Coatshill Cottage – or later Coatshill House was constructed in winter 1870 and spring 1871 by owner James Naismith, who had in the 1860’s taken over Coatshill Farm and land from the Coats family. It was a former 2 storey detached moderately sized house, situated directly across from the local shops at the foot of Coatshill Avenue and David Livingstone Primary School. Built of stone, it had arched details above a lower floor window and the main doorway. The windows otherwise were long, tall and rectangular. The house occupied the exact site of a far older house that was demolished sometime in the late 1860’s. It was accessed from Glasgow Road down a long farm track in the approximate position of where Coatshill Avenue is now. (During the 1850’s the land, old house and steadings were referred to simply as Coatshill, the property of the Coats family.)
Whilst being built in December 1870, a tramp named Walter Stewart; a travelling slater stole a set of good tools from the builder Mr. Aitkenhead. In court upon being caught William stated he had been looking for work for nearly 2 months but was later imprisoned. In November 1872, James Jackson was renting the property, perhaps one of the first tenants to do so and his son was born in the house that year on 20th November 1872.
In March 1875, a tan retriever dog named “Nelly” strayed from the property. Jackson put the announcement in the paper noting if anybody were found to have Nelly, they would be prosecuted.
In 1875, Mr William Steel was renting the cottage. In 1879, Mr. Alexander Renfrew was renting Coatshill Cottage. Shortly after James Naismith and his family moved into the cottage. By 1881, James Naismith Esq was still owner of Coatshill Cottage and his daughter Mary Jane was married there in April that year. The 1885 Valuation roll has him as owner and occupier.
In 1892 the Rev John Burleigh and his wife Marion Anne Braid lived there, renting temporarily upon the lack of a manse at the Burleigh and Marion died there that year. James Naismith may have been temporarily away and for he is back living at Coatshill Cottage in 1895. Rev Burleigh moved out shortly after 1892 with family to Abbeygreen, the new Manse in Church Street.
James Naismith and family were still at the cottage in 1905 according to the valuation roll of that year. In 1915 Mr John P Copland was renting the property from the trustees of the late James Naismith and by then the cottage had a nice garden, worthy of separate named inclusion in the valuation roll.. Then Charles B Thomson, a grain merchant in 1920 rented it. It is known that Miss Elizabeth Mary Shaw Thomson lived there prior to 1923. Mr Thomson was still there in 1930 and his rent that year was £75 per annum.
During the 1950’s the council bought Coatshill Farm and Coatshill Cottage by compulsory purchase order. This was essentially to make way for the new Coatshill Housing Estate and Public David Livingstone Primary School. Coatshill Cottage was renamed Coatshill House and the council saved it from demolition by using is as the office for their Weights & Measurements Department.
New roads Coatshill Avenue and Morven Avenue were designed around the property being sited at the corner of these roads. Iron railings separated the estate residents from what was now a corporate council building. The housing estates and school adjacent were constructed in the late 1950s.
The Reid family were caretakers in this era.
In January 1967, the County Council awarded a contract worth £5,100 to Scott & Co of Motherwell, to renovate Coatshill House. The plans were to adapt it to convert it into accommodation for homeless families. The renovations took over 6 months. It was the first property in Scotland to allow fathers to stay with families and the first local authority owned building devoted entirely to homeless people. By September 1967, the house was ready for its first families.
The house had a mighty accolade. It was the first local authority house devoted exclusively for homeless people, going a step beyond hostels and hotels. This was to be a home for homeless people and their families getting back on their feet. When it opened in October 1967, it immediately housed 6 families.
Mrs Barabra Blackburn was appointed matron in 1968, where she stayed until 1976 when she left to go to the Isle of Wight. There is no doubt that it helped many families in their time of need and many children in Blantyre grew up in that accommodation.
In the early 1990s there was a rumour of the building becoming a nursery. Run down and in need of repair, unfit for such a purpose, a fire burned the building out in the mid 1990’s. It was eventually demolished around that time and the site is now a small carpark next to Morven Lane and Coatshill Avenue.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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