Steele’s Public House, High Blantyre


1910 Steele's Pub, Kirkton

1910 Steele’s Pub, Kirkton

Late 19th Century owner of Logan’s Pub at Kirkton Cross, High Blantyre , David Logan, relinquished his ownership of his pub, when his daughter Mary Steele (nee Logan) got married to her husband Joseph Steel on 25th April 1906. Prior to this date Mary had helped her father at Logan’s Public House at Kirkton Cross (in the building which is now The Cornerstone) and lived nearby at Orchardhead, a collection of homes in High Blantyre between Hunthill Road and School Lane.

Mary was born in 1884, a Blantyre girl. By 1891, she lived at 16 Hunthill Road, Orchardhead with her family. Her husband Joseph Steele was born on 12th January 1874, a good ten years older than Mary. By 1891, the census records Joseph as being a 17 year old paper maker. By 1901, at 27 years old, Joseph was noted as being a spirit merchant, living on his own at 255 Forrest Street. It may be he worked at one of several Blantyre pubs in Glasgow Road at the time, and it is likely through that profession that he would have met High Blantyre’s Mary Logan.

1906 Steele Family Ancestry

1906 Steele Family Ancestry

Love blossomed, for on 25th April 1906, the couple married, Mary becoming Mary Steele and at this time, they are known to have taken over the pub from Mary’s father. Joseph, being a spirit merchant would certainly have been experienced by this time and known how to run such a business. Therefore Steele’s pub has its origin in name going back to Springtime 1906. It is unknown where the couple lived, but presumably was close to the pub. On their marriage day, Mary was 22, Joseph aged 32. I’ve mapped out the Steele ancestry as attached. The name by the way is Steele, with an “e” not just Steel.

Unfortunately, their marriage was very short lived, not lasting one year, for on 12th March 1907, Joseph Steele sadly died, aged 33, leaving Mary a young, 23-year old widow with this busy business to manage. Joseph was buried in Clarkston Graveyard in Airdrie, closer to where his own family originated from. Now on her own, needs must, forced Mary’s father, David Logan to step back to the business he once managed, and his guidance and assistance to Mary, allowed the pub to and business to continue. (David had owned the pub since 1886 and by 1907 would have been 51 years old). Despite searching, i found no entries for Mary’s mother in the 20th Century, indicating she may have passed away in the late 1880s or 1890s.

There was another complication that that had forced David to step in and help Mary. At the time of Joseph’s death, she was pregnant, a second child coming in that short marriage. Norman Patrick Steele was Joseph and Mary’s first born son who arrived in 1906. The date suggesting the couple possibly got married at a time when Mary was pregnant. Almost a year later she was again and in early 1908, Joseph Young Steele was born. (He later married Annie Weir Cairns and died on board SS Empire Mica which was torpedoed in the Atlantic in 1942). David Logan, most definitely steeped back into being a licensed spirit dealer to assist his daughter in 1907 and it goes far to say that he maintained Joseph’s honour and respect by keeping the pub named Steele’s Pub. However, David’s assistance was short lived and in 1911, he died.

Mary would have been sole owner of the pub in 1911, with inherited property and all share in the business, a widowed, single mother of 2 young children under 5, at the tender age of only 27. I’m sure she put her heart and soul into the management of the pub in honour of her father and husband.

1915 Steele's Pub, Kirkton

1915 Steele’s Pub, Kirkton

A few years later in 1915, my great grand uncle, David Ritchie, took this photo of Kirkton Cross, one of the only photos known to exist of the outside of Steele’s pub. Shown on the left, the main door is now a window today. A gentleman, perhaps a manager or assistant, stands in the door of Mary’s pub.

The pub continued to flourish certainly up to Mary’s untimely death on 22nd January 1929, aged only 45. It would later become known with several other names over the decades, including the Victoria Bar (owned by a Mrs Gilmurray), Carrigans and The Cornerstone. At the time of writing, the pub has once again become managed by the brewery itself, a new landlord required since 7th September 2015. With the recent building of two large pubs in Blantyre, the future of the former Steele’s pub is uncertain and may again soon see another name change.

On social media:

Sarah Godfrey Wow. My grandad who was born in Blantyre in 1899 would almost certainly have drank in there. His name was William Walker Little on his birth certificate but later and for reasons unknown went by William Lyttle.

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