How wonderful to see the youth of Blantyre being involved and interested in local history. It always makes me happy to see younger generations take an interest. When Blantyre lad, Devin Hamilton-Sardesai contacted me saying he was writing a story about the Anti-Aircraft Battery, I made a promise that when it was ready, that I would feature the story here on Blantyre Project.
Devin told me, “I love History and English at school and I was hoping to enhance my skills at those two particular subjects by writing about something Blantyre related”
Devin’s well written article is exactly as follows, with his illustrations:
WORLD WAR ONE ANTI-AIRCRAFT BATTERY
Hidden away from the eyes of the locals, on the west side of Blantyre Farm Road, Blantyre, is the Anti-Aircraft site, locally known as ‘The Whins’ (Scottish word meaning gorse) which was part of the Clyde’s AA Defences.
In the 1960-70’s, it was entirely possible to walk past the AA Battery due to the trees and the overwhelmingly dense undergrowth. However, following an extensive regeneration development thanks to the council, it is now a historical site, as well as a fabulous cycle path and popular walking route.
As you wander down the path from Blantyre Farm Road, the first thing you will stumble across is an Anti-Tank block (1), which was a massive, reinforced concrete obstacle, used to deter any potentially invading enemy tanks. Further down, you will encounter the long magazine (2), which was used to store all of the ammunition and explosives. Continue down the path and the Gun Store and Workshop (3) will come into view. The main purpose of these buildings was to collect and repair any weaponry. If you walk down to the center of the battery, to your left, you will see a gun emplacement, (4) which was used to shoot down any overhead enemy aircraft. An earth mound built around its perimeter protected this. This mound was a buffer in order to protect the surrounding buildings and army personnel just in case there was an explosion due to the arsenal igniting. Straight on, the central magazine can be found, which was where further ammunition and other equipment was stored. (5) At the very back of the battery, you will see further gun emplacements (6). Finally, to your right, is the command post, which was the headquarters of the commanders of the troops.
The purpose of the AA Battery was to shoot down any approaching enemy aircrafts and was placed sufficiently far away from the local community to render them safe in case of enemy attack from the air.
If you were to go for a walk today, you would glimpse paths weaving in and out of the battery. Unfortunately, no significant remains of the accommodation camp have survived through the years and while much of the battery and its adjoining buildings can still be found to this very day, the emplacements have been vandalized, some more heavily than others.
Over the years, more and more people have become aware of the site, and it was made into a cycle path and a popular walking destination as a result of the council’s efforts to refurbish this historical site. Furthermore, pupils from Calderside Academy were responsible for the creation of the plaques that stand in the site offering information to visitors. This was a fabulous opportunity for the pupils to increase their knowledge of the history of Blantyre and the Great War.
(c) By Devin Hamilton-Sardesai.