Blantyre Lodging House was located at Birdsfield Street in Burnbank. Its identity was often blurry, for whilst it initially carried the name Blantyre Lodging House, it was certainly located over the Parkburn boundary, and into Hamilton Parish, rather than Blantyre. As such, I do still consider this a Hamilton building.
It was built by public subscription with the company Blantyre Lodging House Ltd asking for people to subscribe with shares. Subscription closed on Friday 5th July 1907. Take up was great with directors thinking they may have had to close the subsrciption before the actual closing date.
The prospectus asking for shares had been published slightly earlier on Friday 21st June 1907 and appeared in local newspapers like “The Motherwell Times.”
It cost £8,000 with the amount raised from 2000 x £1 cumulative preference shares and a further 6000 x £1 ordinary shares. A 5s deposit could be made payable on application with the balance permitted to be paid up.
James Bell of Motherwell was Architect and one of five directors. The other directors were James Burns, the town clerk of Motherwell, Thomas Chambers a wood merchant of Motherwell, Blantyre’s own James Kelly, spirit merchant and justice of the Peace and David Kemp, a painter of Motherwell.
The company was proposed to be formed on 21st June 1907 with the purposes of constructing a model lodge house. It was noted an excellent site had been found already at that time. It was conveniently sited, near public works and with a tram stopping right outside the gate. It was considered the finest location for building such a lodging house.
It opened on Saturday 3rd October 1908 as “Blantyre Lodging House”, with all the latest fixtures and fittings. When it first opened there was a handy tram stop just outside at the Glasgow Road, at the entrance to Birdsfield Street. The triple storey building was made of sandstone and was entirely fenced off. When it opened, there was plenty of ground surrounding it offering recreational space foe the residents, or if they wanted to sit out on forms (seats). These seats were placed outside at various intervals for the lodgers. This was considered very important, for it was noted at the time that none of the other model lodging houses in Lanarkshire, or indeed Scotland offered a place for residents to sit outside, smoke and enjoy themselves without actually being on a public street.
The lodgers came in through a big entrance hall, after which it had a large well lit dining hall and a recreation room with kitchen on the ground floor, modern toilets and changing facilities as well as drying rooms were all at the back. A small shop was located within the building, exclusively selling items to residents.
The whole building was advertised as being well ventilated (a must in these hostels) and the big stone staircase led up to dormitories on the first and second floors. These were subdivided into wooden cubicles, which could accommodate 260 guests, each with a bed.
Older folk may remember the iron stairway at the back which was the emergency route in case of fire, which in these places was always a hazard, in fact the ceilings were made out of asbestos or some similar fire retardant material.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, shares often came up for sale in local newspapers as they passed hands.
Gordon Cook told me, “I’m pretty sure a lot of the shareholders then were Blantyre residents too, the shares came up for sale from time to time. Some men preferred to live there permanently though not out of necessity. When, around 1973 I waited for the Motherwell bus at 5:20 a.m. the men could be heard at the ‘model’ coughing in increasing numbers as they began to wake up.”
In pre WW2 years the hostel, perhaps reflecting it was not in Blantyre, was known as the “Trades Hotel”.It was then known as the Model Hostel and home to many homeless people or those down on their luck.
It was bought over by Tool Hire company Noel Kegg in early 1975 and they traded there until 2010, for a while also known as Toolstop (the name of Noel’s sons company).
In 2010, Toolstop moved to larger location nearer the M74.
At the time of writing this at the end of August 2016, the building has scaffolded erected around it as pictured here by Jim Brown. A possible sign pre-empting its demolition or perhaps a new roof?
The answer came in October 2016, when on Thursday 6th October 2016, the building was completely demolished.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
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