The Population of any village or town usually relates to employment and housing opportunities. This has been fairly true over the centuries for Blantyre but outside influences have taken place.
1755: 496 people
1801: 1,751 people
1821: 2,630 people
1851: 2,848 people
1871: 3,472 people
1881: 9,760 people
1901: 18,154 people
1951: 17,769 people
1971: 17,735 people
1981: 20,110 people
2001: 17,210 people
2011: 17,240 people
In 1755, the population was just 496 people, rising to 1,751 in 1801, 2,630 in 1821 and 2,848 in 1851. According to the 1871 census, the population of Blantyre was 3,472 then a huge jump to 9,760 in 1881, 17,505 in 1901, 18,154 in 1921, 17,769 in 1951, 17,735 in 1971 and peaking at 20,110 in 1981. On 29th April 2001 census it was 17,210. On 27th March 2011, it was recorded as being stable at 17,240.
Whilst you may think this has been stable since 1900 or so, when considered with house building in the area, the trend may be about to be broken with an estimate predicted for a -0.5% fall by 2021. The early population rises of the 18th and 19th Centuries are linked to employment and opportunity at Blantyre Mills and in the Coal Pits. Despite pits closing in the 1950’s the population remained steady , perhaps due to jobs being replaced by the creation of industrial estates. With the creation of the masses of homes at Priory bridge, Burnbrae and Jerusalem Estates around 1970, the population had risen to a record high of 20,110 people in 1981.
However, just 20 years later, the population was down by some -3,000 people! Despite further homes being built at Westcraigs and dotted throughout the town, and despite the fact people were living longer, some people had indeed left and perhaps were affected by the redevelopment of Glasgow Road.
With a large development being considered at Shott, High Blantyre and more homes planned at Victoria Street and Stonefield Road, and with the imminent construction of a new University campus, it will be interesting to see how this impacts our population and growth in the next few years. Picture for illustration only.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016