This charming old photograph was kindly shown to me by Blantyre Project reader, Marel Adam. Pictured in 1956 is Barnhill Farm. The farm was located on Bardykes Road, on the opposite side of the top of the Peth Brae. Marel’s Uncle and Grandmother are sitting in the family Jag, ready for a day out at the races. The car is pictured in the little car park , currently across from the Hoolets Nest pub. Marel told me, “Gran is in a wheelchair as she was bedridden with severe arthritis and seldom went out.”
The farmhouse sat gable end on to Bardykes Road on the Southern side of the Hoolets Nest pub (the Northern side is the similar fashioned Aggie Bains Cottage). The building in the foreground was the milkhouse and attached to it was a barn. The back walls of the barn, milkhouse, farm and field started at the walls of the Hoolet’s Nest pub and and swept round the corner on to Broompark Road. Between the barn and the Hoolets Nest was a gap of around 18 feet, which formed the entrance to the farm. At the back of the farm was a field which bordered on to the nursery at Broompark Road. Marel’s great grandfather Robert Stewart gave the field up to pit ponies when they were brought up for rest. I wonder also if this was the same Stewart who owned the cottage across the road? (the old cottage at the top of the Peth Brae was often called Weavers cottage, Pathhead or Stewarts Cottage)
In the background are the Brown’s Nursery buildings on Broompark Road, leading up to the smiddy. Carved on the walls of Brown’s property at the corner of Broompark Road and Hunthill Road were directions to Blantyre Kirk and Hamilton. My friend Alex Rochead recently reminded me of this and the stones have been salvaged and built into the modern garden wall of the current homes at that very same location.
Wanting to know more about Barnhill Farm, especially as the buildings are no longer there today, I decided to investigate a little further.
Whilst there is some evidence on the 1747 map of a building in that location, the 1816 map clearly does not show any building, the nearest buildings being the Barnhill Tavern and Aggie Bains Cottage. The first real measurable evidence i can find of the buildings in the photograph are found on the 1859 map, leading me to conclude not just from the dates, but from the stepped gable feature of the farm building that it was likely constructed between 1816 and 1859. By the mid 1850’s Barnhill was simply a little village composed of thatched dwellings occupied by weavers, so this farm building would certainly have stood out. It is likely to have also had a thatched roof initially.
The late historian Neil Gordon had commented that the building next to the Hoolets Nest pub was called “The Back of The Barns” and also “Barns End”, although i think this was a reference to the buildings down the lane, heading towards Wheatlandhead. The Barn of the farm was situated on the Bardykes Road and was part of the farm itself.
The Farm building didn’t change location, but between 1859 and 1898 maps, the barns changed configuration probably a new building with the old one at the field beyond extended to. It can clearly be seen that the farmhouse building protruded out into the road, just as Aggie Bain’s cottage did nearby.
On Tuesday 25th January 1876, The Glasgow Herald reported on sanitary conditions in Blantyre, and included a small reference to the ground at the back of the farm being contaminated with sewage, dangerous due to it’s proximity to a well at Barnhill lane.
In 1879, Naismith’s Business Directory says Barnhill Farm was owned by Andrew Jackson at the time, certainly a reference to the prominent family owning much of the land of Bardykes. Having recently seen the Milheugh Estate title deeds which contained a lot of reference to land ownership in Barnhill, with many property names now lost, it would not surprise me if some of the lands of the farm were once in the ownership of the Millars, (although i have no firm evidence of this). It would appear however, that the Stewart family ended up owning the Farm in subsequent years.
On Saturday 27th October 1917, an advert appeared in the Hamilton advertiser, placed by the Stewarts, asking for assistance with bin emptying. Something that must have been a short lived or temporary job, as a similar advert had appeared twice the year
The configuration of the farm changed again in 1929 when the roads authority through compulsory purchase chopped the gable of the Farmhouse building, to align with the pavement and so it would “stick out” on to the road. This of course allowed cars to pass on the Bardykes Road. The same thing happened around that time to Aggie Bain’s cottage, resulting in irregular strange shapes to the gables. The 1935 map, shows the corrected profile of the farmhouse and a configuration recognisable in Marel’s photo.
In 1933 a young farm servant William Ritchie was let go from the farm. Unemployed and in dire circumstances, he broke into the nearby Nursery on Christmas Day and stole many potatoes, but was caught and charged by the Nursery owner.
The farm is no longer there, being demolished i believe in the 1960’s. It is now replaced by a modern home, with tall hedges
and wooden fences around the perimeter. On a recent walk, my friend Alex Rochead showed me the carved holes on the stonework on the existing building at the Hoolets Nest (pictured) where it can still be seen where the farm gate was attached to. You can see those marks for yourself exactly where the footpath runs out.
I’m positive there is a lot more to the story of Barnhill Farm. If you have any photos, memories or stories about the building or it’s occupiers, please get in touch. Thanks.