1947 Priory Colliery & The Clyde

1944 Priory Colliery collapse

1944 Priory Colliery collapse

During the evening of my book launch in November, I was surprised to find the most common thing people wanted to chat later about was the possibility of a tunnel between Blantyre and Bothwell. Again, I heard stories of how people used to play in a tunnel, but importantly again, this was in the early 1940s or even back to the 1930s.

I have a theory about this tunnel, which I’ve written about previously here:
https://blantyreproject.com/2014/01/16/the-priory-tunnel-a-theory/ and this story also features in the latest Blantyre Project book. My theory is that a tunnel of sorts may have existed but had since been partially buried by a huge collapse of the Priory Colliery Bing. This is

194 Bothwell Castle from Priory Colliery Bing, showing collapse into Clyde (PV)

194 Bothwell Castle from Priory Colliery Bing, showing collapse into Clyde (PV)

something I proposed and first put to the people of Blantyre in early 2014.

The conversations about the tunnel reminded me again of a photo I had and tonight I managed to look it out. Taken in 1947, is this remarkable photo from the top of the Priory Colliery bing. I have to say it was a massive mountain of spoil, ash and earthworks, and likely about the highest man made object in Blantyre! The picture gives a good sense of how high it was. Just off Blantyreferme Road, the huge bing HAD collapsed by the time this photo was taken and the actual collapse can be seen within the Clyde, almost splitting the river into two. Across the river is Bothwell Castle but importantly, the collapse is just North of the Blantyre Priory, in exactly the location these people said they played at!

The river had to be dredged soon after, as the collapse had created dangerous currents at that bend. I’m suggesting that perhaps the tunnel was only a culvert of sorts, (several were built when the nearby railway was constructed). However, this wartime collapse may have completely covered the culvert entrance, and therefore all traces of the “Tunnel” vanishing for good.


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  1. I’d guess that it’s more likely the tunnel entrance on the Bothwell castle side would be within the confines of the castle itself as perhaps an escape route if the castle was under siege. Theres a whole section inside Bothwell Castle which is at, or is very near river clyde level.

  2. I have to say… that photograph is incredible. Absolutely blows my mind. I thought it was an aerial photo when I first glanced!

  3. Like it. Love the history I stay in Newton and father was a coal merchant. Have a friend who stayed in the old Newton

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