A Novel Dwelling, 1907

During May 1907, a reporter for the Midland Counties Tribune ended up in Blantyre attracted to a particular story, centred around High Blantyre.

Whilst searching for things of geological and photographic interest, he stumbled upon the former Greenhall Brickworks and was stunned to see it being occupied as a house. Remarkably, one of the most essential parts of a mine, the fan chamber, was being lived in. The chamber building was situated about a quarter of a mile west of the High Blantyre Train Station according to the newspaper description.

In the early history of coal and ironstone mining in Lanarkshire, Greenhall Colliery played a most important part in supplying coal and ironstone to the ironworks of Messrs Dunlop, who ran several local mines and ironworks. Eventually the necessity for ironstone from these local mines declined, due to the great supplies of this commodity which could be economically transported from foreign fields. When this happened the gear was removed and the building cleared out.

Shortly after, some of the poorer Blantyre residents, by their own hand converted the fan chamber into their own ‘palatial residence’. The reporter noted that the present occupiers in 1907 had lived there for many years and are “off grid”, having no rent or taxes to pay. The building then was described as being quite intact with the drift leading from it towards the shaft, being suitably fenced off inside for safety.

Sadly, this building no longer exists, nor does Greenhall brickworks. The only photo I could find of an ironstone “Fan Chamber” is this one in New Zealand, which shows the fan mechanism and the housing leading to the mine shaft. The Greenhall fan chamber may have looked similar, but the Blantyre building would be larger, leading to the drift opening of the mine.

Below the Lady Nancy Bing, is this ruin, photographed by myself last year. Buried for decades until recently, the location is correct. Perhaps this was the occupied fan chamber this reporter observed all those years ago?

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