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From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
Exploring Stonefield Road
Stonefield Road takes its name after the old district of ‘Stonefield’ in Blantyre, which in the early 20th Century actually extended from this point southwards up to Larkfield and as far east along either side of Glasgow Road towards Auchinraith Road.
The road, initially a track connected Larkfield down to the Glasgow to Hamilton Road and may have been formed properly when the Free Church was constructed midway up the road. It offered a good way for people to walk from Glasgow Road up to Larkfield and branch off to Barnhill or Causeystanes at High Blantyre.
At the lower northern end of Stonefield Road, a cluster of several houses and a public house were the only buildings in the mid 19th Century in this area. However, like the rest of Stonefield, rapid growth in the 1860’s to 1890’s saw many other homes built with shops on the lower levels.
Prominent buildings like Commercial Place, Dixon’s Rows and the important tram terminus would define the character of this area, with the majesty of the School Chapel and later St Joseph’s Church looking down on them. This was a thriving, popular area of Blantyre with fleshers, bakers, cafes, grocers, public houses, church, a post office, cobblers as well as many other trades.
Popular former shops are embedded in the memories of Blantyre residents. Certainly some of the most talked about are amongst the following:
|· Mickey’s Café De Royal,
· Scobie’s Bakery,
· Cameron’s the Butcher,
· Sweenie’s Confectionery,
· Gilbert the Baker,
· Black the Baker,
· McCorgary’s DIY,
· Chalmers Emporium,
· Smart the Butchers,
· Benham’s Newsagents,
· Geoff Pate’s Newsagents,
· Lightbody’s Bakery shop
· The Red Lion Pub,
· The Old Original Pub,
|· The Black Hole,
· Clyde Star Video,
· Loughlin’s Cobblers,
· Scotmid Chemist,
· KG Copystat,
· Tan Unique,
· The Launderette,
· The Priory Inn,
· Mecca Bookmakers
· William Hill Bookmakers,
· Hair by Brogan,
· Melanie Brown’s Salon,
· Stonefield Newsagents.
Perhaps the most commercially astute was the Valerio family. The Café De Royal (Mickey’s) established in 1906 will be fondly remembered by many people, even right into the 1980’s. Mickey Valerio cleverly penned the slogan on his adverts, which catered for all weather, “Do you feel cold? Try a coffee now. You feel hot? Have an Ice. “
This was a great shopping area for more than 100 years, but now, since the 1990’s only has shops on the western side near the junction.
Not so much “everything you will need in one place”, but now more like “some things you may need (from time to time!)”
In the early 1800’s a popular and well known public house existed at the western corner of Glasgow Road and Stonefield Road called ‘Clive Place’. The exact spot of this former pub also used an inn, was where the ‘Old Original Bar’ is today.
The name ‘Clive Place’ incorporated not just the pub, but also a couple of small homes too, nearby on Stonefield Road. The origin of the ‘Clive’ name, dating back to the early 19th Century is unknown, perhaps a person’s surname or place, now forgotten to time. The surname is not in early census information for Blantyre.
The original owner and constructor was Mr. George Bruce. Born in 1796, George is first noted in Blantyre census information in 1841 as being the owner of houses at Clive Place. George was a ‘wright’ or blacksmith, a profession that would have assisted in attending to horses at his inn. During the 1850’s George owned nearby Stonefield Cottage. He also owned the one and a half storey detached house with dormer windows at 8 Stonefield Road (named ‘Clive Cottage’), right up until his death in the late 1870’s.
The single storey, detached public house was modestly made of stone with a small lavatory to the western side. Latterly with a slate roof, it may have originally been thatched in the first half of the 1800’s. It is thought to have dated back to the 1830’s. Like ‘Winks’ and ‘Stonefield Tavern’ further eastwards along Glasgow Road, it may have originally been a changing house or inn where weary travellers could rest and get their horses attended to. Situated on the most western extremity of the hamlet of Stonefield, the public house was well used, popular and one of the best early public houses. During the 19th Century, upon exiting the building, you would have looked over towards a small woodland, where now St Joseph’s Church stands. The public house at Clive Place sat isolated at that time, existing long before most Glasgow Road buildings.
The public house opened out on to Glasgow Road and had no windows in the gables. On the Glasgow Road side of the building were 2 large windows and a central large door, illuminated by overhanging gas lamp, with space above for signage. It was heated by coal fires at either end of the building. Nearby two modest sized trees are shown on the 1859 map and on the only known photo of the building. The trees at the back of the photo were in the grounds of nearby Stonefield Cottage. The property including a small paddock for horses, was enclosed by waist height wooden picket fences. A well was located at the junction serving the property.
Craig Family Ownership
Between 1851 and 1854, Thomas Craig, a spirit dealer from Bothwell moved over to Blantyre with his wife, Helen, young daughter Margaret and their new infant son, Robert. This family would become synonymous with Glasgow Road Public houses until the end of the First World War. Born in 1817, Thomas Craig was the son of George Craig, spirit merchant of Bothwell and Janet.
Thomas Craig and family initially in the early 1850’s rented a house at Clive Place from George Bruce, and Thomas would run Clive Place public house. In 1859, the name book for the Parish hints at how established this public house had become, describing ‘Clive Place’ as “A Public house on the side of the Hamilton to Glasgow Turnpike Road. The name is well known throughout the Parish.”
Opportunity arose in 1861, when George Craig, Thomas’s father died, a situation which resulted in Janet Craig, Thomas’s mother buying Clive Place Public House outright from George Bruce. So it came to be in 1861, at the age of 43, Thomas was still running the pub as he had done for the best part of 10 years, albeit now for his mother Janet Craig, whom by then was absent from Blantyre running her own inn, at Kirkintilloch.
By 1865, at a time when coal was being discovered in and around Blantyre, and more people arrived, Thomas Craig and family were living at Clive Place, running the public house.
In 1865, George Bruce had let out a nearby house within Clive Place to the Blantyre Co-operative Society, although only for a short time. It dispels the myth that the Co-op first arrived in Blantyre in the 1880’s and is a full 18 years earlier than previously recorded. The Co-op may have failed in the 1860’s, due to lack of population or presence but would flourish considerably when established again in 1883. By 1875 John Mitchell and 2 other tenants were renting that house instead.
In the 1871 census, Thomas Craig and wife Helen were in their mid-50’s and together with son, Robert (20) and daughter Margaret (24), they all lived at Clive Place operating the family wine merchant’s business, on behalf of Thomas’s mother, Janet Craig, the owner.
In 1877, the year of the Blantyre Pit Disaster, Robert Craig was 26 years old and saw opportunity in establishing his own public house, at a sufficient distance away for business to be successful, non-competitive, yet close enough to be near his home and family. License was sought for establishing a public house at Westend Place, on the corner of Bardykes Road at the western extremity of Blantyre. The license was granted and Robert established himself at that location, along with his sister, Margaret made their own way in the world as wine and spirit merchants, just like their father, Thomas still running Clive Place.
Trade at ‘Clive Place Public House’ may have drastically dipped in 1877 following the Pit Explosion on 22nd October 1877, with so many of the dead miners previously living nearby at Dixon’s Rows. In 1885, Thomas Craig died aged 68 and the running of Clive Place was taken over by his widowed wife, Helen who was by then 70 years old. Janet Craig, mother of Thomas outlived him and in 1885, it was all change within the Craig family.
Robert Craig, son of Thomas and Helen was born in Cumbernauld in 1851, coming to Blantyre as an infant. Living at Clive Place, he grew up around the wine and spirit merchant business and would have known the trade well by the time of applying for his own license at the age of 26. When his father died in 1885, his grandmother Janet gave up her ownership of Clive Place, over to Robert, who would become the owner outright from that date.
By the end of 1885, Robert Craig owned, not just his public house at the Westend, but also Clive Place. Indications of stretched working life are apparent for Helen Craig (80), Robert’s widowed mother was running Clive Place by 1895, whilst as owner, he was also ‘hands on’ at the Westend. There is no doubt he would have been running between both businesses, overseeing the interests of each. Robert would establish his own mark at Clive Place following 1885. A gable sign erected, noted ‘Robert Craig’s’ wine and spirit merchant business with established date of 1832, going back to the days of his father and grandfather, something he would have been proud of. Local people may have shortened the name, referring to Clive Place simply as “Craig’s Pub”.
By 1895, the other homes at Clive Place were owned by John Virtue and the Craig family no longer living there. Success of having two pubs meant Robert Craig could afford to live in one of the new large villas on Glasgow Road. By then, a single man, he moved to “Craigrock” a semi-detached villa at 312 Glasgow Road midway between Clive Place and the Westend.
In 1895, his sister and business partner died of cancer, her assets as a spirit merchant, including share of the Westend Bar, transferring to her brother just before death.
He married once in 1899 to a woman named Margaret Thomson Roxburgh (who died young, aged 49 in 1914). In the 1901 census, Robert is 50-year-old, living there with his 86-year-old retired mother Helen. He took part in many community engagements and functions and was well known.
When Helen Craig died in 1903, aged 88, her grandson, Robert was the rightful inheritor of the Craig Estate. Likely coming into money, Robert would seize the opportunity for a fresh start. At the age of 52, as trams commenced directly outside Clive Place, and the opposing St Joseph’s Church construction got underway directly opposite, Robert took the opportunity to demolish the aging Clive Place Public house entirely, making way for a modern, ornate corner tenement building. He may have felt a growing pressure to keep up appearances and modernization given the amount of pubs and new building springing up nearby around this time.
From Robert’s perspective, his own pub had always been the Westend, and Clive Place was the ‘Old Original Bar’ belonging to the family. The name was a logical choice for his new public house at 283/285 Glasgow Road. Located on the corner of his modern tenement in 1903, he named the pub exactly that, i.e. “The Old Original Bar” in honour of his family’s legacy.
The name ‘Clive Place’ however would not totally disappear at that time. The upper homes within the new corner tenement with address 287 Glasgow Road would officially continue to be called “Clive Place” for several decades, as would the cottage at Stonefield Road. However, the name ‘Clive Place’ looks to have vanished by WW2, the former pub itself, now an impossibility for any living person’s memory or recollection.
This was truly one of Blantyre’s forgotten old buildings.
The Old Original Bar
1903 was a year of significant change at the Glasgow Road junction of Stonefield Road. Leading that evolution was the construction of the tall and impressive St Joseph’s Church on the north side, so distinct in style by use of its red sandstone, by comparison to other grey stone used in Glasgow Road. Trams had started running along Glasgow Road with the terminus directly outside Clive Place, the former public house directly opposite.
Robert Craig, in 1903, was a 52-year-old Blantyre wine and spirit merchant, whom after acquiring the Craig family inheritance following the death of his grandmother, built the ‘Old Original Bar’. Robert had owned Clive Place since 1885 and was also owner of the Westend, a public house he established over 2 decades earlier. Clive Place had been the family’s ‘Old Original Bar’, hence the fitting name for his new venture.
‘The Old Original Bar’, is of tenement style with frontage on Glasgow Road and Stonefield Road, initially with 2 or 3 shops on the ground floor on Stonefield Road. There were homes above the public house. Robert’s chosen design may have been inspired from seeing a similar public house constructed in High Blantyre at Broompark Road by Arthur Blakely some 9 years earlier. However, it looks more certain to have been influenced by the tall church being built across the road to the north. Indeed, his chosen red sandstone matches the colour of the church exactly, dare we even suggest possibly from the same quarry, obtained and hauled to Blantyre at the same time?
The religious influences witnessed daily during Robert’s construction, may also have influenced the design of his pub. Three large arched doorways, faced by red sandstone, quoin blocks adorn the ground floor of the pub, of similar design to the church doorways, opening out on to the pavement. It appears Robert’s Architect had put some thought into the design to ensure a complimentary appearance to larger, nearby emerging structures.
There’s no doubt Robert Craig would have been proud of his modern, new public house and setting nostalgia aside for a moment, perhaps he was glad to see the old Clive Place building, no longer fit for purpose. Certainly, in 1903, Robert must have witnessed many Blantyre public houses being upgraded or built in the previous decade and this would be his further imprint upon Blantyre.
At 2 storeys and L-shaped on plan, there’s a door on each of Glasgow Road and Stonefield Road as well as the corner itself. The corner is ornate, especially the upper part, which features 2 large column turrets and 2 smaller. Upper windows have small “French” style railing balconies. Cellar access was via hatches in both Stonefield Road and Glasgow Road pavements. The roof has always been slate covered.
Inside was, and still is a large central island bar, enabling bar-staff to serve in full 360 degrees. Some of the original interior features remain in the pub, including woodwork and plaster architraves.
Taking time to commission a ‘1903’ date stone at rain gutter level facing on to the Church, Robert also included an ornate and impressive carving containing his overlapping initials ‘RC’ directly above the central, corner doorway.
There would be no doubt. This was ‘Craig’s Pub.’
‘The Old Original Bar’ would have had a regular clientele, primarily of miners and the proximity to the miner’s homes of Dixon’s Rows is noted. It’s highly likely the regulars of former Clive Place Public House came to frequent the new ‘Old Original.’ From the time of his marriage in 1899, Robert Craig lived at “Craigrock” at 312 Glasgow Road, a short distance away. His wife died young in 1914, aged 49. Business consumed Robert’s life, not married until 49 years old. He was driven to make his pubs as successful as they possibly could.
By 1915, ‘The Old Original Bar’ had address 283/285 Glasgow Road and the homes above 287 Glasgow Road, the homes referred to as the resurrected name, ‘Clive Place’ until WW2. In later years, the cellar at 283 was dropped from addresses to give ‘The Old Original Bar’ its modern address simply 285 Glasgow Road.
Robert Craig died during WW1 on 28th March 1917 aged 66 from prolonged bronchitis. ‘The Old Original Bar’ had been his pub for only 14 years. With one underage child, young Robert, his estate was to be held by trustees.
William Francis (Frank) Benham
After Robert’s death, his good friend, tenant, cousin-in-law and trustee of his estate, Mr. William Francis Benham expressed an interest in owning the bar. William Francis (known as Frank) Benham had attended Robert’s house just before his death and had been there at the time.
When William Benham took over ‘The Old Original Bar’ in 1917, he lived at ‘Craigrock’ villa at 310 Glasgow Road, next door to Robert Craig at 312. He would live there with family for the rest of his life. On 7th April 1917, Frank Benham applied for a alcohol license, which was granted by authorities.
We’ve dated this photo of Frank as being definitely 1921 according to worldwide news posters which were on the side of the shop, on the rest of the picture. (not featured). Frank Benham was too old for war, but was a known character in the area.
Born in 1857 in Edinburgh, he moved from Glasgow to Blantyre in Summer 1893, initially living at nearby Dervoch Cottage as a booksellers assistant, with wife Elizabeth (Lizzie) Ann Pearson Craig and his 3 daughters, Elizabeth Jackson Benham (Bessie), Margaret Ann Benham (Meg) and Jane (Jean) Craig Benham. His only son died in 1895 as an infant, prompting a house move, this time to St Clair Cottage in Rosebank Avenue by 1901. The family moved to Glasgow Road by 1911.
Frank rented and ran a popular newsagent shop, adjacent to the large pend close at the bottom of Stonefield Road at number 11, between Valerio’s café and Blantyre Post Office, his full story covered in another Blantyre book.
He died on 13th December 1925, at his home at Craigrock, his will read on 8th April 1926 with eldest daughter Elizabeth Jackson Benham inheriting £901, 13 shillings and 6 pence. (Around £50,000 in today’s money). However, Craigrock and the shop at 11 Stonefield Road were rented and did not form part of the estate. The Old Original Bar was however part of the estate and would be sold on. His barmen at the time were John Gibson and Felix McBride.
The next owner of the Old Original Bar from 1926 until into the 1940’s was Mr. James Jones, a traveller of 30 Calderwood Road, Rutherglen. He kept on Felix as barman. He also took ownership of the adjacent shops at 4 and 6 Stonefield Road, which once were part of the Old Original building. Elizabeth Benham and her sister Meg would continue to run their fathers old shop at 11 Stonefield Road.
Throughout WW2, ‘The Old Original Bar’ was still a real miner’s pub. Dominoes, darts, talk about sport, the hardships of work and war, a pint after work type of place. Some of these old miners would frequent the premises well into their elderly years, long after the pits closed.
During a fierce storm in January 1968, residents in nearby Stonefield Cottage were woken by an almighty crash as the chimneystack on the gable of The Old Original crashed to the ground. It is alleged the same thing happened across the road at Mayberry Place.
A poem by the late Blantyre historian, Jimmy Cornfield, all about the Old Original Bar and its characters remembers the past. The poem is accompanied by a very suitable photo, courtesy of the Cornfield family. As follows:
The “Old Original Bar” Mob
(Craig’s Tae You An Me)
A bunch O the boys were whopping it up outside Craig’s Auld Original Baur,
They had all been in and had a good sup, now they were home for the war!
Whilst standing in the cold rain, a photo was taken by McGuire,
The ale had given them Dutch courage, to face she who sits by the fire.
Up spoke a voice from within the bunch,”I’m hame for the trouble I’m intae”
The rest looked in awe at this brave man, whose name was Jim McGinty.
Cousin Hugh then spoke, but he was alright, for a bachelor man was he
Not for him, the fear O` a woman, he was a gentleman and fancy free
James McFauld and Todd were another two, both single the same as Hugh
Not for them the wrath o` a woman, so they drunk the whole day thru.
McBride McGaulley and Morris, Coulter, Cummiskey and Finnegan
Cowardly looked at each other, then turned and went back in again.
I look at this photo now and again, taken in days O` lang syne,
The reason I’m not in it? I was in the loo at the time!
“Now the moral of this tale, is never be a liar
Don’t get a photo taken outside a pub in Blantyre”
Just be like me and go for a pee and never tell McGuire……..
By James Cornfield 2008
Amongst those who latterly worked there are John Rundell, Davie McKean. A couple named Bernie and Bella worked there from 1968 for a few years. Other workers included John and Mary Welsh and their 3 daughters Ann (who married Bobby Rooney who also worked in the pub), Mary and Josephine (who married into the Mooney family). Also Brenda McGuigan. Other bar managers were Katie O’Brien Anderson managed the pub for many years, living above it in the corner flat. Donald Storrie owned the Old Original for a time, employing Sam (Sammy) Johnston as his barman in the 1980’s. Jim Quigley, another manager.
The pub went up for lease again in 2013. In 2015, Punch Partnership held the license for trading and still own it, under the watchful eye of current landlady, Betty. When it was taken over by Punch, they painted the exterior signage bright red, as opposed to the black which had been there for many years prior. Visiting in November 2017, we took the next photo of the interior, on one of the quieter days.
In the flat above the corner door a family by the name of Forrest lived there. Three sons Charles, Jim, William and a daughter Lynn. The other two flats facing Glasgow Road, one was occupied by Mrs. Bell and her son Jim, and the other by Mrs. Bell’s daughter.
Today, the rear yard is accessed by a path to the west of the building. There is an open space behind the pub which seems largely unused. The pub itself, remains open with tidy neat signage, clean paintwork although the stonework has seen better days. A sign of the times are the multiple satellite dishes on the upper floor, not just for the pub, but for resident’s homes. A line of artificial grass adorns the façade midway up, containing anti bird roosting equipment, preventing Blantyre’s birds from doing their business. From what we witnessed on our visit, staff are attentive and engaged in playful banter with all the punters whilst going about their job. You won’t get to the bar without somebody telling a story.
As with all pubs in Blantyre, it has its own set of regular and loyal customers. It is safe to say at time of writing and at 115 years old in 2018, ‘The Old Original Bar’ is one of the few pubs left in Blantyre which still retains an interior with the old, nostalgic charm and a character people look back fondly upon.
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