On 30th August 2015, a mystery was presented to me, and solved in the same day by another person.
Blantyre man Gordon Cook took this photo in 1974. He asked, “The photo is just before McFarlane’s scrap yard, where the wee car park is today before you turn the corner into Calderside and on to Camp Knowe. I came across this photo that I took I think in 1974, because that’s when I got the camera. I remember throwing a rock into the water and could tell by the sound that it was really deep. Then in 2012, I was exploring the falls just across from it and, on returning to the road, I climbed over the gates and walked over the field on solid ground. I have looked at the various maps and there doesn’t appear to have been anything here at any time, I just wondered how or why the hole was excavated and how it got filled in?”
I raced off to look at old maps convinced this was something to do with the flooding that used to occur at Campknowe. In maps as “recent” as 1898, there was a loch around part of Campknowe, which was drained via a sluice and I felt quite positive that this must have run off to this location, hence flooding as Gordon’s photos. However……
I can’t take any credit in solving this mystery, and as it turned out the real answer came from Jim Cochrane. I contacted Jim, knowing he’s knowledgeable in all things Calderside related. Jim very promptly, sent me back a detailed answer that solved why there was a big, flooded hole there in the 1970s and why now it looks like a hill! He told me, “This was an opencast quarry opened up by the Raeburns / Agnews in the late 1960s early 70s. It was fairly deep and the blaes that was dug here went to the brickwork on Whistleberry Road.
I think I rememeber Vincent Agnew driving a big caterpiller dozer and a loading shovel in there when I was a boy . We didn’t go in much because the blaes stuck like glue to your boots and there was some fairly deep holes that would backfill with water. We realised even then, that if you fell in there was no getting out. They worked it untill the blaes was gone in the area right across this field but I don’t think it was very good quality. It lay open throughout the 1970’s and 80’s . I think the lease or licence for the working belonged to Jimmy Agnew at Lodgehill Farm, (who was a shareholder/ partner at the brickwork). Lodgehill was sold in the 1980’s to an irishman who owned ‘Culdaff Construction’ in Glasgow . The quarry was backfilled with all sorts of stuff from the construction company, more or less an unlicenced tip for them. Thousands of tonnes of stuff would be dumped in there all before the days of Sepa. In fact there was much more put back than was originally there, as I’m sure the field level now is a good 20 feet higher than it used to be.” Pictured is a more modern photo of that same entrance , this time in 2012.
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