Origins of Victoria Street
Unlike the other streets leading south we’ve explored so far and with exception of Auchinraith Road, Victoria Street joined Low to High Blantyre, cutting right through Blantyre and has many homes and public buildings.
During the 19th Century until the mid 1870’s, small track led up a slight gradient from the Glasgow to Hamilton Road, up towards the Stonefield Farm ending at that property. The farm was elevated overlooking fields at that time and the small, expanding village hamlet of Stonefield (itself then only a few homes and shops.) This track was extended during the 1870’s and 1880’s leading up to what is now the crossroads at Calder Street, providing easier access to Netherfield Place and Dixon’s Rows. The track was known as “the Clay Road”, a good indication that it likely did not have a good surface.
During the late 1890’s, Blantyre was still going though rapid population growth due to the coalfields. At this time, upgrading the narrow paths and thoroughfares was an important reinforcing of infrastructure. The Clay Road was then further extended during the 1880’s and 1890’s from the crossroads right up to Main Street on High Blantyre to the South. The track generally inclined upwards the further south you travelled as it does today and was narrow, muddy and frequently used by miners as short cuts.
The track had previously simply been a field boundary for Stonefield Farm. It was essentially a route over fields, with no buildings at any side. Likely to have simply had the topsoil and turf taken off. In the first decade of the 1900’s, the Clay road was widened and constructed over with a more permanent surface forming what is now Victoria Street. A section of the original Clay Road still exists today at the very top of Victoria Street at the junction of High Blantyre Main Street. The road at that point significantly narrows back to the size it was then which was not much larger than the width of a horse and cart. It’s for that reason cars cannot exit off Victoria Street directly on to Main Street.
Victoria Street was named so, following the death of the Monarch Queen Victoria in 1901, coinciding with a new century and the ‘Clay Road’ name abandoned, it had been given the name “Victoria Street” by 1910.
Buildings on Victoria Street
During the late 19th and 20th Centuries, some very prominent and public buildings existed on Victoria Street, some still do! On the eastern side behind the school was the Schoolmasters house and the Police Station near Calder Street Junior Secondary School. Also ASDA warehouses. On the eastern side there were shops, Health Institute as well as a Hospital for Infectious Diseases. These properties are explored fully in other Blantyre Project books.
However, it is perhaps the homes and number of families that lived in Victoria Street that defined it as a popular place. Alongside the schoolmasters house and Victoria Place (tenement houses for miners nicknamed ‘the Honeymoon’ behind Stonefield Parish School), there were privately built stone homes and huge expansive council estates built in the mid 1920’s.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017