Whit’s Yer Nummer?

‘Whit’s Yer Nummer?” was the cry around most homes and businesses in April 1906.

This was the sentence on the tongue of most Blantyre residents from Monday 23rd April 1906 as the novelty sank in of proper postal addresses being applied for the first time. No longer were homes and shops to be known by a simple building name. Now, from that week, every dwelling house and business in Blantyre was given a number!

The County Council had determined that all properties should be given a numbered address given the expansion of Blantyre. No longer could it be assumed that postal workers would know of a particular building by name. A logical, numeric system needed to be applied to simplify things.

A revolution happened to Blantyre addresses in April 1906. As well as numbers being given to addresses, for the first time, enamel plaques were also to be erected at the corner of every street, some 12 rto 15 foot up, with all street names properly on display for the first time. Some small cul de sacs therefore had for the first time to be given names too.

The people looked upon this innovation with no small amount of amusement, as numbers were an unknown quantity. Some homes and businesses proudly took delight in telling others they were number 1. There were even people who wanted to change their numbers for whatever reason, not realising they couldn’t!

Churches, Schools and Public Buildings were given a little numbered tablet affixed to doors, paid for by the County Council. Dwelling Homes saw Council workers coming round to paint on their new numbers. This caused a new trend in later weeks which saw home owners rushing out to buy iron or enamel letters, upgrading their painted number to a more prominent accessory and it is said the hardware shops did well from this custom.

Other sweeping changes took place that week. The Hamilton to Glasgow Highway through Stonefield (admittedly a mouthful) was in part already known for some time as Glasgow Road. However, from that particular week, Stonefield addresses were to be included also as Glasgow Road, rather than simply referred to as Stonefield. This was a huge change for many people and it would take almost a generation for those living in the street to stop referring to their properties as being “in Stonefield”.

The changes made logical sense, but for those home owners whose homes proudly reflected their surnames or some nostalgic, carefully chosen name, perhaps which had existed for generations, the house name remained and the new numbering was relegated to a second line in the address.

A postwoman is pictured at “Millerdale”, Hunthill Road

1915 Postwoman at Millardale, Hunthill Rd

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