On 10th November 2014, I was contacted by Betty McLean of Oakville, USA who asked ,“I wonder if you know that there is a book called Collier’s Row written by a Blantyre lady called Jan Webster? I have the book Colliers Row but somewhere in a box I will try to look for it and let you know but I remember my father telling me about this author being born in Blantyre. I was looking at Amazon and she has written a few books. Unfortunately it doesn’t say anything about the author but maybe the Blantyre Library will have something that would help. I would like to know more too. I remember when reading Colliers Row I was seeing in my mind the surrounding areas and people of Blantyre.”
Looking into things a little more, the book appears to have been written in 1977 and commented on by Alistair MacLean.
Neil Gordon’s book was able to offer some more detail on this author. Jan Webster (nee Jenny McCallum) was born on 10th August 1924 in the manager’s house at Loanend Quarry. (between Malcolmwood and the Dalton). Her family moved to Morris Crescent where she attended Calder Street school, continuing studies at Hamilton Academy. The coalmining environment of her childhood created a lasting impression on Jenny, making good use of her observations in her writing. She wrote 14 books, the best known being this one. She died in Macclesfield in November 2002.
Of her most famous book, a review is available
“A meat-and-potatoes, four-decade, family sit-down, beginning in 1840 and set in a mining town near Glasgow. Dauntless Kate, impregnated at sixteen by a philandering Balfour of the mine-owning Balfours, has been dismissed from her position as housekeeper by upright minister Galbraith because of parish talk and his own wandering eye. Kate storms off with her ten-year-old son Jack to marry, eventually, miner Findlay. From here on it’s mainly a matter of disposing of the Findlay offspring as well as Findlay’s own by-blow, a lad of engineering smarts. Fortunately bastard Jack possesses the Balfour nose, so Grandfather Balfour claims his own to the extent of providing schooling for Jack’s career as ships-master. And in spite of hard times and miners’ rumbles, the children hit pay dirt one way or another: one son becomes a militant journalist; another in America designs steam engines; one daughter pioneers in New Zealand; another opts for single bliss as a doctor; and the ween marries–of all people–the son of old Balfour in a capital/labor match. After Findlay dies, Galbraith (of course he’d turn up-think about it) performs a Findlay/Balfour christening. First in a trilogy–safe and so-so for all those family dynasty hands.”