Turnwheel, Blantyre, 1832

Going back again to John Thompson’s 1832 Atlas Map of Scotland and staying with Blantyre Parish. Here’s another old Blantyre name, no longer there anymore.

Turnwheel” was situated right at the north end of the Parish at its boundary with Cambuslang Parish and exactly where the Rotten Calder met with the River Clyde. Not far from Haughhead, the map indicates a building of unknown origin or construction, something substantial larger than nearby Haughead farm. Whilst it existed in 1832, by 1859 maps, the building was gone and by 1890’s an old quarry is shown.

Now, you may be thinking that ‘Turnwheel’ may be something to do with Mills and the proximity to the river could make that very possible, but this building sat in the field, not on the riverbank. One theory I have is that the northern narrow prominent shape of the Parish and lack of any bridge northwards where FOUR parishes met, meant that Blantyre Parish suddenly had a dead end. I believe the term “Turnwheel” was a military term for “About Turn” or “Turning on your Heel”, perhaps turning your carriage or cart around. This makes sense when you consider the roads end abruptly at the river, without then, any ability to cross. You effectively had to turn around and go back.

Further investigation also shows several places in England where rivers met, in similar era being called “Turnwheel”, notably dangerous places that have caused deaths as people tried to swim there.

Turnwheel is now forgotten. Not uttered in any census, newspaper or valuation roll for this area for over 180 years. I believe it’s demise was in the 1840s or early 1850s.

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