James Little – the 1930’s

1936 map Crossbasket1936 – By this year, the Eastern wooden footbridge at Crossbasket, closest to Greenhall spanning the Rotten Calder River had collapsed entirely, blocking off access to the opposite side of the river at that location. A path had formed leading from the fields near the Castle back to Crossbasket. Further large outbuildings had been built directly to the East of the house and the bridges near the mill still survived. Also of note was the continuation of Tennis Courts at Crossbasket, but only at the east field, halfway along the entrance road on the right. The tennis courts formerly at the front of the Castle, were now gone.

So within 3 years of moving there, James Little had leased out the satellite or external properties on Crossbasket Estate, except for the large Castle itself. He was doing what he did best, making money out of letting. It is around this time, when speaking to other distant relations currently living in Blantyre, that I encountered rumours and tales of disputes within the family about money. In particular about James living there and some of his family in much more modest dwellings in Blantyre. These allegations could not be followed up and I have to assume they were untrue, for what would unfold later showed, that James Little did look after his siblings. I suspect however, there is a possibility of some ill feeling, if some of his lesser immediate family suddenly saw James and immediate family living in a Castle within woodland fringes, with themselves stuck in tenements facing the dirty, Larkfield Colliery a mile away.

James Little upgraded the electrical fittings in Crossbasket, during this decade, keeping up with neighbouring Greenhall House, which had electricity installed. Both properties having this wonder many years before anybody in Blantyre had residential, metered supplies. It is during this decade that James Little travelled to America where it is alleged he befriended the Roosevelt family. It is unknown if his trip was for business or pleasure.

1937 – James had some of his family living with him at Crossbasket Castle. A Nurse, Elizabeth Little, advertised the property in the Motherwell Times on Friday 18th June as being suitable for temporary suitable nursing home accommodation for the elderly or infirm. This was the sister of James whom at that time was living in the tower, the older Western part of the Castle. It is thought that at this time his other sister Jane was living in the house too, both determined to do some good in the locality.

These were different times, with hired in labour, as and when required, as opposed to servants living in the Castle. When I learned this, I imagined the Castle was rather large even just for James’s family. I would imagine there were rooms that simply didn’t get used.

1938 – The Dundee Courier on 14th January reported on James appearing in court again, this time with his other brother Gilbert on similar bother with rates assessors. This time it was for an owned cinema property at West Port, Cupar and the brothers had raised the appeal in the first instance, contesting the rates that were being applied to the property. The case was dismissed and the rates assessors figures upheld, maintaining that such a substantial property should be valued in a fashion to other similar buildings.

Pictured is a map of the era.

From “The History of Crossbasket” by Paul Veverka (c) 2015

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