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Gartsherrie Memories

see Gartsherrie - Intro
SeeGartsherrie Iron Works 
see Gartsherrie memories

So far this venerable locale has been shy of input to the Monklands history so perhaps time to remedy that. Being born and bred in Gartsherrie Wee Row, family life in the Rows remains a poignant reminder of yesteryear.

Gartsherrie, which was one of the villages from which Coatbridge derived, certainly owes much of its existence it is generally accepted to the Baird family and the Gartsherrie Iron Works. Those Works at one time employing 800 local workers. Alas market forces eclipsed the need for the product produced and the Gartsherrie Iron Works folded somewhere around the 1960s?.

Yet who can forget North Square, Porters Row, Cornish Row, Wee Row, Quarry Row, Long Row, Stable Row and Herriots Row? Few if any with running water inside the homes, a communal faucet located nearby and joy of joy dry toilets.

Aerial view showing the location of the workers rows - separated from the Iron works by the railway!

Photo of rows c1960 awaiting demolition

Monday morning was the weekly changeover of the facility a job of frightening proportions! My job at an early age was to prepare the toilet paper cut to size from either the Times News or Citizen the newspapers of yesterday. Outside coal cellars in the winter was always a bit of a challenge. Despite what today seems a primitive way of life I cannot recall any great disturbance to our health albeit conditions in many parts of the country did create health problems.

Still in Gartsherrie our family of four got on with living in a relatively large space which included our lounge / bedroom & kitchen. There was never much money but that did not appear to be the key to happiness for despite the lack of money we were a very happy family. Again of course all our neighbours were in similar situations so there was little swanking noticed.

Then came the day we flitted to a more up market home in the Square with running water and gas available inside. Then there was my introduction to hole in the wall beds plus a bedroom. No more dry toilets we had a flush toilet outside to be shared by two families. Coal cellars were still an outside feature. Mum had a shared wash house for the family laundry and Dad was in his element with a garden to work on. Dad planted tatties, carrots and lettuce to supplement the family diet and income need it be said!

Then came the day when I volunteered to join the Navy to see the world, when at the same time the family moved again to the Dandy Row No. 6. Things were looking up now we had two bedrooms, a lounge, and kitchen, identical laundry facilities for Mum and once more Dad had another garden. Need I say the ubiquitous outside coal cellar provided little joy in the winter!

Leaving the Navy and commencing a new career with Lambertons Engineering Works provided me many happy years of challenging opportunities and to work with so many fine people. The pending demise of this once great company that designed and delivered engineering projects around the world eventually became all too obvious and so it came to pass that fortunes new were sought Downunder.

Now I have lived for many years at the opposite side of the world from Gartsherrie but I shall never ever forget my place of birth and early life. So many good times and happy memories to live with, that can never fade away.

Jack Rose [ex-Lambertons]

Melbourne 2008


Photograph above shows Jack Rose ex-workshop supervisor now 87 years of age and living in Melbourne Oz. He said if this photograph ever gets used he sends his warmest regards to all of those from yesteryear

Extract from "Coatbridge - Three Centuries of Change"
by Peter Drummond and James Smith

The great Gartsherrie furnaces which for over a century contributed noise, smoke and verticality to the landscape, have now been completely covered over by a container storage and repair area and a small industrial estate, with only a couple of cranes to break the skyline. The Baird company's tied housing, the cramped rows and squares that marked out Gartsherrie village, have been demolished: a modern housing estate now takes their places and links it in with Summerlee and Blairhill.

The proud name of Gartsherrie, which once held sway over a large area of farmland, and later was welded to the famous ironworks, has now retired to a relative obscurity, applying to the narrow area of housing and the primary school along the road of the name. Only the Church and Academy half a mile away remain to testify to its former greatness, built as they were by the company who launched the area's iron industry.

email received 3rd Feb 2014  from Jim Johnston

Just came across your website, spent ages perusing the various sections, especially memories. I was born in 1943 at 48 the Long row Gartsherrie with memories of the wash houses and gas lighting. My father worked in the smiddy opposite Gartsherrie ironworks and played football for Gartsherrie united along at a park known as the sandy hole just along the road. They were a group of friends called Goody, Flinty, Monty and Doods. There real names were Bobby Goodfellow, (?)Findlayson, Montgomery and Sam Johnston, my father.

 I had a few relatives who worked in the ironworks, some of whom had various mishaps including bending the railway bridge outside the works by trying to drive a mobile crane under it with the jib up. Later our family moved to Whifflet where my mothers parents lived, my grandmother once had a chicken farm down the glen which burned to the ground but at least fed many in Whifflet with roast chicken.

Just some of my memories at the moment.  Jim Johnston