Blantyre Lodging House (Model Hostel)


Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 12.23.21.pngBlantyre Lodging House was located at Birdsfield Street in Burnbank. Its identity was often blurry, for whilst it initially carried the name Blantyre Lodging House, it was certainly located over the Parkburn boundary, and into Hamilton Parish, rather than Blantyre. As such, I do still consider this a Hamilton building.

1940s Trades Hotel burnbank

1940s Trades Hotel (Model Lodge)

It was built by public subscription with the company Blantyre Lodging House Ltd asking for people to subscribe with shares. Subscription closed on Friday 5th July 1907. Take up was great with directors thinking they may have had to close the subsrciption before the actual closing date.

The prospectus asking for shares had been published slightly earlier on Friday 21st June 1907 and appeared in local newspapers like “The Motherwell Times.”

It cost £8,000 with the amount raised from 2000 x £1 cumulative preference shares and a further 6000 x £1 ordinary shares. A 5s deposit could be made payable on application with the balance permitted to be paid up.

James Bell of Motherwell was Architect and one of five directors. The other directors were James Burns, the town clerk of Motherwell, Thomas Chambers a wood merchant of Motherwell, Blantyre’s own James Kelly, spirit merchant and justice of the Peace and David Kemp, a painter of Motherwell.

The company was proposed to be formed on 21st June 1907 with the purposes of constructing a model lodge house. It was noted an excellent site had been found already at that time. It was conveniently sited, near public works and with a tram stopping right outside the gate. It was considered the finest location for building such a lodging house.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 13.43.50It opened on Saturday 3rd October 1908 as “Blantyre Lodging House”, with all the latest fixtures and fittings. When it first opened there was a handy tram stop just outside at the Glasgow Road, at the entrance to Birdsfield Street. The triple storey building was made of sandstone and was entirely fenced off. When it opened, there was plenty of ground surrounding it offering recreational space foe the residents, or if they wanted to sit out on forms (seats). These seats were placed outside at various intervals for the lodgers. This was considered very important, for it was noted at the time that none of the other model lodging houses in Lanarkshire, or indeed Scotland offered a place for residents to sit outside, smoke and enjoy themselves without actually being on a public street.

The lodgers came in through a big entrance hall, after which it had a large well lit dining hall and a recreation room with kitchen on the ground floor, modern toilets and changing facilities as well as drying rooms were all at the back. A small shop was located within the building, exclusively selling items to residents.

The whole building was advertised as being well ventilated (a must in these hostels) and the big stone staircase led up to dormitories on the first and second floors. These were subdivided into wooden cubicles, which could accommodate 260 guests, each with a bed.

Older folk may remember the iron stairway at the back which was the emergency route in case of fire, which in these places was always a hazard, in fact the ceilings were made out of asbestos or some similar fire retardant material.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, shares often came up for sale in local newspapers as they passed hands.

Gordon Cook told me, “I’m pretty sure a lot of the shareholders then were Blantyre residents too, the shares came up for sale from time to time. Some men preferred to live there permanently though not out of necessity. When, around 1973 I waited for the Motherwell bus at 5:20 a.m. the men could be heard at the ‘model’ coughing in increasing numbers as they began to wake up.”

2010 Noel Kegg & toolstop move out wm

2010 Toolstop / Noel Kegg move out

In pre WW2 years the hostel, perhaps reflecting it was not in Blantyre, was known as the “Trades Hotel”.It was then known as the Model Hostel and home to many homeless people or those down on their luck. Joseph Doyle and his son Henry Doyle managed the Trades Hotel for many decades until the 1970’s.

It was bought over by Tool Hire company Noel Kegg in early 1975 and they traded there until 2010, for a while also known as Toolstop (the name of Noel’s sons company).

In 2010, Toolstop moved to larger location nearer the M74.

At the time of writing this at the end of August 2016, the building has scaffolded erected around it as pictured here by Jim Brown. A possible sign pre-empting its demolition or perhaps a new roof?


The answer came in October 2016, when on Thursday 6th October 2016, the building was completely demolished.

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016

On social media:

Margaret Stewart Sad to see another historic building demolished. I passed this building about a month ago and thought that developer’s would probably turn it into flats. How wrong was I 😥
David Miller Fascinating piece of history..I must have passed that building a million times and never knew it’s story.Ive said it before and I’ll say it again South Lanarkshire Council have no interest in promoting local history or tourism in the Hamilton area…..ask them to create havoc with a one way system and there on it like a shot!
Liz Jack Could see it from house we used to run by it so the old men could not catch you we were told they would take you away to stop u going over there lol
Jim McSorley When St Joseph’s secondary closed we were move to Greenfield annex Burnbank in 1972. I lived in high Blantyre and walked past the model every day going home. Once my friend and I went inside to the large hall entrance, we saw some poor old souls mostly ( probably) homeless old men. These guys probably served in WW2. Just wish I had the sense to talk to some of these men and record a few stories. Something you don’t think about when you are 14 or 15 years old.
Robert McLeod-Wolohan aye i remember it well, i lived in burnside crescent at the time, and to get to burnbank we crossed over the park behind charlie irelands cross a wee burn then up past the model. then into burnbank. such fond memories.
Caroline McDougall I remember the model very well. The old men used to sit on the wee wall outside every day and they always said hello to everyone passing. There were the occasional ones who were slightly drunk but they were nice men.
Andy Callaghan Used to pass it regularly walking home from Hamilton baths (cos I’d spent my bus fare on chips)

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  1. Our local elite are not into conserving anything, serves ye right!

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