To the immediate west and joined to the Co-op Emporium were 2 separate Co-op buildings. A 3 storey tall tenement and a 2 storey tenement further west, the original Co-op older building. Lets look at each in order of their addresses, starting at 235-239 Glasgow Road, the 3 storey tenement.
These buildings were owned by the Stonefield Independent Co-operative Society, a separate company and different from the Blantyre Co-operative Society who owned other Co-op buildings in Blantyre. The two should not be confused, especially looking at these early beginnings, as is often the case.
The Stonefield Independent Co-operative Society (SICS) was formed in 1884 when they first opened their bake-house nearby. It served as an alternative (but similar) to the larger Blantyre Co-operative Society, who had opened a year before them at Station Road.
In 1891, the SICS built their own 2 storey premises to the west of this location, which we’ll explore shortly. Their success meant expansion was required and in 1907, the SICS acquired land to build a larger, more impressive building facing out on to Glasgow Road not far from the junction of Station Road. Constructed of stone with slate roofs, the building was well built and remains standing today, shops on the lower ground floor, homes above. In later years the gable would be reinforced in brick.
Remember, the 3 storey building was an ‘expansion’ of the original adjoining to the west. The building is symmetrical and upper homes have bay windows. Large stone chimneys still stand, unusual for remaining Glasgow Road tenements. On the upper storey, the crest of the Stonefield Independent Co-op and dating stone can be seen near the top gutter.
The original shops were the Co-op Bread shop and Drapery at 233 Glasgow Road. These included an office, 2 homes above and a stable at the rear as shown on our 1910 map. Horses were used to pull several delivery carts, the vehicles themselves stored in the outbuildings at the back of the original co-op next door.
235 Glasgow Road had 4 houses with ground at the back and at 237, a further 5 houses. The Co-op would advertise often for staff and workers and in 1916, a Co-op baker was getting paid 44 shillings with a 1 shilling bonus/wk. The configuration of these shops remained like this right through until post WW2 years although the stable had gone by 1930’s as mechanized vehicles became the norm.
In 1925 the SICS acquired the Bethany Hall across the road on the north side at 266 Glasgow Road. This was to be their hall for dances and parties, but the trade depression of the 1920’s and difficult trading conditions saw them sell it in 1931 when it became the unemployment exchange. Selling assets was a sign that things were not well and competition with the larger, more successful Blantyre Co-operative Society was having an effect.
By 1929, Thomas McCool was Secretary of the Stonefield Independent Co-operative Society and he had a few tough years ahead of him steering the business into trying to be more successful, to no avail.
After 48 years of operating, and much deliberation, on the evening of Saturday 30th April 1932, the Stonefield Independent Co-op Society ceased trading independently and merged with the larger Blantyre Co-operative Society. The properties and shops owned by SICS were valued at £11,000 and incredibly were taken over by the Blantyre Co-op for a mere £2,500, a bargain. Members of SICS were enrolled into the Blantyre Co-op automatically, their debts and orders taken on board, like for like.
SICS was most likely unable to compete with so many shops that Blantyre Co-op had and perhaps was a victim to private enterprise and growing commerce all over Blantyre as a whole. At the time of the merger, their membership was only 270 people, yet the Blantyre Co-op had over 3,000 customers. The merger however was ultimately successful and the Co-op would continue to dominate Blantyre’s shops in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the 20th Century, hugely extending the premises to the rear.
Blantyre Co-operative Society continued to let the 11 homes in this block out to miners and their families. With Blantyre Co-op already had Central Number 1 premises to the east near Herbertson Street, following 1932, the buildings acquired at 235-239 Glasgow Road became known as “Blantyre Co-op Number Two”.
Following 1972 when the Co-op was Nationally rebranded and integrated into SCWS Retail Group, the localized nature of Co-ops was somewhat diminished and parts of the building were let out to others.
233 Glasgow Road was retained as the Co-op Funeral Parlour, a place for arrangement funerals, which still exists today. For several years, the late Elaine Campbell McQuade was the manageress of the shop. 237 Glasgow Road became ‘J Estees’, then in the late 1980’s and 90’s ‘Clyde Star’, which was a grocers, stationers and video shop. Around the Millennium the Post Office sited temporarily at Clydeview Shopping Centre, moved to the rear of the supermarket, now occupied by ‘Londis’ since 1994, still trading today. The last shop to the west, within the tall Co-op building became the Old Mill Barbers, then later Agnew’s Café, which remains a popular shop today, especially amongst school children at lunchtimes.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,:
James Sime The old mill barbers was The Leeds building society before that.