An extract from the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
The main road from Glasgow to Hamilton and beyond to Lanark seems certain to have existed in Medieval times. Its very likely that even in the 13th Century at the time of the founding of Blantyre Priory, our oldest building, that a rough dirt track existed in the location we now know as Glasgow Road today running from northwest to southeast. Travellers on foot or on horse, carts and carriages would have seen nothing more than hedge or tree lines on both sides of the track, with untouched landscape for as far as they could see either side.
By the mid 1700’s, Blantyre’s population was still only around 500 people, most of them concentrated around the High Blantyre cross area. Small individual hamlets existed, such as Auchinraith, Barnhill and Bardykes to name a few. Low Blantyre and Glasgow Road however at this time was incredibly sparsely populated with just a few individual farms scattered just off the track. From south to north, even in 1750, only farms such as Newhouse, Woodside, Wheatlandhead, Cottshill, Bardykes and the Priory Bridge Mill were accessed from the road which would later become Glasgow Road. Even counting the population of these farms, it is safe to say that as late as 1750, the population along Glasgow Road was still under 50 people.
The construction of Blantyre Mills on the Clyde in 1785 caused a population explosion with an influx of workers coming to Blantyre, mostly weavers, seeking employment. A workers village sprang up and the track leading perpendicular from Glasgow Road down to the village, which would later become known as Station Road was formed.
Tolls were collected on the Glasgow to Hamilton Road at a tollbooth situated at the corner of Glasgow Road and Station Road, taxing passing trade for the privilege of using the road for their business. Around this area the small hamlet of Stonefield started to form.
By the end of the 1850’s, Glasgow Road however, was still very rural, indeed some farms like Newhouse had disappeared, replaced by Springwell House and Stonefield Farm. In 1859, from the boundary at Burnbank, all the way northwestwards to the bottom of Stonefield Road, there was still literally nothing but Springwell House, the isolated Winks Inn, Stonefield Farm and a few thatched houses opposite, the aforementioned tollbooth and a few homes opposite and a public house called Clive Place at the bottom of the Stonefield Road track.
With the exception of Stonefield Cottage and Westneuk, there was nothing else built either side of the Glasgow Road track until you reached Priory Bridge’s Black Mill at Blantyre’s Western boundary. An estimate of population in these building would be between 150 – 200 people.
However, things were about to take a drastic change with the discovery of coal in the next decade.