Blantyre man Allan Reardon presented me with a mystery in early February 2015. Allan, who lives at Aller’s Farm, Stoneymeadow asked, “Hi Paul do you have any maps that have Springfield Place on them I know there is a Springfield Crescent and I’m assuming it’s off this but so far can’t get a map with it.”
This little question, prompted quite the investigation, for I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Springfield Place, although the name suggested it should be in the Broompark area of Blantyre. Looking back initially at old maps, there were no streets marked with Springfield Place leading me to believe it may have been a property itself. I needed some help with this one, so emailed Alex Rochead and Gordon Cook, fellow Blantyre history enthusiasts.
Alex came back with an extract from the 1881 census showing a Robert Duff and wife Jane and their six children living at Springfield Place that year. Robert is listed as a coal miner. The other listings Alex sent me were nearby at Warnocks Laun, a double storey tenement that sat at the corner of Broompark Road and what was to become Springfield Crescent. Warnock’s Laun was built sometime between 1860 and 1881. But still no elusive Springfield Place. This set me thinking that if a miner was listed at Springfield Place, maybe it wasn’t the one large single property after all, or if it was, perhaps he was sharing with other families.
Next, I turned to Gordon Cook for some help. Gordon wrote to me saying there was a possibility that Springfield Place may have been one of the buildings near Springfield house itself, but also admitted there may be problems in concluding that, as the census information he had contained missing entries. Gordon wrote, “David and William Warnock, both joiners, give their address in 1903 as simply Springfield, they were in financial difficulties at the time, but I think it was David Warnock and a chap called Walker who built the two-storey building, Warnock’s Laun. We know exactly where it was, we know exactly where Springfield and Hyde Park were, taking out the buildings on the other side of the road, and I think you’re probably safe in assuming the building right next to Springfield, is Springfield Place, but it would be better to get proper proof.”
By this point, it could not be conclusively proven where Springfield Place was, but Gordon and Alex’s helpful emails both suggested I was in the right area at Broompark Road. I went back to the 1881 census, to see who lived there and to my surprise, found that MANY more families lived at Springfield Place. In fact, I encountered 11 families registered as living there in 1881 on that very same day the census was taken! This was a real surprise to me with over 60 people living there! They had something in common too. All were incomers to Blantyre with the males all having mining professions. Coal miners, carters, pit headmen. The exception to this was David Warnock and his family. David, a joiner, was co-owner of Warnock’s Laun, the two storey building pictured. So, really if this was a single property, it would have to be divided up into eleven homes and the only building I see on any map that indicated this, was Warnock’s Laun tenement itself. The census lists these people as living at “Springfield Place, Warnocks Laun”, which I now believe was the property attached to and including this stone tenement. Warnock’s Laun is sometimes spelled incorrectly as Warnick’s Laun on some of the census info.
I’ve marked up the 1910 map showing Warnock’s Laun and there’s clearly an entrance from Broompark Road into the property which could be classed as a small cul de sac or street, exactly at the Springfield location. This small entrance later became Springfield Crescent in 1929, and I suspect when those modern houses are built in that estate, it was the end of Springfield Place. I cannot find reference to Springfield Place after the 1920s. Definite births at those locations were John Smith Kyle in 1901 and John Fraser Jardine in 1900. For completeness, I have listed the mining families who lived at Warnocks in 1881. This property was clearly let out to incoming miners seeking employment in Blantyre. They were for reference:
- John Cunningham (coal miner), wife and 6 children
- William Donaldson (Ironstone miner) and wife Rose. Patrick Riley their brother in law and 1 2 month old adopted child, William McMillan.
- Robert Duff (Coal miner), wife Margaret and their 6 children
- Thomas Forrest (Mine Carter), wife Jane and their 4 children
- John Livingstone (Weigher at Pit Head), wife Janet and 5 children (1 of whom was the pit pony driver)
- George McKinley (Coal Miner, aged 26) and wife Sarah and their 3 children
- James Smith (Ironstone Miner, aged 44). No wife but 2 children with him.
- James Waddell (Pit Headman, aged 45), wife Jane and their 4 children.
- George Wallace (miner, aged 31), wife Agnes and their 3 children.
- William Watson (coal miner aged 34), wife Mary and their 3 children.
- and finally, co-owner of the building David Warnock (Master Joiner), wife Jane and their 3 children.
This is of course a snapshot of the people who lived there in 1881. It may be interesting to see if later census information had the same people living there. Warnock’s Laun building is still shown on the 1936 map. I’m unsure the date of its demolition, but today there is a modern 1970’s bungalow there, in that decade, the home of Jean and John Dunsmuir.
John Warnock (1877-1962) immigrated to Canada about 1911 with his family. They settled in Victoria, British Columbia.