Our living accommodation over the years

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, ScotlandBlantyre History of Mining

Our living accommodation over the years

This is Nostalgia!

The open spaces are encumbered with washhouses, privies, etc., often out of repair, and in wet weather get churned up into a morass of semi-liquid mud, with little in the way of solidly constructed road or footpathA Mining District.
The “Miners’ Row ” of inferior class is often a dreary and featureless place, with houses, dismal in themselves, arranged in monotonous lines or in squares. The open spaces are encumbered with washhouses, privies, etc., often out of repair, and in wet weather get churned up into a morass of semi-liquid mud, with little in the way of solidly constructed road or footpath – a fact which adds greatly to the burdens of the overwrought housewife.

Many of the older houses show the faults of their class – leaky roofs, damp walls, and uneven and broken floors – the last a source of particularly bitter complaint. Some were earthen floors whilst others had stone flags and the most fortunate enjoyed hardwood flooring.

If the workers in a house were on different shifts, the task of the housewife was complicated by irregular meals and sleeping-hours. If the pit is a wet one, the miners’ soaking clothes would be left at night by the kitchen fire ; and as the kitchen is a sleeping apartment even where there are one or two other rooms, the steam and gas which was given off as the pit clothes dried were highly injurious to the children, who may be in one of the two large beds nearby.

The tin bath would be put in front of the fire In the absence of baths at the pithead or in any save the newest houses, the miner on his return must take his bath in the scullery (if there is one), or in the inevitable publicity of the kitchen. With this accumulation of difficulties to contend with, the standard of cleanliness and neatness attained in many houses (though by no means in all) is a matter for genuine surprise and admiration. In the numerous cases, however, in which water has not been introduced into the houses, but must be fetched from a standpipe at the end of the row, a high standard of cleanliness cannot be looked for.
They are a most miserable type of house, thrown together with bricks in the cheapest possible fashion, with floors consisting largely of flags laid down on the earth. They are in a district well supplied with water, but are only served by means of standpipes at long intervals along the row. There are no sculleries or sinks, consequently all the dirty water has to be emptied into an open gutter that runs along the front of each row. They are in a district well supplied with water, but are only served by means of standpipes at long intervals along the row.
 Miners Row c1840 Miners Row c1840

Of course, this row is for display purposes at Summerlee and bears no resemblance to the reality of muddy unmade roads.

 1840’s

All the cooking and water heating would be done over the fire grate.

 Miners Row c1840
 Miners Row c1840 Set in Beds Box-beds and Bed-recesses.
The use of closed-in beds was formerly widespread both in the towns and the country districts of Scotland. The old type of completely enclosed beds, usually with folding doors like a cupboard, has, in the main, disappeared from the towns, though its existence is noted in the evidence from certain northern districts, particularly Orkney and Shetland ; but the bed-recess, which is frequently enclosed for part of its length, is still common.
1860’s

It was a sign of ‘being well off’ for working folk to be able to afford a leg of mutton. So, it was common practice that in those odd occasions, the family would invite their neighbours in for a chat and a cup of tea. The man of the house would cut off pieces of the ham leg and offer it to the guests, a way of ‘showing off’, if you like. This is where the saying “Chewing the Fat,” came from.

 Miners Row c1860
 Miners Row 1910's 1910’s

The grate was the hub of the house as everyone would ‘corrie roon’ the fire to keep warm. Lighting was by oil lamp or candle.

1910’s Set in Beds with Bath and storage underneath. If required, which was often the case, as up to fourteen adults and children would live in this two roomed house, extra ‘pull out’ beds would be stored underneath the set in beds.  Miners Row 1910's Set in Beds
 Miners Row c1940's Miners Row c1940’s

This is more typical of a better build quality, similar to the rows at Priestfield.

1950’s

The Fifties brought us some luxuries, like electricity, indoor w.c.’s, etc. You can read elsewhere on this site what people felt when they moved from the Raws to a Council House with all these amenities.

 Miners Row c1940's
1960's House 1950’s 

How many families went to Stepek for their very first television so that they could watch the Queen’s Coronation.

1960’s

And of course by the sixties, we seemed to have everything we needed that would make life a bit more comfortable. Electricity, Bathroom, Hot running water, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, colour television, transistor radios, Stereo Hi-Fi Consoles, washing machines, electric cookers, hair dryers… Oh, how on earth did we manage before the 1960’s?

1960's House

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Photographs taken at Summerlee during a Miners Workshop
day with High Blantyre Primary School.

Other photos from Andy Paterson, A Blast from the Past

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