Diary of Archibald Brown 1874 Part 1


This week, I have a real treat in store. During the 1870’s Mr Archibald Brown moved to Boathouse, the area of Blantyre at the side of the River Clyde, which some of us would more commonly know as “Boat Jocks”. Even in the 1870’s this was some time after ferryman “Boat Jock.”
1900 Archibald Brown 1848 -1912

In Springtime 2016, Jenny Day (the great granddaughter of Archie) sent me an incredible working day by day diary and loads of fantastic photos of the Brown family’s time at Boathouse. Archibald Brown (b1848 – d1912) is pictured and was a market gardener and florist owning a small but plentiful orchard in Blantyre from the early 1870’s until 1912. The following extract from his diary is written in the dialect it was written in. I’ve added a few helpful notes in brackets. This is REAL social history, of a hard working family, in a time long before cars, where often LONG walks and horse & cart trips to nearby towns were the order of the day! In 1874, Archie was 26 years old.


Thur 1. Went to Douglas in the forenoon, visited Lintfieldbank of Troves. Dreadful wet night. (Can you imagine walking all evening in the rain for work!)

Friday 2. Collected evergreens in the forenoon, decorated the laundry at Orchard (Braidwood, near Carluke) on the occasion of the party in honour of the birth of the son and heir, severe hail showers at night, dry all day. (Remember Archie was a florist too! Here he literally collected evergreens that day to decorate a christening hall that same day)

Satur 3. Went to Carluke and visited Holmhead at night, Dry all day. Clear moonlight night.

Sund 4. Was not at Church. Went out and had a walk up the Nemphlar road in company with C.B.  (C.B was Christina Braid, who he would marry that coming Summer. Here, Archie took a day off to spend time with his sweetheart). Cold hail showers and snow lying on the hills all day.

Mond 5. Left Orchard and came to Boathouse was pruning in the plot of sulphurs the back of the Bee house. Cold but dry. (Confirmation that the Blantyre Market Farm had bees too)

Tues 6. Went in for stinky (=common ragwort or perhaps tansy, used as a mulch) in the forenoon and to Duffey’s in the afternoon. Cold and showery in the morning not so bad later in the day.

Wed 7. Went in for stinky in the forenoon and pruned in the afternoon, finished the pruning of the plot behind the house today. An extra fine day wet at night.

Thur 8. Went to Greenfield for dross (dross 8/- a ton) in the forenoon, pruning in the afternoon. Willie White finished the digging of the plot behind the house, fine day but wet at night. (Preparation for further expansion at the back of Boathouse)

Fri 9. Pruning all day, very fine day, clear at night. Commenced the baskets tonight.

Sat 10. Was pruning all day, finished the Glenton plot. This was a remarkable fine day frosty at night.

Sab 11. Was at church in the forenoon and afternoon heard two excellent sermons delivered by Mr McLuckie. Stormy day wet and a strong wind from the west.

Mon 12. Went to Greenfield for coals (coals 15/- a ton) in the forenoon, wheeled out dung in the afternoon in Cullough Braes. Willie White finished the digging of the Glenton plot today. Strong wind and showery from the west.

Tues 13. Went to Calderwood Castle, got some Willows also a van full of scobs. Got cuttings of a fine white chrysanthemum called the Queen of England. Was a very coarse day, wet and stormy wind from west. (a trip to Kilbride, near High Blantyre).

Wed 14. Doing odds and ends in the forenoon, digging in the afternoon. At Glasgow at night. Showery sort of day, wind SW

Thur 15. Digging in the Cullough gooseberries in forenoon, boiling willows in afternoon, peeling them at night. Wet drizzle in the forenoon, wet afternoon, wind SW.

With thanks to Jenny Day.

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