From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
There’s a little one storey, detached cottage, which still exists to this day at 259 Glasgow Road. Sometime between 1876 and 1880, the Gray family who had already built their neighbouring tenement constructed a small cottage, as home for their son, grocer John Gray. His first child was due in 1878 and the cottage may have been built in time to coincide with that life event.
Original ownership and the likely constructor was Mr. Robert Gray, the father of John, who initially called it “Milne Cottage”. The name would change in that first decade to become “Broomknowe Cottage”, a name that is still even today the official name of the building.
The cottage was set back slightly from Glasgow Road, but still opened out on to it. Situated on a long, rectangular plot, it had a path leading from the road up to the doorway, with plenty room at the back gardens. Being a family of grocers, this land would have been put to good use and it is telling that during their occupancy, the back gardens were never built upon. They would have provided an ideal place to securely grow vegetables for sale in their shop at nearby Gray’s Buildings.
In 1881, the occupants were John Gray (36), wife Agnes (35), son Robert (3), daughter Agnes (2) and domestic servant Jane Hamilton (18). John is noted in that census as being a grocer employing 1 man and 1 boy.
Following the death of Robert Gray in 1879, the cottage passed to his widow, Mary Gray who continued to rent it out to her son John right up until her own death in 1901. In 1895, the rent was £18 per annum.
In 1901, John Gray, who had been living and renting this cottage for over 20 years, inherited it. He was still living there in 1905, but before WW1, as he became older, (perhaps to retire) he moved next door to the upper flat at Grays Buildings. His son Robert junior then rented Broomknowe Cottage. By 1915, Robert Gray (37) was an electrical engineer, considered in age to be ‘too old’ for the wartime initial draft and so in those rough years, he continued to rent the cottage for the modest rate of £18 per annum and conducted his grocer business, established by his grandfather 2 generations earlier. Robert continued to live at Broomknowe Cottage before moving away.
During World War Two and immediately after, the Aitkenhead family lived in the cottage, occupying it solely as a house.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Mr. Felix McLaughlin, a car hirer conducted his business from the building, which had now become a business for the first time. Felix would go on later to establish a funeral parlour and had telephone number Blantyre 373.
The little garden once at the front was landscaped over with hardstanding to accommodate parked vehicles for the business. Metal railings were erected in the 1970’s to fence off the street and pedestrians.
In later years it continued as a Funeral Parlour, taken over by Joseph Potts and has had that use for many years now at time of writing in 2017. Premises at the back have been, in post Millennium years occupied by Kennedy Travel, then from 2015, Kennedy Coachworks.