Blantyre Cooperative Society Bakery – perhaps the tallest building Blantyre has seen, the Blantyre Co-operative Society (Number 5) Bakery, or more commonly known, the Auchinraith Bakery. At 5 storeys tall, this brick building truly was huge and dominated the skyline, only rivalled by the nearby Bing. It may have been the tallest and largest man made building ever seen in Blantyre. The railway ran immediately behind this building and its nearest neighbour was the Auchinraith Primary Janitor’s house on the opposite side of the track. Built of brick between 1898 and 1905, the bakery must always have seemed a very imposing building. It had a slate pitched roof and the windows all appeared long and tall, set into an arched façade at the front.
In January 1905 Charles Allan and Andrew Messer were repairing the chimney at a heigh of 60 feet when Messer overcome by fumes became unconscious. Allan held on to the man who weighed 4 stone, for an hour and a half until help came.
Several additional railway spurs were added at the back of the building directly from the goods and wagon storage sheds directly on to the railway, creating an easy means of delivery to places outwith Blantyre. Smaller offices were situated close by. The Co-op bakery was located at the top of Craig Street at its junction with Auchinraith Road. In 1930, it is noted in the valuation roll as having stables too. It was the place where Blantyre residents got their New Year steak pies. Dan Dodds was a van driver, delivering in a side opening van, filled with shelves of breads, cakes and pastries. Former racing speedway star, Mr Ken McKinley was also a delivery driver before his fame. Robert McLeod- Wolohan delivered the milk for the bakery in the late 1960s. John Cornfield and Derek McNamee were milk boys for the bakery in the early 1970s. Bobby Dunsmuir was a mechanic working in the garage building repairing the Co-op vans.
People could pay for their goods using plastic tokens. Modern homes at Carrick Gardens are now on this site, which still does command quite an elevated position, by comparison to the nearby streets. The building sometimes known as Co-op number 5 was eventually demolished in the mid 1970’s and nothing remains of the old building.
A few local people remember this building. Moyra Lindsay said, “I was its nearest neighbour for all my teenage years, in the flat above no.5 cooperative. The house on the other side in Craig Street was the headmaster’s house. He walked over each day in pinstripe trousers and what seemed to me tailcoat. Mr Dunlop. Sat in an office all day with roaring fire and his paper. I still think the only things he did were to count the dinner money and issue the tickets and frighten the lives out of us wee ones! Anyway that building was my view for years. It was a tied house as my dad was the mechanic. Lots of memories there, I was free to walk in and out any of it …no health and safety then. My mum worked there for years, I remember one Christmas her sitting crying she was so tired.“
Cecil Willis added, “Worked in No 5 co-op in front on Auchinraith Rd in 1965 with john broadilay and done the co purveys with jock blythe on saturdays and all the woman pat martin &martha black fanny wilkie to name a few tommy berry worked in the coal yard and used the biggest shovel u could imagine what a worker he was happy days“
Jane Johnstone also added, “Yes, went there daily with my Grannie, we lived right across the road in Auchinraith, as I got older was allowed to cross the road and go for the milk by myself but…had to be careful going into the yard for the lorries coming and going and had to remember the coop number…which I have now forgotten…. think it was1735 or something round about there! Lol! I remember the milk tokens and loved playing with them as a child. The ‘store’ had sawdust on the foot and a ‘store dug’ always lying at the wee bit in the middle where they took the money or wrote in your ‘Co’ book; guess it was buying on ‘tick’? When the coop closed On a Sunday, I had to go down Craig Street, through the old bridge, no pavement, so had to be really careful going through, to buy Willie Woodbines for my uncle Jock…he always gave us sixpence for going, which was a fortune then! Bought sherbet dabs and lucky bags. My Grannie was a school cleaner. I know that previously she worked in the primary school up at High Blantyre but may have ended her working life at Auchinraith Primary…Jeannie Dalton.“
On social media:
Moyra Lindsay Gary I handed a copy of a photo into the pub , it was taken at the back door of your house there. Taken around 1928 it’s got my mum and sisters and brother and your dad and others I don’t know. My mum would be about 8 or 9 in it. Did you get it?