Lord Blantyre and the Clyde Trustees

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Lord Blantyre and the Clyde Trustees


Glasgow HeraldWednesday 27 November 1889

Walter Stuart

In the House of Lords yesterday present the Lord Chancellor, Lord Watson, Lord Herachell and Lord Bramwell, the further hearing was taken of the original end cross appeal on the judgment of the Court of Session pronounced in an action raised by Lord Blantyre, who complained of the alleged injurious results to his lands on the banks of the Clyde produced by the operations of the Trustees of the Clyde Navigation, and who sought to have it declared that the Trustees were liable, in terms of the Acts of Parliament which limit and define their undertaking, for the accommodation and protection of his lands, and that they were unlawfully and in contravention of the statutes by taking and removing portions of the lands, and ought to be interdicted from continuing to do so.

The Dean of Faculty continued his argument in the support of the Clyde Trustees cross appeal, maintaining that their operations on the bed of the Clyde had not resulted in depriving Lord Blantyre of accesses to the river.

Dealing with the complaint that carts could not now get down to the boats in consequence of the mud, it appeared, according to the Trustees’ case, that Lord Blantyre’s point sufficiently thus- “A boat might come in as far as they need to do, but the carts could not go I out to it. The mud would prevent them. If it was not for that, I do not know of anything to prevent manure being brought in there the same as formerly.”

The question then arose, assuming this statement to be true, “What caused the muddy deposit an the foreshore?” Lord Blantyre said it was due to the Trustees’ dredging operations in the upper reaches on the river, which stirred up the mud, and the mud coming down with the stream in suspense was made to deposit by the training wall, known as the long dyke, which ran longitudinally in the channel in adverse of a part of Lord Blantyre’s property.

In order to succeed in the case which, he attempted to make out, Lord Blantyre must establish both proposition, and the Trustees Maintained be had established neither. With reference to the stirring up of the mud, no witness was examined for Lord Blantyre who had never seen the Clyde Trust dredgers at work.

Mr Barry and Mr Giles assumed that the dredging must have put the mud in suspension, but neither gave reasons for his assumption, and the assumption was entirely without foundation. Mr Dens, the Trustees’ engineer, explained the mode in which the dredger did its work, and he exposed clearly the assumptions made by Lord Blantyre’s writ who had never seen what they professed to and described. But further, the mud, when examined on the foreshores, was found to be simply the sewage of GIasgow and of the numerous other populous places which drained into the river. That was admitted by Lord Blantyre’s witnesses to the the case, and Trustees’ witnesses who examined the deposit had no doubt upon the subject.

In (regard to the effect of the long dyke, there was questionably a difference of opinion among the expert witnesses examined, but the majority were with the Trustees, and Lord Blantyre must prove his case. Mr Barry’s view was that the long dyke caused a deposit on the foreshore by increasing the current of the river outside the wall, and consequently enfeebling it inside. That the training wall did cause deposit Mr Barry stated to be an axiom of engineering. Mr Giles simply, and in a sentence, expressed the opinion that the deposit of mud had been gradually caused by the a training walls, “which act as a pound, and stop a the current.” He was obviously there thinking a of transverse walls which had disappeared from the Clyde many years ago.

But in all events this sums up the whole evidence as which, in this Crave question of fact, the First Division of the a Court of Session reversed the judgment of the Lord: Ordinary. Mr Barry was wrong in saying that engineers were unanimous in their views regarding the effect of a training wall like the long dyke, and in the present case experts of very great experience in river engineering expressed a clear opinion to the effect that the deposits found on the foreshore at Bishopton, and Longbaugh were due, not to the presence of the long dyke, but to the natural migration of the river and its bank. Neither the conditions of time nor of the place would adapt themselves in Lord Blantyre’s view.

As to the conditions of time, it was to be a noted that the first portion of the long dyke, extending 3,540 feet west of Longbaugh Point, Was built in 1770. Between the years 1830 and 1835 the dyke was extended eastwards a distance of 68,301 feet. Then about 1881 the portion of the 2 dykes to the eastward of the Longhaugh, and about 4,880 feet in length, was altogether removed. From 1835 therefore down till 1881 the long dyke existed in its entirety. Yet in 1870, according to Mr Park, the tenant of Ratton, boats could come in and carts go down to meet them. Some time since then the state of matters had entirely changed. Yet Mr Wise, Lord Blantyre’s land steward, said he had seen no change in the state of the foreshores since c1816, and that boats with manure continued to be brought in till 1878, although since the shores were always covered more or less with mud. Lord Blantyre’s factor said he noticed the increase of mud only in recent years, and the tenant of West Ferry had noticed the change only since 1872. The time, therefore, to which the alleged change in the character of the foreshores was assigned could not be reconciled with the suggested cause. Still less would the condition or place agree,

The sections produced by Mr Cunningham and Mr Dennison showed and the evidence of Mr Smellie, Mr Giles, and Mr Whyte confirmed that as much mud was found upon the foreshores below the long dyke, and away altogether from its influence, as was found straight opposite to it.

The truth of the matter was, as the evidence of many a witness acquainted with the locality demonstrated, that the extent of the mud was greatly exaggerated. It was now, as it always had been, a by no means a pleasant job to bring in lighters and discharge them on the foreshore; but it could be done as well now as it could for the last 30 or 40 years have been done.

The facilities for railway tracks down the banks of the Clyde were now so great and the charges so moderate that the old fashioned shallow bottomed boats were rapidly disappearing. Were the railway removed, the former mode of serving the farms by means of boats would at once revive. The Trustees . therefore maintained that the judges of the First Division had come to a conclusion on the evidence seen they found that the alleged accumulation of mud were attributable to the long dyke, and that on this matter the view taken by the Lord Ordinary of the evidence which was led before him was well founded. Mr Alexander, of the Scotch bar, followed on the same side. The further hearing was adjourned to Thursday.

(Note from Bill: My research shows that this arguement continued for many many years with Lord Blantyre claiming damages of £100,000, well in excess of £10 Million in today’s money. Needless to say that Lord Blantyre only having won £12,500 in compensation but was successful in wasting many hundreds of hours in the House of Lords.

Charles Stuart, 12th Lord Blantyre (21 December 1818 – 15 December 1900) 

The Evening PostSaturday 22 December 1900

The funeral Lord Blantyre took place yesterday afternoon in Bolton Churchyard, Haddingtonshire, where many of his ancestors have been laid to rest.


The late Lord Blantyre, respect of his riparian proprietorship on the Clyde, considered the Clyde Trustees his natural enemies. From to 1862 to 1889 he was almost constantly engaged in litigation with them. After the introduction of hopper barges in 1862 he lost an action to prevent the trustees carrying the dredgings to sea, holding that they were bound to lay them on the land. In 1868 there started an action for interference with Erskine Ferry piers which lasted a number of years. In 1882 there was a costly arbitration case with prolonged sittings in London in which Lord Blanlyre claimed £100,000 for damage to the foreshore and was awarded £12,500. In 1884 he brought another action for declarator and interdiet in which he was successfuL The last incident was his appearance as a leading supporter of the unsuccessful Kilpatrick Dock scheme. He founded a mission hall at Bishopton and occasionally conducted services.

Source: http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk


Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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