The Springwell Poultry run was a relatively short lived poultry farming operation of the late 1920’s and 1930’s situated in open fields of Springwell, which prior to the poultry run, had been Blantyre Golf Course.
Several poultry farms sprang up in Blantyre during the 1920’s and 1930’s, offering an alternative to using land for agricultural purposes. One of the first poultry farms in Blantyre, truly on a large scale was created between 1920 and 1925 and was run by Mr. George Kay from his ground at Woodened, at the end of John Street. Perhaps prompted by his success, others quickly followed and by 1930, as well as Mr. Kay’s, poultry runs also existed at Park, High Blantyre run by the Craig family and at Station Road run by the Forrest family. Not forgetting the subject of this article, a poultry farm at Springwell, situated adjacent to Glasgow Road.
Memories of Blantyre Golf Course were long forgotten as the expansive fields in the shadow of Auchinraith Pit Bing were given over to Mr William Tait who rented the field for his own poultry farm for the sum of £10 per annum. The land was owned by the same 3 widows (Paterson/ McGregor/ McKenzie) who had 17 years earlier permitted a golf course to be set out on their fields.
Sometime between 1926 and 1930, Mr Tait’s Poultry Farm was up and running with several hundred birds roaming freely around the fields (pictured), being farmed and bred for their eggs and meat. Families who had flocks of this size sold eggs as their primary income source, and chicken meat was a delicacy being reserved for special occasions and holidays only. The average chicken would lay between 80-150 eggs per year. The chicken diet was basically whatever they could forage with occasional handouts of grain, scraps and waste kitchen products. A hen destined for the pot would be fattened up with extra grains and buttermilk if available.
Housing was non-specific, either in the barn with the other animals or separate scattered small outhouses as was the case at Springwell, offering small respite against inclement weather. They certainly didn’t have purpose built large coops like we see today, and this led to a high mortality rate of around 40%. Chickens also didn’t do well over the winter months due to a lack of vitamin D which is provided during the summer months through sunlight. Vitamin D was discovered in the early 1920s and led to a small revolution in poultry keeping. Hens could now survive through the winter months with Vitamin D supplements and go on to produce healthier chicks in the spring. The venture was carried out on a grand scale to make it viable as a business enterprise. Adjacent fields around the bing to the south were let out by the widows to Mr. Craig of Bellsfield for his cattle.
William Tait was a poultry keeper who lived at 5 Jackson Street, Low Blantyre and came to Blantyre between 1925 and 1930. The days of his poultry farm were numbered when in 1937, the Council had acquired the land for the large Springwell Housing Scheme. It is unknown if he removed the poultry farm prior to that year. As such, the maximum time the poultry farm could have existed at this location was 12 years and was most likely shorter.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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