Springwell Slaughterhouse



Springwell Slaughterhouse, Hayloft and Stables on 1910 Map

   Around 1898, Mr. Alexander Smellie bought a 1 acre plot of land to the south of his buildings. Upon it he built a hayloft, stables and a slaughterhouse, as shown in our highlighted map. Entrance to the properties would likely have been off Springwell Place, the road leading from Glasgow Road, just as it is today.

   The hayloft and stables were rented out to assist the grocers who were renting his shop. Horses would have been kept to run the delivery carts and the square plot of land would have been an effective paddock. The fields to the south were still part of nearby Burnbrae farms, although by this time, not Springwell Farm which had gone by the late 19th Century. Hay would have been plentiful to buy to maintain the horses, perhaps acquired from these fields as our earlier picture of the field behind Greenfield Foundry showed.

   The former slaughterhouse may have been wooden or brick built, a chimney on the map indicating it was the southern property in the paddock. It was initially let out to Joseph Scott, a flesher who may have been helping Alexander previously when he ran his business from Allison Place. It would have been the ideal location to acquire pigs from the neighbouring piggery at McDougall’s Land.

   The rental arrangement did not get off to a good start, nor did the slaughterhouse. On Wednesday 12th April 1899, Joseph Scott was charged at Hamilton Sheriff Court for supplying diseased meat. Sheriff Davidson took no time in charging Mr Scott following the report from the Sanitary Inspector of the County. It was said that Joseph had a diseased carcass in high slaughterhouse, prepared for sale and intended for food. The Prosecutor learned that Joseph had bought the animal in Glasgow but transporting it back to Blantyre, it had died en route. It had been emaciated, thin and picked up disease quickly following death or from when it was alive. The carcass tested for tuberculosis which would have killed anybody who ate it. The judge was appalled and making an example of Joseph, convicted him and fined him £25 (around £3,000 in today’s money.)

   This shocking news may have travelled fast in the thriving and busy hamlet of Springwell for Joseph Scott was not conducting business there for much longer, either through termination of his rental agreement, by choice, or being forced out due to lack of business!

   Shortly after, when Alexander retired he clearly had no use for a hayloft or slaughterhouse anymore, selling the land and all on to John Tennant, also a butcher, one of his tenants who ran the corner shop on Smellie’s Land. By 1915, John had converted the slaughterhouse into a garage, indicating that he may have had an early mechanized delivery vehicle by that time or needed a workshop. As such, the slaughterhouse appears to disappear just before 1915.

   Throughout the 20th Century, the property was heavily fenced off with large gates and for the most part of the area, it was left vacant. During the early 1960’s, it was a small refuse tip.

   Today, at least one of those old buildings has been rebuilt in the same location and other larger pitched roof buildings now adjoin them. Use of the land appears to have changed in 2017, where some sort of scrapyard or place where many old dilapidated vehicles are now being stored.

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

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