In August 2015, I took some photos at Brown’s Land, in particular the plot of land at the side of the Auchentibber building, which I knew used to be allotments. Blantyre’s Gordon Cook was able to offer me some more information when we were discussing it shortly after.
The plots actually date from the Great War, when a big effort was made by local authorities to be more self sufficient. A public advertisement was placed in the newspaper, and a letter was sent to all the landowners in Auchentibber for a few strips of ground and not one favourable reply was received. Then the council got a letter from Mr D. Stewart of Blantyre Park, he had read what had been going on with the other guys, and offered them a six acre field at Auchintibber after November 1916, most likely the plot pictured at Brown’s Land. There were fourteen applications from the local people to take over a plot here.
The council also got about two acres of land for plots at Craighead, also land behind the gasworks at Stonefield (Gasworks Park), and the land between the Parish Council Chambers and the cemetery in Cemetery Road. Another place they got land was called McWilliams’ Field (this one had 52 plots).
They were called the ‘Blantyre Central Plotholders’ Association’ and received help and advice through lectures given by the gardeners from the big estate houses like Auchinraith and Calderglen. The plotholders were charged a rent of 5 shillings each, but even then at the end of the year, some hadn’t paid this rent. They also tried to get money for fencing, as there was “a spirit of lawlessness about” and Blantyre produce was getting stolen. One man blamed those taking part in a card school near his place (on a Sunday too!)
In 1917 the clerk of the Council manage to get 21 bags of seed potatoes but they needed 26½ bags, these potatoes were sold on to the plotholders at 1 shilling and twopence per stone. The total number of plots taken up in Blantyre by spring 1917 was 115, and of course it all worked so well that they carried on for decades until the ground was needed for building (in most cases)
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