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PARISH OF BLANTYRE.
PRESBYTERY OF HAMILTON, SYNOD OF GLASGOW AND AYR.
THE REV. JAMES ANDERSON, MINISTER.*
I.--TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY. Name.— The name of this parish is probably derived from the Gaelic, Bla’-an-tir, a warm retreat,—which is perfectly descriptive of the site of the village of Blantyre, and more or less of the whole district.
Extent, Boundaries.— The parish of Blantyre is a long stripe of rather low-lying land, stretching nearly in a direct line from north to south. From Haugh-head on the Clyde, near Daldowie in the north, to the burn between Crottangram and East Crutherland in the south, it is exactly 6 miles and 2 furlongs in length. The breadth is very variable: the narrowest part at Blantyre Craig, near the Priory, is about 3 furlongs; the widest part between Bothwell Bridge on the east, and Greenhall on the west, 2} miles; the average breadth is about 1 mile. It is bounded by the parish of Glasford on the south; Hamilton and Bothwell on the east; Old Monkland on the north; and Cambuslang and Kilbride on the west. It contains 6.50 square miles, 3307 Scots acres, and 4170.732 imperial acres. It is commonly divided into 24 ploughgates, of from 80 to 100 acres each.
Climate.— The climate is nearly the same as in the neighbouring parishes; and the average quantity of rain falling has been well ascertained both by rain-gages kept in this parish, and in other places immediately on its border. From a rain-gage kept by R. D. Alston, Esq. of Auchinraith, we have the following results: From April 1, 1833, to March 31, 1834, 35,6 inches; from March 31, 1834, to April 1, 1835, 2640 inches. During the months of April, May, June, and July of this year, we have 670 inches. As compared with a rain-gage kept at Castle Toward, the rain falling here is nearly one-half less.
* Drawn up by the Rev. William Patrick, and Mr George Miller, Blantyre
Hydrography.— The principal streams in the district are the Clyde and the Calder. The Clyde enters this parish a little below Bothwell Bridge, and forms the boundary between it and Bothwell for upwards of three miles. At the above point, it seems at some former period to have forced its way through the opposing sandstone rocks, which here nearly approximate each other. At the ferry-boat at Blantyre works, the Clyde is 79 yards broad, and immediately opposite the works, 104 yards. Its average velocity is from one to three miles per hour. On 25th July, the thermometer being 76° in the shade, its temperature was 68° of Fahrenheit. The Clyde is here a majestic river, of considerable depth, and of a darkish colour, gliding smoothly and silently along between the lofty wooded banks and beautiful and richly adorned undulating fields of Bothwell and Blantyre. Immediately below Bothwell Bridge, the banks present a thin sprinkling of wood, with occasional orchards. About a mile and a-half farther down, in a snug retreat, almost concealed by the rising grounds on either side, the lofty walls of Blantyre works appear; where a busy population, and the rushing noise of machinery, contrast strangely with the silence and repose of the surrounding scenery, and seem as if intended to bring into competition the works of nature and of art. The lofty woods of Bothwell on the east, and of Blantyre on the west, with the magnificent red walls and circular towers of the old castle of Bothwell, and the shattered remains of Blantyre priory on the opposite side, on the summit of a lofty rock, add greatly to the beauty of the scenery a little farther on. The banks begin to decline before they reach Daldowie, and the river leaves the parish amidst fertile fields and wide expanding haughs. The whole, on a summer day, when the sun is shining, is inexpressibly beautiful. The Calder rises in Elrig Muir in Kilbride, and is at first called Park-burn, afterwards Calder water, and at length Rotten Calder. It enters this parish at the point where it is joined by Rottenburn, and, except about a mile at the place where the Basket ironstone mines, &c. come in, forms the western boundary till it falls into the Clyde in the north, at Turnwheel, near Daldowie. There are several falls or cascades in its course, and its banks are all along richly and romantically wooded. It may be from sixty to eighty feet wide, and runs on a shallow gravelly bed, and not unfrequently on the bare rock. There are other three streams in the parish, besides their feeders. The Red burn rises in the farm of Park, in the west, and falls into the Clyde
a little below Bothwell Bridge. A second burn rises at Shott, a little to the south-west of the manse, and a third at Newmains,— both falling into the Clyde.
The parish is in general well supplied with water. At Blantyre works, there is a well 42 fathoms deep, supplied with so copious a spring, that an unbroken and never-failing stream of water gushes through a pipe at the surface of the earth summer and winter. This pipe discharges 20 gallons of water per minute; 1200 in an hour; and the enormous quantity of 28,800 gallons in twenty-four hours. There is a mineral spring at Park, on the west side of the parish, which has long been held in high repute for sore eyes, scorbutic disorders, and a variety of other complaints. The water is sulphureous or hepatic, and tastes like rotten eggs. Besides sulphur, it contains a considerable quantity of the muriate and sulphate of lime. When taken at the well it is very strong; but when carried far, if not well-corked, the hepatic gas evaporates so completely, as to render it scarcely distinguishable from common spring water. Many years ago, when sea-bathing and steam-boats were less frequent than at present, this well was resorted to by many respectable families from Glasgow and its neighbourhood. Several other hepatic springs appear on the banks of the Calder, particularly one at Long Calderwood, on the outskirts of this parish, on the lands which formerly belonged to Dr John Hunter of London. Hard or mineral water is chiefly found where coal, iron, and lime prevail; and calcareous and chalybeate springs are also abundant. The average temperature of the best springs here is about 50°.
Geology and Mineralogy.— The geognosy of the parish of Blantyre is similar to that of other neighbouring parishes. Owing to the break in the coal formation, which occurs between Hamilton and Quarter, none of the principal seams of coal are wrought for many miles to the north of that particular spot. Coal has, however, been wrought on a small scale at Calderside and Rottenburn; but there are only some thin seams, found beneath the seventh bed of coal, or sour-milk coal, as it is termed by the miners, all of a lean quality, and generally much interlaced with laminæ of stone, blaes, and shiver. As a general rule it may be remarked, that the coal is always beneath the freestone, and the limestone beneath the seventh seam of coal, or about 73 fathoms below the upper coal. In this part of the country, however, the limestone generally comes to the surface after the other metals above it run out. Limestone is now wrought at Auchentiber, towards the upper or southern end of the parish.
There are two seams, one about 20 inches thick, and a second 3 feet, or 31 feet thick. The space between these seams is filled up with 18 or 20 inches of blaes or pullet, full of shells and other organic remains. The upper seam is about 28 feet from the surface. It is a dark brown limestone, excellent for the mason and agriculturist, but too coarse for plaster. Limestone has also been wrought on a small scale at Calderside. Ironstone abounds in this parish. At Blackcraig, near Calderwood, on the borders of the parish, seventeen seams of ironstone may be counted, the one above the other; a sight, it is believed, not to be met with anywhere else in the world. Ironstone is wrought in the Basket mines, the mouths of which are in Kilbride; but the beds of minerals run into the parish of Blantyre. The upper seam, called No. 1, consists of a small band about 6 inches thick. No. 2 is about 7 inches thick, and, like all the other seams, lies in small bands or joints like flags of pavement. Between this and the upper band the seams of limestone above alluded to occur, and about 10 feet of blaes (slate clay and bituminous shale,) full of ironstone balls. No. 3 is from 4 to 14 inches thick ;-its average thickness may be about 10 inches. There is a good seam of balls between this seam and No. 2, and from 4 to 6 feet of blaes. Beneath No. 3 there is a seam called the Lunker band, which consists of great balls lying in no regular position. But the richest seam of all is that called the Whitestone, 25 fathoms below No. 3; like it, this seam lies in joints, and is of the same thickness. Clay dikes intersect the mines in different directions, which always throw the metals up or down, in proportion to their thickness. A white sort of substance, like cranreuch or hoar-frost, which almost melts away when grasped in the hand, is also occasionally found adhering to the roof and sides of the mines. This is an efflorescence of alumina, and is found in various parts of Europe in aluminous schist. The section of rocks seen at Calderside consists, first, of the upper or anvil band of limestone, about 14 inches thick. It derives its name from the lime rock being dislocated throughout, and apparently weather worn, so as to form blocks resembling a blacksmith's anvil, and some of them are not unlike the skeleton of a horse's head. These are probably some of the figured stones alluded to in the last Statistical Account. Below this band, there is a stratum of 10 feet of blaes (slate clay and bituminous shale); this is succeeded by the middle seam of limestone 2 feet thick, beneath which is 3 feet of blaes, (slate clay and bituminous shale,) overlaying
the under bed of limestone, which is four feet thick There are a great many petrifactions in the blaes, of which hundreds may be picked up. In the waste beside the mines where the blaes lies mouldering away under the influence of the sun and air, they occur in myriads, and are carried away in great numbers by the curious. These organic forms belong principally to the Coralloides, such as Astroitæ, Millepores, Escharæ ; Cornu Ammonis, &c. also occur. Entrochi are also in abundance, and are here termed limestone beads. When joined together, so as to assume a lengthened circular form, they are called Entrochi; when found separately, as they generally are, they are called Trochitæ. Associated with the above beds, there are about twelve inches of a dark-coloured ferruginous stone containing just so much lime as to make it valuable for Roman cement. It was analyzed some time ago, and the result proved so satisfactory as to induce a scientific gentleman in the neighbourhood to commence the manufacture of this cement, which is said to be superior to any produced in England. This stone, when submitted to the fire, falls down like gray ill-burned limestone. Not far from Calderside, a great curiosity is to be seen in the shape of part of a tree rising out of the bed of the river completely silicified. The tree inclines to the bank which the Calder has laid bare. Part of the stem only remains in an upright growing position, from which proceed two root-shoots dipping into the bed of the stream, each from 13 to 14 inches in diameter. The tree does not belong to the palm family, as is often the case in such instances, but appears to have been an elm or ash. From a specimen carefully detached, it seems to be formed of a close-grained whitish sandstone, containing small specks of mica, and pretty closely dotted with minute spots of oxide of iron, about the size of needle points. Some fields adjacent to the church are of a fine rich loam. From the church to the Clyde, towards the north-east, the soil is in general a strong deep clay; and when properly cultivated is exceedingly fertile. At the northern extremity, which is surrounded by the Clyde, and where the banks become low, there is a flat which consists chiefly of a sandy soil. From the church, towards the south end of the parish, the soil is clay, but more light and free than in the lower part, and is in general of a very poor quality. In advancing farther from the church, towards the southern extremity, which is the highest land in the parish, the soil becomes gradually more of a mossy nature, and at last terminates in a deep peat moss.