Suspension Bridge Tokens

Gordon Cook and Alex Rochead have kindly shared here their photos of their respective Suspension Bridge Tokens in their collections of Blantyre Memorabilia. The bridge was built by Henry Monteith to allow people to cross the Clyde from Bothwell to Blantyre and these tokens were issued to allow passage across. They date from 1853, an important year, as it was just one year after the first bridge was built. If you have one of these tokens, hold on to it, as they can go for upwards of £70! Given the dates, there is a possibility that these tokens may have been commemorative, rather than issued at the time for crossing.

It’s suggested also a different token may exist, which was supposed to be one issued to miners living in the village, and it allowed them free passage across the bridge. Wm. Baird & Co. maybe later would have issued such a token, probably in brass. According to the census information Alex sent on to me, Wm Baird owned the miners houses at Shuttle Row and Cross Row by 1915. He may even have owned the bridge itself by this time. However James Monteith still owned those homes 10 years earlier in 1905, despite the fact that his mills had closed by then.

The coal company took over everything, and that included the Lodge, and the bridge. We all know what happened to Shuttle Row in becoming the Museum in 1929. The lodge didn’t survive but the bridge did, and it became the property of the National Coal Board in 1946, who refused to maintain it. It fell into a dangerous condition and was demolished a few years after nationalisation.


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