Pictured here around 1910-1915 or so, is Blantyre couple John Gray and Agnes Murdoch. Prominent shopkeepers and business owners of the time. It’s safe to say, they lived a comfortable lifestyle by comparison to many others, no thanks to their own hard work.
John Gray was a master grocer and wine merchant, born in Blantyre in 1844, the son of Robert and an abandoned orphan Mary (Blantyre) Gray. In 1877, he married Agnes Semple Murdoch and had at least one son whom he named Robert junior and daughter Jane.
In 1901 he took ownership of his parent’s legacy in Grays Buildings, the existing 2 storey tenement directly across from the Bethany Hall. He moved from his nearby cottage (Milne on Glasgow Road) into the upper floor of Grays Buildings and let his son Robert rent the cottage from him.
He would continue to run the granary, slaughterhouse, hayloft and stables for the rest of his life, as well as his licensed grocers shop. His wife Agnes may have in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s run several shops on the lower floor of Rosendale.
On 1st January 1928, just shortly after the New Year Bells, John Gray died at 253 Glasgow Road, aged 84. It was said he was the oldest resident in Blantyre at the time. He had been suffering from dementia amongst other things and his son, Robert was present.
Looking at this charming photo shared by Elaine Robertson, I think this was taken on the southern facing garden at the back of Grays Buildings. Maps of the 1910s show long greenhouses, becoming derelict. I suspect he would have been able to see Dixon’s Rows miners homes from that viewpoint. With him is Agnes Murdoch, his wife. The child is unknown but likely to have been a grandchild.
John Gray, like his father Robert was well known in Blantyre and and interesting character to do further research with.