With nobody ever writing about the late 1970’s Glasgow Road redevelopment in any great detail, I’ve toyed with the idea of doing this for some time now. I’ve been looking at this subject in some detail in recent weeks and now collected enough unique research and detail to form a small illustrated book, immersing myself in what happened to Glasgow Road in that decade. I see the 1970’s and into the early 1980’s as a major milestone in the shaping of Blantyre’s history. From that forthcoming book,
In Summer 1978, Blantyre was wearing Glasgow Road, like a shabby overcoat. Long past its use, its sell by date and for a two years or so, Blantyre residents were now getting fed up of it. Much was promised about the modern redevelopment, and even by 1978, precious little had been delivered. Expectation was turning to anger and dismay.
Glasgow Road had grown a ghost town atmosphere. In 2 years the weeds had become higher, more windows and doors boarded up, more windows smashed, more masonry falling apart. The boards on the windows however, didn’t reveal the frantic activity going on behind the scenes to bring a much needed facelift to a town seen by almost everybody as “now on its knees”.
It’s easy to look back now and long for nostalgia and for those tenements to still be there, but in 1978, there was little support for them remaining, nor much in the way of a longing to return to the ways and days of old. In 1978, certainly the majority of Blantyre people looked forward to welcoming in modernisation with open arms.
The conflict and delays was largely due to a handful of objectors and a long running argument that the new superstore to be built, was to either be Asda or the Co-op. With ASDA backed by Hamilton District Council both businesses thought they could and would open in Blantyre.
In the middle of this battle, were the long suffering people of Blantyre, having to live in and around the dereliction and for most, they just wanted the job done. Here’s what a few of them had to say.
Mrs Sadie Simpson of 27 Springwells Crescent said, “I don’t think the Co-op should be given another chance in this town. They had 40 years to do something on Glasgow Road and all they did was take and stand back and watch it go to ruin.”
Mrs Matilda Archibald commented, “Let’s face it. Its hopeless shopping here. The place is a disgrace and has been for years. Something good is always promised, and never happens.”
Local church people often voiced their concern over the gradual decay of the retail areas of Blantyre. One of the most outspoken was Blantyre Congregational Minister and Community Councillor, Alan Paterson. He said in 1978, “Personally, I’m for ASDA and not the Co-op. I have been in Blantyre for 7 years now and in that time watched the Co-op offer people in Blantyre a diminished service. They had their chance.”
Margaret Strange of 14 Herbertson Street had her own ideas, “The Council have done nothing for this town. They’ve been useless. This used to be a lively town, but now all there is, is dereliction and vandalism.”
Margaret Murray of 8 Chestnut Grove said in Summer 1978, “It’s true. I would be ashamed to tell people I live in Blantyre now. You don’t realise it so much until you go away, visit other places then come back to see what you’re living in. The Co-op have been here long enough, made enough from Blantyre and invested nothing back. It’s time for ASDA and the future.”
Mrs Catherine Cummiskey of 18 Holmswood Avenue said, “I have lived in Blantyre all my married life. That is 49 years I have watched this town go downhill. It was a far nicer place when i arrived.”
Mrs Anne Wright of 6 Roxburgh Place had lived here for 6 years by 1978. Her words sent the most chilling statement of all to councillors. Anne said, “Blantyre is not a place I want my children growing up in. The shops are depressing and dull and nothing for children or teenagers to do.”
Hearing those sort of comments, made the council all the more determined to get things rolling, especially the demolition work later that year.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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