Hope Hall – was located adjacent to the rear of the Gazette Newspaper Office, just off the north side of Glasgow Road. The name may have been a local nickname for the former hall, as there is no official mention of it in any valuation roll.
It was situated on a path leading down to Brown Brothers’ Painters and Decorators workshop, which was directly opposite Victoria Street.
The Gazette building on Glasgow Road was formerly an ice cream parlour owned by Jimmy Capaldi and family, which was a well known meeting place for men, at the beginning of the 20th Century, because of the fact it contained a full size billiard table.
This site behind the office/ice cream parlour was known locally as ‘Hope Hall’ (a society similar to the Salvation Army) and the first building to be erected on the site, in the 1870s.
On 1898 maps, the building is shown as double storey as steps are depicted on the eastern edge.
Dating it is a little more difficult. Hope Hall was in Enumeration District four in the 1881 census, which would suggest there were families living at Hope Hall at that time. As such it might not have been a standalone hall, but likely the ground floor open plan room of a building with families living above.
Roman Catholics from Ireland, who had come to the district to work in the surrounding collieries, used this hall and one at Dixon’s Rows as a temporary chapel until the first St. Joseph’s Church School was constructed in 1878. With no prior history recorded before mid 1870’s, so it would appear the construction may have been at that time.
The name likely is associated with having faith, and perhaps the hope for something more permanent to pray in. The ‘Band of Hope’ was located in Blantyre, and continued well into the twenties, possibly the 1930s. By 1899, the hall is noted as having a very different function belonging to Mr. McCaffrie and being used as an extension to his public house.
The name Hope Hall seems to disappear around 1900. It might have been the meeting place for a couple of societies in Blantyre, in 1909 both the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Gaelic League were meeting in what was called ‘The Gaelic League Hall’ in Blantyre. The building described is still on 1936 maps but the exact demolition date is unknown but known to have been before 1945 (the building is not on aerial photos of that year)
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
Thanks to Gordon Cook for some assistance with this article.