Visiting Shuttle Row, 1913 (Part 2 of 3)

Continuing this story from yesterday….

In 1913, the Rev Thomas Hannan visited Blantyre to Shuttle Row to celebrate the anniversary of David Livingstones birth. What followed was a great description of Shuttle Row, The Village and life in Blantyre at the time, long before the building became a museum. Photographed is the Village School described in this part below, giving a good idea of what the minister was looking at.

“Not far this site, bat nearer to the river, remains the school-house institute in which Livingstone lectured to his fellow villagers in 1857, when he was already famous and visited his native place after he had been lionised all over England to satiety. It was a great event for Blantyre and a descendant of one of those who were present has received the tradition of the excitement of the occasion. Mr. James Hannan, the managing partner of the mill in which Livingstone had worked, occupied the chair, and the lecture of the traveller was distinguished not only by the story which he related of his wonderful adventures but by the Christian tone of the words which he spoke on the relation of employer and employed.

The building is still useful, but it looks somewhat dilapidated. When its harling was fresh and had received its annual coal of whitewash it must have been gay and attractive amid buildings harled like it, with the view of trim whitewashed cottages near it, and with fresh country faces around it. But the harling is now off most the buildings in large patches here and there, and the whitewash is not white! There were no fresh country faces there the day of visit, although there were many faces which might have been fresh if they had been washed; but the general impression was squalid in the extreme.

It was a dull day, but it did not rain, and there was pleasant wind, not cold for the time of the year. It was not the weather which made impression, it was the reality. This was a dead village! From the river close to this schoohouse, I looked north to the site of the mills.

The site is there, but the mills have gone: and that one reason is why it is a dead village which one sees. The weir which dammed the river to provide the power—that is still there, a mournful reminder of cheerful activity which has ceased. I have a picture of the mills—a long range of five-storeyed buildings in which I can count thirty-five windows on one storey without exhausting the number. Behind it, in the picture stands the house which Livingstone is said to have been born in, the top storey visible and looking as it does today, with the window of the little home clearly visible. As I stand high on the river bank the old village and look down the river to the site of the mills, I see here and there on the site a few feet of wall still standing. and I am told that the old entrance gateway and the gate-house are there yet. But it is desolation. The mill lade is visible, and possibly its power is still used—I did not ask.

Continued on final part tomorrow….

1890s Blantyre Works Schoolhouse & Chapel (PV collection)

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