Glasgow Road and the Orlits 1940’s

1940's Wheatlandhead looking to Glasgow Rd, shared by Elaine Russell

1940’s Wheatlandhead looking to Glasgow Rd, shared by Elaine Russell

This view from Wheatlandhead Farm faces on to Glasgow Road in the 1940’s and is shared here by the owner of the photo, Elaine Russell. Elaine’s family used to own and work at Wheatlandhead until the farmhouse was demolished in the 1960’s. Today, these fields are more commonly known as the Orlits Housing estate, i.e Fernslea Avenue and its associated streets leading off. By 1951, 5.3 acres of farm fields had been earmarked for construction of homes. This would later become the rest of Fernslea Avenue and Orchard Drive.

The houses were built in 1952 with George and Ethel Hunter amongst the first couples to move into these new Orlits houses. Orlit concrete houses are made of precast reinforced concrete. House designs were made by czech architect Erwin Katona. Unknown at the time, this material often suffered from inadequate overall thermal insulation, as well as thermal bridging and subsequent condensation problems. In Scotland, the Orlit house type was designated as defective under the Housing Defects Act 1984. Most of them were built in the UK during the 40’s and 50’s postwar period as a quick and cheap solution. The act meant improvements had to be made, for which grants were made available. At the time of construction, some people compared their size to the larger, older houses at the start of the Avenue. Others criticised the faster way of constructing homes, but to most people, the Orlits (named after the type of construction) were very welcomed and ownership was graciously taken up.

Today, the houses on this estate have been extensively modernised, with windows, heating, doors, roofs, roughcasting, and insulation all replaced over the years and the estate continues to form a large and well known part of Blantyre.

Back to the 1940’s….In the photo from right to left is Mayberry Place, David Livingstone Memorial Church, tenement homes, the dark woods of the Dandy, another house, then the Parkville. To the left of the photo, is a large gas tower, located at Coatshill, which at the time was still largely fields. This gas tower may have served lighting the Dandy and Glasgow Road but was short lived. The tower isn’t on 1936 maps and must have been demolished by the 1950’s when homes at Coatshill were constructed.

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Jim McSorley Love this photo. Even the ploughing is straight with the gathering 100% parallel. Hats off to the ploughman and his horse.

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