From the forthcoming book, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul D Veverka (c) 2016
With the Victorian fashion of extending or renovating homes to incorporate classical features, the Jackson family took the decision to build a new house entirely at Bardykes. This was to be a grander house, the one that we currently see today. This was most likely done by James Jackson.
It was designed by a Glasgow Architect of the name “Alexander ‘greek’ Thomson. Born on 9th April 1817. Thomson developed his own highly idiosyncratic style from Greek, Egyptian and Levantine sources and freely adapted them to the needs of the modern city, particularly in Glasgow where he designed several churches. This style of columns on the facades of buildings earned him the nickname “Greek” which served also to distinguish his work from another architect of the same name in that era. He was a Pioneer of sustainable building, something not truly recognised until a hundred years later. From 1856 he concentrated on designing neo-greek or Italiane styled domestic homes. Similarities to Bardykes can be seen in his other works at Maria Villa, Langside or Alexander died on 22nd March 1875.
The Jackson family commissioned the design and were responsible for the construction of the house in 1871. It is alleged at this time that their wealth was such, that it permitted a duplicate copy of Bardykes out on their plantations in Ceylon. The timing of this construction fits well with other landowners in Blantyre extending their homes including the Clarks at Crossbasket, the Bannatynes at Milheugh. It may have been a decision of “keeping up with the Joneses” or simply that the old farm was in such, poor conditions having likely been there for a couple of hundred years beforehand, possibly longer!
The new sandstone house was to be 2 storey, and accessed via a long tree lined avenue, that led off of Bardykes Road, the entrance located near the west end on Glasgow Road. A grand turning circle at the entrance and all former farm buildings demolished.
On 1875 valuation rolls, James Jackson is the owner of Bardykes House. In 1881 census John Jackson is noted as being a tea merchant.
By 1888 James Jackson was living at Old Place and the owner of Bardykes House was still John Jackson. In 1889, James Campbell was a watchman at Bardykes House.
In 1890 John Jackson was elected as county councillor for the Stonefield Division.
In October 1893, a young farm servant girl working for John Jackson was robbed whilst walking home on Blantyre Ferme Road.
In 1901 John Jackson was living at Bardykes House, aged 48. His wife Alice was 38. They had 2 children Robert and little Alice, aged 12 and 11 respectively. 31-year old Kate Wales was a live in nanny. 34-year old Bella Duncan the cook and 30-year old Margaret Mcleod a table maid.
Jackson served on the Blantyre Parish Council and may have not been popular amongst certain spirit dealers after refusing licenses quite commonly in the early 1900s.
Alice Jackson was particularly noteworthy for her fundraising efforts during the First World War, especially in relation to raising funds for a Blantyre ambulance.
In 1916, it was largely thanks to John Jackson that Station Road, then a quagmire of mud, was improved. Prior to that local reports of people missing their train, as they were stuck in mud, were common! It is likely around this time that some of the Jacksons estate was sold off the local authority, for improvement of roads in the Parish as a whole.
In 1918, John, by then a Councillor found himself in court for failing to comply with a standard set by Agricultural Committees. Whilst in court, he explained Bardykes had not been leased for some time. The matter revolved around John Jacksons unwillingness to break up any part of his land, wishing Bardykes to be kept as a whole for a long as possible.
John may also have had dealings with the Bardykes road widening of 1923.
The last of the “Jackson Tea men” lived and died in Bardykes House on Tuesday 10th June 1930.
His obituary read, “The death occurred on Tuesday of Mr John Jackson, of Bardykes, Blantyre. A well-known figure in Lanarkshire. For over 400 years Mr Jackson’s family have been proprietors of Bardykes. The property came into their possession in 1502, held on the yearly payment of red rose to Lord Blantyre. Jackson took an active part in local administration, and was for many years a member of Lanarkshire County Council and Justice of the Peace, in both which positions he gave good service. Yet another public with which served for a period was the Clyde Trust. At the time his death Mr Jackson was chairman of the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire Licensing Committee, a position he had held for number of years. He was re-elected to that office this year, but owing to failing health had not taken part in public affairs for last two years. Mr Jackson was head of the former firm Messrs Jackson. Buchanan and Co., tea merchants, Glasgow. He was years 77 age and is survived by his wife, one son and one daughter.”
His widow lived alone in Bardykes House until the late 1940’s, and in her ailing years was tended by a District Nurse McCracken, who by a remarkable co-incidence would later become Mrs Wilkie herself to be part of the next family of owners. Whilst Mrs Jackson lived alone, assistance was few and far between otherwise. A farmhand would double as a gardener and an odd job man to take her out in her pony and trap, as well as a milkmaid. Sandy Wilkie, whose mother was that very nurse McCracken recalled, “My mother was shown in via the servant’s entrance, through the dreary kitchen with all the servants bells still on the wall, and on under the darkened ceilings and maroon cornicing, across the ebony like floorboards, passed the darkened skirting boards and wooden wall panels and up the almost blind staircase with its highly varnished and polished bannister and eventually, up to the gate, the one kept locked at the top of the stairs to keep pesky weans out, but more importantly, to keep senile old men and women, in! Mrs Jackson died rather mysteriously shortly after nurse McCracken started visiting her regularly and though she seemed to be making sound progress over the months, alas, it wasn’t to be – she never fully recovered from her fever and passed away peacefully early into the winter. No-one local attended the funeral, in fact, sadly nobody ever heard about a funeral being held. Her maid moved back to her family in Strathaven and the Horseman sold the horses and then he too disappeared.”
The house in those post World War Two years, fell into considerable disrepair thereafter and was eventually bought by a Mr Loan from Helensburgh whom in 1954 planned to obtain a hotel licence then sell it to “The Brewers” for a handsome profit. However that never came to be, the application refused and perhaps seen as another attempt to get people drinking on a Sunday. After further deterioration, Mr Loan eventually sold Bardykes via Joe Daly and Jimmy Rusk (local council valuer and father of the famous hairdresser family of Bothwell Road), to Peter and Margaret Wilkie.
This transaction in 1957 proved rather fortunate, for the Wilkie family were almost homeless at that time, because the 2 nearby farms in High Blantyre known as Birdsfield and Bellsfield, (they milked the cows at the latter and filled it on the former), were being “taken” by the 5th District Council via a “Compulsory Purchase Order”, to build Council Houses. Indeed, demolition had actually started whilst the Wilkies were still living on the High Blantyre farm.
Historic Scotland listed the building as a Category B protected building on 12th January 1971.
People should not be confused by adverts for Wilkies, which started their business formation as being around 1904. Wilkie’s Dairy was established then, but this is not to be confused with being established at Bardykes. It took until 5th April 1957 for the Wilkie Family to move in to Bardykes. Peter, Maragret and their 3 children, all at the time under 5 years of age flitted from High Blantyre to Bardykes for the first time, in the horse pulled milk float. With them was Dinky the Alsation dog and MInky the cat.
Today, Blantyre residents still know the building most commonly known as Wilkie’s Farm. It is officially known however as “Bardykes Farm” and today incorporates “Bardykes Farm Nursery School”. The Wilkie family are still very well known and respected in this town. They are noted too for charitable work, being involved in the fundraising for many community campaigns, including hosting the fondly remembered Blantyre Highland Games from their fields from 1987, with their association with Blantyre Round Table.
There is much, much more to be written about Bardykes, the Jacksons and the Wilkies, and if Sandy Wilkie is reading this here or indeed if his sister Margo is reading too, I would love to take up Sandy’s kind offer back in October 2015 of discovering and recording more about this wonderful house and heritage.
To end this article, I leave you with this beautiful verse taken from Revelations in the Bible chapter 14 verse 13, which served the Jackson family well. It’s inscribed on the stone Obelisk memorial on their family graves, which can be witnessed in the Kirkton graveyard.
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. They rest from their labours and their works do follow them”.
Simply put, it means have faith in the Lord, work hard and your efforts will be remembered. By the very fact that I’m writing about them, the motto has proved its worth. I think the statement is also very fitting for all the hard working people of Blantyre.
On social media:
Margaret Brown Burns I have two silver serving spoons and some odd cutlery that came from a sale??? at the house
Kimberley Wilkie Thanks for the mention Steve!
Duncan Slater In late 1940 I delivered milk for Dunlop on Station road and when m Mr. Dunlop retired Perter Wilkie took over, when it was Dunlop’ run we delivered the milk in cans but Peter was more with the times he used bottles with his name in blue paint , the horse’s name was “Nell”
The Blantyre Project Thanks Margo, I hope this is all accurate. wink emoticonPlease give them my regards.
Ailsa Wilkie Thanks Steve. Your girls were lovely. The Nursery is celebrating 25 years in business this year. Quite a landmark. Still loving the opportunity to deliver a unique learning experience to children.
Sharon Morrison Doonin Greek Thomson also designed Great Western Terrace in Glasgow which was the home of William Burrell, Burrell collection.
Jeanette Bonella Whenever I saw Bardykes I remembered happy times we had when we visited Auntie Margaret on a “real farm “when staying with Annie and Alex in California .x
I remember seeing Hercules the bear at the Highland games there!
Jim Cochrane As Peter lost land from the farm to building in Blantyre he used to farm all the stray fields all over Blantyre parish .Priory Bridge was farmed by Peter ,the fields into Calderglen,Craigmuir,one at the back of Newhouse and the the land the Crematorium is on now.There were others scattered across Blantyre..