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.
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
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