An email arrived this week from Bridie Sheehan who said, “Hi Paul, I live in Canada but my father and grandparents grew up in Blantyre and I am hoping that you can help me with a couple of items. First, my grandfather was a coal miner and they lived from 1901 to 1951, mostly on Forrest Street and Craighead Rows. They did, however, at one time live at Cross Village Rows. I was recently in Blantyre and viewed the old map posted at the Miners Welfare Office and although I could find the other miners rows I could not find Cross Village Rows. I have also checked online and found nothing.”
I was able to respond with, “Hi Bridie, Thanks for contacting me. Great to see your connections to Blantyre and a continued interest in your ancestry and where they lived. Hopefully I can assist with your questions. Your email did point me in the right direction, but the houses you refer to weren’t “Cross Village Rows” but were actually called, “Cross Rows”, located in Blantyre Village.
To explain a little more, “rows” were the name given to the typical rows of houses by miners throughout Blantyre. As you noted before there were rows at Craighead, and were often called after the colliery owners, such as Merry’s Rows, Dixon’s Rows, Barids Rows. However, in the case of Cross Row, this was part of a quadrangle of terraced miners homes , located in the Blantyre Mill works Village, very close to
the birthplace of David Livingstone the Explorer. The houses were constructed in the early 1800’s. The attached 1859 map shows the quadrangle very well with a water well in the middle. One side of the quadrangle contained the Works School, the other sides having Waterloo Row, Cross Row and Fore Row.
Photographed here in 1925, the rows were two storey, stone buildings with slated roofs. Whilst two storey, each storey itself was a separate home. Conditions were fairly basic, but with so many other homes nearby, there must have been a real sense of community. As the Mill works by then had closed down, the residents of these homes were typically miners and their families. Miners would have had a short walk across the suspension bridge to get to Bothwell Castle Colliery Pits 1 and 2. Or alternatively, a similar sized walk, but staying in Blantyre to get to Priory Colliery (Bothwell Castle Pits 3 and 4).
All of the quadrangle buildings were demolished in 1929, famously with Waterloo burning down on 25th January 1928. This also co-incided with the nearby area becoming the David Livingstone Memorial Centre.