Rolls Royce Cars, Blantyre

Dennis Hobbs in America is the recent proud owner of buying an old Rolls Royce Car. Attempting to trace the history of the vehicle, he approached me recently about references to it being in Blantyre. He sent me the following old Log book and MOT certificate which showed it made in 1965, and serviced in Broompark Road, J&A Smiths Garage, Blantyre.


The look book showed the Black “Silver Cloud” Saloon vehicle was in 1977 owned by Donald Kerr of Crossbow House, High Blantyre.


The car is noted as having 4 previous owners between 1965 and 1977.The registration of the car was JWT342C and Mr. Kerr was the fifth owner. Dennis asked if I knew anything about Rolls Royce cars in Blantyre or able to track down anything relevant about this.

Crossbow House is now demolished, but i had heard of a car being kept in the garage there. Mr Donald Kerr ran an antiques business there in the 1960’s. He used to make road trips to London and pick up many old Rolls Royce cars and bring them back north to clean them up, then sell them on. Now here is the interesting part, it is rumoured by myth only in Blantyre that one of Mr Kerr’s Rolls Royce once belonged to Hollywood great, Clark Gable!! Of course this particular car couldn’t have been Mr Gables as the famous actor died in 1960, before the car was manufactured. Mr Kerr’s business was by appointment only and he didn’t take kindly to people wandering around the property, despite its woodland, public location.

1965_rolls_royce_silver_cloud_iii_black_-_fvIt is known that many people in Blantyre, usually wealthy or successful businessmen over the decades have owned Rolls Royce Car, perhaps treating themselves to this luxury to celebrate their achievements. Amongst them was Mr Robert Brown of Hastie’s Farm. Mr Brown, commonly referred to as Bobby ran the entertainment business just off Victoria Street. It is said if it was raining, after an evening shift he would run some of his workers home. It is known a Rolls Royce was also parked up and kept at Smiths Garage also in the third quarter of the 20th Century. The Hughes family at the Glebe in Craigmuir Road, in High Blantyre also had a Rolls, near the manse.

Much earlier to the 1970s and 1980s,  Mr James Ramage owned a Rolls in the 1950’s. James lived at Viewfield in the Village and was in the business of letting out these beautiful cars for hire for weddings. Peter Wilkie, the local farmer also owned a Rolls, and it is known that at times, he took calves to market in it! T.M Simpson, the plumbing contractor at Rosebank Avenue had another. Earlier again, Micky Valerio owned a Rolls as did Mr Kelly of Blantyre Engineering. Perhaps the only surviving Rolls Royce in Blantyre today, is Peter Wilkie’s old 1950’s car. It is still kept at Bardykes today.

(c) some information from “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka 2016

On social media:

Moyra Lindsay That would be the car I went my wedding in.
John Lynaghan Worked for J&A Smith when I left school before I joined the Royal Navy they also ran an undertakers business from the garage
Elsie Chalmers I just love the history you come up with…be it about people or cars 🚗
Liz Boxall I worked for TMSimpson in Rosebank Ave .. I was unwell and work and got a lift home in the Rolls to Moffat place .oh happy days
Linda Taylor I worked in T M Simpson in the late sixties on the reception desk when were you there Liz
Margaret Gallacher Bob Brown that owned Hasties Farm owned. Roller
Bill Graham Mr Kerr had twin boy’s. In the 60’s we were friends and would go up and play there. I remember seeing an old horse drawn hearse and an American car with bullet holes in it. I also remember the 3 of us playing with an old flint lock musket.
Matthew McGuigan Believe it or not, I drove Bob Brown’s Rolls Royce (RB 150) on two or three occasions when the van was otherwise occupied, to Glasgow fish market to pick up the order for a wet fish shop he had in Bridgeton!
Flynn Flynn I Worked as an apprentice mechanic at J&A Smith,late 70’s-mid 80’s.
I worked (with the mechanics)on a few of the cars you mention.Stunning & iconic examples of vintage craftsmanship 👌
Joan Anderson My wedding car came from Smiths too and they also took care of my husband, Dad and Mum as undertakers. Mr Smith senior and Dad were friends
John Connachan I am positive I also mot that car, the name on that mot in the picture was George Robertson he was the workshop foreman at that time, also the rolls that u referred to was Clark gables that was mr kerr’s son that told us who it belonged to and I mot that one it had a gold plated dash board I’m sure.
The Blantyre Project Dennis Kane messaged me with this wee story, “a short story about a man who worked as a driver for the Co-op across from the timber house,s,(i was the van boy), in the early 70s this man would come to work in a black R/R on the odd occasion (dont remember his name), one day we had to deliver a small catered dinner for a funeral in East Kilbride but the van had broke down so everything was loaded into the R/R, plates, cups and saucers, cutlery, mashed potatoes, peas, steak pie, at the time a R/R meant nothing to me it was just a big car, but the ladies who were waiting the tables sure got a kick out of it, if you have a photo of Mr Kerr i may be able to tell you if it was him, it sure brought a smile to my face when i read your post.”
Moyra Lindsay Bobby Dunsmuir might help with this? My dad was the mechanic and Bobby his right hand man, but I never remember him talking about this. Dad retired in 1982.
Jim Donnelly Peter Wilkie had one at the farm for many years don’t no if Sandy still has it,used to sometime deliver to the odd milk customer in it.

1 Comment

Add a Comment
  1. Before mr. Brown owned Hastie Farm it was owned by the Cunningham (think that. Was the name) and he also had one that I drove on a Saturday around Blantyre to all the Co-op stores with a man who collected the cash from each store in the 1950/60
    Duncan Slater

Leave a Reply