Taylor Ancestry, Dyeworks & Guild Hall

David Turner messaged, “Hi. I have been looking into my family tree and I have come across some family members who, on the 1841 census, are listed as living at “Blantyre Works Dye Works Or Guild Hall” (this is the exact wording on the census). Are you aware of where this may be?

The names are Silas Taylor (born in Ireland in about 1803), he is listed as a labourer, his wife is Margaret Martin (born about 1807). They have 4 children, including Thomas Taylor born in Blantyre in 1849. Also at the same address is Ann McKinnon (born 1781 in Scotland). I know that in 1861 Silas Taylor was at Old Dalmarnock Road, Glasgow but in 1841 (and in 1849) they must have lived in Blantyre. I would be most grateful if you could let me know if the Blantyre Dye Works might be somewhere families might have lived and if there are any traces of these premises visible today?”

I was able to reply with. “Hi David. I don’t see Silas in the 1851 census in Blantyre so he may have moved away by 1850. I’ve not encountered people actually living at the Blantyre Dye Works before, which may have been unusual circumstance, given the dye works was located beside a workers village of hundreds of homes. It may be that Silas had an additional duty of being a watchman, caretaker or somebody employed directly at those premises to look after machinery. It may have made perfect sense for him to have been in a separate lodging within the factory.

Looking at the 1859 map, the nearest map to your enquiry, the dye works were the mill buildings nearest to the former suspension bridge, upstream of where the weir is today. There were certainly many smaller buildings in and around that area, separate from the rows of homes nearby.

I’ve not heard the expression “Guild Hall” before and it may have given over its use to something else even by the time of this map. The question arises which organisation was this guild part of? I’ll certainly keep an eye out for this entry in future. Today nothing remains of the Dye works, which is now woodland on the riverbank just beyond the Hydro Station near the weir.

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1859 Map of Blantyre Works , focusing on Dye Works area

Its a strong possibility that the Taylor family had an interest in machinery of all types.

With the name ‘Taylor’ being so uncommon in Blantyre in the mid 19th Century, Thomas Taylor, I think may have been the same man featured in this article. https://blantyreproject.com/2015/11/19/aeroplane-at-barnhill-tam-taylors-invention/ If so, he was a man greatly in advance of his times. The Blantyre man was an inventor of one of the earliest reaping machines and Blantyre readers will be proud to know that he (attempted) to make one of the First Flying Machines, a full 43 years before the successful flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903 and a story worth remembering.

Thomas also had another claim. He was the last tenant of Bardykes Mill which once stood hard against the Priory Bridge. However, even by 1880, the abandoned Mill was in ruins.

Hope this helps in some way. Paul”

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