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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.
Heading along Hillhouse Road from the A725, is Priestfield Cemetery. The tidy cemetery, sandwiched between the A725 and Hillhouse Road is nearing capacity and cannot be extended further. It is well maintained, the stones standing and seems to have filled up very fast in the last decade.
The Hillhouse road was widened considerably at this location in recent years, with traffic management set up to assist the nearby Hamilton Technology Park.
The modern industrial units are home to banking, construction and electronics companies, although many of the glass-covered buildings are still vacant. Telling by the lack of furniture on entire floors. The units are modern, very visible from High Blantyre and I’m sure will continue to be a good source of employment for generations of Blantyre residents. At the entrance to the park, there are a series of small shops and businesses in the retail units. These include, The Barnhage Nursery, Lloyds Chemist, Greggs Bakers, and Food to Go. The retail units are exceptionally busy at worker’s lunch intervals. An ATM cashpoint is nearby.
Further east along Hillhouse Road is Priestfield Industrial Estate. It is home to smaller businesses including a printer, party shop, Hastie Cars taxi hire firm and a landscaping company amongst others. These single storey “roll top” units are adjacent to the cemetery and the nearby larger High Blantyre Industrial Estate, which opened in 1946.
At the side of Hillhouse Road, directly across from Priestfield Industrial Estate is the new Redburn Farm Inn.
At time of writing this is the newest pub in Blantyre and is due to open in June 2015, offering food and drink. The pub is conveniently situated near to the Westcraigs Housing Estate and also happens to sit exactly on the former site of the Dixons Colliery Pit 3, which was the scene of that terrible disaster on 22nd October 1877. The pub is made of brick and the area around has been nicely landscaped, despite the signs of coal and ash immediately below the surface of the ground. I am told the former shaft was capped, prior to construction works starting.
Also, on this eastern fringe of Blantyre Parish is the expansive Westcraigs Housing estate. Built in the immediate years following the Millennium, house building companies including Bryant, Miller and Keir Homes constructed near 1,500 homes of varying styles. The area was an immediate hit, proving popular for people, not just moving from Blantyre but moving for the first time into the area too. The housing estate is accessed via the Technology Park, and rises steeply up a hill, with the various estates leading off a spine road. Ten years on from most of the construction work, the gardens for each house are well established and the trees in the public area, like the 2 children’s play parks have grown fast. The homes are largely kit built, made of timber and brick, some with roughcast. The mid section forms terraced town houses, whilst the lower and upper estates comprise of semi and detached homes of varying sizes from small one bedroomed to large five-bedroom, 3 storey houses. The entire area looks well maintained and a combination of council services and private factors ensure the public areas are landscaped and kept. The upper housing estates especially have excellent views of the whole valley below, including Blantyre, Glasgow and Lanarkshire and even as far over to Loch Lomond and the Campsies Hills. The estate merges with Hamilton’s housing estates at Hillhouse and Earnock. At the foot of the hill, near a statue to Blantyre’s miners, is a local convenience store, Scotmid (which took over in that location from Spar), which always appears busy. It is the primary shop in the vicinity. The whole area is amongst the most desirable places to live within Blantyre and has proven a safe and popular place for families, despite the notable distance from local schools.
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