Pictured here recently in December 2014 by Robert Stewart is the Chapel House of St Josephs, or to give it it’s proper title, The St Joseph’s Presbytery. Robert’s complimentary comments regarding the aesthetics of this building and the fact that nobody appears to have written anything in detail about it, prompted me to investigate this charming building a little further.
Located at the end of Maybury Place, tucked in behind the St Joseph’s Church on Glasgow Road, this building was constructed in 1938. The 2 storey building has a combination of flat and pitched roofs and is L shaped, built in an Art-deco style. Its substantial gardens and striking horizontal lines make it a building which stands out in the area, it’s red brick matching the colours of the nearby grand Church to the South East of it. Exhibiting fine modern design in its elegant minimal decoration the Presbytery reflected the status of the Roman Catholic Church within Blantyre’s strong and conservative mining community of the Thirties.
With substantial Church grounds available, the original plan was drawn-up with two rear wings flanking a central courtyard but the bishop was seemingly dismayed at the prospect of such a grand design and halted building at the L-plan stage, halving the proposed construction. This resulted in an open verandah to the rear which has subsequently been enclosed with a flat roof. Owing to the scale of its design, dictated by the requirements of presbytery accommodation, this building appears more akin to commercial architecture of the Thirties than to the domestic designs of speculative development or the idiosyncrasies of private houses.
The interior still retains much of the fine period woodwork. There is an impressive vestibule with good part-glazed screen doors giving way to stair hall and long corridors with dark timber architraved openings, some with fluted detail. Adjacent, there is a dog-leg staircase leading to a similarly-detailed 1st floor. Some downstairs sitting rooms contain original timber fire surrounds and fitted cupboards.
On 29th November 2004, Historic Scotland in recognition of the importance of this building and the attachment to the nearby listed Church, also listed this manse, protecting it as a Category B, one of just half a dozen listed historic buildings in Blantyre.
Eddie Campaigne told me on social media, “In the 70’s I was the delivery boy ( with large bike and basket) for Wullie Norris’s shop in Stonefield road. I used to deliver groceries to the chapel house 2 or 3 times a week. Lovely inside and the housekeeper was a good tipper!!! Every delivery had at least 200 to 400 fags and several bottles of sherry and whiskey the priests certainly did not believe in abstinance even at lent!”