Abbeygreen Hall & Consulting Rooms
At the western corner of Church Street and Glasgow Road, exactly on the junction was the former Abbeygreen Hall & Consulting Rooms. This 2 storey stone tenement building, adjacent to Abbeygreen may have once had the name ‘Bothwellview” on account of it facing northwards and perhaps being able to see over the Clyde Braes at one point. It was situated directly across from John Street, so this is entirely possible.
In 1891, the Rev John Burleigh was living at Coatshill Cottage further west. A year later when his wife died, he acquired this rectangular plot of land and constructed Halls for use by the community and should not be confused or called the Burleigh Church Hall, which existed at Herbertson Street.
The Abbeygreen hall & its rooms were entered from Glasgow Road, the building having only 1 door facing out on to the pavement. There were no windows or doors on the gables. John was minister at the nearby Burleigh Church and was well respected and known to many, pictured here from the St Andrews Church website.
During 1895, it is noted that a shop existed in the ground floor of the building, presumably the hall and rooms being on the upper floor. That year both hall and shop were empty. The hall would certainly have been accessible for many when trams started running up and down Glasgow Road in front of it in 1903.
Incredibly, we can date this photo rather accurately. Trams ran from October 1903 and where the billboard is on waste ground, the Masonic Hall construction had started in May 1904, so this creates a 6 months window for when this picture was taken. The long northerly shadows suggesting winter. The postcard very likely taken to celebrate the start of the tram service. The Stonefield Parish Church is behind the hall, although the picture makes it look like it had a steeple (which it didn’t!)
By 1905, the hall was again marked ‘empty’ on the valuation roll, although not to say it wasn’t being used often. The shop was occupied by Robert Hunter, a laundryman. Shortly after both hall and shop were given the official address 141 Glasgow Road. The laundry was short lived for by 1915 during war years, beside the hall, within this building was Dr. James H Naismith’s surgery. It was the start of a peppered history associated with the wellbeing of Blantyre’s population.
Sometime around the end of WW1, Rev John Burleigh moved the requirement for the halls to the vacant and unused Blantyre Works School room and Hall in the Village. The former hall at 141 Glasgow Road and Dr Naismith’s surgery were divided and became 2 homes, occupied by Andrew Gillespie and Mrs Ann Jane Higgison, renting for £12 and £7 per annum. It is unknown why the hall moved, but it may simply have been to create the rental opportunity of £19 per annum, whereas before was next to nothing.
John Burleigh died in 1922 and his estate was inherited by his widow, Janet. It is perhaps telling of the character of Janet Burleigh and her reported caring and assistance to local individuals on the fact that by 1925, the homes were no longer being rented, but instead the rooms were being used by Percival M Hancock, a chemist subletting to William Greenlie Chemists. This was to be the start of a prolonged period where the building would be used for medicine and looking after the health of Stonefield’s residents.
Dr. David Keir Fisher
In 1925, the chemist was taken over by the arrival of Dr. David Keir Fisher who would operate a doctor’s surgery there for 5 years until leaving Blantyre in 1930. David lived at “The Cairns” at Station Road and rented his surgery space and consulting rooms from Janet Burleigh. He may have left Blantyre due to possibly feeling redundant upon the building of the Health Institute in Victoria Street.
Born on 22nd March 1894, his parents could not afford to fund his medical training, so Fisher worked as a dental technician for 5 years to save enough to become a medical student in 1913. The next year he joined the 4th Royal Scots Fusiliers, serving in Gallipoli & Egypt, and transferring to a field ambulance unit after recovering from wounds. After the war he returned to studies in both medicine and dentistry, qualifying in both disciplines in 1923. He then worked in general practice in Blantyre, returning to Glasgow in 1930 to work as an anesthetist based at the Dental Hospital.
Appointed a consultant (primarily at the Dental Hospital, but also at the Royal Infirmary) on the inception of the NHS in 1948, he retired from GRI in 1959 and the Dental Hospital in 1961. Fisher was a dental anesthetist in the traditional style, but hypnotherapy was a major clinical interest and he founded the Scottish branch of the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis.
Predeceased by his wife, he had a daughter and twin sons. He maintained strong links with the church and remained active into retirement, travelling to the Upper Nile in his 90th year, and contributing considerably to the discussion of a clinical meeting only two weeks before his death in Dec 1985.
During researching this book, a Blantyre resident, Mr. Taylor showed this plaque from Dr. Fisher’s former surgery. It reveals further information, such that his telephone number was Blantyre 93.
Using the plaque, we know his 1923-1930 surgery was open 9am – 10am except Sundays, 2pm to 3pm and 7pm to 8pm except Wednesdays and Sundays. The plaque probably came off the front of the building outside his surgery when the property was demolished in 1979.
After Dr. Fisher moved away, the ground floor had a short spell as Young’s Fruit Shop, certainly there in 1933. In 1937 Janet Burleigh had moved away and passed away that year too, at Cathcart, Glasgow. That same year, the following photo was taken showing a post tram era, renovated road surface and Church Street leading off to the left.
One of the only Telephone Boxes in Blantyre at the time was located at the corner, perhaps due to its proximity to the nearby Telephone Exchange.
The photo shows a huge crack rippling up the side of the Abbeygreen Hall, caused by subsidence, which was so prevalent in this area. Indeed the nearby Church Steeple had been removed the previous decade and in the following decade a nearby tenement in Logan Street collapsed. In this photo, the crack looks repaired.
The new building owners in post WW2 years appears to be the Masonic, buying the building attached to their own and continuing to let out the shop. In the 1950’s and 1960’s it was occupied by a Dr. Hutchison’s surgery and latterly before its demolition in 1979, it had been 2 homes.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – 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:
Betty McLean Paul the Salvation Army Officers lived in church st. Second house from the top on the right hand side. Probably rented as the Officers changed frequently.