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From the illustrated social history book…paid research by Paul Veverka
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
Blantyre Golf Course
Some things have been incorrectly written by others about Blantyre’s former Golf Club. Contrary to reports, it was not laid out on Merry & Cunningham’s mining land, and the course was certainly not abandoned for housing. That cleared up, let’s look at some detailed facts.
Blantyre Golf Club was a short lived golf club of the 1910’s, a casualty itself of World War One. It was laid out on the northern fields and grassparks at Springwell, on land equally belonging to three ladies I.e. Margaret Paterson, Janet McGregor and Annie McKenzie.
According to “Hughes Sporting Life Magazine” of the era, Mrs. Paterson and her 2 business partners, all widows were keen on “the Advancement of Women”. This may have been a reference to the suffragette movement so prevailing at the time, but is also likely associated with the inclusion of women into everyday life and perhaps sports. Why? Well Blantyre Golf Club was to cater for women too and even had preferential rates for them.
Let’s be clear though, the club was not owned by the 3 ladies, merely laid out on their land, presumably rented from them. As such, given their interest in including women, perhaps it may have been a stipulation of any rental agreement, that women should be permitted to take part.
A 9 hole golf course was laid out in a northwest to southeast direction in 1913 and enhanced in 1914, which surely would have been a talking point in the community. Given the timings of each annual AGM, it appears the course opened in April 1913. It was entered from Auchinraith Road, by going over the railway and down on to the field. The whole field sloped slightly from the railway towards the Parkburn and the course was considered part of Springwell.
Following enhancements to the course, the first meeting of the Blantyre Golf Club was held in the Masonic Hall, Stonefield, in April 1914, Rev C Scrimgeour Turnbull, President, in the chair. It is a fair suggestion to say that as President, Rev Turnbull likely had a hand in the creation of the club being President for that first year. There was an attendance of about 100, a good indicator that the club had been welcomed and thriving. Meeting business required to appoint a committee and the following officers were elected; Hon president, John Menzies; hon. vice-presidents, Miss J W Forrest, Woodhouse, Dr William Grant, J.P., Dr J C Wilson and Rev C S Scrimgeour Turnbull, M.A; president, Mr A W Hendry; vice-president, Thomas McCluskey; captain, D S Hardey; vice-captain, J M Thomson; secretary and treasurer, W McGruther; the following were appointed to the committee – Captain Brown, Charles McAra, William Brown, Charles W Easton, J Freeman and Miss G McCallum.
Subscriptions were set as follows; Gentlemen £1/1s, ladies with 50% discounts at 10 shillings 6d. Juniors( members (under 18) were 10 shillings/6d; Family tickets £1/11s/6d which would certainly represent good value if 2 or more people in the same family wished to participate. During the first meeting, the following inter-club matches were arranged for that coming season; Bellshill, Kirkhill, Larkhall and Motherwell. Although there was no initial clubhouse, members clubs could be obtained from the Masonic Lodge in Glasgow Road. A Pavilion is noted in the 1915 Valuation roll later. Payments were accepted at the Commercial Bank, Blantyre or directly to the treasurer Mr. William McGruther.
Competition Matches & Prize-giving
A report that appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser on Saturday 2nd May 1914 covered the opening day for that second season, a week earlier stating, “The Blantyre Golf Club had their official (annual) opening on Saturday last, (25th April 1914) when an exhibition match was played by T Walker, professional to the Hamilton Club, and Mr. R B Stewart, Kirkhill, which brought about 150 members and friends to witness the game. The professional was in especially good form, and his drives were watched with the keenest interest, although at times he was exceedingly unlucky with some of his tee shots. It was readily seen that Mr. Stewart was an unequal opponent, and the professional ran out an easy winner by 5&4, the scores being Walker 69, and Stewart, 77. After the game the members were refreshed with a cup of tea and cakes, purveyed by Mr McLair and which was greatly enjoyed. Thereafter the members engaged in various competitions, results as follows; Mixed foursome – first, Miss Isa H Tulloch and Peter F A Grant; second, Miss Jessie Orr and Robert Paton; third, Miss Mary Devenney and Robert S F Harris. Stroke Competition (gentlemen) – first, T Haldane; second, Jas Rennie; third, Jas Heggison. Clock Golf – ladies, Miss Weir and Miss Jackson (tie); gentlemen, A M Muir.
At the end of the exhibition match Mr David Harley thanked guests Walker and Stewart for coming to Blantyre, and he said the game had given satisfaction to the large company that had witnessed it. The club is in a prosperous condition, and from appearance it is quite apparent that a successful season is in front of them.” Competition matches were seasonal taking place when weather was finer, each July.
Result of the July 1914 monthly medal; First class – John Barry (11), 73; John Sharp (7), 75; John Cunningham (11), 77; Second class – Clydesdale Medal – David Harper (24), 85; Forrest Spoon – Miss Grace D McCallum (24), 98; Miss E Thorburn (24), 106
The presentation for the seasons prizes was held in the Masonic Hall on Wednesday 28th October 1914. A whist Drive was also held with proceeds going to the War Relief Fund. Mr. John Menzies, president, presented the prizes to the following; Forrest Spoon (1914) – Miss Isa H Tuloch; President’s Prize – Miss Meg Dunlop; Kirkton Challenge Medal – 1st Class (1913), David L Harley; Clydesdale Medal – 2nd class (1913), Peter F A Grant; President’s Prize – first, Duncan Harper; second (tie), J B Taylor and Thomas Duncan; Captain’s Prize – first, Thomas P Black; second, John Cunningham; Special War Relief Medals, given by the captain and John Roberts, Priory Bar, respectively – first class, William Chambers; second class, Thomas P Black.
Impact of War
However, the timing couldn’t have been worse. World War One had started and many of the subscribed males were enlisted, although perhaps at that early time, nobody would have any idea of the scale of the horrors that were about to unfold in Europe.
On Tuesday 13th April 1915, the Annual General Meeting of Blantyre Golf Club was held in the Masonic hall, Stonefield. There was good attendance of members with Mr. A Hendry as president, offering chairperson. The minutes were read from the last meeting and finances presented which showed the club to be in good solid standing. It was reported that the club at that time was still in a very satisfactory condition, perhaps through the payment of fees, prior to men being enlisted.
The following officers were elected; president, Thomas McCluskey; vice-president, C McAra; captain, D L Harley; vice-captain, John Sharp; secretary and treasurer, William Mc Gruther; William Brown and James Heggison were appointed secretary and treasurer pro tem on account of Mr Mc Gruther being on active service.
Honorary membership for the year was conferred on all members serving with H.M forces. The “Roll of Honour” which had been drawn up and printed was showing that 29 members were on active service with more to follow. No formal opening of the course would take place this year, and the committee had decided no fixtures list would be issued for the season. The course, which had been greatly improved on the previous year, was now open for casual play.
On 6th January 1917, the Hamilton Advertiser recorded that the Golf Club had raised a total of £9 and 9s, which was to be set aside for its members serving in the Great World War I. The amount was to be reserved for them coming back, for “comforts”.
More telling was a concert held to raise club funds in September 1917 at the Co-operative Hall, tickets costing 1s.
Clearly the club had started to struggle in 1917, perhaps even earlier in 1916. By 1918, as war loomed into its 4th year and the atrocities of the frontlines became more known to all, running a golf club for recreation and sport may have seemed like a pastime best left for happier times. The impact of war on the UK economy may also have meant subscriptions were a luxury that seemed frivolous in such times. Some of the women members went on to raise funds for the war and especially may not have wanted to pay subscriptions for recreation, or indeed keep up with the expensive fashionable clothes industry that arose around the sport in those years.
The Hamilton Advertiser newspaper, records the proposal to close the club.
From their archives relating to 24th January 1918, “A special general meeting of Blantyre Golf Club was held in the Lesser Co-operative Hall on Thursday evening. The captain, Mr. John Sharp, presided. Owing to the present conditions (assumed war and/or lack of members) there was only a small attendance of the members. The Chairman, in the course of his remarks, pointed out that it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the club going, and that in the opinion of the committee the club was in a better position for being wound up than it had ever been.
After the secretary had read the statement of affairs, it was moved and seconded that the club be wound up voluntarily. The attention of members is directed to the advertisement re members’ clubs, etc.” With no known clubhouse ever built, presumably members clubs were permitted to be taken home or still stored at the Masonic Lodge as had been the case in previous years.
Finally, on Saturday 18th May 1918 it was announced that the club had gone into liquidation. It had lasted just over 5 years in the most trying of times. All claims against the club were to be lodged within seven days from this date with the secretary, William Brown, 176 Glasgow Road, Blantyre.
It is said that the late historian Jimmy Cornfield once had the enamel “No trespassing sign”, but this is wrong. Jimmy never had it, he only a photo of it. The sign is held by another local gent. Here’s a photo of it:
It wasn’t the end of Blantyre Golf though. In November 1921 it was told that local golf enthusiasts had an option on “a most excellent and well adapted stretch of ground within easy distance of the heart of the town.” It was suggested after a meeting in the Parish Chambers that Blantyre could have “one of the finest golf courses for miles around,” while one of the men actually said, “Gleneagles would not be in it!” The following month though, word came from the legal firm of Castiglione & Scott of Edinburgh that the land had been sold, and the golfers were left right back where they had started. Where was the land? It was Greenhall Farm.
Later in January 1934. “The Committee recently appointed to make enquiries regarding the proposed new 18-hole golf course for Blantyre have now decided to proceed with the scheme. They have an assured membership of 160 ladies and gentlemen, and it is expected that the total will increase to 300. It is hoped that the course will be open for play next June.” However, it didn’t go ahead. No course was ever laid out again until the small pitch n putt course at Greenhall in the 1960’s.
The former golfing field adjacent to Glasgow Road at Springwell would however, go on to have another immediate use which is explored next.
Springwell Poultry Run
The Springwell Poultry run was a relatively short lived poultry farming operation of the late 1920’s and 1930’s situated in open fields of Springwell, which prior to the poultry run, had been Blantyre Golf Course.
Several poultry farms sprang up in Blantyre during the 1920’s and 1930’s, offering an alternative to using land for agricultural purposes. One of the first poultry farms in Blantyre, truly on a large scale was created between 1920 and 1925 and was run by Mr. George Kay from his ground at Woodened, at the end of John Street. Perhaps prompted by his success, others quickly followed and by 1930, as well as Mr. Kay’s, poultry runs also existed at Park, High Blantyre run by the Craig family and at Station Road run by the Forrest family. Not forgetting the subject of this article, a poultry farm at Springwell, situated adjacent to Glasgow Road.
Memories of Blantyre Golf Course were long forgotten as the expansive fields in the shadow of Auchinraith Pit Bing were given over to Mr William Tait who rented the field for his own poultry farm for the sum of £10 per annum. The land was owned by the same 3 widows (Paterson/ McGregor/ McKenzie) who had 17 years earlier permitted a golf course to be set out on their fields.
Sometime between 1926 and 1930, Mr Tait’s Poultry Farm was up and running with several hundred birds roaming freely around the fields (pictured), being farmed and bred for their eggs and meat. Families who had flocks of this size sold eggs as their primary income source, and chicken meat was a delicacy being reserved for special occasions and holidays only. The average chicken would lay between 80-150 eggs per year. The chicken diet was basically whatever they could forage with occasional handouts of grain, scraps and waste kitchen products. A hen destined for the pot would be fattened up with extra grains and buttermilk if available.
Housing was non-specific, either in the barn with the other animals or separate scattered small outhouses as was the case at Springwell, offering small respite against inclement weather. They certainly didn’t have purpose built large coops like we see today, and this led to a high mortality rate of around 40%. Chickens also didn’t do well over the winter months due to a lack of vitamin D which is provided during the summer months through sunlight. Vitamin D was discovered in the early 1920s and led to a small revolution in poultry keeping. Hens could now survive through the winter months with Vitamin D supplements and go on to produce healthier chicks in the spring. The venture was carried out on a grand scale to make it viable as a business enterprise. Adjacent fields around the bing to the south were let out by the widows to Mr. Craig of Bellsfield for his cattle.
William Tait was a poultry keeper who lived at 5 Jackson Street, Low Blantyre and came to Blantyre between 1925 and 1930. The days of his poultry farm were numbered when in 1937, the Council had acquired the land for the large Springwell Housing Scheme. It is unknown if he removed the poultry farm prior to that year. As such, the maximum time the poultry farm could have existed at this location was 12 years and was most likely shorter.
Cattle Maiming at Springwell
In July 1923, Blantyre police had to investigate what they termed as one of the worst cases of cattle maiming which had ever come under their notice.
On 7th July 1923, a young 15 months’ old heifer, belonging to Mrs. Anderson, a dairy keeper, was found about 7 o’clock that Saturday morning lying in a field in the Springwell district in a dying condition with its right hind leg cut clean off. Clearly distressed, the animal died shortly afterwards. The heifer had been stunned and attempts made to cut its throat. That part, the right hind leg containing the femur bone was disjointed with skill and precision that could only point to one conclusion, that the party who carried out the brutal work had some experience of the fleshing/butchery trade and took it from the live animal for consumption of the meat!
Auchinraith Railway Junction
In 1863 the Caledonian Railway opened a loop line branching off their main Glasgow to Hamilton line, sweeping up into Blantyre and heading northwards, under Glasgow Road, over fields at Springwell and onwards through developing Blantyre, up to a new High Blantyre Station.
On 1st May 1882, a spur was added leading from this loop to the main line at Craighead, forming what was to become known as the Auchinraith Junction. The junction sat above the field formerly the golf course and poultry run.
A sweeping semi circular branch was added nearby to the North British Railway giving access to Birdsfield Siding and to allow Auchinraith Pits connection to the main NBR Hamilton branch at Blantyre Junction to the north of Springwell. The colliery was already served by the Hamilton and Strathaven Railway line from Auchinraith.
A small path crossed the railway at Auchinraith junction , adjacent to a signal box. The signal box fell out of use in 1925 although was used again during war years and existed right up until the 1960’s.
The line ceased operating on 1st June 1960 and the line quickly became weed ridden and unused, serving only on occasion as the odd freight service.
In the following photos from the early 1960’s, the Auchinraith Junction is shown, unused and with the houses of Springwell Housing Scheme on the right at numbers 45 and 47 Springwells Crescent.
The gardens and houses to the left of the railway line are no longer there, demolished along the bottom of Auchinraith Road to make way for the East Kilbride Expressway in the early 1980’s.
The exact location of Auchinraith Junction today is now at the top of the slip road coming from Lidl supermarket back on to the A725 heading to EK.
Continued on Page 6
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