Calderside Row was a former single storey row of stone built, terraced homes, at Calderside, High Blantyre.
In July 1850, Mr. William Young, farmer and owner of Calderside Farm put his farm and all 177 acres of farmland up for sale. Within the advert of 19th July 1850 in the Glasgow Herald, it was noted that a valuable seam of Roman Cement runs through the whole lands, which was ‘presently being wrought by the proprietor’. William McCreath, a mineral engineer had valued it as £1,000, a vast sum in 1850. The advert asked for the attention of dealers in cement noting that a seam so valuable was a rare event. Timber Woodland was valued at £770, which would later be sold in 1854.
The advert appears to have attracted the attention of Mr. George Anderson of Springfield who bought part of the farmlands in the second half of 1850, with the purpose of setting up cement kilns and continuing extracting the minerals. To do this he needed workers, ideally nearby. It’s noted that by November 1850, Calderside Farm at a reduced area of 160 acres was still up for sale, but importantly, by that time no mention of the roman cement seam in the new advert. Those mineral rights and 17 acres of the 177 having been sold for the purposes of the kiln, extraction operations and its associated workers housing. George Anderson would go on in 1851 to negotiate a further sale for all of the remaining Calderside Farm.
Calderside Row Conditions
Calderside Row was constructed in 1851 to accommodate the workers of the nearby new ‘Calderside Cement Works’, also built that year. [Source Caledonian Mercury Newspaper 2nd September 1856]. As noted, Blantyre and Kilbride at that time shared the mineral known as ‘Roman Cement‘ and having modest homes so close to the kilns was ideal. The rateable value of the small row was around £10 per annum, the lucrative cement works over 30 times that!
The area the houses were to be built on was historically important to Blantyre, right beside the bronze age earthworks and stone mound of ‘Campknowe’, perhaps the oldest referenced antiquity in Blantyre. A site was chosen a couple of hundred yards north of Calderside Farm, directly opposite the Cement kilns at an oblique bend in the road. A track existed directly beside Calderside Row, beyond homes 1 and 2 which connected across fields to Parkneuk Road, some distance to the east.
The row consisted of a block of 6 single storey homes. Built of sandstone with a slated roof. There were single chimney’s at either gable end and 2 double chimneys spaced out within the middle of the row. Addresses were numbered from 1 in the north, to 6 in the south. The houses were built on a slightly raised, a few feet higher than the nearby road, just a few metres away. Each home had a doorway and one single window facing out on to the road and across to the cement kilns. Wooden window shutters on the west side would have screened out the late afternoon and evening sunshine.
There were originally no toilet blocks or wash facilities around in or around the homes and within no running water in the houses, all water was fetched from a nearby pump, fed by a well in front of home number 3. Vertical Downpipes for roof drainage stopped at waist height allowing fresh water to easily be collected in pails. Slop may have initially been carried to the nearby stream which fed into the Rotten Calder River. By the 1890’s, an outside toilet block had been constructed to the south of number 6.
Adjacent and adjoining to the block, to the north was a small, single storey stable, perhaps used for a couple of horses required for the works.
Even within the first decade of the cement kilns opening, a small tramway had been constructed connecting the riverside quarry to the kiln. The tramway appears to have been lifted and removed prior to 1896, likely in the 1870s or 1880s. The 1896 map marks the quarry as being ‘old.’ By the turn of the 20th Century, Calderside Row had become small family homes and not just for cement workers, the kilns themselves no longer used by 1910.
The location of Calderside Row would have offered easy access to the beautifully laid out paths, pools, grotto and woodland beyond Auchentibber at the rivers edge with commanding views across to Calderwood Castle. It would have been an attractive, exciting playground for adventures of any child!
By the late 1930’s there was little signs left of the quarry or indeed the kilns. The Waterpump outside the houses, replaced by a Water Tap or standpipe.
Owners and Occupiers
Prior to 1875, George Anderson left his cement kilns and the 6 homes to son , William Carrick Anderson. Anderson & Co still owned the kiln works which by then had a rateable value of £147, a reflection of the extent of the mineral extraction and half the value it had been 20 years earlier.
In 1885, William Carrick Anderson, (also the owner of nearby Calderside Farm) still owned the cement works and homes, and it is perhaps notable that year that 3 of them were lying empty, a reduction in workforce, no less! The kilns stopped producing between 1885 and 1895.
By 1895, William still owned Calderside Row and Farm, but was now living in Glasgow. He let out the farm to farmers Robert and Gavin Watt, and the homes at Calderside Row would be let to separate tenants too. Gavin Young, a grazier occupied one of the homes and the stable. John Thomson, a labourer occupied another as did John Downie, a joiner renting for £3 and 10 shillings per year, a modest rent for modest homes. Tenants were similar with the addition of Miss Agnes Banner by 1905. It is also telling that a few of the homes in Calderside Row, remained unoccupied in the 1890’s and first decade of the 1900’s, likely in need of modernisation and remotely some distance away from employment opportunity.
By the start of WW1, after the passing of William Anderson, new tenant Francis MacFarlane, a miner was renting the home at the north side of the row, and also renting the stable. The homes were held by trustees of William Anderson. This was the start of over 100 years of MacFarlane occupation which still exists today.
The Calderside Farm and Row passed to George Carrick Anderson and by 1925 Francis MacFarlane was in merged homes 1 & 2. Number 3 lay empty, Agnex Lennox a widow in number 4 ,Miss Agnes Banner spinster in number 5 and George Cumming, joiner in number 6.
By 1930, according to the valuation roll, Mr. George Carrick Anderson still owned houses 3 to 6 and the house at 1 and 2, which had been merged to form one house. He also owned the nearby stable. Francis and May MacFarlane were still at number 1 &2 that year. In number 3 was John Duncan, in number 4 James Marshall. Number 5 was Hugh Murchie’s rented house and number 6 Michael Murray. The MacFarlane family also lived at Calderside Road.
This charming photo once belonged to May MacFarlane but has since passed to Norma Marr who shared it here. May is pictured outside the stable at the end and her brothers Edward and Alex MacFarlane are out the front playing. Using the annotation on the back and knowing Edward Patrick MacFarlane was born in 1922 and knowing he’s one of the boys in the picture, we can date the photo as being around 1930. Further investigation work, making assumption that the little girl standing in the doorway of number 5 actually lived there has identified that final person in this photo. In 1930, a five year old girl Janet Leggat Murchie (b1925) may have visited that address, the daughter of Mary Fleming Murchie, the sister of Hugh. She is the only Murchie girl of the era in the area that fits the picture and is familiar enough to be standing in the doorway of the Murchie house.
By the 1950’s new, larger front windows had been put into the houses and the former doorway of House 2 blocked up. Proper drainage off each roof was also formed.
The Downies and MacFarlanes continued to live in this location well beyond WW2 until the demolition of the old rows in the late 1960’s. Calderside Row had existed for nearly 120 years.
Today, there are two 1970’s detached houses, one of which is a bungalow on the site of Calderside Row. The MacFarlanes still live at Calderside Cottage. Where the kilns once were, is now a modest sized scrapyard, “Calderside Auto Salvage”. Otherwise, and with exception of 3 wind turbines in the field beyond, the area is still primarily rural and quiet.
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