McLelland’s Land, Springwell

From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

Using the 1898 map below for reference, our very first building on Glasgow Road within Blantyre Parish is the former “McLelland’s Land.”

Mclellands zoned

McLelland’s Land, the start of Blantyre, start of Springwell

McLellan or McLelland’s Land (depending on various census information) was a small, former plot of land about a third of an acre on the south east of Springwell, near the old fork in the road. The name Land or Laun, as in old Scots dialect really refers to the buildings themselves, which at this location were stone or brick built and single storey.

McLelland’s property opened out directly on to the Glasgow to Hamilton Road and comprised of 3 small houses, each with 2 rooms and at least 1 window in each room and a nearby workshop to the south. The property was terraced, the nearest to the Parkburn being the workshop. This left another 2 homes in the block, attached on the north side, the middle one being the largest and the farthest divided into 2 homes.

Throughout this book, reference will be made to properties that are no longer here and given the age of some of them, sometimes there are no photos. To provide an idea of how such buildings looked, this publication contains the exclusively unique idea of providing ‘location line drawings’ overlaying the former buildings shape and profile in a ghost image, into a modern context. It is hoped this gives the reader an interesting idea of size, locations, shape and context.

Mclellands Land

How Mclelland’s Land looked, in context of today’s location

You’ll notice the property boundary in the above image looks to be sitting out in the road. The overlaid location is correct, but remember when first built, the modern 1930 road widening hadn’t happened yet. A washhouse and outdoor toilet was located to the rear of the property, which was fenced off separating the land from neighbours. Behind to the left, were empty fields. This was one of the earliest properties in Springwell and the edge of Blantyre.

McLelland’s Land was built between 1881 and 1885 but surprisingly not by a McLelland. The property was constructed by Mr. John Welsh, a miner who arrived in Blantyre within that timeframe. However, he was the owner for only a short time before selling the entire property, perhaps as early as 1886. It was new owner William McLelland, a miner known well to John that bought the houses, for the purposes of renting them out. We’ll be coming back to John Welsh a little later in this chapter.

In the 1885 valuation roll, John Welsh was living at the first house nearest the boundary, which had a rateable value of £3 per annum. In the other 2 houses John MacSwan, a moulder was renting for £6 and in the last house Mr. William McLelland, a miner renting for the reduced rent of £3. Perhaps William and John were friends, for shortly after, William bought the entire 3 houses from John and became the new owner for at least the next 20 years. The suggestion of this is strong, for in the 1891 census, a Welsh family member was visiting William that day.

It seems that the workshop was formed in 1891, something denoted on a later valuation roll, part of the homes converted to suit. This was done to suit William McLelland’s own purposes for the workshop was initially used by William for his own new business as a carter. (a person who conveys goods by cart). William had given up the mining profession and was self employed. He may have been letting part of the workshop out to a joiner also by this time. William had family nearby across the road at Burnside near the Parkburn, and therefore was living close to his brother.

His property would have benefited from water being run into the district in 1891, the valuation roll of 1895 noting that improvement to the area. McLelland’s land sat in an elevated position high above the Parkburn and was distant and high enough to not be affected by its frequent flooding. In 1895, the occupants were William Mclelland, Robert Ewen who was an engine dealer and John Kenney, a miner renting for £5 per year.

By 1901, William was conducting his business from the workshop but had outgrown living in these small homes, deciding to rent his own house out as well. In 1905, John Penman was living in the largest house paying £8, 8 shillings rent, David Spence a miner paying £6 and Samuel Marshall, a labourer also paying £6.

By 1915, William was no longer the owner, the property being in the possession of William Alston Dykes solicitors held in trust via Alexander Peter or Rosebank Avenue, Blantyre. It may that William had died between 1905 and 1915 and one has to wonder if it was War that claimed him. In 1915, during those trying times, Alexander Forrest, a joiner was renting the workshop for £2 per annum where he would do so for some time until the mid 1920’s without any rent increases. Catherine Donnelly a widow was renting the first house her rent going up from £8, 12 shillings to £9, 12 shillings between 1915 and 1920. In a period of stability for tenants, John Cowan a miner was renting the second house, his rent increasing from £6 to £7, 13 shillings in those same 5 years. In the last house was Malcolm Penman a bricklayer who saw the largest rent increase in that period from £5,17 shillings to £7, 13 shillings.

By 1915, properties along the Glasgow to Hamilton Road had been given postal addresses with proper numbering, rather than known by building names. McLelland’s Land was officially 1, 3 and 5 Glasgow Road, the southern side properties all being odd numbers. Some tenants had changed again by 1925. Still held in trust, the homes were rented by Richard Lyle, a miner for £12, and William Williamson an Engineer for £8, 10 shillings. Only aforementioned John Cowan occupied his house for more than 10 years. He was to die between 1925 and 1930 and his widow, Janet Cowan is noted in the 1930 valuation roll living there as head of the house. Her neighbours that year were Alexander Bowes a General Dealer with a rent of £12 and William Emslie, a fitter, perhaps working nearby at Greenfield Foundry.

By the time McLelland’s Land was demolished sometime following an “unfit for purpose” demolition order in 1933, they had existed for half a Century had seen around 15 families living at that location. Given that the tram lanes outside the property were lifted in 1930 and the road widened shortly after, it seems likely that McLelland’s land was purposely demolished to accommodate modernization. Today, there is a large billboard where the property once was, situated in a small grassy triangular plot and no trace of any building at all.

From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

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