The History of Bardykes

From the forthcoming book “Blantyre Explained” by Paul D Veverka © 2015

The Name

Bardykes is likely taken from the word “Bar”- meaning ‘low hills’ and the Gaelic Dike, Dyk, as meaning “a wall of turf or stone”. It is a fitting description for a lower part of Blantyre that would have stonewall farm fields.


The Jackson or Jacksone family were in possession of the lands of Bardykes, (or Bardykis as it was then known) officially from 25th October 1525 although other Blantyre historians have suggested it may be as far back as 1502. Incredibly, with the exception of the Miller family at Milheugh, they are the longest surviving family owning land in one place in Blantyre, occupying and owning the land at Bardykes for the best part of 400.

Owning mineral rights on their lands, some wealth was accumulated from their nearby estates at Hallside and Spittalhill. However, Their wealth was in later centuries derived from their vast tea plantations in Sri-Lanka (formerly Ceylon), conducting their business as merchants Messrs Jackson, Buchanan & Company in Glasgow. They went on to become one of the largest wholesale tea dealers in Scotland.

The Jacksons were also known to own land and properties at Greencroft and nearby at Barnhill.

Heritors and Lord Blantyre

Being such a prominent family and as heritors of Blantyre, they owed a duty to Walter Stuart of Minto, the Commendator of Blantyre when he was given ownership of much of the Parish land on 18th January 1598. The land was noted as “Bairdisdykis” as well as other established areas. In 1606, when he became Lord Blantyre, as a gesture and a departure from paying taxes, the Jackson family presented an annual red rose to Lord Blantyre instead as a reddendo.

A John Jackson died in 1707, his will showing all belongings passing to his family of the same name. By this Century the family were marrying into other large farms in the area, occupying other Blantyre farms like Park, Coatshill, Croftfoot and Old Place.

In 1745 when the highlanders of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army were returning north after the unsuccessful expedition into England to place the Prince on the British throne, many of the stragglers passed through Blantyre, just as they did when they marched south at the beginning of the ill fated journey. To prevent the highlanders from pillaging his house in search of food, the Laird of Bardykes ensured there was an ample supply of bannocks and whiskey at the gates of Bardykes House for the hungry soldiers.

In 1793 a John Jackson Junior lived at Bardykes. This gentleman died aged 98 in his home during October 1801.

On Monday 24th August 1847, crops and the entire equipment and stock at Bardykes was sold off, likely following another death of a Jackson family member. This may have signified the leasing of the farm to others. 20 Acres of Oats, 4 acres of beans, some barley, 3 acres of turnips, some potatoes, a quantity of rye grass, meadow hay, thrashing mill, gig and gig harnesses, 3 horses, 6 cows, some queys, carts, ploughs and farming utensils.

However, just 3 years later, in 1850, Bardykes was still owned by a Robert Jackson. By mid March 1853, Robert was letting his house out, placing an advert in the Glasgow Herald “To let The House at Bardykes consisting of 2 rooms and a kitchen, with Garret rooms and a good garden.” He was again letting it out in 1856, this time unfurnished, a sign the previous tenancy had been short lived. Then again in May 1857. It would appear people wishing to take tenancy certainly on this particular part of the farm at Bardykes were few and far between. This may have affected Robert’s health for he died on 22nd September 1857 at Bardykes.

Robert’s death prompted another sale of items at Bardykes Farm. On 14th November 1857, that winters day, the following items were auctioned off. 3 Horses and a foal, 12 cows and a calf, a number of young cattle, a great number of stacks wheat, oats, beans and hay. Turnips, carts, ploughs, harrows. It was noted that the crops and cattle were of a first class order. However, again we see no sale of property, the farm and outbuildings retained by the Jacksons. It didn’t sell and was carried to a second more detailed auction on 14th December 1857, this time much more heavily advertised.

That same month, the Jackson estate put the farm up for lease for another 15 years. It amounted to 70 acres and it was noted that the farm had been well tended and the fields in excellent condition. At the time of the lease 12 acres had already been sown with wheat and a further 10 acres with rye grass.

Bardykes Old Farm House

Whilst the name Bardykes relates to an area of Blantyre, it is now best associated with the large stone built detached house which is located off Callaghan Drive at Bardykes Road, not far from the west end of Glasgow Road.

Prior to the current house built, a good-sized farm steading was all that was on this land. The Valuation books for 1859 state, “A good Farm Steading. The property of Mrs. Jackson.” Whilst Mrs Jackson was then the owner, a Robert Wilson was the occupier, likely the farmer, paying an annual rent to the Jacksons.

Mrs Janet Jackson (nee Dick) died on 3rd January 1864.

Thomas and Robert Wilson who had been leasing the farm are known to have left sometime the next year, for in December 1865. The land is known to have been 84 acres, showing that further fields had been farmed on by the Wilsons. The farm was to be shown by John Jackson of Spittalhill, the Jackson family living at that larger property nearby. The advert continued to January 1866, suggesting it was leased out in 1866, which I have found out was to a Mr. John Caldwell. A Mr Thomas Nelson also lived on a small building on the farm, according to 1865 valuation roll.

At that time, the original farm was one storey, set almost in a quadrangle with one side missing (U shaped). It was accessed off a track that led in exactly where the avenue leads in to the current house. Outside, were barns and buildings, which may have doubled as farmhand accommodation. As much as the Jacksons had accumulated a fortune, the farm buildings here may not have showed that to good effect, by comparison to the other large homes in Blantyre like Auchinraith, Milheugh, Crossbasket or Caldergrove.

As you came up the entrance, a low single storey long barn was on the right, as the road opened out on to the farm courtyard. Just off the courtyard to the right was another long single storey barn. The farmhouse was on the left, forming part of the courtyard itself. Opposite it was another building, which possibly could have been 2-storey, with steps at the side, and out the back of this was a well.

On 2nd February 1871, a dealers quarrel took place on the farm when John Russell the farmer at Burnbrae was stopped by an officer of the law questioning why he was threshing wheat at Bardykes. Work was stopped as Russell explained he had bought it from Mr John Caldwell, the farmer at Bardykes. The case ended up in court and involved Allan Craig, portioner of Blantyre to resolve. Mr Caldwell was also subjected to a theft of £2 notes in Hamilton in 1872.

At this time in 1871, Mr James Jackson was noted as the owner of Bardykes Farm. It is here we see the end of references to the old farm and new references to Bardykes House appear. Indeed in 1871 census 49 year old James is living in “Bardykes Inatora House” along with his 3 brothers and sister Janet. 71-year old Janet Scott was the housekeeper of the new house.

As such, 1871, saw a fundamental change where Bardykes Farm became Bardykes House.

Continued on Part 2

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continued on part 2


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