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South Lanarkshire
Blantyre


Population 17,328. Figures taken from 2001 Census.

Blantyre nestles between Hamilton and Uddingston on the River Clyde. This former mining town is famous as being the birthplace of the world-renowned explorer and missionary David Livingstone and the tenement where he was born, now managed by the National Trust for Scotland, receives around 20,000 visitors every year.

Blantyre has an excellent sports centre and swimming pool as well as a state-of-the-art skatepark for young people - watch our SLVTV Skate Park film (this link will open in a new window). Blantyre's youth centre, Terminal One, developed by young people for young people, was a pioneer in its field.

Among the big employers in the area are direct bank First Direct, electronics company CTS, contractors the ECG Group and Botterills, based in the Hamilton International Technology Park and bustling Blantyre Industrial Estate.

Blantyre has a number of primary schools and following the Council's multi-million pound schools modernisation programme, it has two new-build secondary schools, Calderside Academy and the denominational school John Ogilvie High in Burnbank.

Housing in the Blantyre area ranges from council and private flats to impressive Victorian family villas close to the open countryside.

The main local newspaper is the Hamilton Advertiser and the area is also served by the local radio station L107.

You can also watch our SLVTV films about Blantyre Miners Welfare and Diary Of A Fighter about Blantyre Amateur Boxing Club (these links will each open in a new window).

A film about the David Livingston Centre can be viewed on the council's online SLTV channel (this link will open in a new window).

Shopping

Blantyre has traditional shopping as well as a large Asda, Focus and Lidl. The Council has carried out substantial improvements in the area and has provided a new library in partnership with ASDA within the Clydeview shopping centre.

How to get there

By car, take the A724 from Glasgow or Hamilton and the A725 from East Kilbride. There are regular trains from Glasgow, Hamilton and Motherwell. There are also regular buses to Glasgow and Blantyre's environs.

History

Blantyre was put on the map in the 13th century when a priory attached to Jedburgh Abbey was established for the Augustinian canons and in 1598 High Blantyre was chartered as a burgh of barony.

There are many explanations of where Blantyre derived its name. One is that it comes from the Gaelic for "the field of holy men". Another is that it is from the Gaelic for "warm retreat". Some believe that it comes from St Blane and another explanation is that it comes from the Welsh - which was once spoken in the Strathclyde area - meaning "promontory".

Blantyre's population exploded during the Industrial Revolution. In 1785 a large water-powered cottonmill was established at Low Blantyre just over a mile north east of High Blantyre and a model village was created to house the textile workers, mostly displaced highlanders, lowland farm workers and Irish immigrants.

At the height of the Industrial Revolution coal was discovered and the whole area around Blantyre became heavily dependent on mining. On October 22, 1877, the day started like any other for the miners at William Dixon's Blantyre pits. But it was to end in tragedy. A gas explosion caused roof falls. One pit was cleared quickly with the discovery of seven bodies but another pit couldn't be completely cleared until a week later. The final death toll reached 207, leaving behind 92 widows and 250 fatherless children, making it Scotland's worst ever mining disaster. The cause was never established.

Blantyre's most famous son, explorer and missionary David Livingstone, was born in 1813. He started work in the local mill at the age of 10, but studied hard at night school. He was determined to become a Christian missionary in China and started a medical degree to help him on his way but the Opium Wars thwarted his plans. During his studies he met a fellow doctor just back from a trip to Central Africa where thousands of people had never heard the Gospel. Livingstone's plans changed and in 1840 he sailed for Africa. Immersing himself in the local customs and language he spent years exploring and charting swathes of the African continent, discovering the Zambesi River and Victoria Falls.

On his last trip to Africa Livingstone went missing and the New York Times commissioned the journalist H.M. Stanley to find him, resulting in one of the most famous meetings in history. David Livingstone died in Zambia in 1873 and his heart was buried under a tree near where he died. His body was brought back to Britain and was buried in Westminster Abbey.


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