Blantyre Works Mills cease working

In 1889, the Blantyre Works Village, and especially the mills suffered a serious crisis.

Except for the weaving factory which was still continued on vigorously by Messrs R. Kerr & Co, the famous Blantyre mills stopped working, with the turkey red dyeing mill exposed to the auction hammer. The mills stopped to a standstill at May no longer being profitable and many workers lost their jobs. There had been a lingering hope that somebody, somewhere would have taken up the mills again and tried to restore them to their old glory days, but it was not to be the case.

The works had been started by the celebrated David Dale in 1785 and seven years later bought by James Monteith of Anderston. With him was his still better known brother Henry. The mills had been a great blessing to the Parish, bringing employment to many hundreds of people for over a whole Century. As it turns out though, job opportunities lay everywhere at this time for men who were prepared to turn to the new emerging business of coal in Blantyre. For woman though, not so much.

Interest in the 1889 sale was almost non existent. The mills continued to remain derelict after this time until they were eventually declared condemned in 1903, around the same time as the closure of the final weaving factory. Although attempts to save some of the buildings either by “listing” them for historical interest or through the renovation and preservation of the nearby David Livingstone Centre, it is sad that many of the buildings simply fell further into decline and disrepair. Vandalism also contributed to the sorry state of the buildings throughout the 1900’s, although the Centre itself offered some protection.

Eventually, around the time of the 2000 Millennium, being an eyesore for over 100 years, the old factories on the site of the mills were scheduled to be demolished. Before they were knocked down, Blantyre man Alex Rochead gained some privileged access to photograph them between 2000 and when they were demolished in 2005. Here are some of his amazing photos which he has kindly permitted me to share. I can only imagine the difficulty he must have had positioning himself into some of these vantage points, but the end result is shown to great effect.

Thank you to Alison Walker Hill, who lives nearby for confirming dates.

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  1. Yip, remember doing a little urbex in the building 1993. pretty unsafe then.. especially the rotten wooden staircases/steps and ladders! But when your twelve you have no fear. just wish I had a camera then…..

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