1953, Key to the Door

Going back now almost 70 years. In early 1953, eight elderly couples received the keys of specially designed ‘Darby and Joan’ two apartment houses in Blantyre, the first of their kind to be completed in Lanarkshire. Mr John Mann C.B.E, County Convenor handed over the keys at a pleasant ceremony one Monday morning.

In handing over the keys to the new tenants, Mr Mann said it was gratifying to see older people being looked after in this way. These were the first houses of their type and Mr Mann hoped many more would be built. After tea in the Glasgow Road Community Hall where the ceremony took place, the elderly people were accompanied to the Thornhill housing estate to look at their new homes.

Fronted by a tree lined avenue, the two blocks of four dwellings are of an attractive brick design. The special needs of these folk were kept in the mind of the Architect and new tenants were enthusiastic about several new features incorporated into their homes.

One such resident was 75 year old Mr James Dawson, who like his wife was born and bred in Blantyre both excited about their trim little new home as it had no stairs. Mrs Dawson expressed great delight in the modern kitchen and plenty of cupboard and pantry space. As a gift from the council, each resident had been given a half ton of coal in their coal bunkers, as a welcome gift.

Homes for the elderly were also being kept in mind closeby. Mr Mann reminded the crowd, that across the road, the fields of Wheatlandhead were about to be transformed by the building of 250 brand new houses, 8 of which would be specifically dedicated as single storey for older couples with no family or whose family had grown up and lived far away. Those houses, part of 50 initial brick houses had by early 1953 already been almost completed at Wheatlandhead.

Mr Dawson had been a miner in several local collieries and now in retirement had earned himself a part time job as a watchman at the Thornhill and Wheatlandhead building sites. He was most appreciative of the big changes to his living accommodation.

On that opening day, others present included Councillors Edward Daly, John J Fraser and Walter Cameron, Mr J.S Rhind Deputy County Clerk and Mr S McColl County Architect were also there.

The inset photo shows Mr Mann handing over the key to the new home of Mr Dawson, who is seen in the larger photo opening his new home for the first time. Looking on is Mr Cameron (extreme left) and Mr Fraser (third from the left). It would be great if somebody knew this exact address.

Leave a Reply