Blantyre’s Filthy Streets (Part 1 of 2)

In Autumn 1908, there was one discussion point in Blantyre. The nature of its filthy streets.

The matter would come up time and time again at County Council meetings. Council representative Mr John Jackson of Bardykes in particular made special reference to the dirty nature of Blantyre’s filthy streets, rapidly become unfit for purpose.

Blantyre at that time was in a deplorable state and “filthy” was scarcely strong enough to describe its condition. With no plan to solve or mend the problem, blame was now being directed at the Parish Sanitary Inspector, with Mr Jackson demanding to know what he intended to do about it. Speaking of the attention the inspector had given to other places, Mr Jackson asked, “Did he not put the saddle on the wrong horse?”

Blantyre was under the control of the County Council at the time at it was their responsibility to ensure that people lived in decent conditions, with at least some small measure of comfort and cleanliness. But quite often, things were far from this.

Glasgow Road was mentioned as not being too bad, thanks to the decent bottoming laid down for a hard surface, but it was noted that a think layer of mud often was observed, which could be resolved quite easily by more roadmen. The problem was however, away from the main thoroughfares. Half of Blantyre’s population at this time lived in streets that were not main routes and NOT under the control of the County Council, with little to no attention given to them by their private owners.

In a County Council meeting, just before Christmas 1908, a few examples were given as to how bad the streets were in Blantyre. We’re exploring some of them here over two parts, reprinted using the exact words of the time:

Forrest Street, Stonefield“In this street there are a large number of houses and throughout its length, the road is of a very uneven nature with large holes of mud and clay and pools of water here and there making it simply impossible to walk, without going over the boot tops. This road is not under the County Council and there is never any road metal or repairs put on this street.”

John Street, Stonefield “This street leads to Blantyre Railway Station and being a short cut is very much used by pedestrian traffic to and from the station and has no lamps on it. Whilst walking is a painful process owing to the uneven nature of the road, occasionally you pop into a rut which almost tumbles you. This road also does not claim County Council protection, and yet why not? The County Council this year (1908) built a large slaughter house near the foot of this street and the traffic to and from it is considerable and surely this fact alone should compel the Council to take over this road and put it into a decent condition. This road particularly should be a public one.”

Further Streets are explored tomorrow in final Part 2….

Pictured around this time is the entrance to Greenhall. The condition of the road may give an idea what Blantyre people were up against at the time.

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