Blantyre Mills 1860 Part 1 of 2


The following document was published in 1860 and reflects upon Mary Berry’s journal of 1805 and updates things with a description of how Blantyre Mills was functioning in the year 1860.

“The factory thus described called Blantyre, situated on the left bank of the Clyde, about four miles below Hamilton, and continues to be worked by the same firm as in 1805, viz. Messrs. Henry Monteith Co. The numbers at work in May, 1860, amounted to 1,061; their ages and employment as follows:


The above numbers include only twelve children under thirteen years of age ; the employment which required so many of that class in 1805 having been long since discarded.

The system of binding apprentices was given up about 1809, and the services of that class expired altogether about 1816 or 1817. While that system continued it was observed, when terms of service expired, that females generally remained in the factory working on wages and binding themselves, while the males more generally went forth into the world.

This factory appears to be considered a home by all who have been employed in for they are free to come and free to go there no engagement of any kind on entering worker permitted to leave without giving notice of any kind—he has only to state his wish to the manager, who gives him line to the clerk to make up his wages, which paid immediately and no questions asked. No children are now received from any parish workhouse, school of industry, nor any charitable institution of any kind. The hours of labour are now those prescribed by the

Factory Act, viz. —


The description confirms that by comparison to 1805, in 1860, the number of children employed had greatly reduced. The fact that people could come and go in their employment is very telling, for it indicates there was no labour shortage and places filled immediately after people left.


Pictured, is the entire new photo of Blantyre Mills in 1903, awaiting demolition, a first seen online.

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
Article Source courtesy of Mr. Jack Daniels.

On social media:

Henry Hambley There is a “matter of fact ness ” about these observations which for me only heightens the horror of the conditions especially when talking about the children. I grew up in Blantyre and thought I had a pretty good childhood. The thought of working for these long hours and having little time on a Sunday makes me very sad for these children.
Robert Stewart Observations from 1805, 73 years later 48 children, 16 year olds and under, died in the Blantyre Mining Disaster.
Jane Johnstone I just couldn’t believe when I learned my two old aunties, by this time long gone, had actually worked in the mines at the age of 12. When my grand father married my grand mother the first thing he did was get the girls out of the mine and into a job in domestic service….some may say ….not good…but he, a miner himself probably saw this as an improvement in their living conditions and probably thought he was doing the best for the girls.

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