Rosendale Place was a former large 3-storey tenement, situated just off Glasgow Road at the corner of Auchinraith Road, commanding an elevated vantage point above and to the rear of Chamber’s Buildings and Caldwell Buildings. In the 20th Century, across was toad was The Horse Shoe Pub (Kelly’s Bar or Kelly’s Corner Pub).
The building was known as ‘Rosendale Place when first constructed, although after 1905, this was the name of the street in front of the tenements. The property was also known simply as “Rosendale” and from time to time, although not in any census or valuation roll, “Rosendale Terrace.” They would have addresses 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8 Rosendale and never have Glasgow Road addresses.
In 1896, constructor Mr. Adam Kirk bought a portion of land directly behind Chamber’s Buildings from nearby Chamber’s Land owner, Mr. David Gardiner Dunn. David would sell off the rest of the land he owned in that area a few years later to the constructor of the Caldwell Buildings.
Born in 1853, Adam Kirk was a joiner and not a native of Blantyre. He lived in at 78 North Street, Whiteinch in Renfrew. His construction would surely have been a talking point, for his building was not in a similar style to the rest of the tenements appearing in Glasgow Road due to its use of red sandstone, rather than granite and darker stone. Construction started in 1897 and on the 1898 map, 4 of the 5 tenements were already built, but with no entrance road formed yet. By 1905, the full 5 terraced tenements including shops at the western end had been completed.
Outdoor toilets were built at the rear of the properties, for each tenement, although in later years some relief from this situation was provided when a couple of the toilets were relocated into the dark closes. Speaking of the closes, the entrances were on the north side of the building, entered from the street for the lower floor only. Access to the upper two levels was to the rear via steep stone steps, so common at the time everywhere else. Rosendale was to have the appearance of being a bold, well built property and offered miners families an excellent place to stay close to Auchinraith and Craighead Pits.
The imposing height of the three storeys, scale and different design must have made an impressive sight to any traveller coming into Blantyre from the East. However, that would have been short lived for by 1900, Caldwell Buildings obscured most of Rosendale from Glasgow Road. Rosendale was to serve as excellent accommodation for many, many families over the decades.
The access road, to be named Rosendale Place was to the front of the tenement extending diagonally behind the Caldwell Halls away from Glasgow Road. It was not entered from Auchinraith Road as others may have reported.
Dispelling incorrect facts & myths
It is previously written incorrectly by ‘ainother that Rosendale was “built in the early 1880’s and erected by David Dale of the Workers’ Village and named after his wife Rose.” This delightful comment would have been such a romantic piece of history, if it were true. Sadly the account of the construction date and of how it was named is entirely wrong. I take the bold step of correcting it here so it doesn’t get perpetuated further. Inaccurate historical accounts require correction, itself a huge motivator for this book. (Sidenote: David Dale died in 1806, some 90 years before the buildings were actually constructed! Additionally, David only married once to his sweetheart Anne Campbell. History records nothing of a ‘Rose’ existing in his family).
Rosendale was built in 1896 due to the requirement for proper accommodation following the arrival of the coalmining era in Blantyre. It is said, the name ‘Rosendale’ was decided in a local competition held in the newspaper press, with both winner and how it was called to be, now lost, never recorded. One theory is that it was given such a flowery, beautiful name due to the immediate proximity to the drab Craighead miner’s rows across the road and hemmed in on the other side by busy railway lines, bridges, signal posts and junctions.
The back of the building looked out on spare ground occupied by a blacksmith, Alexander Menzies. Even at its time of construction, Rosendale was squashed in amongst pollution and industry. What better way to celebrate the name of a new building, than a “dale of roses.” This could also have been a reference to Craighead’s gardens not too far off from this location. Or as is more likely, it could simply have been a name owner, Adam Kirk liked.
In 1901, newspapers told of an outbreak of smallpox at Rosendale, affecting one man in his 30s. The report comments on Rosendale being one of the most fashionable buildings in Blantyre.
Early Ownership, Shops and Tenants
Adam Kirk rented out every house to local families. Rosendale was divided into 5 tenements. In number 1 were 11 houses, 1 of which was empty in 1905. In number 2, 11 houses, 3 of which were empty. In number 3, 9 houses, 1 of which was empty. In number 4, 10 houses with 2 empty and in number 5, 7 houses. In all there were 47 homes with handy access to the tram network.
In 1905, Mr. Kirk also owned the shops at number 6,7 and 8. Mrs. Agnes Murdoch was renting the large shops at number 6 and 7. At 8 Rosendale was Antonio Tracendo’s ice cream parlour. Antonio lived in a house nearby. It is known that Mr. Richard Pickering was also a shopkeeper around this time.
Families living at Rosendale in 1905 included but not limited to Baird, Bryan, Coletta, Colthart, Crawford, Cumming, Davidson, Dent, Dickson, Dixon, Duddy, Dunlop, Elliot, Francenda, Graham, Hanna, Hewlett, Inglis, Kirkpatrick, Law, MacDonald, Mackinlay, Montgomery, More, Murdoch, Nicol, Niven, Park, Paterson, Paul, Penrose, Polland, Pritchard, Reid, Scoullar, Semple, Sneddon, Spence, Stewart, Thomson, Tinning, Tinto, Watters and Young. When you consider each of these families had large families of their own, you can begin to imagine the hundreds of people who would have lived at Rosendale.
In 1908, Adam Kirk died young aged only 55 at Renfrew. The properties passed to his trustee Thomas Black & Son, of Cambuslang who would continue to lease the homes out to miner’s families. During World War One, all the homes were occupied, but the shops, which had been split into 5 separate shops, were all laying empty, perhaps a casualty of the war years.
In 1912, Mr. Alexander McDermott of Rosendale was walking his Pomeranian Dog when it was run over an killed by a tram. He attempted to sue the Lanarkshire Tram Company and the case ended up in the small claims court. However, the verdict was, if Mr McDermott was going to be in the habit of keeping an expensive dog, he would have to in future make sure it was kept out of harms way. Alexander left with no compensation.
In May 1912, Mr. Samuel McDermott of 3 Rosendale was in the habit of betting as a bookmaker illegally hanging around the corner of Auchinraith Road and Glasgow Road junction. However, during mid May, following anonymous tipoffs by letter, three police officers hid behind the shops and awaited for the illegal activity to begin, pouncing out at the right moment and giving chase to Samuel down Rosendale Place. Samuel ran home and locked himself in the house, refusing entry to the officers, who eventually broke the door down, taking him away to the Police Station. He was later fined.
The ground behind Rosendale was a favourite for bookies. Taking bets on the open air sports ground across the Glasgow Road, and later taking bets on greyhound racing. News stories tell of people being charged for bookmaking illegally even into the 1930’s.
Auchinraith Social Club
Between 1916 and 1919, the Auchinraith Social Club was formed. A working mans club, especially frequented by miners. The club rented the 5 shops from Thomas Black & Son and knocked them through into the one large premises, the club being attached and on the western end of Rosendale in a part of the building that was one storey with a pitched slate roof. It had address 6 Rosendale. The club, essentially a small hall was situated at the corner of Auchinraith Road and Glasgow Road and was the first building encountered at the foot of Auchinraith Road. Small events and classes were frequent and included Scottish Country Dancing classes, which later moved to the Co-op Halls. Later that Century the club would give up their lease and obtain their own premises further south along Auchinraith Road, nearer to Auchinraith Primary School.
Latter ownership and tenants
In 1916 Mrs Agnes Downie of 5 Rosendale was going through legal proceedings for custody of her child away from David Greenhorn, a miner from Burnbank.
War did not escape Rosendale. On 8th December 1917, Lance Corporal Thomas McLean of the Scottish Rifles, died in France.
Ownership was unchanged until 1922 when Mrs. Annie Imrie Davidson, or Carlton Miller of London acquired Rosendale from Thomas Black & Son, the trustees of Adam Kirk. Houses were rented out for around £6 per annum and she continued to lease out the space for the club. At that time, number 5 was leased out Robert MacManus and Alan Robertson. This was still the same arrangement in 1930.
In June 1928, James Murray, a miner aged 26, of 12 Sunnyside Terrace, Coatbridge was awarded a parchment for heroism in life saving. On the 1st June 1928, he saved 8 year old Archibald Hutton of 49 Bairds Rows, and John Hogg (8) of 3 Rosendale Place who both fell into the water at the junction of the Calder and the Clyde, whilst trying to catch minnows.
A rather rare event was talked about for some time after when it became known that a Blantyre woman had given birth to her 4 children, all on the same day. On 9am on Sunday 6th May 1928, the young Blantyre woman, Mrs Flora McLean, wife of miner, who both resided at Rosendale Place gave birth to quadruplets, to four sons in Bellshill Maternity Hospital. Unfortunately though, this story does not end happily. All four were still-born. Mrs McLean was reported by Dr. H. J. Thomson, of Uddingston, who was present, and later advised press who were keen on the story, that the heartbroken mother, was progressing favourably under the circumstances.
An alarming smash took place on Saturday 16th February 1935 at the junction of Auchinraith Road and Glasgow Road, when a large motor lorry, belonging to lan Fair, Glasgow, and loaded with bricks, and a light motor van owned and driven Mr J. Baird, baker. New Stevenston. came into collision. Both vehicles were travelling towards Hamilton when they collided, the van having come out of Auchinraith Road. They crashed into the telegraph pole. The pole and overhead wires were broken. William Stokes, residing at Rosendale Place, was standing at the pole when the wires fell on him, but escaped injury.
On 2nd December 1938, Miss Alice Sharpe, aged 12, daughter of Mr. Matthew Sharpe, Rosendale was killed by a heavy motor lorry. The lorry, which was proceeding towards Glasgow on the Glasgow Road, had to be jacked up to release the girl. She died while being conveyed by ambulance to the Royal Infirmary , Glasgow.
WW2 didn’t start well for one Rosendale resident. Pleading guilty to committing a breach of the peace, Patrick Ward, labourer of 4 Rosendale stated at Hamilton J.P. Court on Saturday 2nd September 1939, that he got into an argument with another man about Hitler. “This other man said Hitler was a good man, and I disagreed with him. I used two or three words, and the police lifted me.” Imposing a fine of 10s on Ward, the presiding Justice said—‘‘You can’t use obscene language in the street, even when talking about Hitler!”
At the Queens Coronation day in June 1953, a huge street party took place out the front of the building, in front of opposing Baird’s Rows on the opposite side of Glasgow Road, some of Rosendale tenants attending.
Rosendale families who latterly lived there in the 1940’s – 1970’s include Barkey, Beaton, Callaghan, Flannigan, Kelly, McCourt, McCue, McIntosh, Rouse, Slaven, Tonner, Walker and Watson.
Some former residents of the 1950’s -1960’s remember as children local rivalries between Rosendale children and Springwells, which could often end up in fisticuffs, a shame that this happened as Rosendale was a Springwells building too.
Rosendale (A Magic Place when we were young)
There’s a wonderful poem about Rosendale written in 2004 by former resident, Brian Cummiskey. It was Brian’s first poem with the late James Cornfield adding some old Scots.
Ah’ remember the tenement called Rosendale,
In Blantir took fae whence ah’ hail,
An ancient place, a bit o’ a dive,
But somehow magical, when yur only five.
Ah’ remember ma pals an’ thur cheeky wee faces,
Thur wee short troosers held up wae braces,
Playin’ outside was always a must;
Kickin’ a baw in the stoor an’ the dust.
Ah’ remember the outside toilet wae dread,
Is it any wunner we peed the bed?
Tae go doon there made me awfy unhappy,
Thir wur times ah’ wished, ah’ still wore a nappy.
Ah’ remember the close wae hardly a light,
The ghosts oan the stairs that gave ye a fright,
An gaun tae bed when the time wis just right,
Tae wait fur the Daleks, that came in the night.
Ah’ remember ma da’ wae his jet-black hair,
Young an ‘ handsome an’ fu o’ flair,
A Blantir Dandy some wid say,
But a gentleman always, come what may.
Ah’ remember ma mother, a young Snow White,
Always there tae make things right,
Tender, lovin’ an fu o’ care,
Wae a heart fu’ o’ love, for us tae share.
The family remembers those childhood days,
In auld Rosendale in oor different ways,
An’ as we remember, happy or sad,
We’ll always be grateful, tae oor mum and dad.
Brian wrote the poem for his father’s 70th birthday noting that the ghost on the stair was allegedly seen by his father and remembering the Daleks of Dr Who kid’s TV programme, where a lifesize replica of one adorned the Co-op windows nearby.
Blantyre Project Social Media:
Gerry Walker: “I was born there in 1960 before moving to Craigton Pl a few years later. Outdoor toilets and a big sink as a bath. Plenty off room out the back to play though.”
David McIntosh: “I was born in no. 3 Rosendale Place in 1942. I remember the Queens Coronation party in 1953, it was held out in the street in front of the building. I’m sure everyone who lived in the building was there.”
Susan Walker Graham: “I remember going round the back of the pub on the corner and removing the beer bottle lids that used to have cork on the inside. We would make badges with them!”
In post WW2 years, the building was acquired by the District Council, and similar to other buildings in Springwell, little was spent to maintain it. With Chambers Buildings demolished in 1959 and Caldwell Buildings in the mid 1960’s, by the end of the 60’s Rosendale was sitting alone on that ground, its frontage now on Glasgow Road. It had fallen into disrepair and was in need of modernization.
Resident’s Complain and pursue re-housing
In February 1968, residents of Rosendale Building went to the County Buildings in Hamilton to complain about the state of the housing block and the delay in getting them re-housed. Mothers of young children complained that the chimneys were ready to fall, there were no toilets in many apartments, rain was leaking into the rooms and a tarpaulin protected part of the roof. The building was probably badly damaged during the January hurricane of the earlier month. Quite a number of buildings were damaged that night around Blantyre.
The complaints were upheld and people slowly but surely started to be re-housed from late 1968. Many residents left for the new housing built at Burnbrae and High Blantyre.
By the mid 1970’s, Rosendale was scheduled for demolition. It was demolished by 1976, before the opposite building at Kelly’s corner, an early casualty of Glasgow Road redevelopment. Like Chamber’s Buildings, it had existed for 80 years.
It has been said that Rosendale was once where Gavin Watson Printers (formerly JR Reid Printers) now is. That is incorrect, as Rosendale was exactly where the A725 carriageway is now and partially on what is now woodland between the A725 and the Low Blantyre slipway.
Nearby to its former location, a modern street to a small industrial area, named Rosendale Way is a nod to the buildings existence.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,