By the start of June 1979, the first ‘positive’ visible signs on site of the multi million pound venture between ASDA and Hamilton District Council was apparent.
Phrases like “Blantyre bomb site”, “open crater” and “dereliction beyond belief” were to be a thing of the past, as contractors confirmed that almost all of the tenements along Glasgow Road, scheduled for demolition, had now been removed.
For many people in Blantyre, it was a welcome sight. An end to rats, boarded up windows and unsafe buildings, many vandalised beyond repair. Seeing the removed tenements, open spaces was a sign of the future, the possibilities, certainly for most people, though for former traders perhaps less so.
By 1st June 1979, contractors had started work on the foundations for the new ASDA store and phase one (the 60,000 square foot store with 6 shops) was underway. Mr Crawford Russell, Hamilton District’s Planning Officer and a member of his team talked of the proposals deemed, ‘the Blantyre Project”, a name I thought suitable all those years ago for this history archive.
His Blantyre Project included building a sports centre just off John Street with decision already made in principal. It included building a brand new trading estate at the bottom of Auchenraith Road, as well as of course the ASDA development. Mr Russell is pictured here in 1979 with a model of the superstore.
What a tough route the Project had taken. Of the 7 huge compulsory purchase orders served, there had been 5 objections. After negotiation and discussion, those objections had been withdrawn and attempts were made to position traders as near to where they had been as possible. Just 4 blocks of tenements remained on Glasgow Road, to keep traders there until new premises could be found for them. Those shopkeepers in the remaining tenements to be demolished would get first option on the new shops at ASDA.
Mr Russell continued to state that the Shopping Centre would include, when finished 20 shops, the ASDA store and a new pub to be built at the corner of Victoria Street. Phase 1 was due to be completed in Autumn 1980. The Blantyre Project also included 450 spaces for car parking and housing would not be forgotten about. 25 special homes were to be built at Stonefield Public Park behind the arch. These were for older folks and a further 30 was planned initially east of John Street (which eventually would become Devlin Grove).
Mr Russell promised Glasgow Road had been modelled on Princes Street in Edinburgh, with shops lining one side, and easy unrestricted access to the park on the opposite side, with wider, larger carriageways and footways.
What do you think? Did Blantyre get it’s “Princes Street”?
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