Barnhill was one of the original hamlets or fermetouns of the Barony of Blantyre. One of the oldest areas of Blantyre, it was originally known as Barnehill and can be traced in records, including the great seal of Scotland, as far back as 1598. However, it is known to be much older, one house still existing today claiming to have been built in 1536.
Walter Stewart of Minto was granted the lands of Barnehill, along with other hamlets of Blantyre in 1598, and would later go on to become Lord Blantyre in 1606.
Situated on the western fringes of the Blantyre, bordering on to the Calder woodland and river, it takes in an area currently known around Broompark Road and part of Bardykes Road from its junction at Hunthill Road.
Between the 1500s and 1700s, the main road from Glasgow came from Loanend, down past Malcolmwood Farm, but left at this point down through the fields known later for its site of Queen Mary’s Well. It arrived at Pattonholm Ford and crossed the River Calder at a Shallow point, then up over a field at the Calder Braes known as “the Peth”. This was likely a medieval road that came out halfway up the current Peth Brae (more locally known as Pech Brae, after a clergyman coined the phrase back in the 1860s).The lower half of the Peth Brae, at Niaroo, the bridge and Lindsay Hill leading up to Malcomwood most likely did not exist at that time and would have perhaps only been a small track. In time though, the medieval road became grown over and unused as horses, carts, vehicles and pedestrians favoured the modern road and bridge at the foot of the Peth Brae.
Families who owned land in Barnhill included the Miller family of Milheugh, the Jacksons of Bardykes, the Coates family and Pettigrews.
Barnhill was known for is thatched houses, even into the 20th Century. Thatched houses also sat at the top of the brae, next to a 10 foot high stone wall, which once encroached into where the modern carriageway at Bardykes is today, opposite the Barnhill Tavern. (Hoolets). Handloom weaving was the predominant business in the area, even prior to the construction of Dales Blantyre Works Village in 1785.
Against the Calder were thatched cottages, later a large tenement 2-storey building then more weavers single storey cottages, the end one belonging to Jock Stein, who bred pigs in the pigsty outside. The aforementioned tenement constructed in the 1870’s was called Dixons Tenement but was only constructed after the demolition of the mid section of these smaller cottages. The building is also now gone, likely many original buildings in Barnhill and is now the site of a modern carpark across the the pub.
In 1864, Barnhill is a village, comprising of just twenty-four roofed buildings and two partially roofed building depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Lanarkshire 1864, sheet xi).
People may know Aggie Bain’s cottage or Brownlie Cottage which has a claim to be as old as 1536, being the oldest house in Blantyre. This is a distinct possibility. The present lane between Aggie Bain’s Cottage and the Hoolets Pub, leading to Glenfruin road, was once the top of the only road down to the River Clyde from Blantyre Village. It ran alongside Wheatlandhead Farm and crossed a track which is now Glasgow Road into the Dandy area and on to the Clyde.
Adjacent to the Hoolets Pub was “the back o the barns” and beside that “Barns End” next to an area of grassland, which even pre WW2, was being called “Dry Well Green“, used for drying clothes. This may earlier have been the site of a sports ground at Barnhill in the mid to late 1800’s, with sports such as quoiting and bowling. Nearby is the likely site of Blantyre Bowling Club in 1865 before they moved to Stonefield Road in 1872. This well was accessed by a path leading from Broompark Road, behind the farm, and is known to have flooded some of the ground where the current Hoolets Pub beer garden is. It was also prone to being polluted by sewage in the 1860s.
As can be seen from this photo looking South, the road had sharp changes in direction, which in 1929 were eventually smoothed out to allow traffic to pass by in a manner less dangerously. This road widening caused several buildings to have their gable ends cut away , including buildings at Barnhill Farm and Aggie Bains Cottage itself.
Barnhill also had a nursery, with Brown’s nursery being located at the corner of Broompark Road and Bardykes Road at the junction. Further up Broompark Road, was an old smiddy. Now demolished it belonged in the Templeton family for many years. There were 2 farms. One known as “the wee farm” and also Barnhill Farm, which was on Bardykes Road itself. The gate holes of the farm gates can still be seen on the gable of the building adjacent to the Hoolets Pub.
Today, Barnhill does still retain some character and charm and it is easy to envisage how peaceful and rural this area would have once been. Modern bungalows and houses adorn the junction area now, the thatched cottages all but gone. The road is busy, especially in peak hours and still somewhat dangerously narrow close to the Hoolets, where there is no pavement.