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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.
On the other side of the A725 is The Lady Nancy Bing. A former quarry and fields of Greenhall Farm, the area is little used, with exception of cattle. The gorse covered Bing is covered in yellow and green bushes throughout most of the year. Nearby, Basket Farm is still in use near the Calderwood Glen. A little known ancient mound of Earth named Basket Tor is situated outside the entrance of the farm.
reLet’s next go up the hill towards Sydes Brae and Auchentibber. At the bottom of the brae, several old properties are still extant. The hill is very steep and can be dangerous in winter when icy. Traffic uses this road often, especially to access the back roads to East Kilbride, Hamilton and Strathaven. The lack of footpaths, make it a road to take care on, when out walking. Past the entrances to the Technology Park HSBC Call Centre and Park Farm, you eventually reach the South Lanarkshire Council’s Crematorium. It is a busy venue on a daily basis. The council in May 2015 announced their plans for a new 4.9 acre cemetery across the road, in vacant fields, spending approx. £250,000 to acquire the land. These fields were to accommodate 1900 lairs, but planning permission was not granted due to the condition of the ground.
Below is Newhouse Farm, recently bought over in 2013. Gates have currently blocked the pedestrian right of way in front of this farmhouse, presumably a temporary measure whilst the house is renovated. The old house was in a pretty bad state in 2013, but has now been rescued by new owners. It has a small orchard behind it and ruins of a former piggery. The nearby ruins of Craigmuir Farm, situated at the corner of the nearby right of way, has recently had planning approved in Springtime 2015 for a new home and small goat farm. The area is a great place for walking, especially on a summer’s day with views over Blantyre.
Further up Sydes Brae, we come to Auchentibber, a small hamlet of Blantyre. This was once a thriving, busy little community and whilst still thriving, is not so busy now with no shops surviving. Auchentibber Road leads off to the west with a handful of old, and beautiful homes dotting along the road. The former Auchentibber School built in 1880 was converted to a home around the time of the Millennium, which looks suitably renovated and I’m sure steeped in history. There is no evidence remaining of the former late 19th Century miner’s homes of Craig’s Row and Clyde Row.
At the junction of Auchentibber Road and Sydes Brae once stood the Auchentibber Inn. All that remains of this legacy, is a flat area near the junction, which used to form the Quoiting sports ground. It’s very overgrown with small trees now starting to sprout from the level ground, although it is possible in winter to make out the shape of the playing field. A few ruins of the famous Italian Gardens are scattered nearby. The ruins of Peesweep cottages line the opposite side of the road a little further up from the junction. The empty, level grassy field next to the Sydes Brae, a reminder of the former Clyde Row of miners homes.
At the junction of Auchentibber Road, Sydes Brae becomes Parkneuk Road. A few yards up, on the western Auchentibber side, is the marble Monument for the First World War featuring the names of 14 local men who died in that terrible conflict. The monument is in good repair and more than always has poppy wreaths upon it. The former quoiting green site is immediately behind it.
Across the road, is a small grassy right of way, which leads off Parkneuk Road diagonally for a few hundred yards to the Old Parkneuk Road Limekiln. This can easily take you by surprise to turn the corner and see this impressive stone structure. Well worth a visit, it is still in good condition and the kilns themselves are still visible and in good repair. Look closely and you’ll see the mark of the brickworks upon each brick, suggesting the bricks came from “Greenhall” brickworks.
Heading west again along Auchentibber Road, there are some fine views overlooking Blantyre across even to the Campsie Hills. Unfortunately, I have to record there are a few laybys on this road that seem to be plagued by fly tipping, which is often cleaned by the council, but extremely hit and miss as to what you’ll find if you walk by. At the westerly junction of Auchentibber, the road meets Calderside Road in a north-south direction. Southwards, and near to Calderside Farm, is the ancient mound of Campknowe, reputed to be a Bronze Fort. The hillock has been ploughed extensively and difficult to visualise now. Southwards again and further up in elevation are the ruins of Laighlyock Farm and several disused quarry sites in that vicinity.
Travelling south from on the Parkneuk Road from Auchentibber, we see the ruins of Broomhouse, although there is a modern farm nearby of the same name. On the east, is Braehead cottage, former semi detached miner’s homes, which were later, converted into one residence. The house is now scheduled for demolition and the new owners plan a modern house on its site. At the Parkneuk extremities at the utmost elevation of this area, once were the former colliers of Earnock and Dykehead. We’re now entering Hamilton territory so will stop our exploration of this area, at this boundary. However, it is worth noting the recent trend for sustainable, renewable energy in the form of wind turbines. Several have been erected in this most Southerly area of Blantyre Parish. Only time will tell if these structures so common on our landscape, are going to be successful or not. Let’s head back down the Brae and into Blantyre again.
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