Friday, February 14, 2014

Dixon's Rows: "A Miserable Type of House"

Dixon's Rows was a housing complex at first rented by and then owned by William Dixon, Ltd. The Dixon company owned several coal mines in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Many of my Scottish ancestors were coal miners, worked for the Dixon company, and lived at Dixon's Rows.

In 1910 Dr. John T. Wison wrote "The Housing Condition of Miner's," a report by the Medical Officer of Health. The Scottish Mining Website extracted a description of Dixon's Rows from the report:
  • Erected about 33 years ago -- one story, brick -- no damp-proof course -- walls not strapped and lathed, plastered on brick, a few wood floors, unventilated; majority brick floors -- some walls slightly damp -- internal surface of walls and ceilings good.
  • No overcrowding -- apartments large
  • No garden ground available, wash houses with water, no coal cellars
  • Water closets recently introduced, in the proportion of one closet to every 4 tenants
  • No sinks -- drainage by open channels
  • Water supply from stand pipes in street, the well being at a distance varying from about 12 to 200 feet from the houses
  • Scavenged at owners' expense, but houses are not included in Blantyre Special Scavenging District

Dixon's Rows, Stonefield, Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland;
Image courtesy of Auld Blantyre Mining

In 1914 evidence was presented to the Royal Commission which described Dixon's Rows:

"These rows cover a very extensive area, and are situated in the centre of the Blantyre district. They were erected some forty years ago, and are owned by William Dixon, Ltd. They consist of 157 single- and 149 double-apartment houses. The rent per week is 1s. 11d. for a single-apartment, and 3s. 2d. for two-apartment house. They are a most miserable type of house, thrown together with bricks in the cheapest possible fashion, with floors consisting largely of flags laid down on the earth. They are in a district well supplied with water, but are only served by means of standpipes at long intervals along the row. They have recently been included in a special scavenging district, which as greatly improved the sanitation of the place. There are no sculleries or sinks, consequently all the dirty water has to be emptied into an open gutter that runs along the front of each row. There is a wash house for every 4 and 8 double- and single-apartment tenants, respectively. There is a water-closet outside for every 3 and 5 double- and single-apartment houses, respectively. Dust-bins are in vogue, with a daily collection of refuse. There are no coal-cellars. There is a man employed locally for cleaning up the place."

1897 British Ordnance Survey of Dixon's Rows

By the 1930s the housing units in Dixon's Rows were so old and dilapidated, they were demolished.

My Cassels, Brodie, and Lively ancestors were all coal miners and lived at one time or another at Dixon's Rows.

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