From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
Broompark Place, Glasgow Road
Near the eastern corner of Stonefield Road at Glasgow Road junction was a former 2 storey tenement officially called, ‘Broompark Place’. The name certainly sounds strange in a modern context, a name that many people would more associate with High Blantyre, which in itself may have been a reason the name fell out of existence through the lifetime of the building.
Broompark Place was constructed of stone with a slate roof and had a large central close running north to south right through the building leading from Glasgow Road to its rear yard. Built in 1888 into 1889, it consisted of 1 shop to the east of the close, 2 shops to the west and with 2 houses on the upper floor. Access to the upper homes was through the close and up a stair at the rear yard.
The property was initially detached, but later neighbouring Minto’s Buildings would be built up against it. It had a prominent position directly across from St Joseph’s Presbytery (later the entrance to St Joseph’s School) and would also have enjoyed good views across to St Joseph’s Church.
The name ‘Broompark’ was certainly popular in the 1880’s. Indeed, in 1885, there already were another two ‘Broompark Places’ in Blantyre! A building at Larkfield with several shops and homes and another building on Stonefield Road with 9 houses, should not be confused with this article. When Broompark Place was constructed on Glasgow Road, it may have taken the name from the Stonefield Road property demolished around the same time.
The original constructor appears to have passed away between 1889 and 1895, for the first recorded owner in valuation rolls in 1895 was a Mrs M.W.D Cruickshank of Polockshields, noted as being the bondholder in possession. Mr. George Campbell of the adjacent bank was factor. In the houses, Mr George Pate and Mrs Arabella Arbuckle were first tenants.
James B Dall
Broompark Place was a building which would have a long retail tradition of being associated with clothing or drapery. The first shopkeeper occupying all three shops on the lower floor was draper, James B Dall of nearby Brownlie Cottage. He was advertising looking for drapery staff in 1889 at newly constructed Broompark Place, having moved from Gilmour Place on the north side of the road presumably for this opportunity. In 1891 James was 37 years old, married to Margaret and had 6 sons and an infant daughter. The Dall family moved away from Blantyre by 1901, perhaps due to drapery competition from the Co-op and several other private retailers. However, it was far from the end of drapery businesses at Broompark Place.
In 1900, another draper arrived in Blantyre for the first time and moved his business into the 3 shops, i.e. the whole lower floor. Henry R.S. Oliver was to be a long term occupier operating his business there for several decades and was to be one of the longest established traders on Glasgow Road.
Others have incorrectly assumed and called this building ‘Oliver’s Building’. However, it was never called that. Not in any census, any valuation roll or official documentation. Oliver rented the building at all times and at no time was it ever his building, never owning it. There’s no doubt though that Blantyre residents knew where ‘Oliver’s Shop’ was being there for so long.
Henry R.S. Oliver
Henry Russell Stewart Oliver was born in 1867 in Alloa, the son of James Oliver a master baker and Mary White. He was 33 years old when he came to Blantyre in 1900, but was already established as a draper. He was married to Irish woman, Isabella Holland. The Oliver family lived nearby at Brownlie Cottage and it is known they had at least 1 son who went into the family business. The Olivers would rent the lower 3 shops at Broompark Place for an incredible 46 years until his death. Henry’s died on 11th March 1946 at Homeland, Glasgow Road, Blantyre.
Tenants in the upper storey would change over the years. In 1905 Hugh Davidson a roadsman and Gilbert Harper Junior, a mechanic lived there. Alexander Russell, a roadsman lived there from prior to WW1 until the late 1920’s. Sometime between 1920 and 1925, the 2 homes upstairs were reduced to just one, as one side of the upper storey became a storeroom for the shops below. The house was occupied by James Devine from the late 1920’s.
The name ‘Broompark Place’ was used less and less following WW1 for this building, even more so when it was allocated postal addresses 267, 269, 271 and 273 Glasgow Road. The shops were 267,269 and 273 and upper homes was 271 Glasgow Road, a configuration that continued throughout the 20th Century. Olivers may have flourished especially at this location being so near the tram terminus at Glasgow Road, offering shoppers convenience.
It is little wonder that this charming postcard was commissioned in 1903. Looking east along Glasgow Road, as well as celebrating the arrival of trams to Blantyre, it must have represented modernization at the time. The newly built Minto’s Buildings on the left foreground with its wooden picket fences, next to it the older Broompark Place with iron railings. (Railings were NOT removed during the ‘Iron Drive’ in World War 2 for iron to construct ships as others keep mentioning here. At this location the iron railings were removed a full decade earlier when the road was widened.). Elsewhere other relatively new buildings of the era like Mayberry Place and the Old Original Bar feature.
As well as clothes and textiles, Oliver’s sold curtains, bedding and other decorative soft furnishings, some of which may have been considered as luxury goods for any humble mining family. In WW1 years Oliver’s rents to Mrs MWD Cruickshank was around £8 and 10 shillings. Mrs Cruikshank lived in Liverpool by that time, still owner, bondholder in possession of the entire property right up until the end of World War One. Ownership then passed to John Jackson Coats from 1918 until the early 1930’s and subsequently before 1935, to AJ&A Graham, as bondholders beyond World War Two.
Following 1946, shops changed use and in the late 1940’s for a short time into the 1950’s the end shop at 273 became Dr. Terris’s surgery. When he moved to High Blantyre in the 1950’s the surgery became Dr. Harkins practice then more latterly Dr. Church’s surgery. From the mid 1970’s until its demolition in 1993, this shop then became Batters, Malone & McKay Lawyers.
Post WW2, the other shops were also well used. Many Blantyre residents remember Pat Hughes Photography. Pat lived in Victoria Street. His shop was small with a single room studio, but it was well used and photography services could be called upon away from the shop too. It moved westwards to Westend Place around 1979.
The other shop was Paton’s Ladies & Gents Hairdressers. Willie Paton, his wife and daughter Margaret were well known in Blantyre throughout the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. Willie’s nickname was ‘Scooby’ and he had a pleasant manner about him. Although one main public room, the shop was always busy, with loads of chatter and gossip.
Broompark Place was completely demolished around 1993 and is now the site of several homes belonging to modern Valerio Court.
Blantyre Project Social Media:
Arlene Green: “My mum remembers Pat Hughes Photography shop as being an old fashioned type shop with a simple counter. Next door was Paton Hairdressers. Willie Paton’s daughter Margaret worked there as did a girl called Grace Brown. I got my hair done in Paton’s. The ‘Purdie’ was a famous cut in the 1970’s and then frizzy perm in the 1980’s.”
Martin Smith: “Pat Hughes did live on Victoria Street. He was good friends with my father.”
Sharon Morrison Doonin: “Hughes Photography was still at the Westend in the mid 1980’s. I remember getting my photos there.”
Elaine Spiers: “I had my first communion photo taken at Hughes. The hairdressers next door was where mum got her hair done. It was a noisy room with big ‘sit under’ hairdryers and always with a smell of hairspray and perm lotion. I watched people endlessly getting their rollers put in. In 1978, I had hair so long I could sit on it, but I wasn’t allowed to get it cut until I was 12. Even then, Margaret Paton refused to cut all that lovely hair so short, so we had to go elsewhere.”
Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,