No wartime windfall for Lanark Common Good fund

Winston Barracks, Lanark.
Winston Barracks, Lanark.

Hopes have been dashed that Lanark could still be owed tens of thousands of pounds by the UK Government over an 80-year-old unpaid bill.

Investigations have taken place to discover if the Lanark common good fund missed out in 1937 when the former war ministry took over the land on which it built Winston Barracks.

That delve through old records was sparked by Lanark Community Council vice-chairman Leonard Gray, who has had a long and keen interest in the history of the royal burgh in general and its common good fund in particular.

He wrote to fellow council members following a recent debate on the use of the fund, stating: “One thing I have been curious about is the site of Winston Barracks.

“I am sure it was part of Lanark Moor, which belongs to the common good.

“Was the site requisitioned by the Army to build a barracks there and did they just take it over, as they could do?

“When the site became of no further use, was it returned to the common good or the local authority of the time? When the site was sold to a developer, where did the income for the sale of the site go?”

Clydesdale North councillor Catherine McClymont, undertook to ask South Lanarkshire Council officials to look into the records and they have now replied, stating that the site never appears to have been common good property.

Records show that the old Lanark Town Council acquired the barracks site in 1933 from an unidentified owner and sold it on for an undisclosed fee to the war ministry in 1937.

The then war ministry, now the Ministry of Defence, set aside £150,000 in 1936 for the building of Winston Barracks. It is not clear whether that then vast sum included the purchase of the land as well as contruction costs.

When it came time to dispose of the by-then long-redundant barracks in the mid-1990s, it was the Ministry of Defence that got the undisclosed sum for its sale to Isle of Man housing developer Ferry Dene.

In the mid-1930s, the new barracks were intended to provide a base for the then local regular army regiment, the Cameronians, and building work started on the eve of the Second World War in 1939, the complex being completed in 1941.

During the war, the barracks were used as a training establishment, and the Cameronians didn’t actually move in until 1947. They left in the mid-1960s.