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From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
Way back in 1599, the weekly Blantyre market was fixed to take place on a Thursday and an annual fete was to be granted on 14th October “for buying and selling of flesh, fish, oxen, sheep, meal, peas, corn, barley, linen and woollen cloth skins and all other goods, victual and merchandise.” This would serve Blantyre’s 500 population and no doubt attract others from nearby villages.
In the 20th Century, Tuesday markets were held at ground in front of Logan Street and also from 1972 on the vacant, sloping ground in front of Hastie’s Farm, where former ‘Annfield Terrace’ was once located, following the removal of the rear yard retaining walls and subsequent re-landscaping over the field.
In early November 1978, the council announced they were closing the market much to the dismay of traders and residents. The Hastie’s Farm 1970’s market was run by an English based company called “Spook Erections” and their market would open in Blantyre every Tuesday. It had a maximum capacity of 50 stalls and was a popular, lively and thriving place to do business. Traders of dozens of different types took part selling hot and cold food, clothing, vinyl records, music instruments, wool, sweets of all sorts, home made craftwork and promoting their goods and services. It was a place where you could also buy second hand goods, get your ears pierced, your hair styled, make up done, buy latest fashions and an excellent place for a good old ‘chinwag’ with traders, neighbours and friends.
Indeed, the market was doing so well and with dozens of people lined up, asking to be involved in outdoor trading that in 1978 Spook Erections applied to DOUBLE the market size to 100 stalls planning to use all the space in front of Hastie’s farm right down to Glasgow Road.
Hamilton District Council turned down the application on the basis that nowhere nearby offered good parking for the market, something incredulous to people given Glasgow Road at the time, had so many vacant plots. The decision was taken by Councilors who visited the site and had already decided amongst themselves that an extended market would not be a good thing for Blantyre as plans were already underway to create a modern shopping centre. It was believed open air trading was a thing of the past and relied upon weather for successful trading. Hastie’s Farm Market closed for good in March 1979 upon expiry of the final issued trading license.
Spook Erections who applied annually to renew market licenses, were not best pleased. From their English offices, in 1979, together with petitions from Blantyre people, they collectively voiced their protests to the Council and the market was moved briefly to space near Glasgow Road, (later Devlin Grove.)
In the 20th Century, markets tend to be confined now to fetes, events and gala days. In 2012, the Blantyre Community Committee organised a successful Christmas market, one of the largest in Lanarkshire, which has become an annual event, attracting around 70 stalls each year, the largest Blantyre certainly has ever seen.
Festive and Summer markets continue to this day although success is still very much dependent upon weather. The writer of this book is proud to be part of the little committee who brought sizeable markets back to Blantyre and in 2017 was also responsible for setting up ”Blantyre Market” online on social media, allowing local craftspeople and those offering goods and services the ability to trade to large audiences at no advertising cost.
Pictured in 2013 is the festive Blantyre market, with a grass area behind it, across the road where the old Hastie’s Market once was. Although infrequent, the market is well attended, the latest on Sunday 26th November 2017.
Victoria House Care Home
Today, situated on the corner of Victoria Street and Glasgow Road, on the former site of Hastie’s Farm, Annfield Terrace and Blantyre market is the modern Victoria House Care Home.
Whilst this building has an entrance and address at 16 Victoria Street, its large, impressive frontage facing out on to Glasgow Road makes it hard to ignore in this book and deserving of being touched upon here.
Owned by private family run company ‘RAM 217 Ltd’, the care home was built in 1996 and has 50 rooms offering care and nursing services for the elderly and disabled. Each room has en-suite facilities and living spaces are a variety of sizes. Costs are around £500-£600 per week and residents are permitted their own furniture and pets by arrangement. The care home offers ground floor accommodation and a nice garden with good wheelchair access. Maria Guarino is the person in charge and Laura McFadyen is the current manager.
The purpose brick and block built complex also had 3 generous sized lounges, a laundry and even a hair salon! All staff are carefully selected for skill, motivation and their enthusiasm. Victoria House has its own mini-bus to allow the Residents to enjoy outings around Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Loch Lomond and all the local places of interest. Outings to the adjacent Little Tea Room are frequent to the delight of all residents.
When the 59 acres of land was up for sale in Stonefield in 1851, including the farm steading and fields where the park is today, its starting price of £2,000 ended up at £2,750 due to keen competition. The buyers being the Forrest family. They may not have realized the extent of some of the issues on the land however, for much of the fields which would later become the public park, would never be built upon, poorly drained and with a burn running right through the middle.
The burn rose far to the south off Stonefield Road, near where the Bowling club is today and ran north eastwards over fields, even determining where Dixon’s Rows was built. It ran near Stonefield Farm and down to Glasgow Road, long before any tenements crossing, under the road at a low dip slightly west of where Annfield Terrace would later be built. No building would ever be built on that low dip just before the Toll Brae rose, not even to this day. North of Glasgow Road, the burn crossed the field, under the railway and to the Clyde. It may have had the nickname, “Christie’s Burn” after John Christie in the 1865 Valuation roll as nearby landowner and weaver’s agent.
In November 1962, to relieve flooding at Stonefield Road, Glasgow Road and Stonefield Public Park, a large outfall sewer was completed cross crossing through Blantyre. The sewer was dual pipeline and was of sufficient capacity to permit the capture of both sewage and stormwater from all the nearby housing estates at Stonefield Road and the surrounding district, ending up going through the Public Park and out towards the Clyde.
1930’s Council Houses
During the mid 1930’s, the County Council throughout Lanarkshire was on a huge drive to clear old, condemned or poor quality slums from towns and villages. Blantyre saw hundreds of homes demolished in the early to mid 1930’s no longer fit for purpose. These included homes at the Village, Springwells and nearby to Glasgow Road, the northern streets of Dixon’s Raws. Whole streets at Stonefield were demolished to the ground including Carfin Street, Govan Street, Miller Street and Burnside Street. Of course this created a huge demand for new housing and the council took the opportunity to ensure homes were well built, spacious and with indoor toilets.
When Messers Andrew Wright & Sons commenced construction of the new council homes 1935, the council already had a list of people who would accommodate them. The houses were ready in Springtime 1936, the first tenants moving in then, given addresses 223a, 223b and 223c Glasgow Rd.
Constructed in three large double storey blocks, homes were built of brick with slate roofs. The houses are stepped and terraced with front doors facing out to the A724 (Glasgow Road) offering access to each of 24 properties. They are constructed well and have accommodated hundreds of families, including generations of the same for over 80 years. None of these families ever saw trams going by their windows, for trams had ceased running by the time these homes were constructed. These are homes for “a modern age.”
The Toll Brae
From the start of the Council houses, directly opposite the public park entrance was the lower end of the “Toll Brae”. This was a local name from the 19th Century for a short part of Glasgow Road for about hundred yards before the old Blantyre Cotton Works Toll Point (not to be confused with Monteith’s Cotton mills). The toll building was not at the park entrance, but formerly sat at the corner of what would become Station Road. It would tax horses and carts upon passing that building, a prime spot for tax collection given the populated centre of Blantyre Works Village to the north.
The collection of tolls was made illegal shortly after this map was surveyed in 1859, by local surveyor N Fleming. In the mid 1800’s the toll collector was Blantyre man, Stephen Hunter. Rising on an incline the further west you went, this part of the road would later cause trams to slightly decelerate as the cars progressed up the hill.
The “Toll Brae” name is now largely forgotten, a throwback to old generations and seems likely to disappear from memory.
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