Appalled at recently finding out Blantyre’s boundaries had been changed, I’ve found a story that took place around the start of this carry on. The events take place after the 1975 abolishment of civil parishes and the loss of Blantyre’s long standing boundaries.
In March 1979, Strathclyde Regional Council proposed to change Blantyre’s boundaries. In particular the council wanted to remove the area of Springwells from Blantyre, and place it under the control of Hamilton East, an area well below the average voters. The council suggested that highly populated Blantyre was 11 percent above the average for an area of that size, but councillors and especially Springwells residents were having NONE of it!
The matter involved the complex splitting up of Blantyre Parish into wards. However, residents in Springwell, most definitely had no doubts about their identity and feeling an intense belonging to Blantyre, wished no part in being part of Hamilton, whether it suited the council or not.
Springwells Tenant’s Association sent a letter to the Secretary of State for Scotland adding “We are Blantyre. We always have been. We always will be.” MP Maurice Millar said that he had discussed the matter with the local branch of the Labour Party, who also opposed the idea.
Mr Millar went on to say, “Blantyre is a relatively small place and it seems ridiculous to take parts of it and put it into another community. This messing about of wards and boundaries has to stop and is making a mockery of Blantyre’s boundaries, unchanged for many centuries.”
Regional Councillor, Malcolm Waugh said, “It lies with the Secretary of State now. Churches, schools, youth organisations are all tied to Springwells. Where will this end? I have to say that High Blantyre ward is also very vulnerable, especially in the upper areas of Sydes [Brae] and Auchentibber.”
Blantyre Community Council were also appalled, collecting large petitions to send to Mr. Millan at the Scottish Office. They gained huge support to avoid the changes. A Community Council spokesperson said in 1979, “We see Blantyre as a community and don’t want to see it partitioned. The reclassification of boundaries has already caused problems in the discussions for a dedicated RC Secondary School and now this latest move to carve out Springwells has met equal opposition.”
The matter WAS considered and Springwells got to remain in Blantyre, but subsequent years saw the area of Whistleberry being lost to Hamilton as well as large portions of housing and industry in High Blantyre.
Even today, ward boundaries can chop and change on an annual basis, depending on the outcome of each review. Pictured is Burnside Crescent, Springwells slightly earlier in 1978.
Researched for the book, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018