This photo dates from 1890’s and features the bottom of Stonefield Road, Blantyre. The old RC schoolhouse and chapel at the bottom of the road is no longer there and many of the buildings are gone too. Noticeably, a lack of traffic with a solitary horse and cart loading near the public house. I cant help but feel that even if the picture were in colour, the colours themselves would still be grey and drab.
Shortly after this trams were running along Glasgow Road and the area was changing further. The discovery of coal created the population explosion of the late 1800s and commerce was the name of the game in Blantyre.
This later picture taken about 20 years later was taken from Glasgow Road looking up Stonefield Road. By this time, there were gas lamps on the pavements and clearly a few motor cars on the road. Long before the advert of tarmacadam roads, you can still see the “tyre” marks on the old dirt roads.
In subsequent years, this scene has become known for the many great shops that existed throughout the 1900s, more notably Mickeys cafe on the bottom left. Almost everybody in Blantyre beyond 40 years of age has a memory of some of these shops, whether it was the cobblers, or Clyde Star video.
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Mickeys cafe, a drapers then Mrs Scobbies a wee bakers shop. It appeared that she did all the baking herself and served the customers as well, it seemed to be a one women enterprise.My mother always knew the days that she baked apple cakes or had made a clootie dumpling fabulous! A a child I loved Mrs Scobbie. There was Benums a newsagent and general store, ran by Jenny Benum. There was Noris the grocer where butter came in a barrel and patted into squares, cheese was cut from a large round with cheese wires and everything wrapped with great expertise!Tommy Machline the cobbler, a tiny shop you could just stand in, where the man himself with leather apron and rough working hands would inspect shoes as to the repairs they needed, the smell of leather was overwhelming. Gilbert the baker,the most marvellous rolls and next door Cameron and later Sweeney.the butcher, Jimmy Sweeney made the most fantastic steak slice sausage. Every Saturday morning Gilbert’s for a dozen rolls and Sweeneys for a pound and a half steak slice sausage and danish butter out of Norris’s. Heaven.