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From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road South, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018.
|Constructed: 1903||Other Names: None|
|Constructor: George Bowie||Original Address: 313 & 315 Glasgow Rd|
|House Type: Semi detached||Current Address: 341 & 343 Glasgow Rd|
Brief Summary: Built in 1903, Campsie View is a semi-detached stone villa, the first to be built in this area by the Bowie family. This was the beginning of a large, market gardening ‘empire’ in Blantyre which would still be prominent into the 3rd quarter of the 20th Century.
George Bowie and son, James Bowie were the constructors, each taking one side of the property as their own family homes. The building was named Campsie View, for obvious reasons looking across to the hills on the horizon to the north. Initially with a garage, it had large tomato houses to the rear.
The Bowie family grew their own flowers, fruit and vegetables to sell in their Blantyre shop at the Masonic Buildings. Initially with address 313 and 315, ‘Campsie View’ later after the 1930 road widening, became 341 and 343 Glasgow Road. George Bowie died in 1906 and his wife Williamson Bowie inherited the eastern home living there until her own death in 1931. Son, John Bowie then inherited that side, letting out to other family members.
James Bowie on the western side, a miner turned florist lived there until the 1930’s, before moving away to Bardykes Road to Greencroft. In 1935 he was letting his side of Campsie View out to James Mitchell, a joiner. Some of the Bowie family were still at Campsie View in the late 1960’s. A tree in the small front garden has doubled in size in the last 10 years. The original stone wall still exists today. Old postcards show this location originally had high hedges in the front gardens, perhaps to mask from nosy passengers on the 1907 expanded tram network. To the rear is the Loretta Housing in Poplar Place, built in 1989 and 1990.
George Bowie, the constructor of ‘Campsie View’ villa on Glasgow Road, was born on 10th February 1856 the 6th child of ten by parents James Bowie and Margaret Moffat of Wanlockhead. His elder brother John Bowie, born 22nd May 1846 was one of the rescuers in the Blantyre mine disaster of 1877 and indeed is the great, great grandfather of the author of this book.
This large family was not without tragedy, especially referring to his siblings. Elder brother William (b1844) died aged 25. Elder sister Agnes (b1848) died aged 24. Elder brother James died only aged 8 and even when the family had another son, naming him James too in 1860, he also died aged 8. His elder sister Mary Bowie (b1853) married William Little, whose son James (b1878) would go on in life to be a major Blantyre property owner including the Crossbasket Estate in the 1930s.
George was a leadwasher at Wanlockhead marrying Williamson Watson (b1855) on 20th July 1877. The couple lived with George’s father in Wanlockhead and sadly their two infant daughters died less than a year old. The couple came to Blantyre between 1886 and 1889 to start their own family. One of the first things he did whilst living at 5 Hall Street in Dixon’s Rows, being a miner, was to buy a lair in the Blantyre Cemetery.
By 1891, George was a coalminer living at Larkfield at Maxwell’s Land and by 1901 he had moved to Broompark Cottages. By 1903, he was working at Spittal Colliery, aged 47 and it is in that year along with son James, they built ‘Campsie View’.
George died on 15th June 1906, aged 50. George’s death certificate showed he died of dislocation of shoulder and heart failure but an inquest changed this to “Injuries received in the month of September 1905, by falling from an engine house at Spittal Colliery, Cambuslang, when stripping the slates from the roof.
His wife, Williamson, who then became the matriarch of the growing fruit and vegetable empire, outlived George until her death on 13th June 1931.
It was the children of George and Williamson, and indeed their grandchildren who opted out of a mining life and would establish the market garden, florists, fruit and vegetable business that prospered so well in the early 20th Century.
As will be seen next, Williamson also became the owner of further adjacent properties built for her large family, following the death of her husband
|Constructed: >1907<1909||Other Names: None|
|Constructor: W&J Bowie||Original Address: 317 Glasgow Rd|
|House Type: Semi detached||Current Address: 345 Glasgow Rd|
Brief Summary: ‘Daldorch’ is the eastern side of a semi-detached stone Glasgow Road residence 1.5 storeys high. (the western side being ‘Dalveen.’ Built between 1907 and 1909 by Williamson and her sister in law, Jane Bowie, it appears to have been constructed following the death of Williamson’s husband George, in 1906. Initially 317, it became 345 Glasgow Road after 1930. This house was constructed as a business opportunity to let out to the Bowie’s employees.
Daldorch looks to be named after a place in Ayrshire, perhaps once a favourite of the Bowie family? The house was initially let out to William Sillars, a gardener employed by the Bowie’s to tend to the many glass houses and expansive vegetable plots to the rear of the house. Even after Williamson Bowie’s death in the late 1920’s and as the house passed to her son John Bowie, a fruit merchant, the Sillar family continued to rent here well into the WW2 years. Mary Sillars was a schoolteacher.
The Bowie family moved soon afterwards to Greencroft at Bardykes Road, and Daldorch continued to change hands to private owners. The Bowies were well known in Blantyre. Their family business grew successfully and many members of the family were involved as gardeners, wreath manufacturers, vanmen, florists and salespeople. Today, it is one of the few villas on Glasgow Road which still has the original cast iron guttering and downpipes. The small, front garden is entirely covered in tarmac for low maintenance.
|Constructed: >1907<1909||Other Names: None|
|Constructor: W&J Bowie||Original Address: 319 Glasgow Rd|
|House Type: Semi detached||Current Address: 347 Glasgow Rd|
Brief Summary: ‘Dalveen’ is the western side of the semi-detached 1.5 storey stone residence, the other side being ‘Daldorch’. Dalveen, originally numbered 319 is now 347 Glasgow Road. The story of ownership is identical to Daldorch’s up until the 1940’s. Constructed around 1908 by Williamson and Jane Bowie, their second property around this location, it served the purpose for renting out to others. An early tenant until the late 1920’s was William Inglis, a miner.
By 1930, John Bowie a fruit merchant was the owner and lived there right up until World War Two. The large glass houses and vegetable and flower plots to the rear of the house would have kept him and the rest of the Bowie family very busy. There are stories in Blantyre of how the Bowie family would go up to the high elevated fields above Blantyre in Winter and collect moss to make wreaths and garlands.
Today, Dalveen is a private home and recognition should be given here for its well-kept garden and good maintenance. The house has green ivy climbing up the stone walls around the bay window, hedges are well trimmed with neat, white railings above the little wall at the front. Some of the Ivy has been cut back during the last decade. Altogether, it looks a beautiful place to live.
|Constructed: >1907<1909||Other Names: None|
|Constructor: Gavin Semple||Original Address: 321 Glasgow Rd|
|House Type: Semi detached||Current Address: 349 Glasgow Rd|
Brief Summary: ‘Dunedin’ and its semi-detached neighbour ‘Orwell’ have a unique appearance. The stone built villas are symmetrical with bay windows and upper dormers like their neighbours but are distinct in that the pitches above the dormers are very tall by comparison to homes nearby. As such, the villa has an individual charm.
Mr. Gavin Semple, a builder formerly of Springwell was responsible along with his brother for the building of much of Auchinraith Road at the turn of the 20th Century. His family had built many homes in Springwell in the late 19th Century and they had close ties with New Zealand giving names to their homes associated with that country like Melbourne Place and Dunedin.
Prior to WW1, sometime around 1910, Gavin bought a plot of land beside the Bowie family on Glasgow Road and constructed his property rising out the ground by 1.5 storeys. The right had side, he sold off, perhaps to partially pay for the venture. A successful and well known builder, Gavin Semple and his family occupied ‘Dunedin’ until the early 1930’s. The next owner by 1935 was Mr. William S Hamilton, a newsagent who brought up his family at this address (by then 349 Glasgow Road) for the next few decades. His daughter, Mary married there in 1948. In later years, a garage was added at the rear.
Today, the original wall and pillars enclose the small front garden, a mixture of heathers and conifers, some of which have grown rapidly these last 10 years. Aside from some minor signs of age on the ornate details on the timber dormers, the property still has a grand, old appearance. There’s no doubt that when this house was built, it was a sure sign of business success and as far removed from the abundant miner’s rows and pits as any house could be.
|Constructed: >1907<1909||Other Names: Larchmont|
|Constructor: Gavin Semple||Original Address: 323 Glasgow Rd|
|House Type: Semi detached||Current Address: 351 Glasgow Rd|
Brief Summary: The final most western villa is ‘Orwell’ at 351 Glasgow Road, which is the other semi-detached side adjoining ‘Dunedin’ to the east. A large house, extended at the back, it was built by Auchinraith builder, Gavin Semple sometime around 1910, who immediately sold this side to Grace McCallum, a widowed spirit merchant. By 1920, Grace had remarried to David Livingstone Harley, an oil blender and along with her new husband, she continued to live at ‘Orwell’ right into the 1940’s.
At some time in the mid-20th Century, the house changed name to “Larchmont”, a name still above the door today.
There’s an interesting story about the Harley family that took place in 1937. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, David Harley was the proprietor of the Clydesdale Oil Company, based at 170-174 Station Road. Initially enjoying some success, his family home had been at ‘Bythorne’ an impressive, grand house not far from Farm Road. His elderly mother still living there in the 1930s. When she became widowed, she found she had no means to support continuing to live at Bythorne and called upon David, her son to support her. The sharp, 85-year-old lady however, had been estranged from her son and when that financial support did not come as readily as she hoped, she decided to legally sue her son through courts with assistance of lawyers.
So, it came to be in 1937, eighty-five-year-old Isabella Thomason Harley stood up in court, stating she was about to be made destitute and asking for David Harley to support her with a weekly allowance of £2. By this time, David and his oil company were struggling financially and operating at a loss. However, the court, discovering entitlement of some sort, awarded his mother the sum of 15 shillings per week, to come directly from the ailing company. It was the ‘nail in the coffin’ with the Clydesdale Oil Company closing for good several years later.
Up until 1910, there was nothing on the south side of Glasgow Road for 500 yards between the villa ‘Orwell’ (today called Larchmont) and the next tenement further along to the west. A small, wall or fence separated the fields of Wheatlandhead Farm and the main Glasgow Road. From 1907 until 1930, running along this length on the main carriageway was a passing place for tramcars, known as Dunallan Loop.
The name is derived from a nearby villa on the north side of the road at this location. The tracks split at either end of this length into double tracks, allowing cars to stop, wait for other cars, or to let other cars pass by safely. The loop also acted as a tram stop, but never as an end terminus. It was part of the extended tram network built in 1907 and included a platform for alighting and disembarking.
On 15th February 1915, Mrs. Mary Watt of 14 Bardykes Road was disembarking from a tram that dark night and as she stepped on to the platform with her child, the tram pulled away too quickly, throwing her and the child to the ground sustaining bruising. In December, she successfully, with the aid of witnesses, sued the tram company for £200.
The name ‘Dunallan Loop’ however did not disappear when the tram-tracks were lifted in the early 1930’s. It survived for at least another decade as an official name for one of the bus stops.
On the morning of Saturday 20th July 1935, five persons had a miraculous escape from serious injuries in a remarkable bus accident near Dunallan Loop. A Central S.M.T. bus proceeding from Glasgow to Hamilton turned over on its side after coming into collision with a tramcar’s redundant electric standard. The bus was thrown over on its side and badly wrecked, both sets of wheels being wrenched off, while the standard was demolished. The accident happened outside a 2 storey building on the south side of Glasgow Road opposite now what is the junction of Coatshill Avenue.
The driver, Andrew McCusker, of Motherwell, was imprisoned in the wreckage of his cabin, but escaped with slight injuries. A passenger on a passing bus, Henry Connor (28), 564 Gallowgate, Glasgow, had his left leg lacerated when attempting to rescue Andrew. The conductress of the damaged bus. Miss Cathie Reid (23), Orbiston, Bellshill, suffered from severe shock. Quite understandably as our picture shows.
Fortunately the injuries to the passengers, caused mainly by broken glass, were not of serious nature, and they were able to proceed home, as were also the driver and conductress. It was little short of miracle that those travelling in the vehicle did not receive injuries of a more serious nature. Eye-witnesses stated that the ‘bus was not travelling at a quick pace and that prior to the accident the framework of the vehicle quivered visibly, the rear portion rising about foot from the ground and then toppling over.’ There were only three passengers in the bus. Miss Nancy Welsh. Craigrock Cottage, Blantyre, sustained a bruise over the eye and suffered from shock. Mrs M’Lean, 16 Braeside Avenue, Rutherglen, had injuries to arm and shoulder and shock, and Miss Jessie Kirk. 18 Park street, Cambuslang, suffered from leg and ankle injuries.
At 353 – 367 Glasgow Road in front of a contemporary bus stop are 8 modern flats, located in two identical blocks of same shape and size. A small lane, inaccessible to vehicles separates them in the middle, linking Glasgow Road pavements to Poplar Place behind.
The site they occupy was once greenfield, never previously built upon until their construction.
Brick built by private developers Loretta Housing, prior to the Millennium, the flats have secure entrances and have been modeled on the adjacent older properties Dunedin and Orwell (now Larchmont). They feature the same high pitched roofs with matching timber ornate details at the upper reaches of each ridge. Initially you had to apply via Church of Scotland or RC Church to be offered a home there.
Whilst pleasing in design, they somewhat lack the charm of the older stone villas adjacent, but are still kept tidy, well maintained and offer excellent family accommodation.
‘Walkers Buildings’ were named after constructor James Walker, who was one half of a former joinery partnership named “J&J Walker (based in Larkfield).” James Walker born in Motherwell in 1843 lived at the bottom of Stonefield Road, the neighbour of the Craig family and was a joiner by trade.
Around 1877, the year of the pit disaster, his business bought a long, narrow plot of land from nearby Mr. Jackson of Bardykes, situated in an open field, but with frontage on to the developing Glasgow Road. Situated near the Westend, ‘J&J Walker’ halved the plot for 2 different buildings and on the eastern side built 2 storey tenements, which would be named appropriately, “Walker’s Buildings”. James was married and had 6 children under 16 at the time.
The venture was to be an investment. Walker built the homes and retail space to sell outright to others. Seeing potential to maximize their sale, they subdivided Walker’s Buildings into 2 district properties, although the whole situation was adjoining and terraced. The whole block was constructed of sandstone with slated roofs. 2 storeys high, upper floors were accessed from steps at the rear, where also the washhouses and outdoor toilets were.
Walkers Building looks to have been completed in 1877 or 1878 and went on the market, the Walker family hoping to make a good return on their investment. It wasn’t long before 2 separate buyers showed interest, each acquiring outright ownership of different parts of the building.
Walkers Building – Eastern Side
At the far eastern side, 12 homes, all double storey were bought in 1878 by Adam Thomson who would remotely own and rent them out his home in Castle Douglas. This part of the building would initially have address 321 to 329 Glasgow Road, with 321 having 8 of the 12 homes!. (Following road widening in 1930, they would be re-addressed as 401 – 423 Glasgow Road.)
The first tenants were mostly miners including William McCall, William Sharp, James Gibson, John Smith, Pat McEwan and Rob Sneddon. It is noted James Walker Jnr, the son of the original constructor lived there initially too. The 12 homes would always be let out to miners and around the late 1880’s, rents of just £4 per annum were common.
Adam Thomson however died and by 1895, the 12 homes passed to his trustees, firstly to Robert McVane, of Academy Street, Castle Douglas. Robert continued to let out the property with John Sneddon of nearby Springfield Cottage, being factor of the homes as collector of rents.
Between 1920 and 1925, Robert McVane also died and a secondary trustee of Adam Thomson, namely John McLellan, also of Castle Douglas became the owner. John continued to own the property for several decades.
In 1930 upon the road being widened and allocation of new addresses, Walker’s Buildings lost their front garden space, and subsequent construction of south pavements thereafter meant the doors of these homes then opened directly out on to the Glasgow Road pavement.
There were never any businesses or shops in this particular part of Walker’s Buildings, with homes situated also on the ground floor.
By the 1940’s, Walkers Building was perhaps starting to show its age, and it is noted that during the war calls were made for its modernization. For over 6 decades it had served as homes for many families, including generations of the same family. Rents around this time varied depending on the quality of homes and ranged from £8 to £16 per annum. The end was in sight.
Walkers Buildings were bought over by the county council in the early 1950’s and subsequently demolished to make way for the council’s modern homes of Cloudhowe Terrace.
We next explore the western side of Walker’s Buildings, which certainly for the purposes of this book, we think has rather a more interesting tale to tell and one which definitely had a much more public use.
Walkers Building – Western Side
In 1878, the western part of Walker’s Building was sold outright to Bathgate teacher, John Whelan (or Wheelan). A smaller part of the overall building, it comprised of 6 houses spread over 2 storeys and 2 ground floor shops, one of which was fairly large. It was adjoining 12 homes to the east.
John Wheelan would rent out the 6 homes to miners and their families and would own this building for many decades. By 1879, tenants were found and one of the shops was being rented by Duncan MacFarlane, a grocer. The other shop was opened as a public house, “ The Cross Guns”, with license holder, Mr. William Roberts a spirit merchant occupying it. Naismith’s Business Directory of 1879, confirms the existence of the public house and the license ownership of William Roberts at that time.
This part of Walker’s Building initially had address 337-351 Glasgow Road but following road widening and new addresses in 1930, it became 425 to 441 Glasgow Road.
In 1895, the grocers was owned by Janet Paterson renting for £13 and the public house had changed license holder, explored separately next in this book. By 1905, Elizabeth Smith was the grocer and again the license holder of the neighbouring public house had changed. Two of the homes were empty that year. The public house then became known as “The Volunteer Arms.”
By 1915, James McCartney was renting the grocery business and the landlord of the pub was absent in combat during WW1. A temporary landlord ensured the continuation of business in the public house.
Between 1920 and 1925, owner John Wheelan retired but continued to let out the building in his elderly years. By 1925, grocers had temporarily become a blacksmiths shop, owned by Robert Craig (not the person who owned the Westend). By 1930 Morris Grocers occupied one shop and the pub was by then empty, later to become a hall or meeting room. An address change saw Richard B Morris’s Grocery at 427 Glasgow Road, the hall at 435/437.
Walkers Building was entirely demolished in the early 1950’s prior to 1953 after being bought over by the County Council, the site cleared to make way for new council housing at modern day Cloudhowe Terrace.
With the ‘Volunteer Arms’ Public House so little known about these days, largely forgotten by all alive, and never previously written about, it is worth exploring its rise and fall separately, something we endeavour to do in the next page of this book.
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