Oldest Stationers in Blantyre Part 2

This story follows on from William Scott’s family of Stationers, whose daughter Jean, became the first generation of McLean newsagents in High Blantyre. You can read the first part of the story and here.

Late 1920s Jean McLean at her shop at Gardiner Place

Late 1920s Jean McLean at her shop at Gardiner Place

By 1902, we know that Jean Scott was working at her father’s Stationers and Newsagents shop at Gardiner Place, High Blantyre. The family had suffered a terrible tragedy in 1907 when her brother William Scott jnr died in a scalding accident.  Jean’s father died in c1924 and it would appear she inherited the family business, putting her own stamp on it, carrying married name McLean. And so it came to be that McLean’s newsagents in High Blantyre continued on as it had done for decades, but this time with a new name and Jean at the helm.

I think this photo dates from the late 1920s. Pictured is Jean McLean at the doorway of her shop at 133 Gardiner Place (a small street just off Main Street), which would today have been in the vacant land now a small carpark, immediately beside the Co-op buildings and the modern convenience store in Main Street. I had a look yesterday at the side of the gable and it is clear that the building used to be there.

Jean McLean went on to have a family and continued running the business at that location until 1945, just at the end of WW2, when a terrible fire gutted the shop. Indeed, the building itself could not be saved and effectively sealed the fate of Gardiner Place in Blantyre. No people were injured in the fire, but sadly, a dog is alleged to have died. I am in contact with Fraser McLean, a relative the same age as me. He told me he has a paperweight that was made from melted coins from the heat of this fire.

The year of the fire is confirmed by the McLean family through recollection and a 1980’s newspaper report. Betty McLean told me, “As a child going to school in High Blantyre from Welsh Drive I remember seeing the smoldering papers lying on the floor.  Not sure what year but I moved to Beech Place at age 10 and changed schools to Auchinraith I would think it was between 1943 and 1947 as the first six years I lived in Burnbank.”

c1920 A Jenkins Main Street

c1920 A Jenkins Main Street

Back to 1945 then. Without premises, the family decided to move across the road, buying an existing building at 276 Main Street. The new building they bought was previously owned by Clothier and Tailor A. Jenkins. I have a great old picture of that business in my collection dated from 1920.

The Newsagents opened up and business thrived again, with Jane’s son running the shop until 1963. Jane’s daughter in law then

Early 80s. Alistair mcLean

Early 80s. Alistair mcLean

continued running the shop until 1972, when Alistair McLean took over. I’m sure many people will remember Alistair well. Indeed, working for Alistair was the first paper-round i had. I got £5 per week. This was for an hours work every day 7 days a week delivering newspapers when i was 14 years old, rain , snow , and all before school. I do recall getting just as much though in tips. I remember Alistair being a tough boss, but fair.

In the early 1980s Alistair expanded the premises by adding to the property building a grocers and premises to sell alcohol. A sandwich bar called “Jimmy Mays” also opened in the block of shops in 2014. These businesses compliment the current newsagents, still named “W.S McLeans”, not only a reference to Alistair’s father William Scott McLean, but also a nod to many generations of newsagents back, when Alistair’s great grandfather started the business back in 1879.

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