School for Mill Workers

Kirkton (later known as High Blantyre) was firstly a rural community. It was through the Industrial Revolution in the 1770’s that ‘Low Blantyre’ was developed with its close proximity to the river Clyde. In 1785 everything in Blantyre changed when David Dale erected the first cotton spinning mill on the banks of the Clyde. The mills were then bought by James Monteith of Glasgow in 1792 with his brother Henry as partner. They created a ‘village’ near the mills in order to house their growing workforce.

The population of Blantyre at that time was not sufficient to staff the mills and the opportunities for work brought an influx of people to the area. The population expanded 200% by 1801 and continued to rise. In 1828, Henry Monteith and Company erected a chapel/school for their workers. Used as a school during the day (David Livingstone attended it), it was used as a church on Sundays in connection with the Church of Scotland. It was not a parish church, but more of a ‘mission church’. High Blantyre was still the only parish church at this time.

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