With the recent closure of the Clydesdale Bank on Glasgow Road, I thought it would be a good idea to tell the history of that building and the one prior to it in that same location.
19th and early 20th Century –
During the early 1800’s until the early 1900’s, a small block of one-storey buildings immediately adjacent and to the west of Stonefield Tavern and in between the Co-op buildings on Glasgow Road where now stands the Clydesdale Bank. In the mid 19th Century, when indeed there weren’t many other buildings on Glasgow Road, this wee building was known as Greendales.
Directly across from the entrance to Station Road, an advert from the era describes Greendales consisting of “a Store, Dwelling Houses and Ground.” The building in the 19th Century may have been initially thatched at one point. The building may have had an Irish Connection and was known locally as “The Wee Irish building” even in the 1920’s. You can see Greendales in this rare old 1910 picture here. There is a question whether this building was upgraded or rebuilt, for the scene shows a two storey building but with a ruin beside. The old Blantyre Cotton Works Toll Bar was located across the road from this building at the junction of Station Road and Glasgow Road during the 19th Century. The source of Greendales name is unknown.
By 1934, the 2 storey building had been completely demolished and this piece of ground was to sit vacant for a couple of decades.
The Co-op Emporium
By 1954, the Co-op had acquired the vacant ground and their plan was to extend their Co-op building adjacent. It was to be the site of a modern, brick and timber constructed building which was to be known as the Co-op Emporium. The modern facade incorporated 9 distinctive circular porthole type windows. The photos show the timber roof trusses being constructed in 1954 on Glasgow Road, from the nearby vantage point of Station Road. Gordon Cook who kindly shared these photos told me he is pictured in the photo and it may even have been on his first visit to David Livingstone Centre.
The Co-op Emporium was to serve Blantyre well. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, it sold furniture, ornaments and haberdashery. By the early 1970’s the upstairs sold vinyl records, radios and radiograms. Upstairs also had a payment desk where people could pay for their hire purchase goods.
By 1981, as shown in this photo, the Emporium was lying vacant and derelict, awaiting another use. It attracted the interest of the Clydesdale Bank in the early 1980s, who were to move from their location further westwards to this more modern building.
Sidenote: The Clydesdale Bank is known to have been in Blantyre since 1879. By 1909, it was one of two banks in Blantyre. In 1930, according to the valuation roll, the Clydesdale Bank was leasing the lower floor of 301 Main Street within the Gardiner Place building. It was renting from John Allan McKillop. During the 1950’s and 1960s, if a woman worker got pregnant, she had to leave the banks employment for good.
On Wednesday 13th April 2016, Clydesdale Bank issues a statement that Blantyre branch would close between July and September 2016, along with 8 other Scottish branches, stating it was necessary due to changes in the way people bank and the popularity of online banking.
The bank actually closed for the last time on Glasgow Road on Tuesday 23rd August 2016, the signs removed and fittings stripped out on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th August 2016.
In part from “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
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