The Population of any village or town usually relates census information and that which collates employment and housing opportunities. This has been fairly true over the centuries for Blantyre but outside influences have also taken place.
In 1755, the population was just 496 people, rising to 1,751 in 1801, 2,630 in 1821 and 2,848 in 1851. In 1821, 141 people, some 5% of the population were Roman Catholics. According to the 1871 census, the population of Blantyre was 3,472 then a huge jump to 9,760 in 1881 (6% Catholic), 17,505 in 1901, 18,154 in 1921, 17,769 in 1951, 17,735 in 1971 and peaking at 20,110 in 1981. The early population rises of the 18th and 19th Centuries are linked to employment and opportunity at Blantyre Mills and in the Coal Pits.
In 1924, the police completed their annual census of Blantyre Parish, and they were indebted to Sergeant George Logie for the following particulars. The population was returned at 18,703 of which there are 9,592 males and 9,111 females. Aliens (immigrants) number 495 and consist of: Russians 404, Italians 68, Germans 18, French 1, Austrians 4. The houses occupied number 3,483; 26 were returned empty and at the time authorities were in the course of erecting 51 making a total in all of 3,560. In the parish there were noted 26 Public Houses, 11 Licensed Grocers and 633 dogs.
Despite pits closing in the 1950’s the population remained steady, perhaps due to jobs being replaced by the creation of industrial estates. With the creation of the masses of homes at Priory Bridge, Burnbrae and Jerusalem Estates around 1970, the population had risen to a record high of 20,110 people by 1981. Strangely, the redevelopment of Glasgow Road in the late 1970’s does not seem to have impacted much, with most people rehoused.
However, just 20 years later, the population was again down by some -3,000 people. In the 29th April 2001 census it was 17,210, a startling reduction as people left to settle in nearby towns with new housing estates the likes of Drumsaggard, Stewartfield and Torhead Farm.
The decline continued post Millennium but was offset by the creation of a new large area of Blantyre named Westcraigs as people snapped up homes in this new, large desirable area. Westrcaigs in terms of its size added almost 14% of housing on to Blantyre by 2005.
On 27th March 2011, population was recorded as being stable at 17,240. So what’s going on in Blantyre now? What’s our current status? The nearest data we can use is from 2011. The 17,240 people comprised of 9,070 females (53%) and 8,170 males (47%). Just 20% of the population are aged between 0 -17 years of age and just 16% are 65+. Blantyre is most commonly populated by people of ages in 40’s and 50’s, other ages notably less. 99% of us are British. 95% of us were born in Scotland, 2% elsewhere in the UK with 3% of us EU or foreign Nationals. 98% of Blantyre is white, 1% Asian with the other 1% being mixed or other ethnic races. 40% of us are Catholics, but only 29% Church of Scotland. Indeed there are still more Catholics in Blantyre if you add all Church of Scotland, Christian (others) and Muslims together. 88 of us can speak fluent Gaelic, 48 Polish and 58 of us know how to sign language.
Population is predicted for a -0.5% fall by 2021. Blantyre, despite its new housing estates, is on a slight population slide and time will tell if unforeseen factors like new housing at Greenhall Village, Stonefield Road, Poplar Place and Victoria Street can ensure stability. Further outside influences like the the imminent construction of a new University campus, will make it interesting to see how this impacts the numbers of Blantyre residents in the coming, immediate years.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018