Opening AbbeyGreen

Saturday 2nd September 1899, saw the official opening of Abbeygreen, the Rev Burleigh’s new manse in Church Street, Blantyre.

Abbeygreen was a former large manse house built behind halls of the same name. Constructed in 1899, the name came from the ministers birth town.

When this large house was built, Glasgow Road was still developing, no homes had yet been built in Church Street. Rev Burleigh who was minister of the East Free Church (Burleigh Church) further along the road had previously lived in Coatshill Cottage but moved eastwards in Blantyre after his wife died.

On that particular Saturday, the congregation’s Sabbath scholars left the church, together with parents and teachers and headed towards the park in front of Mr Burleigh’s new home. This little park was once where the homes are now at the far end of Church Street. It was actually a fairly large field, with merry’s Rows on once side and nothing built as far as the congregational church on Craig Street.

A wide open expanse, sometimes used for speeches and children’s days out, this park was the destination of an afternoon’s enjoyment. There was a very large turnout, headed by Mr Dunlop, the Superintendent. When the park was reached, buns and milk were served out by the teachers.

The Sunday school pupils then took part in games until a late hour. During the evening, the minister invited teachers and parents into his new home, the Abbey Green Manse immediately adjacent. Mr Burleigh proudly showed them around the house and took delight in showing them the magnificent view from the drawing room, looking south to a Blantyre , generally then unbuilt upon and which had a view from the hills at Quarter spanning westwards towards Dechmont Hill. From the window also were the children playing heartily in the park.

After some hymns were sang, Mr Burleighs friends wished him every happiness in his new house and the gathering separated. Rev Burleigh is pictured around that era and my scene perhaps similar to how it may have looked from his window that day. A map from 1910, some 11 years later shows Blantyre very much built upon in that short space of time.

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