Central Co-op Building – was a former large L shaped, impressive building in Low Blantyre, which contained several Co-op shops with the Head Office of Blantyre Co-operative Society in the building at the corner of Glasgow Road and Herbertson Street (opposite Forrest Street.)
The Co-op already was located nearby further eastwards at Henderson’s Buildings having been established at that more easterly location since 1885, but the proposed new Central Premises were to be their own dedicated shops and offices, without having to rent.
The building was constructed exactly on the site of the former old Blantyre Police Station on Glasgow Road. The Avon Buildings (the old Police Station) on Glasgow Road had been vacant since 1909, and the Co-op bought them after a prolonged series of negotiations, and knocked the buildings down, with the intention of building their new Central Co-op Building.
The building was constructed in late 1915, throughout 1916 and into 1917, commencing with the laying of the ‘Memorial Stone’ of the new Co-op Hall and offices on Saturday 6th November 1915.
The premises officially opened in early February 1917, and the first 2 weeks of that month, the Co-op held a series of opening celebrations. A series of soirees, concerts and cinema entertainments took place. Mr. Thomas Gray, the president took to the platform each evening, along with local clergy and doctors. A splendid tea was provided, thereafter a fine musical programme was submitted, the following very talented artistes contributing: Miss G. Amory (soprano) and Mr J. L. Hilton (tenor), with Mr Jas. Buchanan as accompanist. Addresses were given by number of co-operators from Glasgow. During intervals in the programme a cinema display was given by the Society’s own cinematograph. The cinematograph was first considered at a Co-operative meeting on 13th July 1916, whilst the halls were being constructed, and from February 1917, it run for about 14 years before the ‘talkies’ put it out of the game (the Co-op couldn’t get silent films any more to fit the machine) Altogether, the opening ceremonies proved very successful and thoroughly enjoyed by the large audiences each evening. Handsome samples of cigarettes and soap, kindly presented by the S.C.W .S., were also distributed during the evening.
The new premises, which were signed with “Blantyre Co-operative Central Premises” incorporated architectural additions in an early art-deco style and included a large upper hall with good access. The façade made the building much more prominent from other nearby two-storey tenements and shops. The building was constructed exactly on the site of the former old Blantyre Police Station on Glasgow Road. Amongst the first uses of the halls, were Burns recitals, concerts, speeches, womens guild and meetings by Blantyre Golf Club. Dances were held on Saturday evenings. Before the opening of larger cinemas in Blantyre, the hall was used as a cinema, showing silent movies at 6pm and 8.30pm, with entrance fee of 4d.
In 1930, the Co-Op owned and occupied the Hall and Rooms at number 6, (which was let out at £100 rent a year) the lesser hall, office and boardroom at number 4 and a shop, millinary, petrol pump and tank also at number 4. Their gent’s department store was at number 2 Herbertson Street.
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