LFHS Review

I’m thrilled to see a brilliant review of Blantyre Project in this months edition of the Lanarkshire Family History Society Journal. The monthly history journal reaches many thousands of people all over the world. Having such a fantastic review published in the October edition should hopefully drive further traffic to Blantyre Project. I was also asked to quote something for inclusion about my own background. Here’s the review in full, as it appeared.

“Blantyre Project is one of Lanarkshire’s best-kept secrets! It’s a huge, free local history resource, greatly underused or known about, for the former mining town of Blantyre, South Lanarkshire. It has been relentlessly added to every day without fail since February 2011 and as of September 2017 has over 3,700 uniquely researched articles, many of which are illustrated.

Additionally, through purchase, donation and permission the website now features over 10,000 old photographs of Blantyre from the 1860’s right up until the present day, making it one of Lanarkshire’s largest history collections. 

Blantyre Project records and archives the interesting history of Blantyre from bronze age up until contemporary times, including notable timeline waypoints like the 13th Century Blantyre Priory, the 15th Century Crossbasket Castle and that famous pit explosion in October 1877 that killed over 200 men and boys, still Scotland’s largest pit disaster to this day. Followed by over 13,000 visitors on Facebook, daily posts feature a variety of Blantyre subjects, often providing a free ancestry service to those who have queries about Blantyre.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that the archiving work put into this impressive endeavour, is by one local man, Mr. Paul Veverka, (although it is noted that information of interest is from time to time provided by others.)

Located online at http://www.blantyreproject.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BlantyreProject. The Blantyre Project website is easily navigable and separates aspects of Blantyre’s history into interesting, searchable content. E.g. Sub sections can be found for Buildings, People Photos, Places, Poems, News and other Records. Search further and you’ll find subsections including the history of 19 Churches, 44 Farms, 74 pubs (yes you read that right!) and 21 Schools. Further sub sections include expansive history about Blantyre Mills and the life of Blantyre’s most famous son, the Africa Explorer, David Livingstone who was born in 1813.

A new topic for 2017 recently uploaded, charts every building, shop and home to have ever existed on Glasgow Road, the main thoroughfare of the town, including many ‘people’ stories bringing the history of the street alive. Interesting posts document the extensive redevelopment of Glasgow Road during the late 1970’s that left, for many people, an apparent lack of charm and character to the town, something community groups work so hard to this day to address.

Events and photos are sorted into chronological order and also filtered on each individual area or former hamlet within Blantyre.

World War 1 and II archives have also recently been added and currently being added to. Other large sections are ongoing such as telling the stories of all individuals killed in the pit explosion, recording a timeline of when buildings were constructed and charting news like drownings, fires, accidents and other noteworthy events that affected people more directly.

The aim of Blantyre Project, no less, is simply, “to research, record and archive every noteworthy aspect of news throughout the Centuries, to explore every public building that has ever existed and make it all easily and freely accessible in one place.”

In recent years, Blantyre Project has evolved into the largest collection of Blantyre history in any one place and is now both online and in 7 currently published books, offline. It has grown into a huge archive, deemed by many, including South Lanarkshire Council, Hamilton Library and the National Library of Scotland as ‘Blantyre’s Official History Archive’ often correcting what others have previously written or assumed. All material on the site can be printed out or copied for personal use, although if intention is publication on or offline elsewhere, permissions should be sought first.

Offline, away from public sight, Blantyre Project has amassed an interesting collection of memorabilia including old quoits, banners, adverts, flags, books, newspapers, letters and it’s not unusual to find a Blantyre brick or two at the bottom of Paul’s bed at his home in High Blantyre.

Blantyre Project often hosts public presentations in the library, church halls, for local groups and schools as time permits. By no means finished, and witnessing his motivation, we are assured by Paul that Blantyre Project is “only just getting started!”

About Paul Veverka

Blantyre history in the form of his ‘Blantyre Project’ is Paul’s passionate hobby and has consumed almost all of his spare time since 2011. His passion for Blantyre and collecting memorabilia and historical data comes from his late mother, Janet Duncan Veverka (d.2009) who was interested in the history of Blantyre. Paul has collected stories, news, postcards and photos about Blantyre since 1985, when he was just 14 years old!

Paul who was born in 1971 and lives in High Blantyre, writes, ‘Having a young child and often working away from home has afforded me the time to write each evening either when my daughter goes to bed, or if I’m working away, in hotels and B&Bs. I’m not a fan of watching TV to any extent, so relaxation for me is putting on my computer and immersing myself in yet another Blantyre story.

I have a very patient and understanding wife who is proud in what I’ve accomplished. I never let this hobby interfere with my full time job, but I do look forward to coming home and writing in evenings. Indeed, sometimes, I just can’t wait to open my computer and find out the next chapter of a building or person’s history! There are literally only a handful of evenings when I have not written about Blantyre since I started properly writing and recording, back in 2011.

Making this archive free for people is particularly important to me. Getting information out freely to everybody in an accessible a fashion as possible is my driver and hopefully my legacy. I would like to personally thank Gordon Cook, chairperson of the Heritage Group, who in recent years has unwittingly become my history mentor. He has guided me well and I hope I’ve reached a position now in being able to often pass him new information!’

Paul is now an accomplished local history author with 7 successful Blantyre history books already published to 13 different countries, in his spare time, representing the largest volume of Blantyre history ever published. He has amassed an abundance of local history knowledge, his writing becoming more detailed with each book. He looks forward to several other books in the pipeline coming out in future including a definitive immense reference volume of books in encyclopedic format covering all he has ever researched. Proceeds from his books directly benefit the community and are non-profit making. Paul, never one to be idle, is currently progressing plans to make this large archive more official, accessible and permanent for future generations, including those offline.”

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,

Davy Thomson Well done mate 👍
Henry Hambley Keep p the good work, Paul.
Elizabeth Lovatt Great work Paul….keep up the good work
Betty McLean A well deserved tribute. Words cant
Betty McLean describe how much enjoyment Paul has given to many people as the history of Blantyre becomes alive in memories Of times past and present.
Jessie Caldow Excellent work Paul, Thank you for all the interesting stories – and the fun ones too!
Helen Lawson Taylor All the work and time you have spent in writing and informing us of the history of Blantyre has payed off as it is so interesting for us to read and look forwards to learning more Paul .

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