Ramble by the River

This author of this account is lost in time now, but was likely written by a Victorian tourist in the mid 1880s. Such accounts of our town and it’s beauty need to be preserved in time, along with this wonderful old photo.

“The line between Glasgow and Blantyre, a distance of some seven miles, passes through a delicious tract of country. There are two intervening stations, Rutherglen and Cambuslang, at both of which we stop, although we are somewhat surprised to observe that no passengers are either taken up or set down, while the booking-offices have rather a dreary do-little appearance. We should imagine, indeed, from the limited extent of these towns—the condition of their inhabitants, who are principally weavers, miners, or agricultural labourers—and the comparative shortness of their distances from the city, that the returns from either will cut but a shabby figure in the sum total of the company’s revenue. There are several fine views of the Cathkin and Dychmont hills from the line, looking southward; while the vale of Clyde, with occasional glimpses of its waters, forms the principal attraction to the north. In about half-an-hour after starting, we are set down at Low Blantyre, which we immediately proceed to inspect. This neat and cleanly little village is finely situated on a high bank which overlooks the Clyde, here a beautiful stream about eighty yards in width. The houses, which are arranged in squares and parallelograms, are the property, and entirely occupied by the operatives of Messrs. Henry Monteith & Co., whose extensive mills and dyeworks are immediately adjacent. Every attention seems to have been paid by this eminent firm to the moral and physical welfare of the inhabitants. They have erected a chapel in connection with the Established Church, capable of accommodating 400 sitters; and we understand that they annually contribute a handsome sum towards the maintenance of the clergyman. During the week the edifice is used as a schoolhouse, for the education of the village children; the teacher being partly supported at the expense of the Company. All the means and appliances of cleanliness, to boot, have been apparently provided for the population. An abundant supply of water, for culinary and other purposes, is furnished from the works; while an extensive building, with a spacious green attached, affords every facility for the necessary scrubbing and bleaching. Altogether this appears to be quite a model of a manufacturing village; everything in apple-pie order—the tenements comfortable and tidy-looking—and the inhabitants seemingly healthy and cheerful. The oldest of the Blantyre Mills was erected in 1785 by the late Mr. David Dale and his partner Mr. James Monteith. Another was built in 1791. Shortly thereafter, premises for the production of the beautiful Turkey-red dye, for which the firm has long been celebrated, were erected; and gradually, from time to time since that period, the establishment has been extending, until now, we believe, upwards of 210 horse-power is required for the propulsion of the machinery, and about 1,000 individuals are engaged in conducting the various operations.”

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