Saturday, February 15, 2014

Family History Writing Challenge Week #2 Recap: Places

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about Dixon's Rows, a housing complex owned a coal mining company, which leased the one- two-room apartments to their employees. For my book about the Muir family history, I wanted to bring that housing to life for a modern reader. The source materials I found were quite descriptive but I wasn't sure a modern reader would understand the privations.

Dixon's Rows, image courtesy of Auld Blantyre

Dixon's Rows

Dixon’s Rows were constructed in 1877 and owned by William Dixon Ltd., a company that also owned several coal mines in the area. Evidence presented to a Royal Commission in 1914 described the housing as “the most miserable type of house, thrown together with bricks in the cheapest fashion, with floors consisting largely of flags laid on earth.” It was an extensive housing complex off Stonefield Road. The apartments were one or two rooms and each room had at least one window. Entire families lived together in a unit and a typical family of the time often included 6 or more children.

The housing at Dixon’s Rows did not include indoor plumbing. Families used community washhouses to bathe, which were shared by every 4 two-room units and every 8 one-room unit. And they had to bring their own water to the washhouse! Water closets, or toilets, were also shared; there was one toilet for every 3 two-room units, one for every 5 one-room units. Sometimes 18 or more people shared an outhouse!

While the miners were working deep underground, their wives were working too. There were no sinks in the houses at Dixon’s Rows so the women had to go to standpipes, which had been installed at long intervals along the rows. After the cleaning, cooking and washing, was done, the dirty water had to be taken to an open gutter that ran along the front of each row. Dixon’s Rows included no garden grounds for growing fresh vegetables or coal cellars in which to store fuel for heating. The miners paid for trash removal, called scavenging at the time.

How did I do?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Wow, I can't imagine living in those conditions yet somehow they managed. You did great job telling the story about the housing at Dixon's Rows. I never heard of Dixon's Rows so I found your post very interesting.

    February 15, 2014 at 7:26 AM