By 1981, the Emporium was lying vacant and derelict, awaiting another use. It attracted the interest of the Clydesdale Bank in the early 1980’s, who were to move from their location further westwards to this more modern building. For nearly 4 decades, the Clydesdale Bank became a well-known feature in Blantyre at this location directly across from Glasgow Road.
The Clydesdale Bank is known to have been in Blantyre since 1879. By 1909, it was one of two banks in Blantyre. In 1930, according to the valuation roll, the Commercial & Clydesdale Bank was leasing the lower floor of 301 Main Street within the Gardiner Place building at High Blantyre. It was renting from John Allan McKillop. During the 1950’s and 1960s, if a woman worker got pregnant, she had to leave the banks employment for good. At that time also, it was a branch of the British Linen Bank, changing to the Clydesdale Bank as we know it today around 1969/70
In 1986, Ernest Barrie was convicted for armed robbery at Blantyre’s Clydesdale Bank. The bank was robbed again by others around the Millennium.
Rather than dwell on that, let’s note importantly that it was a good source of employment for many people in the local area over the years and a vital service for all customers. In the latter 20th Century, it was largely a choice between Clydesdale and RBOS for banking in the town.
On Wednesday 13th April 2016, Clydesdale Bank issued a statement advising that their Blantyre branch would close between July and September 2016, along with 8 other Scottish branches, stating it was necessary due to changes in the way people bank and the popularity of online banking. Needless to say many customers were angry and disappointed. It meant having to bank elsewhere or being forced to learn how to bank online.
The bank actually closed for the last time on Glasgow Road on Tuesday 23rd August 2016, the signs removed and fittings stripped out on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th August 2016, immediately after. It sat derelict for a few months before an announcement that Glen Travel were to relocate from Clydeview Shopping Centre.
Throughout all of 2017, Glen Travel have been renovating the former Co-op Emporium / Clydesdale Bank. The large vaults inside have been removed, the ATM is away and the travel agents will soon have impressive frontage on to Glasgow Road in a prime advertising spot. As of October 2017, their latest update on progress is a view to opening at the end of the year.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017