Village Fruits, 1898

On Friday 21st October 1898, Mr John Murdoch had his article published in the ‘Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald’ which told of his exploits of travelling through Lanarkshire looking for the prime spots where fruit growing was taking place. In the middle of the article, he described a brief stop at Blantyre where he discovered villagers were growing many fruits. His description takes place at Blantyre Lodge, where the current playwark would be in the grounds of the Livingstone Birthplace. It’s is a good snapshot of village life in this late Victorian time. He wrote:

“Returning to Lanarkshire, I went a few days ago to see my friend, Mr William Jolly, ex-H.M.I. S., whom I found amid becoming surroundings of trees, lawns, and other rich adornments, in Blantyre Lodge. The Lodge and its present occupants are deserving of a full-sized article to themselves when space is available. But looking out of one of the lodge windows, the eye catches sight of the house in which the gentle Neil Livingstone lived, and in which his son, DR DAVID LIVINGSTONE, WAS BORN ; and to the veritable room in which the grand missionary and peaceful explorer was born I was conducted, and to the presence of capable Miss Anderson, who so well keeps the sacred birth-place. “

He continued, “But these items are only in parenthesis. Another David was here, and made his mark, as he did at New Lanark and at Catrine. This was DAVID DALE, who saw the beneficent capabilities of the water power which flowed idly past, and who had the genius to harness it to cotton-spinning and weaving machinery, which was needed to give employment and clothing to men. Houses were built ; and, although the space was limited, and the tenements had to be placed above one another, numbers of conveniences not generally thought of by master manufacturers were provided outside, including washhouses and bleaching-greens, dustbins, and a combination church and schoolhouse. And, what I wish to notice in particular, I saw many traces of gardening, and even the remains of gooseberry, raspberry, strawberry, and other fruit-bearing plants which the philanthropic manufacturer was careful to cherish among his people. And, briefly, here, I conclude, I have found the beginning of the fruitgrowing for which Lanarkshire has such eminence in Scotland.”

Illustration: AI imagines this scene.

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