Oldest Stationers in Blantyre Part 1

I’ve very kindly been given access to some information regarding the Scott and McLean families who have been established in Blantyre for five generations as the town’s oldest running Stationers & Newsagents. Blantyre Project reader, Betty McLean lives in Canada and sent over some information connected to this family. I’ve added to it below, expanding on the detail and retelling the story in a manner hopefully worthy of the memory of her family. I’ve separated the story into Part 1 for the Scott’s and Part 2 for the McLeans. Fascinating story, even if i say so myself.

1898 grimsons building

Grimson’s Buildings in Springwells

Our story begins in the 1840’s, when William Scott snr was born. On Valentines Day 1872, he married his 24 year old sweetheart Mary Kennedy and towards 1880 they moved to 114 Glasgow Road, Blantyre living at Grimson’s Buildings. Grimson’s Buildings were located in Low Blantyre in the Springwell area, just before Burnbank (buildings no longer there today). The building was named after Christopher Grimson, an 1860’s builder and quarry master and owner of the buildings. They were quite the commercial hub, with several businesses located there in the 1880s onwards to the turn of the century. Naismiths Directory confirms amongst the businesses there were Hugh Fegan (a pawnbroker), William Frame (Carter), John Howie (Dairy) and its here we find William Scott who was not only living at Grimson’s Building, but had a shop on the lower level. William Scott Newsagent’s and Stationers.

With Low Blantyre’s Glasgow Road massively changing and being constructed upon during 1900 – 1903, it would appear for whatever reason William Scott decided to expand and open a business also in High Blantyre, just off Main Street at Gardiner Place.

High Blantyre

1902 William Scott and daughter Jane 001

1902 William and daughter Jane Scott

This wonderful photo is William Scott’s shop. Although no date was attached, I have been able to determine quite a bit more information about it. Firstly, the street sign at the top right shows Gardiner Place. A brilliant clue! Gardiner Place was located across the road from the top of Broompark Road. I know this building to have been built just before the turn of the 1900 century and is proof that at the very least William had a shop in High Blantyre too. There is another newspaper account which i’ll show later in the article that says he was still a shopkeeper at his low Blantyre shop, despite having this shop in High Blantyre too. Pictured beside William Scott is his daughter Jean, dressed very much like the shopkeeper.

However, it is the very nature of William’s business that helped me pinpoint the unknown date of the photo. Incredibly, i’m going to boldly say it is March 1902. The giveaway? The news story billboards outside the shop. Using Google, i was able to trace the newspaper stories as occurring that month. e.g 1902 The Royal Magazine is on sale, which first appeared after 1898. Riots at Greenock Football Ground. This was a Cappielaw stadium following a Scotland/ Wales match (and perhaps one of the earliest football riots recorded in the country!) and finally Cecil John Rhodes passing, Scottish businesman in Africa. The date is 1902.

Family Life

1924 William and Mary Scott

c1924 William and Mary Scott

William and Mary actually had 3 daughters and 2 sons. Their eldest son born just a year after their marriage in 1873 sadly had a short life. At the age of 34, on 29th November 1907, William Scott Jnr suffered a terrible accident. The Hamilton Advertiser newspaper reports of the time said, “Young man fatally scalded, William Scott Jnr, labourer of Gladstone Place, Stonefield died at the Royal Infirmary on Friday 29th November 1807 from injuries received on the 25th at the Clyde Steelworks, Peacock Cross. The deceased it is alleged was going for water at the close of the day to cool the furnace ashes and in the fog, he stumbled into a tank of boiling water. He succumbed to his injuries after 4 days.”

This must have been a terrible tragedy for William and Mary and indeed his siblings. It is clear that William Jnr hadn’t followed his fathers footsteps in the stationery industry and judging from the photo, it was daughter Jean who was more interested in the family business. (more on that in Part 2)

As William and Mary became elderly, the newspapers recorded their happy 50th wedding anniversary, with a nice story in 1922, “Last night Mr and Mrs William Scott, stationers and newsagents, Blantyre celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and in honour of the occasion, they entertained 140 guests in Stonefield Masonic hall. At the supper, the Rev Thomas. A. Hugh of Livingstone Memorial Church, presided and paid a well deserved compliment to the worthy couple and on behalf of the family and many friends, presented them with a pocket book and purse containing Treasury notes. ” The story tells of how it was Mary who came from a family of newsagents herself.  The report concludes with “In 1877 William and Mary came to Blantyre and started the business on their own account in the shop which they still occupy in Stonefield. They are the oldest shopkeepers in Blantyre”.

This was strong proof for me, that whilst the Scotts maintained the shop in Glasgow Road, the High Blantyre shop was likely run by their daughter certainly in the early 1920s. Sadly though, just two years later, William died in 1924 and Mary in 1925. There is no evidence that their shop in Glasgow Road continued in the family name and by that time Jean was in charge of the High Blantyre shop.

William and Mary Scott are buried in Bent Cemetery, Hamilton in Lair NND19.

Part 2 , Jean’s story follows here

Leave a Reply