Ownership of John Struther’s spirit shop was to change in 1925, when William Murdoch bought the whole building, that would eventually become the Priory Inn from his landlord, John R Struthers, i.e he acquired both 20 and 22 Stonefield Road, retaining the spirit shop for himself and continuing to let out the adjacent butchers to the McWilliam family, albeit by this time it was to Alexander’s son, John McWilliam.
On Thursday 7th May 1925, a official liquor license was given for these premises at 20 Stonefield Road for the first time to Mr. William Murdoch who previously only held a grocers license. It is likely then that the property became a public house in the true, modern sense of that meaning and was known then as Murdoch’s Pub.
By 1925 the licensed spirit shop also doubled up as a grocers’ shop at 20 Stonefield Road and was wholly owned by proprietor William Murdoch. He also owned a stable and shed at the rear of the building a reflection upon the reliance of horses for business. To the south, and adjacent, he owned the semi-detached shop at 22 Stonefield Road, which he let out as a butchers shop to occupier John McWilliam for £15 per year. The rateable value of the spirit shop was £32 per annum.
William Murdoch lived at 37 Hardie Street and would not have had far to travel to work. He had a son named John. In 1930, the property situation was unchanged although by this time the stable at the rear of the building was empty and unused as horses gave way to vehicles. Incredibly the McWilliams had been renting their butchers shop for close on 30 years by this time and in all that time, their rent was unchanged by each landlord.
It was later in the 1950s known as Pepper’s Pub after Mr. Tam Pepper who was a known manager and incomer from Glasgow. Tam was known to like a tall tale or two prompting the local phrase of the time, “telling more lies than Tam Pepper”. Adjacent to the pub was Tommy Loughlin’s cobblers shop.
During the 1950’s the pub was the scene of a murder! A local man broke into the pub one evening and was caught by the landlord. However, the landlord was stabbed and subsequently died. The man was caught and was jailed for the murder. The Pub needed a new identity and this was to come in the form of the Commercial Bar.
To be continued….
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c)
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