From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
‘Bloomfield Cottage’ was a former detached home on Glasgow Road sandwiched in a long narrow strip of land between Nimmo’s Land to the east and the Stonefield Parish School to the west.
It dates from 1874 with construction ongoing into 1875, built at the exact same time as nearby Nimmo’s buildings and the school. This confirms that with the exception of McVaney’s Land, all buildings built between Logan Street and Victoria Street were constructed at the same time.
The original constructor and owner was Mr. Hugh Dickson. Born in 1838 in Nitshill, Renfrewshire Hugh came to Blantyre in the mid 1870’s and was employed as an enginekeeper for William Baird Collieries. Buying land off John Clark Forrest, he constructed a detached house which had frontage on to Glasgow Road. The fact he called it a cottage is perhaps misleading, for this was way grander than any ‘cottage’. Built of stone, it was 2 storey’s high, but with attic rooms and a different appearance from more traditional tenements, it gave the appearance of having 3 storeys, taller than nearby Nimmo’s Buildings.
A lane led down the eastern gable accessing the rear yard, which was long and had a wall at the end separating it from the later infant school. Bloomfield Cottage was as deep as it was wide and upper levels were accessed by L shaped free standing stairs at the rear. At least one glasshouse was at the rear.
It is unknown why the name ‘Bloomfield’ was chosen by Mr. Dickson. The name connects to Northern Ireland and also Lancashire and seems very typically un-Scottish for a man who was born and lived in Scotland. Another possible connection was during the 1870’s, the Bloomfield Gold Mines in America were making people rich and causing headlines around the world. Perhaps Hugh just liked the name and wanted his own building to prosper?
Hugh Dickson and his family were the initial tenants, confirmed living there in his newly built house in the 1875 valuation roll. Rent was feuded from JC Forrest for £8 per annum.
The 1881 census has 41 year old Hugh still at Bloomfield Cottage with wife Bethia, who hailed from Carluke. With them was son, William. At some point between 1882 and 1884 Hugh moved out of Bloomfield Cottage and into the small miner’s tied cottages at 66 Craighead Rows on the north side of Glasgow Road near Forrest Street. Now, whilst this downgrading may seem bizarre, it perhaps made huge financial sense, for still owning Bloomfield Cottage in 1885, he now had rental income by letting it out, which he did to Mrs. William Scott (a grocer).
For unknown reason between 1886 and 1890, the Dickson family had enough of Blantyre and moved away, leaving behind the miners rows and selling off Bloomfield Cottage. Perhaps disgruntled by mining life, disillusioned by the Blantyre riots and 1880’s hardships or finding opportunity elsewhere, the Dicksons packed up and didn’t return to the town.
Change in Ownership
Bloomfield Cottage, with its distinctive 2 large pitched roof dormers facing on to Glasgow Road was next bought by Mr. John Watt, a shoemaker whom in 1885 had been renting a house nearby at Henderson’s Buildings.
Born in 1840 in Lanark, Hugh Watt was the son of John Watt Snr shoemaker and Margaret Morrison. Hugh (junior) was skilled at shoemaking and had been working in Blantyre during the 1880’s, clearly doing well enough to be able to buy Bloomfield. The 1870’s to 1890’s were prosperous times for many tradespeople in Blantyre owing to the population boom ad opportunities brought to the forefront for many.
Certainly, by 1891 John Watt was living at Bloomfield, then aged 51 with wife Margaret Nish, born in Dunbartonshire and 4 years younger. John was neither employed nor self employed, a good indicator that others were running his shoe business for him. The house had a rated value between £10 and £12 per annum. By the First World War, Bloomfield Cottage had official postal address 203 Glasgow Road, but the house name was also kept. John had retired by 1915. In 1918, Lilley Tait, his domestic servant living at Bloomfield got married.
Between 1921 and 1924 John Watt moved from Bloomfield Cottage to ‘Avonbank’ in Station Road, where he died in 1925, aged 85, outliving his wife. Dr Cowan Wilson confirmed the death and Marion Forrest, a guardian signed the death certificate.
Peter Morton, a miner bought Bloomfield Cottage between 1921 -1924. The house continued to have a rated value of £12 per annum. Family member John Morton was janitor of the adjacent school. It is thought The Morton family moved away in the 1950’s.
Following that, the property remained a private house bought over by others, still there on the 1962 map and was demolished in the late 1960’s. Being a private house, unusually for Glasgow Road with no shops, this former property often is overlooked and forgotten.
Bloomfield was exactly where Glen Travel’s shop is today at Clydeview Shopping Centre, which at time of writing is currently being prepared for a move further west opposite the junction of Station Road.
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