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Shotts - the Shotts
A Village Built on Coal and Iron

with thanks to Shotts History Group
SHOTTS HISTORY GROUP - web site

Shotts is situated half way between Glasgow and Edinburgh and was reputedly called after the legendary giant "BERTRAM de SHOTTS". Although adjacent to many of the traditional coach roads of bye-gone days it originally consisted of five villages Dykehead,Calderside, Stane, Springhill and Torbothie with the main interest then around the works area of Calderside. Allanton, Hartwood and Eastfield are now regarded as being "Shotts".

Shotts really "took off" when the Iron Works started in 1802, ironstone having been mined on Muldron moor near Shotts. Pig iron was made and distributed world-wide. This encouraged an influx of workers into the community, some indeed originating from the Cornwall mines and arriving in Shotts via the Leadhills mines. Coal was subsequently discovered and the "lid was off" so to speak. In the late 19 th century there was a large intake of Irish workers, demonstrated by the census returns for 1881 and 1891.

The coal industry at its inception was a series of mines dotted over the area. This later led to the sinking of deep mines as these little seams ran out or were no longer economically viable. These pits were very wet pits and were owned by various factions, some were owned by the Shotts Ironworks Company. Housing was mainly in miners rows.
Around the mid eighteen hundreds the railways came to Shotts and there was a large network of railways around the mines and pits.
Main workshops existed within the Shotts Ironworks employing all classes of craftsmen.



Dykehead Cross - Shotts c1900

Is this the famous giant that the town talks about?
photo by Stevie Spiers

The 8ft-high structure, known as the "The Giant", was designed by Cambuslang sculptor Jason Paterson.  It depicts a foundry worker pouring molten iron - an industry, along with coal, which features prominently in the history of the Shotts. The eight-foot tall behemoth dominates Shotts newly revamped Dykehead Cross. Some are even joking that it is Bertram De Shotts, an alleged giant who lived near the area hundreds of years ago.

Of interest is the slogan SHOTTS LIGHTS THE WORLD this because gas lamp standards were made in abundance here and exported worldwide. Relics of the iron works still remain at the 'Works Corner' - the water tower, part of the retaining wall and pipes for the power condensers.  In this area today we have the Health Centre (on the site of the actual furnaces) the Library, the Leisure Centre and the War Memorial.  

In the hard time of the pits, "truck" shops were the rule of the day when men were obliged to buy inferior goods at superior prices in the stores provided by the management. This in turn led to the setting up of the Co-operative movement with the Shotts and Dykehead Co-operative Society Ltd. There were branches all over the town Dykehead, Calderside, Torbothie, Stane , Springhill and Allanton. 

T his was a great source of employment, the surrounding areas being serviced by horse drawn vans.

Religion originally centred in St. Catherines at Shottskirk, the Parish church for the area. Shotts itself, as it grew, had a United Free Church (Erskine), Calderhead Church, Congregational Church, Baptist Church, Mission Hall, Gospel Hall, Salvation Army, Episcopal Church and St Patricks Roman Catholic Church this latter was originally based at Stane but moved centrally around 100 years ago. Amalgamation of churches has taken place recently.
The church was responsible for schooling until the Education Act came into being in 1872. The first school was at Calderhead  and as the needs arose schools were opened at Dykehead, Stane, St Patricks and Allanton.

Hartwood Hospital opened in 1894 but an "asylum" was in existence prior to this at Liquo. This was subsequently extended to take in the Hartwoodhill Estate (at one time the home of Lord Deas known as "the hanging judge"). In its heyday there were 1910 beds and it was the largest mental hospital in Scotland. It was self-sufficient in every way and provided employment for many people from the Shotts itself had its own Infectious Diseases Hospital in the Shotts Sanatorium mainly for tuberculosis, the scourge of the early nineteen hundreds. This latterly became a geriatric unit before its closure. It is now Benhar Cemetery.

The Bell family set up a baking business, employing many, mainly women, in Shotts. This is still in existence today although on a much greater scale.
Cummins Engine Co came to Shotts in 1956, occupying "the Wrens Nest" textile factory. Diesel engines were made here. Many men were employed here from 1950s to 1990s. Part of this still exists today in the form of Linden International.

Highland Games were initiated in 1950 and indeed hosted the European Pipe Band Championships for many years. The name of McAllister is synonymous with pipe bands and piping, and Tom McAllister, senior received the BEM for his work in this field. He had three sons who all became pipe majors in the Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band.

Things musical were much to the fore in Shotts. The Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band noteworthy having been world champions. Alex Duthart reached world wide renown on the drumming side. There was a Foundry Band, Dykehead Band, Salvation Army Band and various Flute bands.
Choirs were very popular in Shotts and music was much to the fore, with a great emphasis on classical music. St Patricks Operatic Society has been in existence for the last 50 years and performs annually.

RECREATION
In 1867 until 1910 a Curling Club existed. Demonstrating the fact that winters were colder was the fact that not many games were abandoned or cancelled.
The playing of quoits indeed a Quoiting Club was a mining recreation and men played for a Plaque.
The Miners Welfare Institute was built in 1924 and housed billiards, swimming baths (water polo teams participating country-wide), tennis, bowls and a large hall for dancing and concerts and social occasions. A library was housed here..
The Ironworks had tennis courts and a bowling green; indeed the "Shotts Ironworks Bowling Club" remains today and has been in existence for more than 100 years.
A golf club exists firstly as a nine-hole course and latterly at Blairhead where it currently exists. The club celebrated its centenary in 1995.

Shotts and its environs figured largely in covenanting times, Fortissat House having for many years an old Covenanters flag. Shotts kirkyard has a covenanters grave where yearly is held a conventicle . These too are held yearly at Darmeid, Starryshaw and Pedens Stane all within the parish of Shotts . Dura Kirk in Allanton was of religious significance around the eighteenth century.

Shotts has a "claim to fame" in its sons and daughters some are

  • Professor Dyer in 1870 was Professor of Engineering in Japan.

  • Margaret Herbison (Peggy) was Minister of Pensions in the post-war (WWII) Government.

  • John McGregor son of Dr NSR McGregor a well known GP is currently a Shadow Government Minister.

  • Andrew Keir (Andrew Buggy) and his patron Archie Henderson (an actor/boxer/dramatist). Andrew went on to star in many films but is now deceased.

  • Dr Moore Hall a former GP who did much in the field of pneumoconiosis

  • Jim Rodger (Scoop) a kenspeckle Sports Reporter. There is now a suite of rooms in Hampden Park dedicated to his memory.

  • James Roy a local historian.

  • Bill McCue an Allanton boy who went on to greater things in the operatic and television fields.

  • Mick McGahey Trade Unionist and miners leader who led the miners strike and had their cause at heart.

  • Alan Lindsay who competed in the post-war Olympic games 

  • Peter McAna won gold at Tae Kwon Do in the Korean Games in 1989.

  • Mrs Isabella Darling was a poetess of some repute born in 1861.

SHOTTS CATTLE SHOW
This was held originally as a "hiring fair" where people were hired at term times, mainly for farm work at Shottskirk and was latterly a local holiday. The Flower Show was a feature in recent years but both are now defunct.

SHOTTS PRISON
This came into being around the 1970s and is a High Security Prison. This provides employment locally.

SHOTTS HISTORY GROUP - web site

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