Born in 1840 in Ireland, William McVaney and his wife Agnes Gilmour moved to Blantyre during the 1880’s. In 1891, they lived at Greenside Street (then called Green Street) on the north side of Glasgow Road, not far from where the traffic lights are now at Clydeview Shopping Centre.
Sometime between 1892 and 1894, directly across from his rented home, William bought a fairly decent sized plot of land at the western corner of the Slag Road, (later Craig Street). The rectangular plot looked out upon fields to the south and was located quite near the Stonefield Infant School. Upon his land, he built a small house and adjacent shop all on one storey, with a byre to the back. William McVaney was a dairyman and whilst he utilized the byre, his little shop was in 1895 leased out to Miss Marion Russell, a dressmaker.
The house and shop was likely built in stone or brick, for one cannot imagine in the 1890’s building a wooden structure amongst so many other ‘modern’ stone tenements. Needless to say, the little house was unusual, out of place and dwarfed by other more prominent buildings all along Glasgow Road. The house had a pitched roof, the shop to the west being smaller. The land around it was fenced off by wooden fences.
However, this was to be short lived premises and does not appear to have been previously explored by Blantyre historians until now.
On 13th September 1896, William McVaney died aged 56 due to sudden heart problems. Dr. Grant confirmed his passing and his death certificate was duly signed by a loyal friend by name of McKerrell in Henderson’s Buildings.
His widow Agnes McVaney is not in the Blantyre 1901 census, perhaps telling that she moved away. In 1905 she still however, owned the little house but that year it was empty as was the shop and byre. The couple never had any children, so it’s possible the area had too many sad memories for her and she moved away from Blantyre. There’s a possibility though that with good frontage on Glasgow Road, Miss Russell’s dressmaker shop may have existed right up until 1905. Between 1905 and 1910, the byre at the back was demolished and by 1915, the shop and house had been demolished too, the land vacant and a prime spot on a thriving, bustling busy Glasgow Road.
I own a wonderful painting of McVaneys in 1905 was drawn by modern local artist Harry Rankine, showing all the charm of that era.
Following WW1, the land would be purchased and would later become the site of the Central Garage, then in more modern times, the Western side of Clydeview Shopping Centre. It is difficult to imagine how much this has all changed. In the following drawing, we’ve highlighted how the building would have looked in a modern context to give you an idea of where it was exactly.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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