1956 Hoolet’s Pub Sale

In September 2022, the lease for the Hoolets went up for sale. This photo taken by Alex Rochead that week captures when the signs went up.

Looking back at the history of previous ownership, an interesting time was in 1956 when Peter MacDonald bought the Barnhill Tavern (now Hoolets) building for £2,600 from Nellie Moir. That’s about £52,000 in today’s money. There has for some time been a local story that Peter MacDonald, was at the time the barman and walked into the pub one day with Nellie Moir giving him the keys and saying “the pub is now yours.”

Was there truth in this story? The ownership deeds are revealing and provide an insight into rather an unusual circumstance where Peter borrowed money from his employer as a loan, using it to buy her business outright!

Peter MacDonald lived at 101 Station Road, Blantyre at the time and on 4th July 1956 he borrowed £2,860 from Miss Nellie Moir, owner of the Barnhill Tavern. Nellie lived at Barnhill at the time. Prior to her the pub had belonged to Alexander Pettigrew since 1923

On 4 July 1946 Peter MacDonald borrowed £2,860 sterling from Nellie Moir. On the same day he paid Nellie £2,660 for the Barnhill Tavern and its outbuildings, using the same solicitor in Motherwell. This was for the pub, whole building and land, including the fixtures and fittings. This would leave Peter £200 in hand to takeover and carry on the business.

I suspect Nellie wanted to simply rid herself of the hard work of running this business, and wanted to do the right thing by her barman, who was interested in becoming the licensee and owner. The situation is certainly an unusual one.

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