From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
Hastie’s Farm (Post WW2 Years)
At the end of 1945, with inheritors living in Hamilton, Stonefield Farm ceased operating as a contracting business and was sold to a new owner. Mr. Arthur Cunningham bought the farm from the Hastie family and operated a motor hire business from this location at 16 Victoria Street. His telephone number was Blantyre 50 and he hired out wedding cars for functions and weddings.
In July 1950, Arthur Cunningham family put the property up for sale. He owned the building only a short time following two generations of Hastie family members before selling to John and Mary Cunningham who owned and farmed the land again for many years until 1963.
Arthur had offered the premises to the County Council to use the outbuildings as storage for their scavenging vehicles, for repairs and to make use of the car pit and garage space. The annual rental of the extensive grounds was £95. It was then used as a National petrol station and service garage, the cobbled yard at the rear being useful for vehicles.
In the early sixties the Royal Mail at Blantyre filled their vans with petrol there, which as you can imagine they were filled often! The garage however was not to last. The disused pumps and small glass office were still there years later. You had to drive through them into the back parking lot.
Fortunes changed for the building, when in 1963, Mr. Bobby Brown bought Hastie’s Farm Buildings. Bobby Brown kept pigs, chickens and a donkey at the end of the yard. An elderly gentleman named Charlie tended to the animals and he and Bobby also kept a small greenhouse too. Bobby took the decision to lease out the farmhouse and an adjoining building to a taxi company in June 1964. He was a local building contractor and deployed his skills and manpower in going about renovating the front part of the building facing on to Victoria Street, as a small café which had the luxury of providing live music to his customers. The name? Why “Hastie’s Farm” of course!
In 1967, seeing the success and potential of his café, and being forever the businessman, Bobby decided to cease the lease of the taxi company and convert the old farmhouse building, into a larger restaurant, complete with a bar, which would all be quaintly set amongst the old interior stone walls of the farm building. It was suitably decorated with oak beams and brassware on the walls, in keeping with its former farming heritage. How the crowds flocked. The taxi company would later resurface in Glasgow Road known as “Hasty Cars” not be confused by the contemporary Hastie Cars.
The restaurant quickly became a popular venue for many people when it was first granted a food and drinks license in 1967. Bobby Brown fed the pigs with all the leftover food and beer slops from Hastie’s three kitchens and bars. The restaurant was a culture shock for Blantyre when it opened. Teachers, attracted by quality meals at discounted prices, ate well at lunchtimes, 1970’s favourites like chicken in a basket being popular. The hall was very popular for parties, functions and wedding receptions and was still being used for that purpose in the 1970’s. Blantyre couples had their reception there in the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s.
When nearby Annfield Terrace was demolished in the early 1970’s, the field in front of Hastie’s became the property of the County Council who would host a Tuesday market at that location.
Sunday afternoons were singalong afternoons at Hastie’s and it was known that some people hurried away from mass to ensure they got a good table. The hypnotist show was popular too. Mary and Elspeth Gilmour worked as waitresses as did Greer and Kathleen McGuigan. Mr. McNamee played piano. Thursdays and Saturdays were big singalong evenings, where bands like Jon Doc Trio played and singers like Bryce Sloan and Pete Bolton. Indeed much of Blantyre’s talent matured when first given an airing as the entertainment at Hasties. A Blantyre Project reader commented, “On the night of the 25th May 1967 I sat in Hasties Farm with my mates Joe Ayres, Jimmy McGuigan (Greer’s brother), Brian O’Hara and Jimmy McFaulds and watched Celtic win the European Cup. I woke up alone in the Blantyre Public Park at 3am the next morning.”
In 1975, Hastie’s Farm burned down. Bobby Brown, wishing his business up and running as quickly as possible diverted labour from his business to ensure the place was fully rebuilt, which allegedly was done in under 3 weeks.
However, the rebuild was modern and the place lost much of its character and with it some of its older customers. The entire roof was rebuilt too. A younger crowd, intent on going out each and every weekend frequented the new place and the business continued to prosper, as did Bobby himself. Bobby was known to be a kind soul and on occasion even known to run workers home in his Rolls Royce, his pride and joy.
By 1979, prompted by the extreme redevelopment of Glasgow Road and faced with his business looking out upon a forthcoming large Asda warehouse, Bobby decided to retire. It was the end of an era for him and wife Kathy and indeed the end of an era for Glasgow Road itself. He left on a high though, for in 1979, Hastie’s had achieved a reputation of being a showplace for amateur musical talent.
Two gentlemen, now sadly passed on are well remembered for being on the door. Mr Terry White and Mr John Rodwell. Some memories people still talk about are the smell of the oak beams, the food, not to mention the big chunky pint tumblers with handles. Hasties Farm was also written in huge letters on the Glasgow Road frontage looking down upon Glasgow Road. The pubs closed at 10pm back then, but Hasties’ bars were open until 11pm, on account of it being a licensed restaurant. There was always a late rush of new customers for that last extra hour of drinking. Even after 11pm you could still get in if you were a friend of the various doormen, and Hasties was notorious for after-hours drinking.
Change in ownership
So it came to pass, that on 1st July 1979, Bobby sold Hastie’s Farm and the successful business to new owners Sam Plotnikoff, an incomer from Glasgow and his business partner, Graham Gordon.
Sam was then a young man and together with Graham, their vision for Hasties was destined to be incredibly respectful and ensure the business continued with high standards of excellence for food, drinks and entertainment.
Putting a mark on things, the frontend café of Hastie’s Farm Restaurant was sectioned off and became ‘Bananas Disco’. It was incredibly popular and always very busy. In 1979, full of enthusiasm for Hastie’s future Sam told reporters, “The atmosphere we’re determined to create is casual, informal, and relaxed. It’s not a dinner dance, and we don’t have a cocktail bar,” he stressed.
Graham added: “When we took over, there was a long list of exotic drinks at the bar, some of which weren’t asked for more than once a year. We pruned that and, apart from the usual drinker, we only have six or seven “specials.” One of the first moves the new owners made was to approach John Doc, the well-known Lanarkshire musician, and lure him and his trio back to Hastie’s, a move that proved very popular. Doc and his Trio was the resident band at the time. They launched an EP called ‘John Doc At Hasties Farm’, logically enough. The tracks on it were ‘Everybody Knows’, ‘My Way’, ‘Nobody Wins’, and ‘Sweet Caroline’, suggesting that it was a standard Club / Cabaret record. The catalogue number was HF-101.
During the early 1980’s, John Doc played at Hastie’s from Wednesday to Sundays, and on some of these evenings there was dancing. Monday was a quiet night down at the Farm, with the bar open for customers. Sam used his connections in the entertainment industry to bring some well-known names to Blantyre to his club.
The late Blantyre historian Jimmy Cornfield once commented on this saying, “Some of the celebrities, actors and artists who came to Hastie’s at that time, not all to perform, but just to see and be seen were, Matt Munro, Ruby Murray, Frank Ifield, Vince Hill, Marty Wilde, Jiminy Cricket, Alistair McDonald, Russel Hunter, Neville Taylor, Brian Taylor, The Dutch College Swing Band, The Livingstones, Christian, John Cairney, Aker Bilk, Andy Cameron, Hector Nicol and Jock Stein. Many of the Celtic, Rangers and other Scottish Football teams players were seen from time to time.”
Tuesday was disco night. Sam and Graham were worried that folks would think they’d turned the place into a disco joint, but that’s not the case at all. Although the bar had been done up and converted into a young people’s bar, the Disco was only held on Tuesday evenings in the restaurant. The disco evenings kicked off with Radio Clyde’s Dougie Donnelly and the Clyde Disco Road Show.
On other nights of the week, Hastie’s provided a good three-course meal and coffee for £3.75. The catering was under the eye of Graham’s wife Irene who, like her husband and his partner, had entered the business with tremendous zest. Visitors come from far an wide and the visitor’s book showed entries from as far afield as Romania, Australia, Canada, U.S.A, Iraq, Thailand, and South Africa. Speaking shortly after opening, Sam said: “We’re quite a tourist attraction, People bring their friends and relatives to show them typical Scottish entertainment.”
Saturday was just one evening when all the good amateur singers came to take their turn at the microphone. Sam said: “There is a core of regulars, but new talent appears all the time. Some are every bit as good as you would hear on the T.V.”
Group outings were also welcome at Hastie’s Farm. They received parties of all sizes for every evening, with busloads of people even coming from Glasgow. By the early 1980’s, booking was strongly advised, although the restaurant could seat 180 people. Advance bookings for the following year were common. After all, there’s no local competition”, Graham said in 1979, “and we’re in a very handy location just 20 minutes from Glasgow. The bus loads come from all over, Ayrshire, Stirlingshire, and even further away.”
Still concentrating on local amateur talent, a Sunday afternoon singalong was again started up. That began on August 5th 1979 and with some 25 singers taking the stage, which proved a great success. Snacks were on offer at the singalong with lunches in the other part of the complex. On other days lunches were also available. Although there was a waitress service, the idea was to provide a “Pub Grub” style of menu. Lunch at Hastie’s with a quiet drink was expected to increase still further in popularity when the giant new Asda store, adjacent to the complex opened that following year. All this was keeping the partners busy for 18 hours a day. But they didn’t mind and were determined to build Hastie’s back to its former glory, something which was always their intention.
However, by the mid 1980’s, several nightclubs had opened up in Hamilton and in other nearby towns. Blantyre residents suddenly had more choice and were not limited to going out in just one small club in Blantyre with the same neighbours, friends and familiar faces. Stylish clubs like the Rococco in Hamilton attracted youngsters away from Blantyre at weekends, and by 1985 Sam was noticing a dip in trade. Trade was also further affected by the arrival of fast food chains like Wimpey, MacDonalds and more affordable eating out in pubs and restaurants in nearby towns and in Blantyre itself. Trade may also have been affected by the nightclub opening across the road, called Rascalz. Youngsters wanted bright neon lights, dark nightclubs with booth seating, state of the art lighting and larger dance floors. The appeal of the old farm building and its brass horse memorabilia hanging from the walls was fast waning.
So, in 1985, Sam decided to focus on other business interests, chiefly his snooker clubs and put Hastie’s up for sale, creating quite the talking point in Blantyre. A company named Lanarkshire Holdings briefly took over the business but they were remote, and did not share the same enthusiasm as Sam or Bobby.
‘Zeigfield’s’ and the end
What was needed was the input of somebody who knew all about nightclubs. Somebody who knew what youngsters wanted. Nightclub owner James Mortimer (b1946) then in April 1985 changed the rear Hastie’s Restaurant into ‘Zeigfields Disco’ and the front, former Bananas Disco, into ‘Barnums’. Other facelifts included changing parts of the building to Panama Jacks and Happy Jacks.
However, despite special offer nights, (like Zeigfields 50/50 night on a Thursday where it was 50p to get in and 50p a drink), trade continued to decline, and even more so when a Celtic player opened up neighbouring Caspers in 1988. The whole complex including Zeigfield’s (Ziggy’s) closed for good in late 1989.
A year later on 31st December 1990, just before the New Year Bells, a fire was discovered in the roof of the derelict Hastie’s Building. The courtyard was being used as a taxi pick up point for Caspers nightclub opposite and the taxi drivers phoned for the fire brigade. Despite arriving promptly, the main roof was damaged to such an extent that it was condemned in January 1991 as being unsafe and was demolished a few years later.
Blantyre residents still fondly remember everything about their entertainment at ‘Hastie’s Farm’ and it remains one of the most powerful and popular memories for many people in this town.
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