1950 Blantyre Weir


1950 Blantyre weir by Anthony SmithAnthony Smith has kindly shared this wonderful photo or the River Clyde dry! It was taken in 1950 and captures family members at Blantyre weir, near the David Livingstone Centre. Well, I say dry, actually the river is diverted through the west side of the weir.

Graeme Walker told me, “The sluices are all wide open, every drop of the Clyde is going through the turbines. There are allotments on the bank, above the sluices. Some were still in use in the 1960’s.

I have a theory about this rare photo. As well as possible repairs to the weir, there does not appear to be any reason to channel the Clyde away entirely, other than to drain the immediate area downstream of the weir, deliberately.

This may have been done deliberately by engineers to allow an assessment of the riverbed and investigation for the foundations of the proposed David Livingstone Memorial Bridge, which only a year or two later would be built, just outside the photo. I’m sure to minimise damage or disruption to the riverside, this would only have lasted a short time.

Done in Summer at a time when the river is low in the first instance, can you imagine the impact downstream? There would have been very little water, or at a greatly reduced depth in the river, likely all the way around the bends towards Bothwell Castle and the Priory. You may have been able to walk from one side to the other. I find this whole subject quite remarkable, although as I mention, it is just my unconfirmed theory.

On social media:

Jim Cochrane All the water would be needed at that time of year to drive the turbines.The water was returned to the river round the corner so the dry stretch wouldn,t have been much. When the river was really low there wasn,t enough water to power the mill and a big rushton diesel had to provide the backup power.The same thing happened if the river was too high,the gradient across the turbines wasn,t enough and the diesel had to be used to backup the power.

Gord Fotheringham bleach works at the top…..oor plot o land to the left…..strawberries….

Leave a Reply