Simplicity comes to Blantyre

Only a year after the High Blantyre Industrial Estate opened, a new type of industry arrived at the factories in 1947 in the form of Simplicity Patterns Ltd of London. This proved to be a wonderful source of employment for many people in Blantyre, both women and men alike. Indeed, the timing and arrival of this company co-incided with the struggles the last few collieries were experiencing, so it proved a means for those miners worried about redundancy to continue being employed in the area.

1955 John McQuire Simplicity Patterns BlantyrePictured is ex miner, John McQuire operating one of the hand saws which cut the clothing patterns.

Before the Second World War, Simplicity imported all their requirements from Canada and America. The outbreak of hostilities however necessitated home production of the patterns and of course post war economic legislation was primarily driving the re-building of the British Economy.

The new patterns in this factory had dressmaking instructions printed on the tissue pieces. Experience concluded the system cut sewing time by one third, ensures greater accuracy and made the patterns easier to use.

The factory at High Blantyre was fitted with the most up to date machinery for mass production. The company at the time announced that the business would depend upon the quality of the produced products and being able to further reduce prices, including finding all the necessary raw materials. The productive capacity of the new Blantyre plant alone surpassed the entire pre war business annual output! To engage local people even more, the company staff visited schools and domestic colleges delivering lectures and presenting fashion shows. Almost every house in Blantyre had simplicity patterns and catalogues. Schoolchildren were also taught how to sew against the patterns, effectively training the next generation in advance.

High Blantyre girl Hazel Meldrum added, “My father was employed by Simplicity patterns, as a lithographic printer. He was recruited at a Trade Union meeting in Glasgow about 1955 as I understand it two or three men came down from Aberdeen. Simplicity arranged for them to get a choice of accommodation for their families, eg pre fab in Blantyre, flat in East Kilbride or a 2 bedroom house in Larkhall, he chose the Larkhall house. The company seem to have sponsored and paid for Christmas Dinner dances, somewhere I may have a programme .  I believe that there was a strike in 1960 or 1961  which lasted a least a couple of weeks, as my dad had to sell his car . He left the company in the mid 1960’s to become a full time Trade Union official.

By the late 1970’s, competition in retail clothing was having an impact on Simplicity. In October 1979, the management of the firm announced a reduced of 70 staff members, forced to take redundancy to make economies and efficiencies on their accounts. At the time of the announcement, staff in total numbered 464 people, many of them Blantyre folk.

Workers were informed on Friday 19th October 1979. The announcement was the single largest jobs cut in Blantyre since the closure of the nearby Rolls Royce Factory in 1976. The streamlining was meant to protect Simplicity, but with rising costs and a depression in the market for the type of clothes manufactured, the writing was on the wall……

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

Margaret Brown Burns Remember it well

Jean Orr We were in Barbados 2 years ago & walking down a wee backstreet in the window of a shop there was simplicity patterns for sale!!

Kerry Tremble Kevan Kay Tremble Cowie didn’t you work here x

Kay Tremble Cowie Kerry Tremble Kevan only for about 3 months. Left there and went to work in Reyrolle Belmos offices instead x

Margo Clayton My mum, Mary Bowie, was a tracer there in the late 60’s, early 70’s.

Margo Clayton Have a few photos. First 2 are from the Christmas dances.

Mac Newman Legs & Co.

Ann Adair Creechan My mum Mamie Adair worked there in the 60s.

Frances Reid my young sister worked there early 60s

Margo Clayton Unfortunately there are no names on any of these photos. This was someone dressed up as they were getting married.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling
Sylvia Mclaughlin I worked in simplicity in 76′ I was a folder, great job

Betty Hamilton I started work here when I was 15,in the folding department,enjoyed my time there and met a lot of lovely people.xx

Davy Thomson Can remember going through there skips oot the back as a child, And taking the old patterns out of it, and giving them to the neighbors lol

Ann Ford My first job was in the folding department in 1971 rember it well.

Anne Marie Murray My first job when I left school was in the folding dept in Simplicy. I was made redundant after I got married 1980. It was a great place to work. Because of my union I went on to work in the Daily Record for 25yrs..

Elizabeth Knowles I remember the factorys in High Blantyre and the work it afforded residents.

Helen Williams I worked in folding department 1968-1974. I remember Path News filming us hope that might be what you have Paul
Catherine Murphy My first job there was picking patterns then moved on to the packing loved it have many memories of people I worked with Ka Lanaghan Irene Doherty Joyce Lynas and Grace Celia Kelly Ann Kane John McGuire Fred Jim Cox Frank Mc Naught my sister Jane Mc Laughlin Garnt Powers we had some great Christmas parties
Jackie McGuire Catherine Murphy my papa is John mcguire and so is my dad must be one of them u named x

Jane Maxwell I remember it all well Sis we had great times there, l remember working with Freida Lynch, Catherine McFall, Agnes McCue to many to mention but great pals we all went to the dancing at the Troc on a Thursday night as we got paid on Thursday the weekend started then. Those were the days.

Ann Mckeown I didn’t work in simplicity but another wee factory making children’s coats can’t remember name of it

Pamela McKeown Ann Mckeown a was thinking about my uncle Johnny & lal

Ann Mckeown No they were never into that uncle Johnny worked gas board uncle Lal drove vans ice cream, bakery ect.

Mary Crowe Worked in the folding dept from 1964-1974. Great times, who remembers Miss Mc Callum?

Helen Williams I do, with the blue rinse
Jackie McGuire Aw my wee papa in the picture ❤️x
Norma Cassidy Foley My 2 sister’s Ann ;Moira and I all worked in block 18 .
the pickers we worked with making up the orders were a brilliant crowd
Mary Kirkbride Norma Cassidy Foley hi norma i used to work there in the 60s i lived next door to ur gran and grandad .

Catherine Dawes My Uncle Charles Dawes worked there

Catherine Newell I worked in the office in stock control from1968 until 1970 in the top factory with my friend Jean Aitken
Richard Lees My wife Moira Marcus & her pal Liz Curwood walked straight from school to start the following Monday at Simplicity Patterns.
Other names >>
Anne Granger
Grace McLean
Tricia Hughes.
Betty Hamilton I started the same day,know them well.x
Richard Lees Cheers Betty, try & add a few names. x

Trish Ann Brown Worked there also in the Hand Folding for 6 years when i left school . Worked along side my Cousins Elaine & Elizabeth Gourlay also my Cousin Annemarie there sister who worked in the Binding . And also my very good freind Catherine Boyle and her Sister Mary . Smashing place to work at the Time but unfortunatley our section got made redundant . 😊👍

Betty Hamilton Liz Shanks Jean Sullivan Mary Crowe Ann Hay

Richard Lees Betty Hamilton 👍

John Crothers My wife Alice worked there

Blantyre Project think i have a little video of inside simplicity patterns at the time of their arrival in Blantyre. Will upload soon.

Jean Miller Worked in the office in Block 18 in the mid seventies.
Donna Hamilton Worked as a pattern folder from 68 till end of 71 left to get married..
Jean Black I worked in the top factory as a vdu operator my sister Margaret worked in the factory with Agnes Tempany

Marjory Thomson I worked in the VDU from 1974 till it closed

Jean Black I was on the paper tape machine that printed out the instructions I was Jean Aitken then
Marjory Thomson You taught me on that machine. You worked with Kay
Janette Moran I worked block 5 and then 18 69 to 72
John McCourt Janette Moran And l used to pick you up in the Co-op van😉

Janette Moran John McCourt so true lol xx

John McCourt Janette Moran 😊👍

Marie Mc Millan My aunty Myra rouse work there and Kathleen rouse to x

Lorraine Brown Jim Brown’s mum Annie worked there and has her ‘long service medal’ 👍
Jim McSorley I delivered milk there for the canteen as a Co-Op milk boy in the 70s for the canteen. Their trucks were Leyland Boxers made in Scotland colored Yellow and Red.
Eddie Campaigne Jim i was on the message bike in Norris’s same time……I thought you were a Hasties milk boy!😀

Jim McSorley Eddie Campaigne no Eddie Co/ Op. I remember you once at Timbertown. with you black bike and basket on front

Mac Newman Jim McSorley I’ll wager he’s had a few black bikes.

Eddie Campaigne Mac Newman naughty boy Mac….i was a schoolboy!😀

Jessie Caldow My sister Nellie King worked there in the fifties and her future husband Bill Kerr worked there as a lithographer

Margaret Lindner Worked there . Great job . Great money .

Mary Wishart I worked there loved it,great crowd of people ,joe Mullen Janette mac glinchy Mary Allen,great memories x

Eddie Campaigne we used to call it simple city as kids! …raced our bikes on the estate on sundays when it was empty!

Janice Bickerstaff My dad Joe Dick worked there as printer’s assistant for many years. I loved it when we went to pick him up, we got to go inside. The machines were huge to me as a child. Lots of characters worked with him, Eddie Smith and Eric “with the hair”. Smashing guys. Mum, May Dick, worked as a cleaner later on too.
Liz Palombo Janice that was my first job when leaving school, I was a picker lol x
Janice Bickerstaff Liz Palombo wow Liz a small world indeed xxx

Susan Muir Janice – and they stayed friends till my Mum n Dad – Agnes and Eddie Smith – passed away – your Mum n Dad are lovely people x

Anne Mosley My three sisters worked there ! X
Charlotte Mcinch Aww Jackie is that your papa xx

Moyra Lindsay I used to get stamps from their post dept when I was going through that phase. Hundreds of them!

Isobel Kane My 2 sisters worked there

Michael McDonald I worked there in the 70s.worked the bandsaw with wee John Maguire and Bernard Mcsorley.

Jackie McGuire Michael McDonald you worked with my papa John mcguire my dad is also John mcguire who worked in block 5.

Michael McDonald Jackie McGuire

Michael McDonald I remember him didn’t get to know him …

Theresa Cavanagh I done my work experience there luvly pple x

Bernadette Keenan My dad worked here Declan Keenan
Maureen Hendry I worked in folding department late 60s to early 70s lvd it😁
Agnes Hynds I work in Bindery dept late 70s/80s my mum was the cleaner (Agnes Cunningham ) loved this job ….
Aileen Mcgowan Cunning great memories x
Janette Mcglinchie I worked here from 1979 till it closed in 2003 ,loved it xx
Kathleen Gould Thanx Margot Chisholm
…..loved my job there from 1980 till 1993 left to raise my family …..karen law ….Lyn Boyd……janette mcglinchie …to name but a few and not forgetting liz mcardle GBNF … old days X
Carolanne Docherty 1st job after I left school in 1988. Worked in the office until 2003 and got made redundant. Good times and gr8 people. Marjory Thomson Janette Mcglinchie Linda PerstonAmanda Hughes Cat Oshea and many more😍.. and some who have sadly passed away😇xx
Marjory Thomson Good times, great friends
Linda Perston Loved it in simplicity. Was there from 1982 to 2002. Great times xx
Lyn Boyd Loved my job & great people that worked there ❤️ the memories we made & laughs we had you couldn’t write it Xx
Sheena Thomson Mr McGuire in the photo got me a job there in the mid sixties.
Ruby Brown I worked in the folding department great job great people great money
Anne Gilmour Callaghan Worked there in the 70,s , good memories
Marjory Thomson Hi Anne. Good times in VDU

Anne Gilmour Callaghan hi marjory. there certainly was. good to hear from u xx

Margaret Duncan Started in the office directly from school in 1966 under Mary K. In the office were Sheena, Grace, Elizabeth, Candy (who became a nun) and and Doreen, who was on reception – then I was moved to block 18 and I hated it and left.

Blantyre Project thanks everybody. Popular subject by the looks of it!

Carol Boyd I worked in Simplicity in the overlooking Dept from 1960 till 62. In those days when women got married it was Simplicity’s policy that you had to leave which I had to do. Don’t think they would get away with it nowadays. My sisters also worked in the picking department at the same time. They were twins. Kay & Margaret Slater.

Tracy Mcinally Where mum n dad met x

Sadie Dolan My mum worked there,x

Margaret Dolan Mccarroll Me to Sadie

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