Continuing a look at descriptions of Blantyre’s muddy, filthy streets from 1908:
The Showground, Stonefield – The conditions which are allowed to prevail here are simply deplorable and from the people in Stonefield , this is regarded as one of the centres of the broadcast of all manner of disease. It is nothing short of scandalous that these people are allowed to throw out all their refuse and filth into the open to lie there continuously. We do not blame the show people, but why shows should be allowed on this vacant piece of ground is a question which ought to get some attention from the authorities. If shows are to be allowed, why does the County Council not compel the proprietor to erect lavatories and ash pits, which are an absolute necessity not only to their well being, but to the protection of the health of the whole community.
Greenside Street, off Glasgow Road – the same state as the others. Deep, muddy holes and irregularity of surface; and a drain recently opened makes matters even worse. No road metal was ever put on it either and it is also not controlled under the County Council.
Craig Street, (once known as Slag Road) – the foot of it is a veritable mud hole and it is impossible to put your feet down on terra firma. Halfway up it is transformed into miniature lakes and you have first got to get through these. Half a dozen obstructive stobs across the road indicates that the road is a private one, but it seems , like many others to be a road that belongs to nobody. The Street has quite recently become a bone of contention by the County Authorities, the feuars, the ground Proprietor and even the Parish Council tried to get it put into decent order, but nothing has been done and so it remains , as of yore. This street, being it one of the principal roads to High Blantyre should be under the County Council and never gets a coating of road metal.
Victoria Street (once known as Clay Road) – is also from top to bottom a mess of lakes and islands and stobs across it also signify that it’s a private road and it gets no attention. However, one hopeful feature presents itself about this road and it is this. A handsome new police office is at present on course of erection in this street and it is expected that seeing the County Council are feuars, they will at once make a move to putting the road in order, at least in all likelihood they will do so, so far as their own property is concerned.
Netherfield Place (between Victoria Street and Dixon’s Rows)- this is simply a quagmire and pedestrians who are compelled to use this road are to be sympathised with, as it is simply a sea of mud. You will not put your foot down without sinking six inches. This is another place which belongs to nobody and roadmen never seen on it.
Gardner Terrace, High Blantyre – known under the non de plume of the Barracks. The entrance into this building is nothing short of disgraceful and could only be equalled by a ploughed field. This also is outwith the County Council’s jurisdiction.
This list was not exhaustive at the time (1908) and served to show just what a state many of Blantyre’s unadopted streets were in. In the months which followed, a new Cleansing District was created throughout Blantyre with an aim of keeping the whole place somewhat tidier and in better sanitary condition.
A man stands at High Blantyre cross around that time. You can see the litter in gutters, though the road surface here looks quite good, if uneven in places. The whitewashed buildings are now gone as is the horse trough behind him. Indeed, so has the subsiding water fountain. I don’t know if coal mining was to blame for the fountain sloping so quickly after being erected, but it is more likely the soft, swampy ground around it caused this, known to be the point where Blantyre’s incoming water supply arrived. You can still find many water meters and markers in this location, against the kirkyard wall today.