The lost village of Fin Me Oot

Caldervale, built around 1890, was home  to colliery workers for 70 years. PIC: Courtesy of Blantyre Project.
Caldervale, built around 1890, was home to colliery workers for 70 years. PIC: Courtesy of Blantyre Project.
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It was called Fin Me Oot by locals because it was so hard to find.

Now the village of Caldervale, to the north west of Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, has vanished from the map altogether.

Children of Caldervale photographed in the 1940s. PIC: Courtesy of Blantyre Project.

Children of Caldervale photographed in the 1940s. PIC: Courtesy of Blantyre Project.

Today, all that remains of the settlement close to banks of the Rotten Calder is the odd washing pole or remnants of a shed.

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A wooden bench has over the years helped to mark the spot of the village built in the 1890s by mining firm AG Moore to house workers at the nearby Blantyre Ferme colliery and brickworks.

It is one of a number of mining villages in Scotland that disappeared as collieries ceased coal production.

Caldervale resident Bill McDonald and his dog. PIC: You Tube

Caldervale resident Bill McDonald and his dog. PIC: You Tube

Operations ended at Blantyre Ferme, which at its peak employed around 400 men and produced 300 tonnes of coal a day, in 1964.

The last miner to leave Caldervale was William Green who, along with his wife and children, were the only residents of the village for at least eight months before their departure in 1962.

Caldervale was demolished shortly after they left.

Children at Caldervale went to school in Newton, around a mile away, with a footbridge bridge built in 1927 over the river to help them get to school safely.

A seat has marked the spot of the village known locally as Fin Me Oot over the years with plans now for a more permanent memorial. PIC: Courtesy of Blantyre Project.

A seat has marked the spot of the village known locally as Fin Me Oot over the years with plans now for a more permanent memorial. PIC: Courtesy of Blantyre Project.

A number of people had been killed as they attempted to walk over a nearby railway bridge to get to the hidden village, according to reports.

The Miner’s Institute seems to have been the focal point of the village, which was made up of 40 two-apartment houses.

In 1935, a local tragedy was reported in the press after the body of Edward McKinnon, the institute’s caretaker, was found face down in the river having apparently tripped and slipped as he threw ashes from the club’s stove into the water.

McKinnon’s family won compensation of £412 after a claim was made against Uddingston Miner’s Welfare Society.

In the early 1900s, the homes in Caldervale were described as ventilated, a good height and free from over crowding. Each house had a toilet, installed in the scullery, and the pail privies - or outside closets where waste would be collected in a bucket and removed by the council - were abolished by 1910.

However, later newspaper reports detailed the tough living conditions in Caldervale - dubbed by residents as Lanarkshire’s most neglected village - during the 1930s.

An article from August 30, 1939 reported how residents had been without street lights for three months, despite the fee for the power coming out of their colliery wages.

The report said: “Caldervale is know for miles around by the name of Fin Me Oot and villagers, as they grope their way home on moonless nights, grudgingly acknowledge the aptness of their title.”

Other hardships, such as absence of outdoor washhouses and an infestation of rats, were also reported.

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The report added: “The women folk of Caldervale are bitter about the non-existence of wash houses in the village.

“Behind their houses they have dug pits, lined them with brick and burning bits of and make a primitive boiler by placing their tin tubs over the fire.

“In wet weather they do the family washing in sou’westers, raincoats and rubber boots.

“Many complain that this ordeal has affected their health.”

Another resident claimed the rats had eaten a cake of coarse soap left on her kitchen table.

“Coarse or scented, it’s just dope to them,” the woman added.

Much research has been done on Caldervale by the online history site The Blantyre Project.

It is understood that there are hopes to create a permanent memorial to the village.