Some Barclays and Some Places
R. D. Gemmill January 1995
Revised January 2000 Douglas Barclay
For Jimmy, December 1994
Family History can never be much more than a loose collection of scraps: half remembered stories, tales and reminiscences from parents and grand parents who were never properly heeded when they should have been, fading photographs and more or less true traditions and legends.
Firm facts are scarce, but even a few may help build a faint trail which leads to some knowledge of previous generations, when and where they lived, and maybe a little about the kind of lives they may have had.
Places are a little easier. Streets and buildings may be long gone, or altered drastically now, but there can still be words to say what they once were like.
This collection of scraps is intended as tribute to a family man who has reached three score years and ten. May he find some of the material in it interesting, and be tolerant enough to excuse the many spaces between the fragments.
R. D. Gemmill was the brother-in-law of James R. Barclay by virtue of the fact their wives were sisters, Jan Gilchrist and Mia Gilchrist respectively.
Glasford - The spelling of the name Glasford is an area of some controversy. It is sometimes said that the (Church) Parish of Glasford should use the single "S" while the village and Civil Parish should be known by the double "S", Glassford. In his book, "Glasford - the Kirk and the Kingdom", Rev W.T. Stewart discusses briefly many variants of the name, and as he rightly says, the locals just call it "The Glessart".
In this transcription of the original text by R.D. Gemmill, all references have been standardised to the single "S" variant.
No attempt has been made to update the information in the body of the text even where firm evidence has confirmed or contradicted the details given here. Some footnotes have, however, been added. Quotations and extracts from other published works are shown in italics.
To navigate to any point, click on the appropriate link. To return to this index, click on any heading
|Hugh, 1822||John, 1847||Hugh, 1869||John, 1896||Earlier Barclays|
|Glasford 1880||Glasford - Development||Glasford 1940||Glasford 1950|
|Coal Mining in Hamilton||Emigration from Scotland|
|Glasford - Development||Glasford 1960s||Note: maps will appear in new windows||Family||Home|
James R. Barclay
Mia C. H. Gilchrist
(John) Douglas Barclay
Cameron Gilchrist Barclay
(James) Rowatt Barclay
|(2) Agnes Christie|
born (c)1822 No record of birth, probably in Beith or Beith area in 1821 or 1822 1
married 15 August 1846
to Katherine Shields
Both are recorded as being in the Parish of Beith at the time of marriage. Hugh is listed as being a weaver.
Hugh and Katherine are shown in the 1851 Census 2 as follows:
Whang Street, Beith
Hugh Barclay Head Age 29 Hand loom weaver (Cotton)
Born Beith, Ayr
Catherine (sic) Wife Age 30 Welt Winder
Born Glasgow, Lanark
John son Age 4 Born Beith, Ayr
William son Age 2 Born Beith, Ayr
Both Hugh and Catherine (Katherine) died before 1867, as is shown on their son's Marriage certificate from that year.
There is no record of Hugh's death, but Catherine's states:
On 10 May, 1886, at 9.25 p.m. at Loudoun Road, Loudoun Parish, Catherine Barclay (widow of Hugh Barclay, weaver) died aged 45; daughter of ? Shields m/s Meikle (deceased)
Cause of Death: Heart disease, 6 months, Anasarca, 2 weeks
Certified by: John Butter ford MD, MC
Informant: John Barclay (his X mark), son, present
Catherine's mother may have been a "Margaret Meikle", but there are no accurate records available from the 1820s to confirm her parents.
Hugh's illiteracy was the "norm" at that time for most workers Compulsory Elementary Education became law in Scotland 1872
1. Compulsory Civil Registration was only introduced in 1855. Before that time, Parish Records are the only source. There were over 900 Parishes in Scotland, and not all kept records before 1800. Some Session Clerks were lazy; others had weak spelling. Secessions (e.g. 1733) made others refuse to record details of Births, Marriages, etc. which referred to the Established Church. After 1783, all registrations were charged a fee of 5 pence, and this too discouraged many people from bothering.
2. Government Censuses began in 1831, and were done every 10 years. The occupants and type of each house in the country were recorded, but no other details.
born (c) 1846/1847 Whang Street Beith
married 12th July 1867
to Jane Murphy, Newmilns
The Marriage certificate reads:
On 12th July 1867 at Main Street Newmilns. After Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland
John Barclay (his X mark) (Coal Miner - bachelor) age 20 of Orchard Street Galston, son of Hugh Barclay (Muslin Weaver - deceased) and Catherine Barclay m/s Shields (deceased)
Jane Murphy (Muslin weaver - Spinster) age 18 of Main Street Newmilns, daughter of Alexander Murphy ( Agricultural Labourer - deceased) and Agnes Murphy m/s Brown
Witnesses: John Abbott and Allan Arnott
The 1871 Census shows the family living in Stonehouse:
2 Miller Street, Stonehouse
John Barclay Head Marr. Age 25 Coal miner b. Beith, Ayr
Jane Murphy Wife Marr. Age 22 b. Newmilns, Ayr
Hugh Barclay Age 1 b. Stonehouse, Lanarks.
The house in Miller Street is listed as being of one room with one or more windows
There is no record of John Barclay's place or date of death, though he was still alive in 1894 when his son Hugh married.
born 2nd December 1869
married 13th July 1894
to Jane Waddle Wardrope, Stonehouse
The Marriage Certificate reads:
On 13th July 1894 at Stonehouse. After Banns according to the Forms of the established Church Of Scotland.
Hugh Barclay (Coal Miner - bachelor) age 24 of Red Row, Dalserf, son of John Barclay (Coal Miner) and Jane Barclay m/s Murphy
Jane Wardrope (Spinster) age 23 of Queen Street , Stonehouse, daughter of James Wardrope (Tailor) and Janet Wardrope m/s McCluckie.
Officiating Minister: J. Wyper Wilson, Parish Minister
Witnesses: Alexander Brown and Alice Wardrope
Their oldest child, John, was born in 1896.
His birth certificate reads:
On 16th December, 1896 at 6 am. at King Street. Stonehouse,
John Barclay was born, son of Hugh Barclay (Coal Miner) and Jane Barclay m/s Wardrope.
Marriage of Parents: 1894, 13 July, Stonehouse
Informant: Hugh Barclay, Father.
Jane Barclay died in 1917, and Hugh remarried an Agnes Christie, though there are no details to hand about who Agnes Christie was, where or when she married Hugh Barclay. What is known however is that she too must have died before Hugh.
Jane Barclay's Death Certificate reads:
On 27th September. 1917. at Union Street. Stonehouse
Jane Barclay married to Hugh Barclay - Coal Miner) died aged 47; daughter of Jane Wardrope (sic) (Tailor - deceased) and Janet Wardrope m/s McCluckie (deceased)
Cause of Death: Chronic Uterine Inflammation, Oedema, Cardiac Failure
Certified vt: Thomas McNay, MB., CM.
Informant: Hugh Barclay, Widower.
Hugh Barclay survived until 1962. His Death Certificate reads:
On 5th December, 1962 at 6 am. at 4 Castle Drive, Holytown,
Hugh Barclay (Coal Miner - Stripper, Retired - widower of 1st Jeanie (sic) Waddle Wardrope and 2nd Agnes Christie) died ages 93; son of John Barclay (Coal Miner- deceased) and Jane Barclay m/s Murphy (deceased)
Cause of Death: Hypostatic Pneumonia; Contusion of Chest; Senility
Certified by: K. C. I. Halliday MB., Ch B
Informant: John Anderson, grandson. 5 West Avenue, Plains.
born 16th December 1896, Stonehouse
married Not listed, thought to have married in USA in 1921, possibly in State of Indiana
to Jean Wilson Rowatt - mill worker, Frew's Factory Strathaven. b. Glasford
There were three children of the marriage: Norman Hugh - born in USA 24th June 1922, James Rowatt, born Glasford 27th December 1924, and Jean 17th April 1930
John Barclay died in 1957. His Death Certificate reads:
On 5th June, 1957 at 3 am. at 22 Alston Street Glasford
John Barclay (Engine checker, Aero Engine Factory - married to Jean
Wilson Rowatt ) died aged 60; son of Hugh Barclay (Coal Miner - retired)
and Jean Barclay m/s Wardrope (deceased)
Cause of Death: Coronary Thrombosis
Certified by: A. Bancewiez:, MB., ChB.
Informant: James R. Barclay, son (present)
In the 1840s, Hugh Barclay and Catherine Shields were both working in the then thriving Cotton Trade. Like Strathaven in the same period, Beith began as a hand-loom weaving centre, linked to Paisley and Glasgow.
Spinning and weaving were found in every community - and most individual homes - from earliest times onwards. By the Middle Ages, central Scotland had developed a small textile "industry", based on hand-looms in many homes.
By the early 18th century, it was a much more commercially organised affair. From the 1730s onwards, cotton was imported in growing quantities from America to Scotland, and it replaced earlier flax-linen and muslin manufacture as the main type of textile manufacturing, though woollen goods remained important. The making of cotton thread and textiles was centred in west-Central Scotland due mainly to the damper climate, which reduced the risk of threads breaking.
Raw cotton was imported from the United States until the US Civil war of 1861-65 seriously interrupted this trade and forced manufacturers to turn, increasingly, to India as a source of cotton. In any case, by that time, improved shipping meant that Indian cotton was becoming more viable than before, and cheaper than American cotton.
While the industry was still mainly "home-based" in weavers' cottages, "merchants" in Glasgow and Paisley would distribute raw cotton through local "agents" in towns like Beith and Strathaven. These men would supply cotton to weavers and fix a contract and a price for it to be spun, then woven.
As the "Industrial Revolution" developed in Central Scotland from the 1830s onwards, more and more factories and mills took over from the older hand-loom weavers. In the 1840s, Hugh Barclay is still recorded as a "Hand loom weaver", though he my have been one of a declining number in Beith by that time. His wife is shown as a "weft winder", so she may have been employed in a local "mill", though she could simply have been one of the more specialised workers who helped hand loom weavers. (e.g. In Strathaven there was a "Beaming Shop" in the Ward, where the "beams" for Hand looms were "pre-wound" with warp and weft threads, then collected by weavers to install ready to use on their looms.)
By the 1860s, their son, John Barclay, is shown as a miner in Galston. The most likely reasons for this change are 1. the decline of hand loom weaving and weavers' wages, and 2. the rise of the Ayrshire Coalfield in the early 1860s.
Miners were paid higher wages than weavers by that time, even though their working conditions and job-security were both doubtful.
John Barclay would have worked in one of a number of small pits which were opened around Galston at that time. The biggest of these were: Gauchalland - on the SW of the town. close to the present-day Council Depot on the back road from Galston to Ayr, Goatfoot, beside the present main road from Galston to Hurlford, on the left, just outside the town, and on the Loudoun Estates between Galston and Newmilns.
Perhaps this last may be the most likely because of the fact that he married Jane Murphy from Newmilns, but there can be no certainty. The fact that she was listed as a weaver in Newmilns shows that textiles remained important in the Irvine Valley towns, though by that time - as a "Muslin weaver", she most probably worked in one of the (then) new mills. Another pointer to this is the fact that there does not seem to have been any "family tradition" of weaving (i.e. home loom weaving), as her father is listed as having been an "Agricultural Labourer".
Orchard Street was one of the longer streets of miners' houses in Galston, and John Barclay's house there would have been a "company" one at that time. More likely, he may simply have lodged in a miner's house there, since he was only 21 when he married.
The explanation for John Barclay moving from Galston to Stonehouse can now only be guessed at. The most likely reasons my include:
1. When new pits opened in the Stonehouse - Dalserf - Larkhall area in the late 1860s, wages my have been better than in Galston pits - to attract men to the area.
2. John may have had to leave Galston for other reasons - miners' jobs were notoriously uncertain, and dismissal due to employer's fancy or perhaps cutback of the workforce was common. At that time, Trade Unions were still confined almost entirely to "skilled' jobs - the London Dock Strike of 1889 was the first example of successful action by unskilled men, and only thereafter did Unions begin to admit unskilled workers, or unskilled men form new Unions.
John's son Hugh also became a miner. He is listed as living in Red Row, one of the "miners' rows" at Dalserf when he married in 1894. There were numbers of small pits in the area between Larkhall, Stonehouse, Ashgill and Dalserf at that time. The nearest to Dalserf were at Castlehill and Cornsilloch, though Hugh my have worked at other pits such as those at Swinhill, Canderside, Ashgill or even Netherburn. A reasonable guess suggests that he and his new wife must have moved to King Street in Stonehouse shortly after they married - maybe even immediately after - since their first child - John - is listed as having been born there in 1896.
This John my also have begun his working life in coal mining, just before the First World War. There are to hand no records of his having been conscripted - conscription began in 1916, when he would have been 20 - so he may perhaps have avoided this through being in a "reserved" occupation. It seems reasonable to "guesstimate" that, like so many other miners, he suffered as a consequence of the industrial unrest in the industry between 1919 and 1926.
In that period, mine-owners found that their costs of production were too high to compete with cheaper imported coal, so they tried to cut costs by reducing wages. Several Government Commissions, like the 1919 Sankey Commission tried to conserve wage levels, but nevertheless most owners reduced wages anyway, with the result that there were increasing disputes and strikes in the industry, which climaxed in the General Strike of May 1926. All strikers abandoned action after nine days, but miners stayed out for the next nine months. By that time, many pits had closed for ever, and remaining employers were reluctant to take "noted" strikers back. Large numbers of coal miners - over 50% - left the industry for one or other of these reasons at that time.
Some of this unrest may have been behind John Barclay's decision to emigrate to USA, late in 1919 or early in 1920
"The town stands high at 343 feet above sea level, 1 mile SE of Beith
station on the Glasgow and South-Western.....
Gas-lit and well supplied with water, it is a clean and healthy-looking place, possessing a Post Office with money order, savings bank, insurance and telegraph departments; branches of the Clydesdale, Union and Commercial banks; 12 insurance companies; 2 hotels; a public library and a Town House (1817), used as a news room and for the local Courts. The Parish Church (rebuilt 1807-10) at a cost of £2,790 is a handsome edifice with a tower and 1250 sittings; and other places of worship are a Free Church (c.1846), an Evangelical union Church and two U. P. Churches
- Head Street (1784 - 849 sittings and Mitchell Street (1816 - 428 sittings)
Friday is market day, and Fairs are held on the first Friday of Jan., Feb., and Nov. .... A Sheriff small debt Court sits on the first Tuesday of February, May, August and November, and a district small debt court for Beith, Dalry and Kilwinning on the first Monday of every month.
Beith at the Revolution (1688) was merely a tiny hamlet, but rose to a considerable village with 700 inhabitants in 1759, and nearly 1500 in 1788, this growth being due to the introduction of a trade in woollen cloth about 1707, and about 1730 in linen yarn ...The manufacture of silk gauze was extensively carried on from 1777 to 1789, and at present there are a linen thread factory, a silk-printing and dyeing establishment 7 tanning and currying yards, a flax-scutching mill and 2 large cabinet and chair works, many also of the inhabitants being employed in cotton and woollen weaving for Glasgow and Paisley....."
Population: 1851 - 4012; 1881 - 3420; 1871 - 3707; 1881 - 3921
"A town and parish in the NE of Kyle district, Ayrshire. The town stands chiefly on the southern bank of the river Irvine, and on the Newmilns branch of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway, 1 mile ssw of Loudoun Castle and 5 miles E by S of Kilmarnock, under which it has a Post Office, with money order, savings bank, insurance and telegraph departments.
Its site is low, surrounding by gentle rising grounds, and overhung on the north by the woods and braes of Loudoun; and with its farming environs it presents a very pleasing appearance. A fine stone three arched bridge across the Irvine unites a Loudoun suburb to the town, which long was a mere hamlet or small village, maintained chiefly by the making of shoes for export through Kilmarnock. It acquired sudden increase of bulk and gradual expansion into a town by adoption of gauze and muslin weaving for the manufacturers of Paisley and Glasgow, and had 40 looms at work in 1792, 460 in 1826.
Weaving is still the staple industry, there now being seven muslin and blanket factories, besides a paper-millboard factory and a steam sawmill; and Galston wields a considerable local influence as the centre of an extensive coalfield and of an agricultural district. It has a station, branches of the British Linen Co. and Union banks, offices or agencies of 10 insurance companies, a stately pile of Feudal times called Lockhart's Tower, 4 hotels, a gas company, and fairs on the third Thursday of April, the first Thursday of Hum, and the last Wednesday of November.
The Parish Church, erected in 1806, has a spire and clock, and contains 1026 sittings. Other places of worship are a Free Church, an Evangelical Union Church and a U F Church, the last a handsome recent edifice in the Byzantine style; whilst in October 1882 a costly Roman Catholic Church was about to be built. Blair's Free School, an elegant massive edifice, affords education and clothing to 105 children, and Brown's Institute, built by Miss Brown of Lanfine in 1874 at a cost of over £3000, comprises reading and recreation rooms, with a library of nearly 3000 volumes."
Popn. (town): 1831 - 1891; 1851 - 2538; 1861 - 3226; 1881 - 4065
"....Mostly a growth of the last half century; it is a fine airy, thriving place; and has long been kept in a neat cleanly condition. It comprises a main street extending seven furlongs SW along the highroad from Edinburgh to Ayr, two new streets built on a specified plan, and some small lanes or subordinate parts. Its houses, 50 years ago, were mostly of one storey and generally thatched; but now, not a few are substantial, well-built and slated, two-storied structures.
The town's rapid advances, both in character and population, arose from the liberal encouragement given to feuars and builders by the late Robert Lockhart Esq., of Castlehill.
A large portion of the inhabitants are miners, weavers and tradesmen. Stonehouse has a post office, with money order, savings bank and telegraph departments, a branch of the Union Bank, 9 insurance agencies, a gas company a public library, and fairs on the last Wednesdays of May, June and November."
Popn. (of town): 1841 - 1794; 1861 - 2595; 1871 - 2623; 1881 - 2615
In 1881, 1331 of the population were males, and there were 511 houses inhabited, 31 vacant and 4 building
"Glasford, a parish in the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire, containing Glasford Station on a branch line of the Caledonian, 1 ¾ miles N by E of Strathaven, and also containing the villages of Westquarter and Chapelton.....
With an irregular outline, rudely resembling an hourglass - the utmost length of the parish from WNW to ESE is seven miles; its width varies between 2 1/2 furlongs and 2 1/2 miles; and its area is 6459 acres. of which 17 are water.
Avon Water winds 2 miles north-north eastward along the south eastern border, and Calder Water 3 3/8 miles north-north westward and north eastward along the south western and north western border. By the former stream, the surface declines to 490, and by the Calder to 680 feet above sea-level; and between them it rises to 804 feet near Glasford Station, 857 at Bents, and 853 near Craighall.
The rocks are mainly trap and carboniferous, and coal, freestone and limestone have all been worked, but the first to no great extent. The soil is variously light loam, clay and moss; and during this century a good deal of barren moorland has been reclaimed.
Just to the north of Westquarter is the site of an ancient castle; and ½ mile to the East are remains of the old church of 1633, with a tombstone bearing this epitaph: "To the memory of the very worthy Piller of the Church, Mr William Gordon of Earlston, in Galloway, shot by a party of dragoons on his way to Bothwell Bridge, 22 June 1679, aged 65, inscribed by his great-grandson. Sir John Gordon Bart., 11 June 1772."
John Struthers (1776-1853). author of "The Poor Man's Sabbath", for three and a half years was a cowherd in Glasford parish.
Mansions are: Avonholm. Craigthornhill, Crutherland, Hallhill, Muirburn and West Quarter House.
Avonholm: an estate with a mansion in Glasford Parish. Three tall upright stones are here, and have been variously regarded as Caledonian remains, as monuments of ancient noblemen, and as monuments of martyrs.
Hallhill: an estate with a mansion, in Glasford parish, Lanarkshire, 2 miles NE of Strathaven. An ancient baronial fortalice, near the site of the mansion, contained an arch so spacious that a hundred men could be arrayed beneath it; but, falling into ruin, was taken down about 1828, and then was found to contain fragments of very beautiful china with other relics.
Muirburn: a mansion in Glasford parish, on the left side of Avon Water, 2 ½ miles NE of Strathaven. Its owner, John Patrick Alston Esq., (b.1816) holds 666 acres in the shire. Valued at £1337 per annum.
Westquarter: a village In Glasford parish, 2 miles NE of Strathaven.
Westquarter House is the seat of Jn. Miller Wilson Jackson Esq., of
Hallhill (b. 1861. suc. 1865) who holds 563 acres in the shire.
This parish since 1875, has been ecclesiastically divided into Glasford and Chapelton. The stipend and communion allowance for Glasford is £306,17s; its present church, built in 1820, contains 560 sittings. Two public schools. Chapelton and Glasford, with respective accommodation for 140 and 119 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 104 and 89."
Population (of civil parish) 1801 - 953, 1831 - 1730, 1861 - 1938, 1881 - 1452.
(From an earlier source - quoted by Rev W.T. Stewart in "Glasford - the Kirk and the Kingdom")
..... the village of West Quarter in 1838 had a total of 59 "Heads of Families", of whom 31 were weavers, and 19 were "labourers" (presumably agricultural workers for the most part). The rest included one tailor, 2 "wrights" (blacksmith), a "post", a grocer, a baker, a teacher, a mason and a quarrier.
The list of farmers and landowners from the "moors of Glass ford" and the "Dales of Glasford", which covered both Glasford and Chapelton areas of the then single parish includes an "Archibald Gilchrist" of Quarry Farm.
Such evidence shows that the village at that time was a much more self-reliant place, as it would have had to be before the development of easy and reliable roads and transport. Even though the distance from Strathaven was small, most of the daily needs of people in Glasford would have been catered for locally.
Much of the (now) older part of the village would have been built by the 1830s, and streets such as Miller St and Alston St would have looked similar to their present appearance. The typical house at that time would have been the single-storey weaver's cottage, with a central passage leading from the front door on the street through to the garden at the back. (Many of the older feus in the village have quite extensive garden-space, usually "long and narrow" in shape. Garden produce would have been an important feature of the day-to-day lives of most villagers at that time). On one side of the central passage was the "weaver's shop", with an earth floor and one or more wooden looms. The weaver's family would have lived either in the other ground-floor room or - probably more commonly, since even the smaller single-storey houses would have had two families living in them - in upstairs attics. Toilets would have been shared earth or "dry privies" in the garden, which would have been cleared from time to time by local farmers, or men delegated by farmers to collect "waste materials" from such sources to use as fertiliser.
From the 1790s until the 1830s and early 1840s. Glasford weaving would have been reasonably profitable, since in these years Hand-loom weaving was still the main type of production. A consequence of this prosperity was the building of newer, larger and two-storied houses with slate roofs, like those on the NW side of Miller Street, which were constructed by a "syndicate" of local weavers. Such development helps explain the presence in the village of a mason and a quarrier, and may also have involved some at least of the men listed as Labourers.
The same term may have been used to cover more specialised workers like joiners and slaters, since there must have been such men In the village at that time, although they are nor listed separately in the survey of 1838.
Map: Glasford - Development shows the early development of the village.
There is some evidence of pre-historic settlement at Avonholm (3) and close to Hallhill (2).
Hallhill's elevated position made it a defensive site from pre-historic times to the early Middle Ages. A "castle" of the early Middle Ages would have been built (probably) by a local "important family" shortly after the Normans reached Scotland in the late 11th century. The family may have been Norman, or simply a local family which supported them and gained some land from them. The castle would have been wood then, later, stone built, but small in size.
The original village would have developed close to and related to this "castle". The earlist church(1) would probably have been built on land donated by the local "noble".
Until the late 17th century, the village would have been very small, with most people working the land around it. Thereafter, the rise of weaving would have led to a slow expansion and the redevelopment of the village, with new stone-bulit houses on what became Miller and Jackson streets and by the late 18th century, Alston Street.
Late 18th and early 19th centuries sawthe building of local "mansions" - Avonholm (A), West Quarter (WQ) and Muirburn (M) and a new church in the middle of the village. The Earliest "Parish School" was beside the church, then moved to the other side of the street (in 1815). The Inn was opposite the church and the local mill was down the hill on the Avon at Glasford Bridge.
Further building and rebuilding (mainly weavers' houses) from the 1830s to 1880s was responsible for the present layout of the village. The railway was built in the early 1860s, but the station had to be 1.5 miles west of the village on Hamilton Road.
"Council" houses were built (mostly on Larkhall Road) in the early 1930s and 1950s. Since 1960s an increasing number of new private houses have been built in "gap sites" and to replace several older weaving houses, particularly on Miller Street.
See Map: Glasford - development in appendix
"Since the publication of the previous Account in 1841 there has been no change in the boundaries or the parish of Glasford....
Entirely rural in nature and exclusively agricultural in character, this parish has not materially altered with the passage of one hundred years. It may be that within this period the quality or the natural scenery has deteriorated, for the present inclination to fell trees, so manifest among farmers, is not new to elderly inhabitants. These elderly natives recall the loveliness and grandeur of old plantations and trysting trees, and lament the cruel axe which robbed the Glasford landscape of its distinction .....
... The County Council has established (in the SE of the parish) an important water filtration Station which supplies a large part of the Clyde industrial belt, and will in time, provide all the water requirements for the new town of East Kilbride.
This high ground may be responsible for a freak storm experienced here in 1938. This violent rain storm was localised within two square miles, and brought a high degree or inconvenience to the dwellers in "The Glessart". A sewage engineer has estimated that .... such a deluge (may be) expected only once in one hundred and twenty-four years. Drainage was useless, torrents or water entered at one side of the houses and flooded out at the other. The cloudburst lasted barely two hours, but during that time culverts and bridges were washed away, and the courses of many streams changed beyond recognition. One bridge, at the confluence of the Avon and its tributary has not been restored, and the road, which served no useful purpose other than that or recreation, has been closed.
Except for two boundary rivers - the Avon Water and the Calder - there are no streams of any significance in the parish, nor are there any heights of prominence. An excellent network of roads makes transport easy to each and every house, and no one need b in isolation unless it is because of inclement weather, or due to one's own inclination. Rainfall is average; snow a menace; and sunshine moderate.
From the historical point or view the parish or Glasford is without distinction. From records it is patent that the Covenanting spirit was very strong, but the only claim to fame that can be made for these parts is that many of the people served and suffered in that noble cause ...
The Industrial Revolution made its impact upon the small communities residing within the bounds, but their reaction was that of submission and industrial extinction. The home of much hand-loom weaving, the parish has now only memories of the warp and woof, the incessant treadle, and the flying shuttle, but there is also abiding pride in the fact that the material woven in Glasford was deemed worthy to grace a royal wardrobe ...
... The inhabitants of the parish have a great deal to thank the railway company for, but ... the corruption of the name of the parish is not numbered among these blessings. When the little station, now long disused, was built, (between 1862-4) the sign writer carelessly gave his own spelling to the name. When the village of West Quarter was elevated to the dignity of possessing its own Post Office, it was found that, because of the existence of a Westquarter elsewhere, a new name would have to be given to the village - and what better than the name popularised by the ignorant railway sign-writer .....
There are about fifty farms in the entire parish, no one much beyond 100 acres in extent. The average size is some 70 acres. There are some as small as 30 acres, and some steadings contain as few as 14 acres, But these smaller holdings are rapidly disappearing as independent units " The number of farms which are not tenant-owned can be counted on one hand. The average rent for these is twenty-eight shillings an acre ...
... On the district council the parish has a representative. In the village ... there is a body known as the Community Welfare Association, which, although it has no official recognition, functions in a most efficient manner ... (and) ... has the credit for many improvements in the local scene ...
While there is a great increase in political consciousness since the end of the second World War, there is no apparent change in the attitude towards religious observance. As the writers of the previous Statistical Account lamented religious indifference, the present writer has sadly to record the same condition ..... . it could be said that one third of the people have a proper regard for the Church and for what it represents ... another third retain with the Church a tenuous connection, based rather on convention than on any profound religious convictions. The remaining third fluctuates between passive resistance and active antagonism to things religious, but will seek, inconsistently, the services of the Church whenever marriage, birth or death obliges them .....
There is little or nothing In the way of local folklore, customs or traditions indigenous to this parish, but, because of the elevation of Its village, It is common parlance to talk of Glasford people being high up in the world, and/or looking down on their neighbours. In this connection, those who are native to the parish are inordinately proud of this accident of birth, and are at pains to preserve this dubious honour for their families by marrying among themselves.
... The estate of Muirburn, recently sold piecemeal to adjoining farmers, once boasted of a magnificent mansion house. Built by the Alstons, It dominated the life of the parish for more than half a century. The Alstons had become wealthy through trade in the Orient, and it was the erroneous local belief that the source of the Alston riches would not bear freedom-loving investigation. When the house was completed some envious resident is reputed to have cursed it and foretold that "in one hundred years it would be a crow's nest". Shortly before the first World War the Alston family died out, and the estate was sold to the Lanarkshire burghs which intended to build there a sanatorium. The project was delayed until after the War and was still being contemplated when the second World war crashed in upon us. With the development of another site as a sanatorium the Muirburn project was abandoned, and the Air Ministry, looking for suitable places to test the destructive effect of new explosives, chose Muirburn House. TNT specialists ruthlessly but effectively reduced that fine house to rubble just within one hundred years from its foundation - thus fulfilling the century old prediction of doom.
... Glasford possesses an archaic structure on the site or Hallhill, which could be either a Pictish barrow or a prehistoric fort.
(The writer here confuses his terms a bit. "Picts" were confined almost entirely to the area of the Highlands and Islands - at that time, the Glasford region was part of the kingdom of the tribal group the Romans named as the "Damnonii", who occupied most of southern Strathclyde, with a capital at Dumbarton Rock. The Hallhill site may have been a burial "barrow", but it would not have been a Pictish one. It is entirely possible that the site may also have been occupied by the "prehistoric fort" of a local "Sub-chieftan" as well, since many prehistoric sites were used over long periods or time, for different purposes. Hallhill would have been a tempting 'strategic" site for either a fort or a burial place, or even both.)
Reputedly Druidical relics are to be seen on Avonhill ....
(Again, confused: "Druids were almost entirely confined to North Wales - the word has come to be (wrongly) used to cover all sorts of "holy" sites and artefacts. The Avonhill stones are probably religious remains, but not strictly "Druid")
....The manse of Glasford qualifies (as) ..... a historical monument .... The Church is identified in the twelfth century, and has continued active ever since - and so has the manse. It Is an imposing structure-almost as big as the church itself - and ideally suited to the high standards of comfort and convenience of the seventeenth century when most of it was constructed ..... on this site has always stood a clergyman's domicile, and consequently parts or the walls might be more than a thousand years old.
(There is) a unique head gable stone of the small byre at West Mains Farm. This stone has embossed upon it an open book with a subscription In Latin - Legio ut discas - ("read that you may learn") .... in 1816 the parish heritors built a new school in the village or Glasford, The old school, schoolhouse and garden, which were situated beside the old kirk yard, were abandoned and the building was sold to the proprietor of West Mains, who ... demolished it and carried the stones to his farm where he built the byre with the unique gable stone. The former site or the school and playground is now the Glasford cemetery, adjoining the consecrated ground of the old Kirk yard.
There is almost a dearth of endowments of any kind in this parish, and what there is, is of recent foundation. The Dolly-Craigie Award, instituted in 1949 to run until the capital is exhausted, is the gift of Mr T. C. Annan of Glasgow in memory of his aunt, Miss Bethia Paterson - herself a great benefactress of Glasford. This award, consisting of books to the value of five pounds ... is granted at the discretion of the minister. The Park Dux Medal. in connection with Glasford Public School ... provides an incentive ... for diligence in school work ...
It is noteworthy that one person - a lady who is the last of her line - can for over four hundred years trace unbroken succession to the farm where she resides. The name is Lawcock, and the farm is Burnside ...with her will come to an end the only heritable association with the parish which exceeds two generations ...The Alstons of Muirburn and the Williamsons of West Quarter are dead and gone, and their successors have no long-standing association with the parish.
("Heritors" were people of wealth and influence in a parish, (*) whose position entitled them to have considerable say in the affairs of the parish church. They contributed towards the stipend or the sinister, and held the final decision about the appointment of new ministers. this system was found in the "established" Church of Scotland from the Reformation until the early-aid 19th century. but it was always seen as controversial, and less than properly "democratic" by many others in most congregations. Disputes about the powers of Heritors were frequent and usually very bitter. Such disputes led to "schisms" in many parishes. with breakaway groups setting up their own "democratic" churches. (e.g. the "Congregational" churches, the "Auld Lichts" and "New Lichts" etc.). The same issue lay behind the final - and greatest - split, when over a third of all Kirk ministers walked out of the 1843 General Assembly in Edinburgh to set up non-heritor independent Churches. this was later called the "Disruption", and locally, led to the establishment of the Rankin Church in Strathaven.)
(*) In "Glasford - the Kirk and the Kingdom", Rev W.T. Stewart lists
25 Heritors in Glasford Parish for 1735. Apart from the Factor for the Earl of Eglinton, a Mr Montgomery, who was the Principal Heritor, almost all the others were farmers - presumably landowners, and local estate owners like "Mr Alston or Muirburn" and "John Hamilton of East Quarter".
Mention (must also be made here) of the name of Lang ... A former minister - Rev Gavin Lang - was the grandfather of the two church luminaries - the Very Rev Marshall B Lang of the Church of Scotland, ("Very" - one time Moderator) and Dr Cosmo Gordon Lang who was Primate of all England (Archbishop of Canterbury)
Population: 1891 - 1317; 1911 - 1321; 1921 - 1431; 1931 - 1177; 1951 - 1277.
From these figures certain tendencies can be inferred. 1851 was the ... climax of the home weaving industry ... before inevitable extinction was imposed upon it by the Industrial Revolution. During the succeeding fifty years many inhabitants would seek pastures and opportunities new for the development of their abilities and the employment or their skill.
(As a small rural community, Glasford and its Parish would have been badly affected by the economic problems which were found throughout such of Scotland in the 1870s and 80s. In addition to the very rapid decline of hose weaving in villages like Glasford due to mechanisation and the rise of textile factories elsewhere, there was a serious "Depression" in agriculture. The root cause of this was the start - in the 1870s - of large scale imports of (cheaper) foodstuffs from USA and the Empire. The completion of the transcontinental railways in USA by the late 1860s meant that wheat (etc.) could be grown in the Midwest, transported to UK and STILL be cheaper than home-produced equivalents. This forced UK prices down, but at the same time farm labourers wages were beginning to rise, and land rents were also increasing. Many tenant farmers and farm workers could not cope, and left the land for industrial cities like Glasgow, or to emigrate. In turn, the growing labour shortage forced wages higher still.
Another factor was the rapid development in the later 1870s of effective refrigeration in ships. which allowed cheaper beef etc. to be imported to UK, mainly from Australia and New Zealand - this meant similar difficulties for beef farmers. Over the same period, there was a growing amount of "mechanisation" - on the better-off farms at least - and this too played a part in the depression, by cutting the workforce and threatening job security.
At the same time, British Industry was also beginning to experience the first serious effects of rivalry from Germany and USA. In both these countries, methods and technology were more "modern", and so more efficient. Britain began to lose more of its previous markets, even as early as the 1870s and 80s, though the colonies "cushioned" the worst effects of this until after the 1st World War. There was a great deal of "Industrial Complacency" throughout British Industry from the 1880s on - e.g. it took UK decades to change old production methods, which had been successful enough in the past, to the newer "production line" technology found in USA and Germany. This meant that British productivity and costs were at a growing disadvantage. Factories and workplaces in many parts or the country became increasingly "out of date" and their products too expensive. As a result, few of them were able to expand much after the 1880s, and there was insufficient "diversification" by UK Industry into "new" areas like electrics, chemicals and automobiles. The main result of this stagnation was a rising amount of unemployment in UK, which "peaked" in the period from 1895-1912, and became even worse in the early 1920s when the "war industries" ended and large numbers of demobilised men flooded the labour market. During both these periods, emigration, particularly to USA, was very high, especially from Scotland.
An example of this pattern is the coal industry. Old, labour-intensive methods and too many too small "local" pits meant that long before 1914 British coal was more expensive than that produced in Europe. UK governments - still largely tied to wealthier classes and land (coal) owners - protected UK prices by imposing import taxes to keep foreign coal out. In the early 1920s. the cost of doing this was too high for the UK economy after the huge costs of the War. When protection was reduced, coal owners were threatened by cheaper imported coal, so they tried to cut costs by reducing wages - the only thing they COULD do - and this triggered the long years of disputes, which culminated in the 1926 General Strike.)
To an increasing extent this parish is becoming attractive to retired people and holidaymakers, and more and more houses are being bought by these types of dwellers. Were it not for this trend, the population would decline at a faster rate, because there is no economic reason for the young to remain within the bounds. What has been the temporary saving of a large number of the inhabitants has been the opening of a few factories in the town of Strathaven ... offering employment within reach to those who would otherwise have had to leave the village ...
By and large the communities of Glasford and Chapelton are without opportunity for their inhabitants, and ... .their populations will continue to decrease until the villages become ... merely centres for retired people and a few families who will cater for holidaymakers. ... This situation was so clearly foreseen by the authorities prior to 1939 that the official policy was to suppress Chapelton entirely, rather than go to the expense of installing sewerage and electric power. But the housing shortage defeated this plan, and the life of Chapelton has been spared for a slower form of extinction.
... The railway (performed) a reviving influence until the advent of the passenger bus, roughly twenty-five years ago: because of the unfortunate situation of the station, the railway had to yield its place and function to the ubiquitous motor vehicle. Since then roads have wonderfully improved, and there are regular transport services to suit all. The railway is now but a memory, and except for an occasional goods wagon the station serves no purpose but remains a mute and vanquished memorial ... ..
(The Hamilton - Glasford - Strathaven line closed for passengers on 9th September 1945)
Even the outlying farms now have the county water laid on, making obsolete springs and hand and wind pumps, and bringing a greater degree of leisure and ease of work to the farming population. Electricity too ... can for the most part, be installed wherever desired. There is no gas undertaking in the parish ... Sewerage is adequate where it has been installed. The village of Chapelton still lacks both electricity and sewerage. but it is the policy of the county council to remedy these lacks as soon as possible. Glasford is well supplied with these amenities, but as far as sewerage capacity is concerned, the limit has been reached, and consequently all further building is at an end. ... Glasford streets are well lit at nights, and even the parish church clock carries its halo of light.
There are primary schools in both Glasford and Chapelton, where education is provided up to the age of twelve. Each of these schools has a staff of three teachers, and the number of children in each fluctuates around one hundred ... ..
With the Government compulsorily supervising health, most local efforts in this direction have come to an end. But the local nursing association, which provided a nurse and paid her, still functions, though in a perfunctory and nominal fashion. It is now merely the agent of the Health Service, paying the nurse and existing solely for the purpose of being able to choose a servant who is acceptable to the populace ... ..
Youth organisations exist in the parish for both sexes. Those for boys - the Boys' Brigade (16), and the Life Boys (18) - are under the direct auspices of the church. Those for girls - the Guides and Brownies - are independent, but are closely allied to the congregation of Sandford.
(During the 1920s and 1930s young people of the village seem to have had closer links to Glasford than in more recent times. Financial constraints, absence of TV (and to some extent even radio at that time), and comparatively limited transport may all have been reasons for this. The Church tried to provide more in the way of organised activities for young people. Rev Robert Daly (1918 - 1925) and Rev. Thomas Connelly (1925-47' tried to widen the church's social involvement through such things as a Young Worshipper's League (1924), the Boy's Brigade (1939) and a Life Boy team. Men like John and James Harkness, John Laurie, William Cadzow and Archibald Fallow were all involved as officers. In the 1920s several other organisations were set up, including a Man's Club, a Mothers' Union and a branch of the Girls Guildry. A Young Man's Guild began in 1933. followed ten years later by a Girl Guide Company.
Sunday School outings, Guild trips and annual Fetes were popular annual highlights, as was the Christmas Parry and "Yuletide Festival", though it was not until 1935 that Mr John Barclay served as the first ever "Santa Claus" at the party, and even in the late 1940s the minister's wife vetoed dancing as a feature or the Annual Womens' Guild dinner. For all its good intentions, there seem still to have been limits as to how far the Church was prepared to "relax" in terms or social activities. even as late as the 1940s.
The Second World War and the declining population of younger people which followed it helped to end many of these village activities by the early 1950s, and Rev. Macdonald's Report is quick to lament their decline in the face of what he saw as the unwelcome attractions of the cinema and what he called "local Dance halls".)
The main agency for women is in connection with the church - the Women's Guild. It is very strong and enthusiastically attended (60 members) ... Women's Rural Institutes are also to be found in the villages. They are quite popular, but their appeal is purely secular. The Glasford WRI has a membership of 40 ...
The purpose of the Parent - Teachers' Association is to familiarise parents with the workings of the school. this association is a credit to the School Master - Mr J.S. Allan, M.A. - a tireless but unacknowledged benefactor of the village.
There is a junior amateur football team carrying the name of the parish, but few of its members belong to Glasford. Perhaps this is why any degree of success constantly eludes it.
Lodge Avon of the Masonic Order, enthusiastic and constantly expanding, attracts members and friends from as far away as Glasgow, yet it keeps its village character.
The Church in Glasford has 239 on the roll .. the only denomination coexisting is the Plymouth Brethren, who, though small in numbers, are diligent and sincere in the practice of their religion.
(Perhaps here a case of "damming with faint praise")
The average parish dweller is a keen horticulturist. Glasford Horticultural Society is a very exclusive and capable body, with a long history and splendid tradition. The excellence of the Glasford products in this connection are (Sic) renowned throughout the county, and the flower show attracts visitors and critics from far and near. There is no other organised activity of this character within the parish, but there are individuals who still keep homing pigeons, and recall the days when Glasford ranked high in this specialised form of sport.
(Curiously, there is no mention of the Gala - presumably it had been suspended during the War years, and had not yet been restored)1
... A Community Welfare Association .. admits to membership everyone over the age of sixteen. Full executive power lodges in a committee which is elected for one year ... the WRI, Masonic Lodge, Physical Training Association, football team and Horticultural Society each appoint one of their members to serve each year on the committee. Ex officio members are the parish minister and village schoolmaster ... All service is voluntary. In its short life it has achieved outstanding results. Among its achievements are street lighting, the creation of a recreation ground for both children and adults, and improved transport services. Ever vigilant in the pursuit of its duties, this association supervises village welfare, and despite much adverse criticism and the secession of many biased members, continues to be the greatest asset the village possesses.
(Perhaps not all members were in agreement with the parish minister's views and opinions as often as he might have wished)
The number of houses in the parish must have been in the region of three hundred, including farm houses. There is no uniformity of type, except where the county council has built small colonies. It is impossible to say how many rooms are contained in this number of houses, and consequently, it would be misleading to estimate accommodation on the persons - per - room basis ...
(Surely regular parochial visits could have allowed the minister to at least attempt a guesstimate ??)
The great majority of houses in this parish once served a dual purpose. these were of one type, where living quarters were situated directly above the hand-loom weaving shop. With the decline of this industry, the ground floor has been converted into dwelling-space, which, in most cases, houses an entire family, instead of affording more accommodation to those who occupy the upstairs room. With housing conditions as they are today, in view of the smaller population, it is hard to visualise the extreme congestion of 1851, when less than half of the existing accommodation was available for living space. Other houses, obviously intended to be self contained, by ingenious outside stair arrangements, shelter no less than four families. A large proportion of the dwellings are of the single apartment category, mainly occupied by elderly people. But there are cases of young people with young families living under such conditions, and, in cases where there is a mixed family, some of the children at bedtime go elsewhere to sleep. Sanitation is adequate, but in many cases it is available on a communal basis only. There is no property in the parish without its garden, and the tenants generally put these to their fullest use.
... Landlords have not been slow ... whenever the opportunity presents itself, (to) sell their properties to desperate house seekers. Within the last twenty years, and particularly the last ten, a high percentage of the properties have changed from rented to tenant owned premises. Where houses are still rented, the rents are very moderate, but this is due to the control of the Rent Restriction Act.
There are approximately fifty local authority houses in the parish, the bulk of which are situated in the village of Glasford. They vary in type. The pre 1939 type is of brick, built in units of two or four houses, and these houses vary from three to five apartments. The post 1945 type is the inevitable "prefab". When the first of these were erected there was an influx of people from Chapelton to occupy them, but houses constructed since then have been used to alleviate the local overcrowding problem. Sewerage capacity is a limiting factor in the building development, and, until that capacity is increased, there will be no further building ....
... Because of the overriding limits of essential amenities on building, young people, who would gladly remain all their lives in these pleasant parts, are obliged to seek homes in other towns and villages ... In this way the sense of community is being affected. Also, where once everyone knew everyone else and their business, there is, because of the exploitation of the property market, a decided element of "incomers", who bring their own interests with them, and largely ignore village activities. In this way too has the parish sense of community been modified.
... There is less and less opportunity for village dwellers to find employment on the land, and on this account they have to seek work elsewhere. There was a day when a goodly proportion of Glasfordians were miners travelling to collieries not too far distant. But with seams running out and mines being closed the number of miners still in the parish can be counted on one hand.
The menfolk are of the tradesman type, and the womenfolk who go out to work are office-workers or factory girls. There is no scheme, Government or otherwise, to introduce any industrial activity to this parish, and so the daily morning exodus and evening return of the people will continue as long as the village communities remain.
The villages each have their own post office. A Co-operative branch from Strathaven is also found in each, rivalling two or three tiny little shops which sell general merchandise. In each the local joiner and the village blacksmith are the sole representatives of industry. Apart from supplying groceries and certain small hardware, the village shops are quite inadequate for the needs of the community, which must spend a large part of its income in nearby towns.
Generally speaking, the people of this parish are of the placid, unambitious type, content with their daily bread, and unconcerned for the future. It is a community of freak enthusiasms and transient interests. The twentieth century has made its impression upon this rural people by robbing them of the power to create their own diversions and amusement, and driving them to the nightly trek to the nearest cinema and dance hall ...
Except for youthful mischief which on occasions calls for a reprimand from the police, no crime of any kind has been known in these parts. The Glasfordians being a law-abiding people, the very occasional burglary or hen-house robbery is more than a "seven days' wonder", and the people have to rely on the sensational press for this variation in their unchanging mode of living. A decided restlessness is to be noticed in the young people because of lack of opportunity near their homes, and this is often expressed in their joining the Armed Forces. But in the main, the people are contented, tolerating the infrequent political or religious enthusiast and firebrand, confident in the knowledge that their ways will not alter ....
(In the early 1960s pupils from Hamilton Academy carried out a brief "Field Study" of Glasford. They produced a plan of the village to show its main streets, houses and boundaries, and wrote a brief description of the village based on a survey questionnaire. A dozen or so sixteen year olds were given three hours or so to find out as much as they could by talking to local people, and to produce the plan of the village, with accompanying sketches of the main types of housing.
This is part of their report, and shows something of their reactions to the village as it then was.)2
"Glasford ... lies at a fairly high elevation (between 650 and 700 feet above sea level). The altitude of the district, as well as producing a substantially higher annual rainfall (55") than at Hamilton, seven miles away, has also a chilling effect on temperature conditions, so shortening the growing season on the surrounding farm land.
The level nature of its upland setting on the eastern end of its parish, where the moorland ends and a descent to the vale of Clyde commences, makes the village vulnerable to wind damage at all seasons. The tree which grows in an upright position is the exception in this part of Lanarkshire, and the likelihood of snow being blown in drifts across roads is a hazard for the driver in winter.
The site of the village is a comparatively level surface without any prominent features worthy of comment. The village does have a centre at a position where four secondary roads meet. Occupying a situation on an "island" where these roads coalesce is the raised site of the old Parish church. One of the most attractive parts of the small village is along the road from the church towards Strathaven. There, a variety of 19th century houses is to be found, including a number, as at Chapelton, which were formerly the homes and workplaces of weavers. The cottages quite often possessed a loom which was located within a room on the ground floor, while on the upper floor would be the bedroom. one or two of these cottages bear dates, as does the old school3 adjacent to the church. Many of the weavers had a second occupation in the summertime. They quarried sandstone nearby, and are reputed to have built themselves, by co-operative effort, the terraced houses on the north side of Miller Street.
After a time lapse of fully fifty years, the next expansion of the village took place on the northern fringe. It is in this area that the main concentration of Council housing is to be found in a variety of ages and styles. The most recent buildings are in progress of construction. Further expansion may prove difficult due to the cost of extending sewerage.
Glasford is a village practically without services. There is the Church and an adjacent village hall (the minister lives in Hamilton), one inn, a sub-post office and a co-operative grocer's shop.4 For most domestic needs the housewife must journey to Strathaven (2 miles away), or else to Hamilton. The bus service, which loops off the main Hamilton to Strathaven road, although perhaps judged adequate for a small population, seldom has a frequency which exceeds one bus per hour, and a gap of two hours between successive vehicles occurs at certain times of day. Apart from one joiner's business, there is no means of employment found within the village."
Map: Glasford Village A map of the village in the early 1960s
In the late 1830s coal mining began around Quarter. These early pits were adit mines, since at that time deep mining technology had not been adequately developed. Similar pits were opened around Ferniegair in 1859, and by 1878 there were forty pits around Hamilton. By then, steam pumps and winding gear had been developed, so that a growing number of the Hamilton area collieries were shaft mines. In the mid 1840s the Quarter, Hamilton, Blantyre area was producing more than 10,000 tons of coal each year, and by the 1890s there were 257 collieries in the Lanarkshire coal field. The highest total of miners in the region reached 62,000 by 1920, with an annual output of just under 18 million tons.
Partly because it was one of the earliest to be developed, and partly due to the fact that most seams were around thirty feet thick (compared to forty feet in Lothians and seventy feet in the Fife coal fields), Lanarkshire mines were becoming increasingly uneconomic even before the disruption caused by the 1926 General Strike. By the time miners finally abandoned their nine month strike at the end of that year, numbers of Lanarkshire mines had been flooded, or had been declared uneconomic, and the decline of coal in the area began.
Blackband Ironstone was discovered close to the coal seams near Quarter and this led to a rapid development of iron smelting in the village. The first furnace was built in 1863-4, and by 1880 there were five furnaces, using local coal and ironstone to produce cast ingots which were then taken by rail to the foundries at Coatbridge and Clydebridge for further processing. Quarter was never big enough to justify the building of a local foundry plant. In fact, local supplies of ironstone had been mostly exhausted by the late 1880s, and the furnaces gradually closed thereafter since it was not cost efficient to bring iron ore by rail to Quarter from elsewhere then take ingots from Quarter to foundries some distance away.
The demand for coal during the First World War years meant that smaller, less efficient mines were viable, and several were in operation around Quarter at that time. The 1864 Ordnance Survey map does not show any mines between Quarter and Glasford, nor does the O. S. map of the late 1950s, but there is evidence on the ground to show that there were small mines at several points on the road between Glasford and Quarter, as at Thinacre, Knowetop and Darngaber. (In the 1884 Gazetteer "Quarter" is referred to as "Darngaber Iron Works", so these smaller mines must have been developed in the 1870s as a follow-up to the original mines closer to Quarter, and have closed as part of the economic "Depression" of the 1930s).
The Third Statistical Account description of Hamilton Parish, written in 1949-50 by Rev Fraser of the Parish Church says:
"It is safe to say that the vast majority of Hamiltonians at the beginning of the present century, and for a considerable time afterwards, lived on wages earned in the pits, or were largely dependent on the prosperity of the coal industry. All this is now past history, gradually the number of pits decreased, until by 1948 not one remained in action. Since 1950 one small pit at Quarter has been restarted, but its expectation of life is brief. There are still miners rows at Earnock and at Cadzow, but they are rapidly being evacuated, as new houses become available ... The end of the mining boom, which had lasted for about fifty years and closed about 1926, together with the lack of alternative employment, brought Hamilton in 1931 within the category known as a "distressed area". The number of miners in full employment had fallen from 5,000 in the boom period to less than 2,000. By 1948 the number had declined further to 1,462 and it is remarkable that of this total only 163 were working in the Hamilton area, while 1299 were compelled to travel out with the parish, often long distances, to find employment ..."
Emigration from Scotland in the years immediately before and after the First World War was exceptionally high. between 1900 and 1925, the number of people leaving Scotland was equal to 50% of the birth rate over the same period.
For the thirty years before 1914, there was a slow rise in wage levels for most types of employment in Scotland, but this was deceptive, and did not contradict the high levels of emigration over the same period. A great deal of employment in the country at that time was still to be found in areas of the economy which relied heavily on relatively low wage female workers - e.g. textile mills, unskilled manufacturing work and domestic service, and considerable numbers of male workers were in labouring or unskilled jobs as well.
In these years a large percentage of Scotland's jobs were therefore still in the categories of "unskilled" or "semiskilled" employment, so that although "skilled", "white collar" and "professional" wage levels did increase considerably, the rise in wages for lower types of employment was much smaller. Too many of Scotland's industries were still very "Labour intensive", relying heavily on low paid manual workers rather than face the huge cost of reinvesting in newer manufacturing techniques and equipment.
For such types of employment, job security was non existent, and the prospects for young people were less than encouraging. At the same time though, mechanisation of farming and the long-term effects of the great depression in agriculture which began back in the late 1870s meant that large numbers of young people were moving from the land into industrial towns and cities, to swell the unemployment levels.
(A further problem was that many large scale employers deliberately "faked" wage levels on any "official returns" they were required to make for the Government. For example, a wage census in 1906 showed that the average earnings of a Clydeside riveter were 47s 11d per week, when in fact most were paid no more than 36s 4d.)
At the same time, average costs of food etc. were anything up to 20% higher in Scotland than in England and Wales before 1914, so that Scottish "real wages" were lower than elsewhere in the UK.
All of these factors help explain the high pre 1914 emigration, which was encouraged still more by the relatively low cost of travelling to one of the Colonies or the USA. British Governments encouraged this in order to help populate the Colonies, while America in the 1840s, and especially after the construction of the transcontinental railways in the 1860s, offered very low travel costs and the prospect of "free land" in the Mid and Far West. Later immigrants to the USA were attracted by the apparent promise of employment and "better" wages in the new factories and industries of America's North East and Mid West / Great Lakes regions, which were expanding very rapidly from the 1890s onwards.
The First World War damaged Scotland's economy very seriously, though the full effects of this were partly concealed between 1914 and 1918 by the high employment levels in "war industries" and the relative shortage of labour caused by conscription, which began in 1916. The War also helped to force wages up: coal miners in 1916 earned an average of 13s a day compared to 7s a day in 1914, and most other jobs showed similar increases. Nevertheless, even in the war years the real economic state of the country grew increasingly serious. The war meant a major decline in Britain's trade due to loss of former markets (between 1914 and 1918 the volume of goods leaving Glasgow as exports fell by over 50%). This damaged most of the "traditional" heavy industries found in Central Scotland a great deal, and in addition, the huge cost of the war itself made it certain that there would be stringent Government spending cuts after 1918, thus ensuring that there could be little support for these declining industries or the regions where they were found.
In 1918 "war" industries were halted immediately, and, added to the rapid demobilisation of the armed forces, this quickly led to a return to high unemployment, particularly in areas like Central Scotland. For all the high sounding promises made to the relatives of Scotland's 74,000 war dead and the thousands of other men who more or less survived the war, Scotland in the early 1920s was a great deal less than a "land fit for heroes". In a material sense, Scotland in 1919-20 was in a worse condition than it had been at the beginning of the 1800s.
Post war inflation meant rapid price rises and inflation, which in turn provoked a "wages - prices spiral" and growing industrial unrest, particularly in the older traditional industries like coal, iron and steel. Cutbacks by employers to try to compete with cheaper foreign rivals led to wage reductions in a number of industries, notably coal, and a consequent pattern of recurrent strikes and stoppages which culminated in the 1926 General Strike. The same cause meant a rapid decline in the number of Scottish Iron and Steel furnaces (From 85 in the War Years to under 40 in 1921).
Neither Government nor employers were prepared to risk the huge costs involved in any effort to "revitalise" or modernise older industries, so the stagnation and decline which followed the end of the War for the key industries of Central Scotland led to serious knock-on effects for many other related industries like ship building and transport, where unemployment levels also began to rise rapidly. In turn the Scottish economy as a whole experienced a growing slump during the early 1920s so that, long before the World Depression began in 1929-30, prospects in Central Scotland were poor for most people.
"The years were dominated by the slide of the Scottish economy into depression and the concomitant growth of long term unemployment, affecting not merely the unskilled, and lasting not only a few months or a year or two, but affecting whole communities and lasting many years ... As early as 1923, unemployment in Scotland stood at 14.3%, compared to 11.6% for the UK as a whole, and at the bottom of the slump, 1931-3, more than a quarter of the workforce in Scotland was out of a job ... The demoralisation of the Scottish workforce in the inter-war years was enormous ..."
(TC Smout: "A Century of the Scottish People 1830 - 1950", Fontana, pp114-115.)
and as a result,
"Between 1921 and 1931 ... skilled workers were drifting away from every branch of heavy industry, the decreases ranging from 18.7% in coal mining to 37.1% in ship building ... Only (a little) lass severe were the sufferings in textiles ... "
(R Rait and GS Pryde: "Scotland", Benn Ltd., page 211)
The poet Edwin Muir wrote of unemployment in the Lanarkshire area in the later 1920s, (what he called a "desolate urban landscape") where
"The weather had been good for several weeks, and all the men I saw were tanned and brown as if they had just come back from their summer holidays. They were standing in their usual groups, or walking by twos and threes, slowly, for one felt as one looked at them that the world had not a single message to send them on, and that for them to hasten their steps would have meant a sort of madness. Perhaps at some time the mirage of work glimmered at the extreme horizon of their minds but one could see by looking at them that they were no longer deceived by such false pictures."
(Edwin Muir: "Scottish Journey", quoted Smout page 115)
By that time, many young people from Lanarkshire and other depressed areas had left for America. There, large numbers found their way to the industrial regions of the North East and Mid West. The latter centred on the coal, steel and engineering cities near the southern shores of Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan. States like Indiana and cities like Chicago, Gary and Detroit were "booming" in the early 1920s, as the USA went through a huge expansion in consumer spending.
In contrast to European nations, the USA was much less economically damaged by the World War. Many of its (then) "newer" industries like chemicals and automobiles were expanding very quickly, and the "assembly-line" methods in such companies as Ford at Detroit meant both low-cost production and a continuing demand for minimally skilled workers. Wage levels were not particularly high, there were almost no "Labour Laws" to protect workers, and Trade Unions were largely powerless, but prospects nevertheless appeared better than those back in Britain, so that many Scots were attracted, even if they would find very few gold-paved streets in the towns and cities of Indiana or any other State.
The USA made no serious attempts to limit immigration until well into the 20th Century, when the "quota" system - a fixed number of immigrants per year from each country - was introduced. By the 1910s and the 1920s however, immigrants were supposed to have some kind of US "sponsor" behind them, following a Contract Labour Law passed in 1895, which prohibited the signing of foreigners to contract jobs, unless such jobs were "professional" or "skilled". In practice, this law was almost impossible to enforce, since many US employers were keen to get as cheap a source of unskilled workers as possible, and found ways round it.
Scots immigrants, for example, would have to have some kind of written proof that an "American Citizen" was prepared to receive them, that some kind of employment had been arranged for them by this sponsor, and that they had at least some idea of travel arrangement from New York to wherever the sponsor lived. In almost every case, the sponsor would be a relative or (claimed) close acquaintance. At least Scots immigrants did not have quite as much of a language problem as many other immigrants.
In the 20 years before 1914, more than 14 million Europeans emigrated to the USA. During the 1890s, competition among rival steamship companies had cut fares to America from Britain down to just over $10, and even in the 1920s the price of a "steerage" ticket was still very cheap. Apart from the ticket, emigrants needed only an exit paper from their original country (or a passport from Britain) and enough cash to prevent them becoming dependent on the State when they reached the USA. (Even in 1912, this needed to be only $25). Passage from Britain took anything from 8 days to two weeks, depending on the ship.
Ships' captains were legally required to note any obvious cases of infectious disease among immigrant passengers and report them to the immigration Authorities. Even in the early 20th Century, cases of yellow fever and leprosy were not all that uncommon among the very poorest passengers from some European countries. Such people were quarantined immediately they landed, then returned to their home countries.
Almost all immigrants arrived at New York. Since 1892, Ellis Island - the "Isle of Tears" - was where the immigrant clearing station was located. Immigrants were given number-tags before they left the ship, and once ashore were divided into language and nationality groups. In turn these groups were divided into smaller groups of about 30 people to move in single file through a maze of corridors and a series of inspections. The first medical check involved a doctor looking at hands, hair and faces, then if necessary chalking a letter on the immigrant's back; "H" for suspected heart condition, "F" for facial rash, "L" for any suspected deficiency disease like rickets, and worst of all a circle with a cross in the middle, which branded the individual as "Feeble-minded".
After a second, more detailed medical check, immigrants - usually about 80% of the original arrivals - moved on to the Immigration Inspectors, with interpreters beside them. There, the immigrant would be briefly interrogated in a series of questions about how their passage had been paid for, how many dependent relatives they had, whether they had ever been in prison, whether they were literate, and if there was any kind of job waiting for them. Finally, the immigrants names would be checked against the ships' passenger lists, and landing cards issued. Then they would need to exchange any currency they still had for US Dollars at one of the many currency booths before finally crossing to New York proper.
In time, "immigrants" who stayed could become "American Citizens" after naturalisation papers had been filed and a series of simple questions about the US government system had been correctly answered before a judge, who then administered the Oath of Citizenship. Not all Scots who reached America did stay however. Sometimes for personal reasons, and more often because the promised land held much less promise than had been expected, sizeable numbers eventually returned to Scotland, where prospects might be worse, but at least there was the comfort of familiarity.
2 R. D. Gemmill was principal teacher of Modern Studies at Hamilton Academy (which later became Hamilton Grammar School)
3 Presently used as a meeting place by the Evangelical Church
4 This is not actually correct as there were at least two other grocers in the village at this time