Monkey Puzzle Trees, Blantyre

2010 Monkey Puzzle Tree, Blantyre

2010 Monkey Puzzle Tree, Blantyre

Many Blantyre residents will recognise this tree. It is of course, the Monkey Puzzle tree in Victoria Street. Located at the corner of the Crescents, on the junction with Victoria Street, just across from the chemist shop. The tree is known to have been there over 80 years ago. Tom Martin in Canada attended Calder Street school from 1935 to 1940 and it was there then. However, the tree likely dates earlier than that back to 1925 when the houses were built. Somebody recently commented to me at the Blantyre Gala that it’s unique and the only one. Out of politeness i didn’t want to correct her, but will take that opportunity here.

I originally knew of three Monkey Puzzle trees in Blantyre, but after posting this on social media, have become aware of nearly a dozen more. This one is the medium sized one. The largest is definitely the tree at the entrance of High Blantyre Cemetery. Margaret Wilson contacted me in 2014 to say “The large tree at the front of High Blantyre Cemetery was once planted by my Grannie’s grave, it was her favourite tree. Guess my Grandad didn’t realize just how big it would grow!”

The third tree i only noticed a few weeks ago, next to the David Livingstone Bridge, in the garden of the old wages building. That particular tree is small at the moment, but they can grow to over 40 feet tall, and I think it will certainly be a talking point for future generations.

The trees are out of character for Scotland as it’s native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. It’s not an everyday sight at all in Lanarkshire, but I’m sure you’ll agree, it looks beautiful.

On social media, conversation about monkey puzzle trees in Blantyre erupted:

  • Elizabeth Kennedy The one in Victoria street must be well over 40 years old. My grandparents lived in Morris Crescent and I remember the tree being a good size when I was little (I am 45). I will ask my parents if they know how long it has been there.

  • Etta Morrison There was another one in the Crescents which I passed going to Calder St school in ’59….
  • Nicola Bence It was there all through my school years which started 33 years ago 🌳xx
  • Elaine Hunter I notice it every time I’m in Victoria St
  • Stephen Kelly Oh Nicola Bence. You are old lol
  • Marion Anderson I’m sure I remember that tree, I left Blantyre in 1967
  • Marion Anderson Just seen Etta Morrisons post, maybe it was that one I remember!
  • Mary Sambou There was one in Thornhill Avenue before they built the houses there and I am 59 and remember the one in Victoria Street always being there……feeling my age 
  • Moira Lees That tree was planted by a friend of my husbands mother & father called Malcolm Dow , Malcolm was a prisoner of war on the Burma railway, he brought a seed or a plant back with him and planted it in the garden, so we reckon it must be about maybe 70 yrs ago at the end of the Second World War .
    • Elizabeth Weaver How great to get the real story – I knew it had been there since the war but not the details. Thank you!
    • Moira Lees Your welcome Elizabeth , they were really good friends so think it’s true x
  • Catherine Sneddon There used to be one in croftpark many years ago as well x
  • Stewart Hay I use pass this tree when going to school.
  • Mary Roby i remember this i used to live in Victoria Street.
  • Marion Coulter Smith There’s one in the street behind wheatland Ave that’s been up for years too. Used to see it playing in my grans back garden. Is it Highland avenue?
  • Elizabeth Weaver It was there when I was a wee girl. And I’m 68.
  • Robert Stewart Victoria Street monkey puzzle, I’d say it’s at least 55 years old, probably older. There are / were 3 or 4 at Crossbasket, I took photographs of them in 2013. There is another one in the garden of the house ar rhe bottom of the Sydes Brae
  • Neil Mcgill Local landmark, everyone knows where it is no matter what age you are.
  • Orlando Ancilotti My uncle Walter had one in his front garden in Croftpark Cresc.
  • David Beggs They are protected and you need permission to cut them down the one in Victoria Street is over 70 years old god help the person that cut them down
  • Gordon Mather Sandra Saroli my aunties old house I spend so many years growing up there
  • Donna Muir I lived in Small crescent and always remember the tree being there. I remember a boy who lived in that house kept ferrets and he used to let them climb the tree. Do you remember that Alicejan SweeneyGerry MeechanLynn Dougela?
  • John J. Brown It really is a landmark in Blantyre.
  • Laura Bush There is one in Highland avenue. Much bigger than this one. It’s located in the property of the weatlands head farm house. Dating back to 1790’s
    • Estelle Mcgowan I remember that one I could see it drom my back bedroom window on Fernslea ave x always fascinated me x
  • Gordon Dennis Was’nt there one down at wilkies farm.if so must be older l’m 65 and i remmber it as a boy
  • Elaine Currie Akelis Used to walk by every day on the way to school and back and even now my kids say there’s the monkey tree mum’ when we pass by 
  • The Blantyre Project brilliant! Looks like I’ll be updating my “monkey puzzle archives” wink emoticon
  • Catherine Davidson I remember that tree when I was at primary school and I’m well into my 60s
  • Jeannie Reid Smith My granpa died in 1974. Is buried in High Blantyre Cemetery. On the day of his funeral my mum brought home a small piece of wood from the monkey puzzle tree. Sadly my mum is no longer with us but that piece of wood is still in our family.
  • Jennie Little Love this tree  Reminds of being wee.  used too ask too walk that way too see the monkey tree  xx
    • Marion Coulter Smith Just asked and can confirm there is one on wilkies farm also x

    • Fiona Lees I love this tree…would be devastated if it ever got cut down x
    • Violet Elder I was born and brought up in Morris Crescent, passed this tree every day going to school. I am in my late 60’s. Maiden name McDade.
    • Catherine Murphy I remember walking by the Victoria Street monkey puzzle tree coming home from school every day and I will be 65 this year it is a beautiful landmark
    • Sheena Thomson There was one next door to me in Springwell,I,ve been here 45 years and it was here well before I came, sadly it was cut down about a year ago.
    • Margaret Nimmo Lehmann I remember hearing about Monkey Trees in the late 50s or early 60s, so there must have been some around then.
    • Agnes Thomas We have a monkey tree in Margam port Talbot south Wales and also one in Velindre near the house your Billy lived in and that one is over 100 years old
    • Nancy Murray Been there forever Victoria street would not be the same without it
    • Terri-Louise Young Steven Kelly Dad do you remember when this tree was planted or was it there when uz moved in?? Xx
      • Steven Kelly That trees been there for more than 70 years x
        Janet Thornton I’m sure the house at the bottom of Sydes Brae has a monkey puzzle tree. It used to when it was Mr walker’s house.
    • Debz McMillan This is round the corner from me know the man and lady who stay in the house always have stayed there love this tree always remember it since i was wee x
    • Claire Twaddle I actually have a monkey puzzle tree in my garden in High Blantyre. It about the height of the upstairs windows so still quite young for a tree.
      Darren Reeves Oor hoose >>>>>
      James Bush Theirs one in the ģarden of the haunted house in the grounds of the old nursery on Highland Ave it’s about 80 years old
      Deborah Barnes My husbands ancestor brought them to scotland (Menzies)
    • Stephanie Perrie There’s a monkey tree at my old house The Priory which is now owned by the AvonBridge Hotel we spend many many year climbing it as kids.
      Jane Johnstone There used to be a large one just down from the East Kilbride bus stop at the top of Auchinraith Road. It was on the same side of the road as Auchinraith Road in a front garden. Maybe it is not there now as it was huge in the fifties!
    • Jane Johnstone Ouchie tree to climb???
    • Sandra Saroli It is actually the Monkey Puzzle tree not in Victoria Street, but Small Crescent. Remember it well x
    • Margaret Jane Hughes Yardley Love these trees. . Always remember the one on Victoria Street from when I was wee walking to asda.
    • Craig Hamilton It’s strange as these can be found all over Scotland but very little around Lanarkshire. 

      Purely ornamental

    • Moyra Lindsay Mr and Mrs Dow lived in Small Crescent and they probably planted that tree.
    • Pamela Bushell Your right Moyra I knew Mr and Mrs Dow from I was a wee girl I think Mr Dow planted it
    • Chris Ladds There’s a big one near to Calderwood Castle that most people don’t know is there.
    • Grace Burns Lovely
    • June Finnie There is/was a massive one in Aitkenhead Road/Curling Crescent Glasgow.
    • Eileen McCann Never seen this tree in bloom it looks so nice.
    • Carolanne Starrs Sandra Saroli is that not your old house . ?xx
    • Catherine Stevenson There was one in Strathaven , don’t know if it is still there.
    • Sadie Dolan Yip childhood memories of this tree defo more than 40yrs I remember it being there when I was 8 or 9 beautiful tree x
    • Helen Lawson Taylor Yes remember it ,I used to pass it going to school in the fifties .
    • Margaret Wilson Yes it is a true story about the one at Blantyre cemetery it was growing so large the Gardeners of the day decided to move it to the front gate … I am sure my Grannie Morton would be really proud 
    • Jean Boyd I remember it always being there, I would say it was well over 50 years old.
    • Margaret Wilson My Grannie MORTON passed away in 1944 so the one at the cemetery has been there a long time .. I believe my Grandad brought it from their yard in Hardy Street High Blantyre

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  1. The monkey puzzle tree (Chilean Pine) was planted by the original occupants of 1 Small Crescent in the 1920s. My grandparents, James and Janet Sneddon, moved into the house around 1933 when the tree was still relatively small. Along with our parents, Mina and Malcolm, my brother Niel (Daniel) and I moved to the house in 1956 when my grandmother was ill and needed care. My parents left the house in 1974 when I recall the Mather family took over guardianship of the tree. Basically my family looked after the tree for 41 years and we were all very sad to leave No.1 and more importantly the tree that meant so much to us and to the many who passed it on their way along Small Crescent and Victoria Street. When in Blantyre I often divert my journey to see Small Crescent. A lot has changed in the 46 years but the tree remains majestically the same.
    Hamish (James Sneddon Dow)

    1. Thanks Hamish. Enjoying all this detail. Hope you’re well.

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