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Blantyre

Blantyre

[blan-tahyuhr]
Blantyre, city (1994 est. pop. 446,800), S Malawi, in the Shire Highlands. It is the chief commercial and industrial center of Malawi with cement, food and tobacco processing, and textile industries. The city is also on the rail line that provides the landlocked nation vital access to ports on the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. Blantyre was founded in 1876 as a Church of Scotland mission station and was named for the birthplace of David Livingstone. In 1956, Blantyre was combined with Limbe to form one city.

City (pop., 2008: 661,444), southern Malawi. It is one of the largest cities in Malawi and is the seat of the country's judiciary. Blantyre was founded in 1876 as a Church of Scotland mission station and named after explorer David Livingstone's Scottish birthplace. It became a British consular post in 1883 and attained municipal status in 1895; it is Malawi's oldest municipality. Its colonial trade laid the foundation for its present importance as Malawi's chief commercial centre. In 1956 Blantyre was united with nearby Limbe.

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This article is about the location in Scotland. See also Blantyre, Malawi.
Blantyre (Scottish Gaelic: Baile an t-Saoir) is a burgh in South Lanarkshire, Scotland with a population of about 17,000. It is bounded by the River Clyde to the north, the Rotten Calder to the west, the Park Burn to the east and the Rotten Burn to the south. It is best known as the birthplace of David Livingstone, the well-known explorer and missionary who was the first European to see (and name) the Victoria Falls. His former house is now a museum which is at the end of Station Road, on the banks of the River Clyde. Also nearby is Bothwell Castle, dating from the thirteenth century.

Blantyre has a number of small Hamlets. High Blantyre is the area to the west and north of Burnbrae Road and continues to High Blantyre cross at the north. It is thought to be the area of earliest settlement, with a Bronze Age village near Auchintibber south of Blantyre Parish Church (High Blantyre). Also to the west is Greenhall Park, where the Calder flows to eventually join the Clyde near Flemington.

Blantyre is loosely divided in half by Main Street, High Blantyre. At the west-end is Priory Bridge - named after the former Priory to the north which was home to monks from around 1235. There is also Coatshill and the village, the oldest industrially developed part of Blantyre. Glasgow Road continues south via Springwell and eventually joins to Burnbank. Next to the David Livingstone museum, at the end of Station Road, is an iron suspension footbridge which crosses the River Clyde giving pedestrian access to Bothwell.

Mine disaster

On October 22 1877 Blantyre was the site of the infamous Blantyre mining disaster, where 207 miners (men and boys) were killed when a coal mine exploded due to methane gas. There is little doubt that safety regulations were not adhered to. Christy Moore recorded a well-known version of the traditional song about this disaster. A monument to the disaster of which the youngest victim was a boy of 11 is at High Blantyre cross. The site of the mine now lies under the East Kilbride expressway. .

Football

Blantyre presently has a football club competing in Scottish Junior Football Association competitions, Blantyre Victoria F.C.. Known as the Vics, they won the Scottish Junior Cup (the highest achievement in junior football) in 1950, 1970 and 1982; their home ground is called Castle Park. There was previously another junior club in the town, Blantyre Celtic F.C., but they went out of existence in the early 1990s.

Speedway

The town of Blantyre has long had links with speedway racing. In the pioneer days a group of riders who appeared at White City in Glasgow were known as "The Blantyre Crowd". The operated their own track at Airbles Road in Motherwell in 1930 and this was known as Paragon Speedway. The greatest ever Scottish rider, Ken McKinlay came from Blantyre as did Tommy Miller who had a somewhat meteoric rise to stardom in 1950. Speedway was staged at the Greyhound Stadium as the home of the Glasgow Tigers in the late 1970s / early 1980s before the new road forced a move to Craighead Park which closed down at the end of the 1986 season.

Schools

Institutions

Blantyre contains many amenities for such a small burgh, including:

  • Blantyre Leisure Centre - sports centre with swimming pool
  • Stonefield Park - with a purpose-built skate-park
  • Victoria Nursing Home (for the elderly)
  • David Livingstone Centre - museum built in the birthplace and former home of David Livingstone
  • Five churches
  • David Dale House - South Lanarkshire Council facility named after another famous Lanarkshire dweller, famous for his connection with New Lanark
  • Blantyre Credit Union
  • Terminal One (www.terminalone.org)- Fully equipped Youth Centre with state of the Art Multimedia equipment, Recording Studio and Rehearsal Room, Community Internet Cafe, Mobile youth facilities including 3 x DIGIBUS's and mobile climbing wall and lots more.
  • Priory Parks

Youth

In 1986 Blantyre's young people developed an organisation called Blantyre Youth Development Team, or BYDT. This organisation gained charity status in 1997, and created the Terminal One youth centre. Terminal One (www.terminalone.org) provides services to the young people of Blantyre and North Hamilton including music tuition, multimedia artistic tuition, recording studios, youth clubs, excursions, and self-development programmes. It is funded by South Lanarkshire Council, the Scottish Arts Council and the Blantyre/North Hamilton SIP.

David Livingstone

Blantyre's most famous son is the 19th century missionary and explorer David Livingstone; there is a museum, the David Livingstone Centre at the bottom of Station Road. This centre includes a museum, a playpark, a cafe, a shop, an African Garden and several workshop studios. An adventure assault course also existed here until a young man died in 1995.

The largest city and commercial centre of Malawi, one of the countries which Livingstone explored, is still called Blantyre, having been named for Livingstone's birthplace during the colonial era.

Other famous people

Other famous people from Blantyre include:

  • Ryan Fletcher, actor
  • Stuart Christie, an anarchist, who at the age of 18 was to stand trial in Spain for plotting to blow up General Franco.
  • Martin Bulloch, drummer of the Scottish group, Mogwai.
  • Tommy Miller, speedway rider - Scottish Champion.
  • Ken McKinlay, speedway rider - multi world finalist.
  • Steven Strachan - Online video games journalist.
  • John Mulholland, Bookmaker and local enterpreuneur - Known locally as the "Walking Bookie"

References

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External links

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