria Place (tenement houses for miners nicknamed ‘the Honeymoon’ behind Stonefield Parish School), there were privately built stone homes and huge expansive council estates built in the mid 1920’s.
Stonefield (Hastie’s Ferme)
The former farm of Stonefield is more commonly remembered in modern times as being “Hastie’s Farm”, but its roots go back further than the Hastie family. Constructed in the 1810’s, the farm is later than some other older farms like Blantyre Farm, Auchinraith (Burnbrae) Farm, Coatshill, Croftfoot or Calderside.
The original owners were the Forrest family, acquiring the land from Lord Blantyre and buildings are first referred to at Stonefield on William Forest’s Map of 1816. (of no relation to the Forrest family who owned the farm.)
Built of stone with slated roof, the farm buildings ran east to west and were location in an elevated position above some poorly drained fields. The inadequacy of the fields would have required tremendous effort to make them suitable for farming and it is here we find the likely source of the name “Stonefield”, the small hamlet that grew around the farm.
By 1832 as shown in John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland, at least a half dozen small homes and businesses and been built on the north side of the Glasgow to Hamilton Road and the name of this little hamlet already established as “Stonefield”. These were the humble beginnings of the a district that would later than century become extremely populated.
In 1855 the only land and property in small, rural Stonefield belonged to the families Craig, Hill, Rintoul, Monteith and of course Forrest.
William Forrest owned Stonefield Farm in 1855 and also owned the farmhouse and over on the north side, a tile works which was let out. William certainly was a prominent landowner and there is good evidence that Stonefield Farm fields occupied much of the land to both north and south of Glasgow Road in those early, sparsely populated times. William Forrest also owned a quarry at Blantyre Moor, the larger farm of Auchinraith (Burnbrae) occupied by James Scott as well as further homes, shops and a blacksmith around early Blantyre. However, William was a remote owner of these properties, not living in Blantyre, but instead letting them out. James Williamson was the farmer of Stonefield Farm in 1855, renting from William Forrest for £83 per annum.
In 1857 upon the death of William Forrest or Forest, the farm passed to two other family members. Part of the farm went to William’s son, John Clark Forrest and the other part to his son’s wife, Janet Clark Forrest (nee Logan). It may be that the whole was inherited by John and he sold or gifted part to his wife.
Stonefield Farm is described in 1859 as, “A Farm Steading. The property of Mr. Forest J.P. [Justice of the Peace]. This name also applies to several feued (houses) between “Blantyre Cotton Works T. P. [Turn Pike]” & “Winks.”
John Clark Forrest
One of the most eminent men to come to Blantyre was Stonefield Farm owner, Mr. John Clark Forrest. Born in Shotts on 17th October 1832, John had strong connections to Blantyre. His mother was a Clark whose family had farmed Auchinraith Farm for centuries beforehand, with his grandparents buried in the High Blantyre Kirkyard. A military man at heart, he rose through the ranks to become the Captain of 16th Lanarkshire Rifle Battalion.
However, it was his other pursuits that interested and impacted Blantyre. He was an active member of Blantyre’s Parochial Board, responsible for making important decisions such as the funding and building of schools and churches, the clean up of the town and installing permanent water supplies. Although strict, he was well respected and could influence many civic decisions about Blantyre. He strived for betterment, cleanliness and progress. A family man too, marrying his love Jane Logan, five years his junior.
His life wasn’t without tragedy. On 9th June 1866, at just 29 years old, Jane (or Janet) sadly died. Despite being only 34 years old, John was inconsolable and chose to devote the rest of his life to work and career, never remarrying again.
Following the demolition of the tired miner’s row housing throughout Blantyre, and as a result of upgrading Blantyre’s homes and streets, John and Jane’s influence gave to the naming of several new streets along Glasgow Road. Some are still there today on the north side, namely names were; John Street, Clark Street, Forrest Street and on the south, Logan Street, are all within his beloved Auchinraith/Stonefield.
As Provost of Hamilton from 1875-1881, he welcomed the Prince of Wales to Hamilton Palace in 1878 and later Prime Minister Mr. Gladstone in 1880. He was also the honorary Sheriff substitute in Blantyre from 1879, in which position he read “the riot act” in Blantyre during 1887. In 1888 he became Lieutenant Colonel of the 5th Volunteer Battalion Scottish Rifles in Airdrie.
On 28th August 1893, at the age of 61 John passed away at his Udston Home. After Auchingramont Church service and further small service at his home, this public figure then had a funeral service the likes of what Blantyre had never seen before. It was by no doubt the largest funeral procession the town had seen.
His coffin was oak clad and lined inside with lead. Placed on a gun carriage with his military helmet and sword on top, the carriage was pulled by six magnificent black, plumed horses. His favourite Charger followed with his solitary boots, attached and reversed in the stirrups. Next, followed the Burgh Council and magistrates followed by over 1,500 local Blantyre mourners. The Burgh Police had to unusually attend the funeral if only for crowd control. The procession is reported to have tailed back a mile and was ceremoniously handed over to the Lanarkshire Constabulary at the border of Hamilton and into High Blantyre.
Along Main Street the procession arrived at the Blantyre kirkyard. The stone walls of the kirk graveyard were lined by volunteers standing two deep in their bright red uniforms. His regiment carried the coffin down from the carriage, up the cemetery steps and to the prepared lair. (near the back left of the kirkyard). The nearby Church bells constantly chimed a slow, funeral dirge. People congregated in Douglas Street and Main Street and there was reputedly not a place to stand. Then, having been laid to final rest amongst a mountain of flowers, a firing party 300 men strong (5th Volunteer Battalion) discharged a volley of shots to the air.
Becoming Hastie’s Farm
John Clark Forrest owned Stonefield Farm for 36 years between 1857 and 1893 although of course never farmed it himself. After James Williamson stopped farming the land as tenant in 1872, a young contractor by name of David Hastie took up the rental of the farm. From that time onwards, the name ‘Stonefield Farm’ was used less often and suddenly stories appear in local newspapers as being ‘Hastie’s Farm’.
Eventful night at Hastie’s Farm
A good deal of excitement was caused in the wee small hours of Saturday 21st August 1875. The people residing at Hastie’s Farm were awoken by some violent knocking at their door. On going out to find out what was going on, they were confronted by a giant of a man who was clearly drunk. The man repeatedly said he “wanted to get into his bed”, much to the alarm of the farmhouse owners. After some time, they managed to get rid of him, by calmly talking and the man seemed to go back towards the (Glasgow) road. They went in, but were on guard and listened for his return.
Some time later, they again thought they heard somebody about the place, although this time with fear as the noises were coming from the house itself. They walked carefully into one of the unoccupied bedrooms and were alarmed to see the tall man laying comfortably in bed amongst their good, clean sheets. The window was ajar which had obviously been his point of entry. Upon being discovered, the man rolled over and promptly fell out the high bed to the floor in his stupor. Being near to the Police Station, one of the Blantyre constables was fetched who quickly detained the intruder, took him to the station and later on to jail. The giant man was Alexander Craig, a navvy living in nearby railway huts. Spending his wage on a night at Blantyre’s taverns, his eventual condition obviously led him to mistake the large farmhouse for his own railway hut lodgings. However, there is more to this story.
Whilst the police were being fetched and Alexander lay on the floor of Hastie’s farm, Mr. Hastie had to run outside as a call of “fire” was heard. Whilst the Alexander story unfolded, a secondary commotion took place. One of the farm carts was ablaze. A number of neighbours soon turned up to put out the fire but were unable to save the cart and its contents, which belonged to Mr Wright, a farmer at Spittal. The cart was believed to be insured. Alexander had been the only person seen in the yard, but with no witnesses, he was never charged.
Once the police had left with Alexander in custody, Mr Hastie and the kind people of Glasgow Road residences had managed to put out the fire. Thankful that it hadn’t spread and beyond sleep, Mr Hastie decided to sit in his scullery and treat the makeshift firefighters with some of his own whisky which is reputed to have been consumed in significant quantities. (Hastie had a fine sideline going in selling whisky to locals)
Around 5.00am as the sun came up and after 3 or 4 hours solid drinking, the 3 remaining locals who had helped, set off from the farmhouse for home. However, as Mr Hastie bade them farewell from his door, to his surprise the men started fighting amongst themselves at the nearby road. Punches and kicks, 2 of them set about the third, robbing him of his boots. Mr. Hastie stood by the door, watching and later reported to Police, he had sighed heavily and said out loud to himself “Blantyre. I don’t have the strength!“
Remainder of 19th Century
In 1879 within Naismith’s Directory, David Hastie is noted as being the contractor at Stonefield Farm. In the 1881 census he is 39 years old living with wife Janet (42) and sons John (9), Peter (2) and daughter Helen (7). David was born in Carluke and came to Blantyre in 1872. All his children were born there. He had another eldest daughter, Margaret who died in 1943.
During the 1890’s Daniel Henry owned a nearby house, stable and store adjacent to the farm. David Hastie that decade established the business, “David Hastie & Sons”. John Hastie and his father bred Shire horses on the farm and kept them in the front field near the Glasgow Road, which had a small horse shed at the very corner of what would become Victoria Street. In 1905 he was selling off some of his “Draught Geldings” horses at auction. Such beasts would have cost around £70 then and it is known they were sold direct fro the farm on occasion too.
David Hastie & Sons
Hastie’s Farm may not have operated in the traditional sense of growing crops. It was more a working farm, for horses and base for David’s contracting activities but did keep cattle for the dairy. His business David Hastie & Sons were primarily contractors and the farming activities may have become secondary by the 1890’s onwards. For example in February 1891, David Hastie & Sons won the contract for the construction of Motherwell Waterworks for the considerable sum of £8,500 (£1.3m in today’s money). Works took 3 years to build and would have been full time employment for the family business. The idea that the farm may have not been recognized as such around the turn of the 20th Century is further supported by the lack of any word of “farm” being mentioned in the 1905 valuation roll. David Hastie owning “a house, shed, byre, workshop, offices and ground.”
By 1895, David Hastie was still renting the Stonefield Farm from the Trustees of John Forrest Clark, who died 2 years earlier. His large contract in Motherwell, likely gave him the cash and means to acquire and buy the farm buildings and land outright, something he did between 1895 and 1900. Concentrating on their contracting business, the Hastie family once acquiring the land, sold off some of their surrounding fields in 1902 and others would build upon them. E,g. Annfield Terrace hemming in Stonefield Farm.
In 1905 David Hastie & Sons won the contract for filling up the old pit shaft at Barncluith and Silverton(hill) including landscaping the pithead.
Away from work, the Hastie men (David and sons John and Peter) were good curlers and helped form a team in Hamilton. David certainly was a noted sportsman. In 1912, son John Hastie played for Scotland in an International match with England. He was a sporty type and also played football. Other son, Peter Hastie won accolades for curling up until the late 1930’s. Daughters were musical and often gave performances.
During WW1, David’s health was failing and in his 70’s he passed the farm to daughter Miss Margaret B Hastie. She’s noted in the 1915 valuation roll and owning the farm, leasing out to her retired father and working brothers ‘David Hastie & Sons’ for £70 per annum. By this time the sons had established a sand quarry at Ferniegair and were advertising for carters. Margaret owned the farm outright until 1944.
In March 1917, many surplus farming tools were auctioned off from the farm. Also auctioned was a lorry with ‘rubber tyres.” In December 1917, David Hastie & Sons were selling 5 cart yokes from their farm having previously acquired them from Ferniegair Sand Quarry. By this time, Stonefield or Hastie’s Farm (as it was becoming more known by) had address 16 Victoria Street. Whilst this is not Glasgow Road, such a prominent, important building for Stonefield and the frontage it had overlooking Glasgow Road and the fact nobody seems to have explored its deeper history before, deserved to be told here.
In 1920, David Hastie died, aged 78. Whilst David Hastie & Sons would continue in name, the sons would go separate ways with Peter in Blantyre at the farm and elder John continuing to love at Eddlewood Farm, Hamilton (which the business also owned since 1901).
End of the Hastie Era
On Tuesday 2nd May 1932, In the early hours of that morning, a large garage situated at Hastie’s Farm owned by Mr. Peter D. Hastie, was burned out, and the owner’s car and another car belonging to a commercial traveller were destroyed. The damage was estimated at £2,500.
On Friday 18th November 1932, the funeral took place in Blantyre of John Hastie, the eldest son of the late David and one half of the business, “David Hastie & Sons”. It was attended by a large gathering of agriculturists from all over Scotland. John was 61 years old.
John had retired from the business in 1930 owing to failing health and of course had been living in Hamilton, leaving the Blantyre property to his brother. Trained by his father, a capable judge, it was only natural that he inherited rare and sound judgment. He was noted as being one of the most accomplished breeders of Clydesdale horses in all of Scotland with some of his champion breeders being exported to New Zealand, Australia and Canada. He had been a Director in Glasgow Agricultural Society and we’ve already touched on his ability as a curler. Mr Hastie left behind a wife, one son and five daughters and at the time of his death had been spending some time at Largs for the sea air.
In an article upon his death, the Hamilton Advertiser reporter wrote that, “The name Hastie became known amongst Scottish breeders and farmer. As a judge of Clydesdales, Mr. Hastie may even have exceeded his fathers popularity all over Scotland. His duties took him to the farthest points of Scotland and at all the principal shows his cheery personality was always welcomed.”
Peter Duncanson Hastie, the remaining son of the late David and brother of John, died on 23rd June 1944 as the result of an accident at Hamilton, survived by wife Annie McLennan. He left £10,309 in his will (a sum of half a million pounds in today’s money). It is noted at this time David Hastie & Sons had still been operating in Blantyre. However, the death of Peter Hastie, the remaining partner of the firm, prompted selling off Stonefield Farm buildings in Summer 1944. The Hastie family had lived and worked on this property for 7 decades, which coincidentally is also how long in earlier times, the Forrest family members had owned it.
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