In March 1906, reporters commented in local newspapers that there was a rather large number of houses in Blantyre which were lying empty. (A stark contrast from the housing shortages of later decades!)
It was commented at the time that there were more empty houses than any other previous year, which wasn’t great for landlords and was due to the amount of people building new homes at a great rate as Blantyre’s population expanded. There certainly were many new homes being built in 1906. Church Street, Craig Street and Auchinraith Road being good examples. Reporters queries if the builders had overdone themselves. Landlords had to reduce their rents.
There was another more obvious reason for all those empty houses, most of which weren’t in great condition. A period of depression hung over the country and the “Gold Bug” of Canada and America called to many people. Combined with unemployment, there was good reason for new starts. Emigrating from Blantyre over the Atlantic happened en masse in March 1906 and for a few weeks afterwards, the exodus continued for a time.
Illustration only: Immigrants arrive in Montreal from Britain around this era.
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I always wonder how much the so called “Land Agents” enticed people from Lanarkshire etc to go to the USA, Canada etc. These agents sold land often at inflated prices with great promises to Scots acting on commission from the land owners. I know my own farming relations went to Texas in the late 1880s with 10,000 acres in place of a 100 in the Blantyre area. The land was fairly barren scrub land with poor water supply. My grandmother recalled my great grandfather speaking of the “wide open spaces” in the prairies. Cattle rustling and land disputes mainly over water supplies were common. My grandmother who had gone to Texas as a young girl reconed most of the disputes that led to saloon shoot outs were over these two issues. Plus the cheap “red eye” whiskey. She recalled going on a sunday after church to get the cowhands out of the “pokie” . After a few “red eyes”.