The immediate neighbor to McLelland’s Land to the north, still on the same south side of Glasgow Road was Welsh’s Land or Laun. A building with a similar story to McLelland’s, given that it was built by somebody else, but became known differently for the long term owner’s surname.
The property was simply 2 houses, of equal, modest size, built of stone or brick in one storey. It is quite likely they mirrored each other in terms of layout. Built between 1881 and 1885 by Mr. William Semple, a stonemason, the houses were slightly larger than McLelland’s buildings to the south and opened out on to Glasgow Road.
Born in 1838, William Semple came to Blantyre in 1881 with his wife, Christina. As a stonemason by trade and employer of others, he would have been well known and would certainly have been involved in the construction of tenements along Glasgow Road. Building these 2 small homes was a business venture, and in 1885, they were rented out to miners Henry Thomney and Andrew Frame for £4 per annum.
However, in November 1894, whilst working for Warnocks & Horsburgh, wrights and builders in Rutherglen, William Semple was injured and on 28th November took them to court suing them for £500. (around £60,000 in todays money). In early 1895, William collected all his assets and his injury monies and would go on to build other properties in Springwells. To do this, he had to sell his two properties in this article, which he sold on to Mr. John Welsh, a coalminer. Whilst Semple owned the buildings for only 14 years or so, John Welsh and his family would be the long term and only other owners of this property right up until the 1930’s.
The buildings therefore became known primarily as Welsh’s land from 1895 and that year Alex McLaren a brakesman was living in the southern house and John Welsh and his family occupying his new purchase in the northern house.
The houses were deeper than nearby McLelland’s and would have occupied the space in between where today two large billboards are erected. Outside wash-house and toilets were located in the far corner of the land, which initially had a dividing fence in the back garden. The house would have made an excellent vantage point for watching people coming and going, to and from Blantyre as well of course as being a suitable location for miners.
By 1903 as trams ran past for the first time, John Welsh had moved out to 15 Victoria Street, left his profession as a miner and had become a coalman. Born in 1868, he married a lady named Marion McClelland in 1888 in Hamilton. John Welsh should not be confused with a teacher or inspector of the poor of Blantyre, all three with the same name.
In 1905, his acquaintance, (we previously eluded their friendship) William McLelland was living in John’s former home, the other house rented by James Stoddart, a miner. Perhaps William McLelland wanted to be near his own property for in any case, the diving fence was brought down and by 1910, the back gardens of Welsh’s Land and next door McLellands, were all open, with some of the old outbuildings removed. William had moved out again by 1915 and Welsh’s Land once again was rented out to miners, this time to Duncan McCorkindale and Robert Moore , each for £10, 3 shillings.
Welsh’s houses each only had 2 rooms, each with a window, likely front and back. By this era the southern property had address 7 Glasgow Road and the adjoining house, further north was 9 Glasgow Road.
In 1920, Duncan McCorkindale was still renting the same house, the other house at number 9 rented by James Coffey, a miner and both paying rent to John Welsh.
In 1925, John Welsh was 57 years old and would pass away shortly after in 1928 at his home in Victoria Street. That year George Wilson, a miner and Duncan McCorkindale both renting for the princely sum of £12, 12 shillings. Following his death his widowed wife, Marion Welsh continued to let the property out but only a short time.
- This John Welsh is spelt as “Welsh” in the census information, his marriage certificate and all valuation rolls, although his family have pointed out his name was “Welch” with a ‘c’ as noted in his death certificate.
By the time of the 1936 map, Welsh’s Land is gone, likely demolished at the same time as the adjacent McLelland’s land to make way for the early 1930’s road widening improvements to Glasgow Road. The building was declared unfit for purpose in 1933 and was subjected to demolition orders.
Today, nothing remains of Welsh’s Land, the name and building forgotten and confined to the realms of history, but hopefully brought to some life again by this book.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017