At the end of May 2019, Alex Rochead dropped by my house one weekend to hand in 2 old plans, relating to work done to the Blantyre Weir during the 19th Century!
The first dates to 1806-07, incredibly 213 years ago, before the Battle of Waterloo and just 20 years after the creation of Blantyre Works Mills. The mill dam was charted that year proposing amendments to make the dam higher. To dam more water likely meant a greater force of water through the lade, powering larger wheels or increasing productivity and efficiency of the equipment. Undertaking this important work would have made perfect sense to Henry Monteith, whom at that time owned land on both side of the River Clyde.
This early map also shows the configuration of the newly established Blantyre Mills. This was a time before the madder mill, powerloom factory or gasworks. Essentially just the Cotton Works and supportive buildings for it. It was a time before the school chapel and nearby workers village.
Just 6 years after these drawings were produced, a little baby named David Livingstone was born in Shuttle Row, one of the buildings marked on the map. The rest, as they say…. is history!
The other drawing shows cross sections drafted in 1835 and overlaid with improvements in 1849. This work appears to have been passed with permission of the Duke of Hamilton, who by then owned the land on the Bothwell side, formerly belonging to Monteith. This work was done around 1850 which saw the dam finally take the shape we all know as the weir today. The suspension bridge was constructed immediately after or possibly even started at the same time. Work also included improvements to sluices and gates.
With thanks to Alex, for this fascinating insight into Blantyre’s history.