Night in Blantyre Pubs Part 1 of 2, 1897

What if you could go back in time 126 years and experience a ‘pub crawl’ in Blantyre?! Well, thanks to this next account, you can do just that! In March 1897, a Bothwell man headed over the Clyde to visit Blantyre Pubs one Springtime Saturday evening and documented his visit, at times in an interesting and witty manner. I think a little tongue in cheek too. Here’s what he wrote:

“Dear Sir, As Saturday is the day that all workmen are high-spirited and elated with the thought of their money, I put a box of dominoes in my pocket, a shilling worth of sticking plaster and a pair of boxing gloves. Thus equipped, I started for Blantyre to see how the national revenue is increased. “

“I left my aristocratic Bothwell behind with all its wealth and magnificent buildings, lofty balconies, servants standing at the gates with white tippets on their heads, mashers with false molars, lovely maidens with blank letters in their hands, and bulging purses, etc.. etc., and departed with the speed of a man on crutches.”

“Soon I was going down the steep brae that leads to the river Clyde, passed by the ancient walls that encompass the historic Castle of Bothwell; crossed the antique “pay brig,” payed my bawbee to the man in the box, got nothing back and was not disappointed in the least; stood looking at the dye work that is now transformed into a “stooky” work, no smoke coming from the Ium which once meant prosperity and golden wages.”

“I climbed the brae and went by the white-washed quaint village. All the women were smiling and minding their own business for once. Little children, at each door were testing their health in the gutter. It is not the village it used to be long ago; it is bereft of the romantic aspect that it bore when pink short gowns and red ribbons were all the go. Turning round the corner I reached the only spirt shop in the village, and it does a roaring trade on Saturdays [Village Bar]. Gills and quarts go out in galore and snaps for the boys.”

I left and went into the heart of Blantyre. I entered a pub at the junction of Stonefield and got into the big room. [Stonefield Tavern]. I may say that the writer is not a rabid “T.T.” nor excessive drinker. Two pailfuls and a bottle of “Old Tom” per night does him. In this room singing was in full swing. One rose and sang “When the Roses come again.” To look at him it ,it seemed he could do with a “feed” when the baker came again. He was very often interrupted with his song. “Gie order.” said one of the crowd “for the man’s sang; the man canna sing if you gang gittering there like a quacking duck.”

“This nettled an old man who remarked, ‘If I come owre, I’ll set ma twa fingers in yer big e’en, that’s whit ill dae!” Fighting’ talk. This old man’s coat looked as if it had come through a chaff cutter. His boots were laced with lemonade wire and his golden whisker, were coming through the dye. “Pit them baith oot and gies peace’ said a young man. Old man replied “Try it. There’s nae a man that ye can beg, borrow, or steal who cood day that!”, A Bothwell Cook

Continued on Part 2 tomorrow.

AI imagines this scene as illustrated in this exclusive picture.
Source: Hamilton Herald & Lanarkshire Weekly News, Fri 26th March 1897.

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