Mr Walter Batters, the Ironmonger

 

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Walter Batters was born in 1846 in Carluke, to William Batters and Jane Black, Walter Batters Senior and was an ironmonger by trade. The Batters family arrived in Blantyre around 1877 coming initially from Carluke then latterly via Hamilton. Walter Batters married Jeannie Hastie (the daughter of a High Blantyre Ironmonger James Hastie) on 13th December 1867. In 1877, they lived at Gardiners Place in High Blantyre, their profession being farm servants and later to become ironmongers. Their start in Blantyre was to be a tragic one. No family back then was immune from the heartache of losing children, whether you were a rich estate owner, or a humble ironomnger arriving in a coal town. Together with wife Jeannie, Walter had several children including Isabella b1869, William b1870, John b1872 and Walter Junior born in 1879. However, prior to coming to Blantyre, Walter and his wife Jeannie, had already lost a 3-month-old daughter on 22nd Aug 1874. Then, in 1877 within months of the family arriving in Blantyre, and just one month before the large pit disaster, which killed over 200 people, the couple lost their 14-month daughter Jane on 21st Sept 1877. On 3rd June 1880, another child was stillborn and another on 17th November 1881. Also, their son David born in 1883, would pass away aged 5, in 1888.

In 1885, Mr William Batters Senior (b1817), an ironmonger was renting a house in Coopermindale Place, Stonefield. His son, Walter Batters Senior was renting a shop nearby at Coopermindale Place and in the 1880’s, the Batters family did not own property, but were renting only. Walter lived with his family at Grimson’s Buildings in 1885.

In 1895, Walter had inherited his father’s ironmongery and plumbing business and was renting a house from John Gold at Coopermindale Place. Together with Jeannie, Walter had several children including Isabella b1869, William b1870, John b1872 and Walter Junior born in 1879. All the children were born away from Blantyre. Walter Batters Senior clearly did well.

As plumber and ironmonger in those boom times of construction in Blantyre, by 1905 he owned his own house, shop and workshop. He let his workshop out to his eldest son, William Batters, a tinsmith for a low annual rent of £4. The house, shop and workshop would later be allocated address 142 and 144 Glasgow Road.

Jeannie Hastie, beloved wife of Walter Batters, died fairly young at Stonefield on 3rd May 1905, which must have been a tremendous sadness. Following the death of his wife, Walter would appear to have channelled his energies (and profits) into property and he also held position as secretary of the U.F (Anderson) Church.

The rise of the Batters family with phenomenal success really occurred around 1905. During these prosperous pre WW1 years, the Batters successes were apparent to all and in 1906, they centered their property and business empire at the bottom of a newly formed street, just off Glasgow Road, near their shop and workshop, at Church Street.

Walter’s son, John was an accomplished Joiner and it is he, using his fathers wealth, likely constructed the homes at Church Street on behalf of Walter.

His other son William was a tinsmith and gasfitter, which must have surely assisted. The houses were were built, semi detached stone villas with slated roofs, spacious and fitted beautifully inside.

William Batters the eldest son of Walter owned 3 Church Street, which was a house called Dornaford which he rented out. William lived and worked at 1 Church Street at a house called Middlehope, which also had workshops.

However, most notably were the numerous properties built and owned by Walter Batters, which he let out to tenants. By 1915, he owned a dozen Church Street homes numbered 5,6,7,8, 9, 10,11, 12, 13, 14,15,18 and 20.

On 18th February 1918, Walter Batters, ironmonger died very suddenly at his home at 144 Glasgow Road. He was 72 years old. Sons, John (who was by then 46 years old) and older brother William (aged 48) were to inherit the properties built at Church Street, and other son Walter Junior (40 years old by then), inherited the house and shop at 142 and 144 Glasgow Road with the pleasure of driving on the ironmongery business. John had married Elizabeth McIntyre in 1904, William married Marion Rae in 1908.

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On Saturday 10th August 1918, Mr. William Batters Junior was working as a plumber at Glasgow Road and was putting his own stamp on the inherited successful business by advertising for an apprentice plumber, on the condition that the person should be ineligible for war duties to prevent disruption to the apprenticeship. The candidate must have changed his mind or been of little use, for in November 1918, William was advertising again looking for another apprentice or perhaps his business was so successful, he needed further help?

By 1920 John Batters had inherited from his father, numbers 5,7,9,11,13,15 on one side of Church Street. William Batters, his older brother inherited most of the other side and retained his former home at number 1. He acquired Church Street numbers 3, 6, 8,10,12, 14, 16, 18 and 20. This left Walter Batters Junior with his father’s former home and shop at 142 and 144 Glasgow Road.

The selling off of many of Church Street homes started between 1920 and 1925. By 1925, William and John Batters were left with 8 homes between them. Church Street numbers 1,3, 5,7,9, 11,13, 15,17, i.e just one side of the street. John also had a house and shop at 26 Victoria Street. The situation was unchanged in 1930.

In 1934, Walter Batters the son of Walter Batters Junior married Jessie Duncan Crombie and they would go on to have a family. William Batters died in 1950, aged 80. John Batters died in 1951, aged 79. Walter Batters junior died, aged 78 in 1957 and was interred on 27th May 1957 in the same lair as his parents. His son, Walter would pass away young in 1959, whose wife Jessie Crombie died at Watson Street in 1972, aged 65.

Their Church Street houses were gradually sold off further in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Batters family was one of Blantyre’s most prominent and well-known retailers and property owners throughout the 20th Century. The ironmongery shop was a family business that lasted almost 100 years. When Walter died, he was ceremoniously taken by decorated horse and cart to the funeral and crowds of people lined the pavements.

Sadly, none of the Batters family is left in Church Street following the death of Mrs Louise Batters, wife of another John Batters, who died in January 2014. Her house was sold in Summer 2015. Jean Batters lived at the opposite end of the row from Louise and John and died in 2001, aged 85. Louise lived to the grand old age of 97 and worked in the Ironmongery shop on Glasgow Road at one time. Her son is retired lawyer John Batters.

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

On social media:

Catherine Davidson You could buy anything in Batters great shop.
Carol Crombie Jessie Batters was my great aunt, she was my papa’s sister. My papa was John McFarlane Crombie and he died in 1992. Jessie and john’s younger sister Hannah died almost exactly 10 years later in 2002.
Tricia Dolan Mcgeachan Loved that shop 😀 great memories 😘
Anne Mackie A great shop and staff xxxxxx
Mary Boyle My Aunt Cathie McQueenie lived in the tenement at the bottom of church street. Outside toilet was smelly! Remember Mrs Braidwood house next
Door. Land still vacant after all these years.
Carol Crombie Very sad that it’s vacant isn’t it?!
Anne Cook Louise and John Batters are the ones I remember growing up with as friends of my mum and dad at Anderson Church !
Gordon Paterson Used to get new bike tyres there. Remember the smell most of all.

Marian Maguire Life was hard for them losing their children.
Carol Crombie No. 8 church street still belongs to my dad and Walter Batters (who died in 1957) was his uncle – dad used to cut keys in the shop on Glasgow road as a child.

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