When we think of the mining companies forcibly evicting or removing miners from their tied homes or rows, we may first and foremost think of Dixons Rows. Perhaps the strike of 1874 when the miners were removed from their homes, or even later that decade when their widows were ejected from those homes, to make way for new mining families at Dixons. However, you may be surprised to know that it happened in many instances throughout Lanarkshire and indeed in other places in Blantyre.
For example in May 1932 and action was heard in court, where Messrs William Baird & Co., coalmasters, Blantyre, sought an ejection order against number of miners from their houses at Baird’s Rows, Blantyre (near Craighead / Forrest Street / Glasgow Road) on the ground that these men had ceased to be in the firm’s employment.
The dwellings were now required for other workmen in the full-time service of the company. Mr James Beccroft, agent of the United Mineworkers’ Union of Scotland, appeared for the miners, and contended that the company was not entitled to claim that they had a service let over the houses. Witnesses were called on behalf of the owners to show that on December 1st, 1926, the majority of the miners who were householders in the company’s properties at Bairds Rows, Blantyre signed a form to the effect that they would “remain in occupation of the houses only during the tenure of their employment.“
Incredibly, the let would be terminable any time, on just one week’s notice. Miners were called as witnesses and Mr Beecroft said that as they had occupied the houses for over 20 years, the original let was not a service one. If they had signed form it had been under a misapprehension and in the hurry at the end of a shift.
Sheriff M’Donald remarked that miners were sensible men who took care to read everything they were asked to sign. Mr Beecroft contended that rationalisation was paralysing the coal industry in Scotland. There were 35,000 fewer miners in Lanarkshire, yet the output was going up. All the idle miners in Blantyre might be absorbed by and by but they ought not to forced out of their houses because of insecurity of employment in the pits at the present time.
Sheriff M’Donald was sympathetic but had to uphold the agreement the miners and the colliery had made. He gave a decree of ejection, and in response to the appeal of Mr Beecroft allowed the miners one month to leave the houses and find new homes.
Pictured a little later in the 1950s, is Bairds Rows, Low Blantyre.
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