From the illustrated social history book…
“Blantyre – Glasgow Road, The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 – 2018.
When Stonefield House, (formerly Westneuk Concert Hall) was demolished in 1935, the plot of land lay vacant for a couple of years whilst the council decided upon what they should use it for. A community centre was decided upon, which was to benefit all of Blantyre. There is a little urban myth that this community centre opened on the same day as the David Livingstone Memorial in 1929, which wasn’t the case.
We turn our attention to 1938, by when the new community centre had been built. The Earl of Home was the president of the new Centre and Mr W. G. Dow was the chairman; the vice-chairmen were Rev. James Gibb and Mrs M. Robb, Mr R. Paton was its honorary secretary; Mr Quentin Smith (well known local teacher), was the honorary treasurer, and a Mrs Douches and Mr R. Neill represented the men’s and women’s sections.
The Centre had facilities for making furniture and for cobbling (a roaring trade at the time), and for a while there was a library with reading room, a dressmaking room, and other recreational activities.
Attached to the Centre there were nearly 50 allotment gardens, again a popular pastime for many. The Centre also had a large kitchen, a games room and it even had public baths for both sexes!
The Glasgow Road Community Centre was opened on Wednesday 13th April, 1938, by Lord Nigel Douglas Hamilton (Commissioner for Special Areas in Scotland), and was designated for the Blantyre Mutual Service Association, (it was a government scheme, funded entirely by the government to help deprived districts).
Others present that day were Mr. Allan Chapman M.P., for Rutherglen, Captain Watt, Chairman of Lanark County Council, and Robert Bryce Walker, who was the County Clerk. The County Director of Education, C. T. Mair was also there and Councilor Edward Daly present too, although he wasn’t mentioned in the news report.
Mrs. John Dunsmuir of High Blantyre, on behalf of the women members, presented Lord Nigel with a Douglas tartan scarf, and Mr. John G . Dunn, the architect, on behalf of the contractors, handed over a cheque to the president for the local funds raised to get the centre underway.
Heart of Community
The building was one storey, opening out and with frontage to Glasgow Road. It certainly had architectural features of an art-deco style, typical of public buildings in the 1930’s. The high raised arched window of the large hall, gave the building an appearance of having further storeys.
During the fifties, 3 large allotments at the rear still remained. One was worked by Jimmy Burgess, one by Jock & Robert (Rab) Jackson, and the third by Mr. Stewart of nearby Stonefield Cottage.
The Centre’s youth Club, held on Monday evenings was host in 1973, when it received a visit from Comedian, Sir Billy Connolly. (although at the time, he was very much an emerging comedian, folk singer!)
Pictured here in May 1978 in this unusual scene are 50 enthusiastic individuals who regularly attended a dedicated YOGA class in the centre.
Keeping fit was the name of the game!
The event was part of a full day of fitness activities for men and women. Mrs. Mary Wilson, of Wolcott Drive, who was a yoga teacher and organiser of the event hailed it as a great success. She told reporters, “At our normal yoga classes, we don’t have enough time, so we booked a full day, so we didn’t have to rush things.”
Mrs Patti McTavish, Vice chairperson of the Scottish Yoga Association came along and provided a lecture and expert demonstration. Classes were made up of new starts and experienced individuals.
Pictured in 1978, these are just some of the many Blantyre kids who enjoyed a summer of fun at the Blantyre Community Centre. It marked the start of 4 weeks of summer school holiday fun which got off to a great start, despite earlier fears that the events may not go ahead due to lack of supervision.
The Playscheme events were dually run by The Elizabeth Scott Centre and the Glasgow Road Community Centre and they attracted youngsters in their droves! The idea was to stop children being bored in summer, but still give them something interesting to do in the company of many friends.
Jimmy Coulter was the Caretaker, Jim Sweeney manager and Una Mason Hynds oversaw the Cafe with her sister-in- law, Sheena Mason from 1989 until 1991. Una’s husband ran the drama group and was instrumental in the protests against the building being closed down.
Following 1997, the Blantyre Community Centre at 291 Glasgow Road lay derelict for a few years well into post Millennium years. In 1994, it was completely demolished and the land lay vacant again for a few years. It is now many residential flats at modern Mayberry Grange.
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