Moir, Mr. Alexander – was the owner of Houlet’s Nest (Barnhill Tavern) on Bardykes Road from April 1914 until January 1927. He took over from Alexander Stoddart, who gave the premises up on account of his ill health. When he took over the pub, it was already double storey, i.e in the configuration that it is today, the rebuilding of the one storey thatched pub to the modern 2 storey occurring before then.
Born in Montrose, Forfar in 1855, Alexander only came to Blantyre in 1914 upon his retirement after a long and illustrious career with the Lanarkshire Constabulary Police Force. The former superintendent was a highly respected policeman of the old school, who spent his time in the force when the policeman’s lot was far from a happy one, and a day off duty came only once in six weeks, and even then was liable to be cancelled on short notice.
During his retirement Superintendent Moir became a wine and spirit merchant and kept the licensed premises in Blantyre, which by 1927, bore the picturesque name “The Houlet’s Nest.” During his active service he was in charge of Motherwell, Police and also the Wishaw division. The turning point in his career was his meritorious conduct when, as a constable at Bishopbriggs, was instrumental in apprehending Couborough, a fugitive murderer who stabbed Sub-Inspector Allan. The incident created a great sensation at the time, and led to the promotion Constable Moir after the young sergeant apprehended the murderer in a haystack!
In 1881, the family lived in Hillhead, Alexander then 27 already been married by then for some time. In 1891, the family were living at Bothwell, where Alexander was a sergeant in the police force. It is thought that his young daughter Margaret Bruce Moir then aged 1 in that census, sadly died shortly after.
During the 1901 census, Alexander was 47, his wife Jessie a year older at 48. They were living in the Police Buildings in Motherwell and he is noted as being a superintendent. Their family were close. With them were grown up sons John (27), a surveyor and Alex junior (23). Other sons George, David and James were aged between 7 and 19. Daughter Helen (Nellie) was 17.
When Alexander retired with the rank of superintendent from the force in April 1914, with an honourable record of over thirty-four years’ exemplary attention duty, he utilised his pension to take ownership of the public house in Blantyre. He was living at Grantley Gardens, Langside at that time when he applied in late April 1914 for the certificate of transfership from Stoddart to himself. The court gave that decision unanimously.
He died on Friday 18th January 1927 at the age of 72, at his Public House. The announcement his death caused a painful sensation in Blantyre and Motherwell locality, where Inspector Moir was a well-known figure and much esteemed personality. He left behind widow Jessie Calder and a grown up family.
At the funeral, which took place to Cambusnethan Cemetery on the afternoon of Tuesday 22nd January 1927, a detachment of Lanarkshire constabulary attended. Inspector Anderson was in charge, and there were also present Inspector Lamont, Superintendent Welsh, and Inspector Leslie. The last-named knew their deceased comrade very intimately, and for a considerable period acted as his clerk. Mr Moir’s tact and efficiency were exemplified to a conspicuous degree during the period when religious strife in Motherwell reached a very acute stage.
Alexander Moir junior, a stockbroker attended the will reading on 4th January 1928 in which he left the sum of £1,849, 8s, 6p. It is thought that Alexander’s daughter Nelly (b1884) later ran the public house.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c)