Many people have been left wondering why Stonefield Public Park was changed in name to McAnulty Park in Blantyre. It was of course renamed in honour of Andra McAnulty, champion of the miners and member of Blantyre Parish Council. The adjustment to name was difficult for residents, including myself. I still call the park Stonefield Park, (and always will), but I do recognise the achievements of Andra and why his name was picked for this park. He set motions often to create public parks in Blantyre, many of which weren’t always successful, believing strongly in recreation, where other Board members thought it an unnecessary expense. Let’s explore that for a moment here and hopefully, regardless of what we now call the park, we’ll be left with a new found appreciation of his valiant efforts.
On Thursday 4th May 1905, Blantyre Parish Council met, with Neil Douglas presiding. This was a meeting about forming Public Parks in Blantyre, a fairly new concept for the Board. A Special Recreation Ground Committee had already been formed and they were invited to submit their reports, which essentially was around the negotiations they had already had with landowners.
J Clark Forrest’s Trustees had offered a field in Stonefield for £2, 10s per acre, whilst Mr Jackson of Croftfoot had offered his field at High Blantyre for £24. The cost of fitting up these two fields with maypoles, swings and play equipment was determined as £459 (about £60,000 in todays money)
Mr. McAnulty moved that the Board should accept this proposal and reminded everybody the Committee had done their job and the Board were not free to vote on the findings. He reminded everybody that he had raised the need for parks years ago and back then everybody had felt the whole thing unwarranted. Times had changed. Glasgow was getting many new parks. Why should Blantyre not?
Andra went on to say he believed the ratepayers would have no problem in committing to a park for their families. He pressed for the report to be accepted. Mr Davidson seconded.
However, there was opposition from the rest of the Board. They thought the cost too severe. They did not see any great cry for public parks and felt this motion was simply trying to keep up with wealthier Parishes like Bothwell. As each Board member took their turn to speak, they were all reminded of a downturn in trade, the threat of colliery closures and general poor wellbeing. Andra spoke up that this in itself was the very reason parks were needed!
Mr McAnulty, being part of the Recreation committee pressed again for a decision and asked for a vote. The outcome, 8 against to 2 for. The motion was declined and shelved and at least for that era, Blantyre was denied its parks yet again.
Stonefield Public Park is pictured in 1985, some 37 years ago.