Redevelopment in Blantyre in 1979, did not just consider properties and shops. Recreation space was a major consideration too. Did you know plans and budget had been approved in September 1979 for a large 18 hole golf course for Blantyre on the site of the former Priory Bing!
The £1m set aside for Blantyre Golf Course was the subject however of much heated debate within Hamilton District Council. Much of the funding was coming from the Scottish Development Agency who were to prepare the former mining site, ready for the council to step in and lay a brand new 18 hole golf course, overlooking the woods, river and Bothwell Castle. It had been welcome news for many local people considering the site still contained remnants of the coal era and looked at eyesore.
The main Council objector was Conservative Councillor David Williamson stating that Blantyre had been getting preferential treatment in recent council projects, at the expense of Hamilton trailing behind! A statement other councillors furiously disagreed with, given the lack of attention Blantyre had received throughout the 60s and 70s. Appalled, Councillor George McInally stood up for Blantyre and the golf plans asking Mr Williamson where he thought exactly Blantyre was ‘romping ahead’. Councillor Williamson replied that Blantyre was to receive a sports centre, which would be larger than any facility in Hamilton. Councillor McInally angrily replied that the sports centre hadn’t even been approved yet with funding still in question. Discussion then turned to new community centres and care homes planned for Blantyre, which again Councillor McInally said put Hamilton at a disadvantage.
When Provost Charles Brownlie reminded Councillors that Hamilton alone had over 50% of the population of the district, it was clear he was siding with Councillor Williamson and opposed Blantyre receiving the new course.
Unfortunately, with battle sides drawn, other more numerous Councillors in Hamilton expressed similar concerns, and ended with objection to the course at all. However, the District Council agreed in principle that the land should be bought for some sort of development, ideally recreation and the sale went ahead at a cost of £36,000.
Blantyre did not get its course, but in Autumn 2018 Council discussion again turned to this land, which has been greenspace with adjacent playing fields for some time. Recent proposals have asked that the land should now be classed as a Local Nature Reserve, a first for Blantyre, protecting it somewhat against future building and reserving it for recreation and environment.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018
Pictured by Jim Brown in Autumn 2015 is Priory Plantation.
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