West of the Clydesdale Bank was Minto’s Land. Initially in the late 19th Century, this was just one cottage but the Minto family later in the 20th Century expanded their ownership by building tenements in front of it.
The former cottage was stone built, of single storey and sat off Glasgow Road, at the southern end of a long, rectangular plot. The Constructor and original owner was William Minto, a warehouseman who also owned other Blantyre cottages by name of Belmont, Mossgiel at 306 Glasgow Road and Castleview near Coatshill.
William Minto was born in Blantyre and lived at Castleview Cottage, Blantyre during the 1880’s. He was the son of James Minto a Blantyre coachman. Sometime between 1882 and 1884, William bought a vacant plot of land not far from the corner of Stonefield Road and built a cottage for his son Robert S Minto. He initially called it “Stonefield Cottage” and it is noted as that name in the 1885 Valuation roll situated right beside the bank, however, later in that decade, the cottage was renamed to ‘Dervoch Cottage’, perhaps due to confusion caused by another property called Stonefield Cottage further west along Glasgow Road.
In 1885, Robert S Minto, was a 28 year old watchmaker renting his father’s cottage in the district of Stonefield. Robert conducted his business in the adjacent tenement building, “Broompark Place”. Robert lived at Dervoch Cottage until the end of 1891 with his wife Annie and a teenage servant girl, Jessie Skinner.
William Francis Benham
The next tenant of Dervoch Cottage in 1893 was Mr William Francis Benham, a travelling salesman. Born in Edinburgh, William Francis (Frank) Benham arrived in Blantyre that year with wife, Lizzie Craig & 3 daughters.
His initial time in Dervoch Cottage was likely sorrowful, when the couple lost a child, William Junior in 1895. This may have prompted a move from Dervoch Cottage which they were renting from William Minto for £17 a year. The couple moved shortly after, but remained living and working in Blantyre.
William Francis Benham would go on to form his own shop nearby at 11 Stonefield Road, the family becoming well known in Stonefield. He took ownership of the Old Original Bar in 1917 for a short time, living at both Station Road then later, ‘Craigrock’ on Glasgow Road. William died in 1925.
By 1905, joiner John Hunter was renting Dervoch Cottage for £15 a year, and this tradesman was perhaps a good contact for William Minto, who constructed large, new tenement buildings at the front of the cottage around this era, the cottage losing its large front garden. The cottage was accessed via an eastern path leading down the whole length of the plot, alongside the bank.
By WW1 years, Dervoch Cottage had an address of 263 Glasgow Road and William Minto had been living at Vale View, East Finchley, in London until his death in 1918. Peter Muir, a stableman was the rented tenant in the years immediately before and after the death of William Minto. Peter Muir lived there until the early 1920’s.
Dervoch Cottage was inherited in 1918 by William Minto’s son, Martin Orme Minto, who owned the cottage, along with others in Blantyre until World War 2. Tenants changed in these intervening war years too. In 1925 William Pretsell, a general builder was renting, then James Stewart, a retired man by 1930.
Behind the cottage was Carfin Street, part of the Dixon’s Miner’s Raws and at one point there was a back entrance to the cottage from the raws. In post WW2 years the cottage passed to Michael (Mick) Devlin, a popular and well known man in the area.
However, due to the creeping age of Dervoch Cottage, it became unfit for purpose in the late 1950’s and by 1960 had become a ruin, something confirmed by 1962 maps. The building lay derelict in a partially collapsed state until the 1990’s when it was cleared to make way for modern, contemporary houses named Valerio Court.
Electric Street Lights
Electricity started to replace gas street lamps in the 1920’s throughout Blantyre. However, it wasn’t without its problems. On Saturday 28th January 1922, in the middle of Winter and long dark nights, inconvenience was caused to Blantyre residents through the failure of electric street lights. We take street lighting for granted these days and outages are very rare. However, on this dark weekend in 1922 a leakage in the cable, caused the failure of the newly installed electric lights in Glasgow Road. The main thoroughfare, got dark around 3.30pm and on a busy Saturday, locals were left fumbling along the pavements in the complete dark. However, it was the shopkeepers who felt the inconvenience. They had only just weeks before discarded their gas equipment in favour of this new technology. Light was restored to the town the next day.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017