It seems appropriate this year to look at some of the history of Blantyre’s library, as its been 60 years this Summer since the public library first opened its doors. Many people will be aware of the old Library at Calder Street (since demolished) and that it is now relocated to the corner of Glasgow Road and Victoria Street. A few people will know of the circulating library which existed at High Blantyre Old Parish Church halls.
This story concerns the opening of the Blantyre library at Calder Street and in particular a story about a ceremonial key.
At the end of January 1993, the Blantyre library received a letter (copy attached). It was from a Mr Edward Daly McLernon who lives in Manchester and told of his grandfather being involved in the Summer 1955 opening of Calder Street library.
Edward wrote, “Dear Sir/Madam – As a boy living with my grandfather Edward Daly and my mother Mary at Annfield Terrace, 213 Glasgow Road, Blantyre i played in the steel superstructure of the building that until the outbreak of World War II, was to have been our new library. The area was known as “The Honeymoon” for some reason or other and was accessible from Victoria Street and Calder Street.
The formal opening of Blantyre District library was performed by my grandfather then resident at 5 Cowan Wilson Avenue, Blantyre and the (ceremonial) key was subsequently kept on display by my mother and from 1983 by my wife Elizabeth at our home in Manchester. She died recently and it would be a pity to have the key simply dropped into a drawer and forgotten now she is not here to give it an occasional dusting.
The library was a marvellous place for me as a young man and I trust that it is still well used. I must confess that i found it very short on items of local history when I last visited about three or four years ago and it is for that reason that I forwarded some books to you via my cousin James McLernon late in December 1992. I have one or two others – mainly photographs and news cuttings of the life and times of Edward Daly CBE and should you find that such homely collections are of interest then i will have them delivered to you.
My children are now adults and have few memories of Blantyre that was my home. Indeed, the loss of part of a beautiful public park, the footprint of the Asda giant, the lack of local business and the new Main Street architecture give us little cause to remember Blantyre today, albeit that some facilities are of undoubted benefit to those still resident and hopefully working there. The key will therefore lose its significance to my family after time. For that reason it is better that it should return home now.”
The key is now with the current Blantyre library, ironically even as the old library is now demolished. I agree with Edward that the current library was not well stocked with items of Blantyre history. This is something hopefully now rectified by several Blantyre Project Books now on the shelves.