In December 2014, Jim Brown posted this interesting photo in the Friends of the Calder Group. An online conversation then started about this being a possible abutment as it was made of stone and peculiar to the surroundings, with a little mystery opened up.
The location is the Coal Burn running in a North – South direction, North of the Laighlyock Farm ruins at Upper Sydes Brae. The small burn flows into the Rotten Calder at Calderwood Glen.
I do have an answer for what the little abutment was. In the 1860s, a small coal mine was opened up nearby to this burn. (perhaps lending the name to the burn itself). To transport the coal out of the area, a small tramway was constructed from the mine, heading West.
At this point shown, the tramway crossed the coal burn, then again further along crossing the Rotten Calder itself, before stopping at the nearby loading depot nearby at East Kilbride. In this 1910 map, I’ve marked up the Coal Burn in blue and put a red dot for this location where the tramway crossed the burn. Alternatively, it could be nearer the green dot and perhaps used as a loading point, or access. However, even by 1910, the mine and the tramway was disused. This may be a story of Blantyre’s coal being shipped out of the Parish but it was good to see evidence of another wee lost tramway in Blantyre.
EK historian Chris Ladds visited the site on 1st January 2015. He told me, “I had a visit to this, this morning coincidentally enough the masonry is local 18th century – early 19th century vernacular. I traced a hollow way and ground change indicating an old track leading from the south of the abbuttments. This ‘way’ is actually shown on the 1859 is map as a level between two sloping banks, which I have attached here and outlined.
The abbuttment crosses the coal burn considerably south east of the old tramway crossing of the burn. The older maps of the OS does not indicate it’s a road, thereby proving it to be older and probably contemporaneous with the abbutments. The small older mine on the coal burn was like many of the local farm mines which was to serve for fuel and small sale. When the larger Torrance colliery began to expand in the mid 1800’s it would of required better transport communication with the coal depot at newhousemill. This explains the later tramway, but I believe there was a track which predated the tramway for the older mine. Any tramway here would have to have served the Torrance colliery and not warranted for the small mine at the burn, so as suggested this is likely to have been a loading area for the coal from the colliery south-east. At some point the old road leading south from laichlyock got used and this old track fell into dissuse.“