Pictured here is Barnhill, Blantyre in 1901.
It’s a great old photo showing Stewart’s Cottage on the left (also known as Pathhead) and the Hoolet’s Nest public house on the right hand side. Stewart’s cottage was named after the weaver who lived there and the hand loom that was visible from the windows. The front door opened on to the Pech Brae. The photo already shows the thatched roof in need of some attention. At the Hoolet’s are 2 figures at a cart. However, it’s the tiny pitched roof building to the left of them across the road that got me thinking.
I first thought a long time ago that it may have been a Toll booth, due to it’s small nature and shape, similar to the known tolls at High Blantyre Main Street and Station Road. It also made sense for a toll booth to be on such a prominent junction as the Pech Brae (to the left of the photo) was a main road in the previous century. However, i have to change my mind and it leaves a mystery. I’ve been digging a little further.
On this 1859 old map of Blantyre, the small building is NOT attached to the adjacent Dixon’s tenements. This is very unusual as it appears to be sitting out on it’s own ground, with a large extensive garden behind it!
On the photo above, that building would have been where the wall is. So, it would appear that between 1859 and 1901, not only was the small original building demolished, but it was rebuilt attached to the tenements and the original property closed off by a grand 10 foot stane dyke. The tenements to the side had long narrow gardens at the back, not visible from the road.
I was at a loss as to what the building was either in name or function although I was once told it was a shop.
The closest i got was an 1860 listing of businesses in Blantyre. It lists a John Brown of Barnhill as having small gardening premises, freelancer. Was this John Brown’s business? It would seem not. Digging further back, in 1834 a Mr Arthur Brown formed Barnhill Nursery but this was at the corner of Hunthill Road and Broompark Road. The nursery sold large quantities of produce to Glasgow markets as well as locally. The produce was grown on the calder banks below the Cottage Hospital. His son, John Brown inherited this business and is the same person listed in 1860 as a freelance gardener. Carved into the wall of Mr Brown’s house was 2 direction stones advising the way to Blantyre Kirk and Hamilton. These stones are still there today now built into the present garden wall at the corner of Broompark Road and Hunthill Road. However, although nearby it was not the little building. The leads run out……
Jumping ahead in time and looking at a more “recent” map in 1965, all the buildings are gone entirely from the left hand side of the road. I’m sure then that the more senior residents of Blantyre may be able to advise when they were demolished and indeed what the mystery little building was. You can read more about the mystery building and my investigations here
Finally, i leave you all with a present day view of the same area as the original 1901 photo. It is particularly bleak comparison and certainly i favour much more how it used to look like.
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