The Priory Bar, Blantyre

From my book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

Priory Place & The Priory Bar

    Priory Place was a former 19th and 20th Century building situated at the eastern corner of Glasgow Road and Logan Street junction. It comprised primarily of a popular public house (named the Priory Bar) but also had upper homes and shops.

Priory Place zoned

Priory Place on the Blantyre 1910 Map

Naming the Building

   Constructed by joiner James Walker around 1889 into 1890, the 2 storey stone corner tenement had frontage on both Glasgow Road and the dead end street that would later open up and become Logan Street. Mining was at the forefront of Blantyre Industry by this time and the name ‘Priory’ being attached to this building likely signified a nod to the Priory ruin or recent colliery, both with strong connections to Blantyre. Or simply, it may have been just a popular, liked name. Constructed on behalf of owner James McHutchison, the building was to predominantly house a bar, shops and houses. His public house was to be “The Priory Bar” a constant and consistent name which would exist until the demolition of the buildings, regardless of their ownership.

   James constructed the Public House facing out on to Glasgow Road which had 5 upper windows on that side and 4 large plate glass windows. At the side and immediately adjacent was a house, separated into 4 small homes. The whole block was to be named “Priory Place” and would become well known in Blantyre.

1977 Priory Bar

Priory Bar at Priory Place in 1977

James McHutchison

  Remote owner, Mr. James McHutchison was a merchant of Bothwell Parish. Born in Clarkson in 1842, he was a licensed grocer. During the 1890’s, he lived at Cookshill Place, Bothwell with his wife Bessie, a Bothwell woman, who was 10 years his junior. A successful man, employer of others, his home had 6 windows in it, suggesting a modest size by comparison to the neighbours. It is not thought he had children. Perhaps seeing this a rental investment, his ownership of Priory Place was however, incredibly short lived.

    James died in 1891, aged only 49 and as a public house owner, it may be easy to make a connection as to what he died from.

    Priory Place passed in 1891 to the Trustees of James McHutchison, to be held in trust. This looks to have prompted a change in occupation of the buildings. In 1895, Mr. George Robertson was occupying a small house at the Logan Street side of Priory Place as well as a stable for £11/year. George was a fruiterer and ran his small, rented shop on the lower floor, not far from the Logan Street entrance. Above the pub lived John Roberts, the son of William Roberts who ran the ‘Volunteer Arms’ pub further along Glasgow Road.

John Roberts took over as occupier of the pub in 1891 renting the public house for £55 / year from the Trustees of James McHutchison. During this time, Priory Place was separated from more easterly Abbeygreen Hall & Rooms by a large space of vacant land.

 John Roberts

   Mr. John Roberts was born in Paisley in 3rd December 1849 and had rather an interesting life worth sharing here.

    He was baptized on 30th December 1849 at Middle Church, in Paisley. In the early 1860’s his family moved to Blantyre. He was the 3rd child to father William, a police officer and mother Mary. John had 5 brothers and sisters. He was a middle child and grew up to become a plumber with a Bothwell company. When he was only 16 (about 1865) he joined the Blantyre Rifle Volunteers. He was allegedly one of the best shots and represented the Battalion on more than one occasion at Wimbledon (the biggest event in the calendar). He was also at the famous 1881 ‘Wet Review’ that Major Ness was so proud to be a part of in Edinburgh before the Queen. In 1871, the census records them as living at “number 6” in Blantyre, and although doesn’t say where, it is known that they were at newly built Causewayshot westwards on Glasgow Road by 1881. In 1885, John Roberts lived at the Avon Buildings, an area of Glasgow Road that many of the Roberts family would not stray far from.

    Working as a Plumber and living at Walker’s Buildings in 1891, John changed profession that year to become a spirit merchant at Glasgow Road. His brother William, had by then started his own building company nearby.

   John went on to become a member of the old School Board, and may be featured in some old Blantyre photos of curlers and the bowlers as he was keen on both. In his latter part of life from 1905, he had been the outright owner of the corner buildings at Logan Street and proprietor of the Priory, before he died aged 83 in 1932 in a nursing home in Glasgow.

The Priory Bar and Shops of Priory Place

   In September 1899, John Roberts successfully appealed against the County Council raising his rates from £55 to £120, managing to agree upon £100/year. The Priory Bar was clearly successful, for by 1904, John Roberts had the funds sufficient to buy Priory Place from the Trustees of James McHutchison. Perhaps motivated by the Masonic Lodge building their impressive building to the east, John set about to construct an extension to Priory Place on Glasgow Road, building out fro the pub eastwards. This was done at the same time as the Masonic Buildings were constructed and by 1905, there were no gaps in buildings between Church Street to Logan Street. The 1905 valuation roll shows just 1 home occupied by John Roberts, which he had extended above the pub with attic rooms. Owner and occupier of the Priory Bar, his new extension was to be let out to James Houston grocers and in 1905, the other shop he had built was still empty, as were the two homes above them, perhaps still to be finished.

   John Roberts was well known and much respected. In 1914 he sponsored the Blantyre Silver Band on several outings, the band using a field nearby to practice. During the 1910’s, as treasurer of the Blantyre, Cambuslang & Rutherglen Ploughing Society, John let this organisaiton use his building for their annual meetings. James Pettigrew of Malcolmwood Farm presided.

   By the start of WW1, Priory Place extension had address 151, 153 and 155 Glasgow Road. John Robert’s Priory Bar had address 157 and 159 Glasgow Road and 1 Logan Street. John’s home above was 3 Logan Street. He was letting out 151 to the Bank managed by William McGruther, 153 as 2 upper flats and 155 to James Mathieson. These properties (the extension) would be bought completely from John, by the Livingstone Masonic Lodge 599 in 1922, explored earlier in the book.

   The bar looks to have struggled for suitable staff during war years with several advertisements asking for qualified assistance. Its central location on Glasgow Road made it easily accessible and successful, often frequented by miners and likely more frowned upon by some of the adjacent Masons who were accustomed to non drinking and self prohibition.

   The Priory Bar located entirely on the ground floor was of modest size by comparison to other larger bars in Blantyre. The private rooms at the back used for meetings and later small parties, meant the bar was located in the front room only. A horseshoe shaped public bar, with plenty of space for bar staff to work meant initially little space for punters to stand, although the layout of this changed during the 20th Century. The private room had a window that slid on a small metal rail, allowing people in the room to be passed drinks directly from the bar or indeed to directly order more. In time a lounge bar, separated from the main bar could be entered from Logan Street. Located beside this in George Robertson’s former grocery shop was later in the mid to late 20th Century, a bookmakers. Prior to that, direct offsales were offered from time to time as licenses changed.

   Like butchers shops and other pubs, sawdust was put on the floor to assist cleaning and soak up any spillages, although truth be told, it is said this was purely to do with the uncouth habit of men spitting tobacco and spitting in general. The sawdust was cheap and readily available and changed often.

1932-glasgow-road-at-logan-street

Priory Place and the Priory Bar on right hand side. Glasgow Road looking west 1930’s

   Shortly before this photo was taken, John Roberts passed away in 1932. He would miss the extension and building of council homes nearby at Logan Street, something which would only bolster the fortunes of the Bar. 

   Upon his death, William Black was the next manager of Priory Place for Helen Roberts (w), but only for a short time. In March 1935, upon returning home from Motherwell one evening, William was found dead in his chair at Priory Place, aged 57. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage.

   Then the pub was bought by John Murray of Rutherglen. Brewers such as Youngers, Tenants and Scottish & Newcastle were later involved with the Pub and the building remained in private ownership. From 1966 until 1972 Jimmy and Mina McInally managed the Priory Bar, then Mina herself for 2 further years when Jimmy died in 1972.

1978-the-priory-at-logan-street

1978 The last summer of the Priory Bar. Logan Street Junction

   During the 1970’s Davie & Jean Tallis ran the pub, before passing that mantle over to relatives.

1970 Priory Bar Blantyre Project

Priory Bar Lounge 1970s

   In 1974, Ben and Mary Meechan (a relation to the Tallis family) were the last landlords until Priory Place was bought by compulsory purchase order in 1977, then was demolished in late 1978, ahead of the nearby adjacent Masonic Buildings.

   The Priory Bar was popular and appreciated by many for the great evenings had in there with friends and family, singing songs until late, its sports team, including darts and bowls.

The Priory Bar still is fondly remembered by many.

 

1979 Priory Bar DemolitionFeaturing Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,:

1978 Priory Bar

1978 Priory Bar awaiting demolition

Anthony Smith 1967.First pub I legally had a drink in.McEwans screw tops at 2/-3d a bottle.Can also remember when lager and lime became popular.The bar keeper gave you a pint of lager and asked you to take a drink and then added the lime.At no xtra cost.
Maggie O’Brien Peter Obrien here I was in the priory the very last day it was open Mary was behind the bar the pic of the guys at the bottom of Logan street of Ned cushley with the pipe bill Kelly James mcguire
Ina Sanders my papa in the photo charles Bean xxxx
Gerald Kellachan That’s Curly Allan , Ned Cushley’s brother in law
Liz Boxall oh happy days ❤️
Rena Caullay Beautiful Glasgow road.
Betty McLean My father John McGill third from the left in the back row. So nice to see
Etta Morrison He is still fresh in my memories of him and your mum..x
Sadie Dolan You’re mum and dad stayed in same close in beech place used to be friends with you’re niece Betty when she came to visit her gran, x
Ina Sanders my papa front right
Etta Morrison Ian the tall man in the middle at the back was our neighbour and my friends dad x
Etta Morrison Sorry meant Ina not Ian lol xx
Blantyre Project Have you got his full name Ina and I’ll update the photo? Thanks.
Blantyre Project Have you got his full name Margaret and I’ll update the photo? Thanks.
Ann Watson Benny Neil
Margaret Neil Mckeown First left Paul Benny Neil x
Helen Clark Karen. Vanessa. Aunt Helen. Uncle Alex x
Vanessa Taylor This is lovely to see. Our Grandpa on Facebook – wonder what he would have made of that!
Helen Clark I know, knowing grandpa he wouldn’t have like the fuss x
Vanessa Taylor No, he was never one for the limelight.
Helen Clark No he was not x
Blantyre Project Have you got his full name Helen and I’ll update the photo? Thanks.
Helen Clark Hi Paul. 3rd from the left back row. Mr John McGill.
Helen Lawson Taylor Yes didnt like any fuss?x
Ina Sanders my papa was a lovely man at the side of him is a lady at the back
Davy Thomson Is that papa bean Ina?
Ina Sanders yes davy it is
Ina Sanders can anyone put names to the people in this picture?
Elizabeth Montgomery Recognized HIm right away Helen Lawson Taylor

 

 

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