1979 Frank Millar Retires

Continuing an extensive look at “Blantyre in 1979”, a significant year of change for the town. The redevelopment of Glasgow Road forced a lot of traders to move, but for some, it was also a convenient time or excuse to retire.

1979 Frank Millar 2nd Feb wm

Frank Millar in 1979

At the start of February 1979, one of Blantyre’s best known tradesmen retired after an incredible 55 years of working in the town.

Cobbler, Frank Millar is seen here sitting at his bench for the very last time at Millar’s Shoe and Sports Shop at Glasgow Road, which closed its doors for good at 3pm on Friday 2nd February 1979.

Frank, aged 69 at the time started his apprenticeship in 1924 when he was only 14 years old. His father, Matthew Millar, a Lithuanian had opened the shop on Glasgow Road , 6 years earlier in 1918, immediately after the end of WW1. Many people may remember Matthew being referred to as ‘Matha the Pole’, although he was never Polish. (It’s noted he was never Martha the Pole with an ‘r’ or called Miller with an ‘e’ as some will incorrectly have you believe!)

A Blantyre man through and through. Frank lived at 9 Ivy Place with his wife Albina. His 2 sons were a draughtsman and an industrial chemist, not following the cobbler ‘footsteps’.

Upon his retirement, Frank told reporters that he had seen a great change in Blantyre in recent years, adding, “It was busier then, but money was a lot tighter too! There were a lot more shops.”

When asked if he would miss his shop he joked, “Not at all. It’s in a sorry state and my wife has already laid out a full plan of activities for me! I would however like to thank everybody who came into my shop for their business. I also made a great number of friends throughout the years.”

Ironically, during the 1980’s, Frank spent the last few years of his life living at Devlin Grove Sheltered housing, in the same nearby area his father’s former shop used to be in.

Do you remember Frank and Millar’s Shoe & Sports Shop at the junction of Glasgow Road and Clark Street?

From the book, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

William Mullen miller the poles !!
Drew Semple my next door neighbor in ivy place,his son Gerry is in Canada as far as im aware.
Stuart Tallis A no the man as matt the pole. He was alright cobbler
Catherine Morrison Remembered this shop and also him

Rita Stewart Docherty Thanks for this..I remember as a child frequenting Matha the Pole’s (although I did think it was Martha) with my mother when we went doon the street for the messages!!

Lillias Addison We were friendly with his son Frank and his wife Margaret, Frank sadly died a few years ago his other son Gerry is in Canada
Anne Marie Murray We all went there for our gym shoes for school. I remember Mr Mrs Millar well. Memories…
Etta Morrison Loved going into that shop loved the smell in it..

Blantyre Project can anybody describe the layout of the shop? I don’t remember this as a child.

Stuart Tallis Blantyre Project aye yae walked in and the counter was there to yir right and the work shop was there in front of yae

Liz Boxall Also shoe boxes piled high if my memory serves me well … I stayed above Andrew Little the bakers but said Matt the Pokes .. happy Days

Marion Jones Aww great memories his wife was a lovely woman

Sadie Dolan I always cryed him Martha pole loved his shop my mum was never out it loved getting scraps out of it loved the smell!!

Andy Callaghan Remember Frank so well.

Drew Semple very sadly,they also had a daughter who died,i think she was only 13 when she passed away.

Jean Cuthbertson Drew Semple thats right drew. She was called elizabeth. I went to school with her
Drew Semple Jean,yeh was trying to recall her name

Jean Cuthbertson Drew Semple I think her full name was Elizabetb Ann

Libby Moffat Loved the smell in the shop x
Ruth Ni’Braonain Thomson Libby so did i and all the shoe boxes i used to be sat up on the counter to try on the shoes ..

Liz Smith Remember them well x

JJ Young Yeah I remember this man at the shop as I got my school boots each year .
I remember shop was at end of the road along from the iron monger shop and the strong smell of leather as you entered the shop ….

Neil Maureen Kielty I remember 😊

Elana Spencer God a remember him

Peter Murray Brilliant wee shop used to get my studs for ma football boots and segs for the brouges 🤣🤣🤣next door was fred thorburns barbers 🤣

Thomas Barrett We lived in Clark Street I always thought Martha was his wife’s name 😃

Etta Morrison Thomas Barrett me too because I thought name of shop was Mattha the Pole..

Lainey McGuckin My Mam got me shoes from there many a time

George Crossan A lovely family , used to get our gutties out of the shop.me and Gerry were pals for years .

Jean Cuthbertson Many a pair of shoes we got from that shop. A lovely couple, Mr&Mrs Miller. Brought back happy memories

Anne Irvine Where we got our ‘gym’ shoes. Black then white for secondary . They were the days 😊

Jim Donnelly Went to school with his son Gerry,They stayed in Ivy Place

Blantyre Project can see the 1979 posts are going to be popular! Lots more businesses closed that year and will be highlighted here too.

Betty Armstrong Remember the shop well. Used to get my school shoes out there and got segs put in

John Dunsmore I inscribed their. Headstone in the old high Blantyre. Cemetery .

Jacqueline Muir Remember him and his shop well.

Jane Paterson Very friendly and helpful man x

Liz Allan I stayed in wheatland ave almost back to back with them they were a lovely family

Liz Allan I think everyone in blantyre got their black gym shoes from him lol 😂

Anne Mckillop I remember the shop very well and Annie who worked there too x

Margaret Liddle Remember the shop and him well, I think we all got our gym shoes there

Carol Keatt Plastic sandals known as jelly shoes . Ian Nicholaswhat did Martha the pole say ” A nice wee shoe ” . 😂😂😂
Peter Bolton Oh the memories this post has brought back! All fond ones I might add.
Margaret Quinn Got my red plastic sandals there in the summer
Amanda Millar This is my husband Graham’s grandfather (he’s not on Facebook). Frank passed away in 2005 at the ripe old age of 95. His wife Albina passed away in 2011 aged 89. Sadly their son, also Frank, died in 2002, aged 52. Their other son, Gerry, still lives in Canada. Lovely to see how fondly the family are remembered.
Gerry Millar is Graham’s brother and we all still live locally.
Gerry Millar Thanks for the tag. Great to read things like this!!
Janette Stark Great shop remember it well

John Mcghee Nice dignified man😎🎸🍀

Elizabeth O’Donovan Frank the son was in my class at school , he was always very smart never had a hair out of place…he had a sister who died very young about 11 years of age from leukaemia if i remember x
Cath Conway Absolutely remember. Simpler times too.

Mary Watt Remember the shop and the family well xx

Marion Murdoch remember my husband went in for a pair of shoes he was driving so came out with slippers on Mr miller said tongue in cheek you certainly need them .lovely people.

Christine DePlacido I always knew that shop as MaRtha the pole’s I thought that was his wife’s name !

Matthew Larkin Last time I met Gerry one his sons he was working in Winipeg Canada.

Thomas Bell Nice nice man many I went there with my dad he got his shoes sold and heeled great times great days

Margaret Reid This was a great shop back in it’s day

Marilyn Muir Yes I remember him and the shop

Margaret Dolan Mccarroll Remember Frank well and Martha his wife.

Marian Maguire My husband remembers him well.

Jane Scobbie Remember it well

Janette Mackenzie Went there for my plimsoles

Jean MacKie Remember my plastic sandals the white colour turned yellow the brown ones were the best lol he was a lovely man
Janet Slivinski Remember the him and his wife well

Jacqueline Higgins Wullie Clarkin

Lex Mc Neill Yes and what a gentleman he was .

Helen Lawson Taylor Remember him and his wife lovely people .

Helen Lawson Taylor I remember it as Martha Poles .

James Faulds i remember he used to put the bladders in the tubbies and put a new lace in them when needed so that we could play fitba and he used to put the leather studs on my boots he was a great man and pleasant

James Faulds tacky boot store for the winter

Linda Fellows Eyre omg i remember

Margaret Paterson Wonder what happened to Gerry his son last heard he went to Canada x

Ethel Watson I Remember him and his wife

Joe Mc Quade Yes James went there often when I lived on elm st bottom our rd.

Liz Morgan Hawkins Remember going there for my shoes many years ago 👠 👟 👞

Bobby Paterson Yes remember my parents using it and me also a true tradesperson not many nowadays

Nancy McFadden I remember that shop very well, got plastic sandels from there

Betty Brown He had a daughter Elizabeth Anne, she died at 12′ wee went to school to-gether, 🙏🙏🙏

Terry Hughes The shop had a great smell of glue & leather.

Tracy Stirling Remember getting segs on my shoes at primary school. Loved the smell in the wee cobblers.

Moira Macfarlane I remember him well xxx


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  1. Aye, Matha the Pole was on Glasgow Road right across from Elm Street.
    I remember being in there as a kid several times and the smell of leather and other materials. Also, I still have a vision of him sitting and performing work on a laste (spelling?).
    Pit boots were re soled and studded….”tackety boots” I think the phrase was. Some kids had them at school.
    I also remember those rubber stick on soles. Can’t remember how many came off by trying to save a few bob and doing them at home.
    Very embarrassing if at the “Troc” in Hamilton and one of your soles was flapping around.
    Matha’s rubber soles stayed on until they had holes in them. Great memeories, thanks for the story Paul.

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