Baird’s Rows or Raws were located in the Craighead area of Low Blantyre. The miners homes consisted of three equal length rows of single storey terraced properties. The miner’s homes were tied to the nearby Colliery at Craighead. The rows were names after the nearby Colliery and impressive Craighead house.
In April 1878, just as Blantyre was experiencing rapid population growth, contractors Purdie Builders of Coatbridge started building the homes, on an area which is now Parks of Hamilton Bus depot. The land was previously vacant to this, bordered between Forrest Street and Whistleberry Road. Each home had a number for the address, but no actual street names were given, nor are any street nicknames known. The development was fairly significant at 108 houses comprising of 2 apartments and a small hall/workshop to the east side of the front row. Houses were numbered 1 to 108 inclusive starting at number 1 on Glasgow Road up to 108 at the back not far from the railway. House 35 and 36 was a store belonging to William Baird & Co.
At the front of these homes stood an isolated and detached store, a double storey property although this was not added until between 1898 and 1910.
In between each of the rows, were a dozen washhouses, equally spaced with 4 in each clearing, between each row. The homes would have been noisy at the best of times being situated so close to the busy railway and nearby Craighead junction. When the rows were first built, the Craighead lodge house stood in the field between the rows and the Glasgow Road. By 1910, the vacant ground around the rows, which had previously been used for open air boxing matches, had given way to two football grounds, one being where the speedway was later to be sited. The football ground to the south of the rows, was run by Blantyre Celtic. Also by then, six water taps served the entire area, equally spaced out near the washhouses, and fed from pumped water from the nary Craighead colliery. A housing report of 1910, confirmed that 206 of Craighead collieries 690 miners lived at Baird’s Rows. The report went on to give a good description:
- 108 Two-apartment houses Rental £5 15s. to £6 4s.
- Erected about 30 years ago – Stone built, one storey – no damp-proof course – Back wall of room strapped and lathed, others plastered on solid – Wood floors, ventilated – Some front walls slightly damp – Internal surface of walls and ceilings in good condition
- About one third of these houses are occupied by Polish miners, but the majority of these are of cleanly habits
- No overcrowding – apartments large
- Garden ground available- mostly uncultivated, common wash houses, coal cellars
- Water closets recently introduced, in the proportion of one closet to every 4 tenants
- No sinks- surface channels
- Gravitation water from pillar wells in front of houses. In some cases these wells are about 200 feet distant from the dwellings
- Scavenged at owners’ expense, but houses are now included in Blantyre Special Scavenging District
On 25th March 1914, a housing report was presented as evidence to the Royal Commission. Whilst researching this article, I determined that some of the information on the report is careless and incorrect. For example, it talks about there being two rows, when actually there were three. It mentions they were built “nearly 40 years ago”, when actually it was exactly 36 years previous. However, the rest of the words are a good indication of what the rows were like. I quote,
“These two rows of miners’ houses, which are owned by William Baird & Company, are situated near to the Glasgow Road in the Parish of Blantyre. They consist of 108 houses of two apartments. They were erected nearly forty years ago, and are built with stone throughout, and have boarded floors. The rent, including all local assessments, is 2s. 9d. per week. There is a good gravitation water supply, which is served up in a niggardly fashion by means of stand-pipes erected at short intervals along the rows. There are no sculleries nor sinks in any of the houses, so that all the dirty water has to be emptied into an open gutter that runs along in front, of the row – a most objectionable feature, which is very common to miners’ rows. There is a washhouse to every ten families, and coal-cellar to each house. By the inclusion of this property in a special scavenging district the county authorities have greatly improved the sanitation of the place. The old common ash-pits and dry-closets have all been removed, and a flush-closet has now been erected for every five families. Dust-bins are also now in vogue, with a daily collection of refuse, and a local scavenger is employed to tidy up the place.”
By the 1930’s, the adjacent football ground was now Blantyre’s famous greyhound track, which I’m sure would have been popular with the miners nearby. It is rumoured that Bairds Rows officially became Craighead Rows, when the nearby colliery changed in ownership and the owners wished to disassociate themselves with the former Baird’s name. According to the valuation roll of 1930, William Baird & Co Ltd owned the rows at that time.
Pictured here in 1955, are several aerial photos of the rows, located just off Glasgow Road. The rows were shortly after cleared to make way for new infrastructure and business redevelopment, but were known to have still been there in 1957.
On social media:
The Blantyre Project Eva – I’m interested in the numbering system of Bairds Rows (as I know there weren’t streets). Was number 9 near the Glasgow Road end, or the Railway end of the rows?
Eva Brown The numbers started at Glasgow road end, Iived in the top row and my granny was number 81 in the bottom row, hope this helps
Gary Doonin No craighead park is occupied by the council now. Parks is on grounds where miners rows houses sat
Thomas Barrett Sutton’s was there first.
Gary Doonin Suttons there in mid 70s ,that’s the Parks site