Blantyre Community Centre

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!

1962 community zoned

1962 Map showing Blantyre Community Centre

   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.

1995 Blantyre Community Centre

1995 Blantyre Community Centre on Glasgow Road

   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!

1978 Yoga at Community Centre

1978 Yoga Class at the Community Centre, Glasgow Road

   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.

1978 Community Centre wm

1978 Glasgow Road Community Centre

   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. 

2001 Community Centre

2001, Community Centre laying derelict, photographed by Robert Stewart

   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.

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,

Robert Stewart During the fifties and sixties the Community Centre was always referred to as the TocH. Popular wedding venue. During the fifties Craig’s pub always did well when there was a wedding as licensing laws didn’t allow drink to be sold in public halls.

Brian Weaver I remember going to my Uncle and Aunt’s silver wedding in the hall in 1955 or thereabouts, Elizabeth, Mary, Irene.

Mary Sitters Brian I could not remember where it had been held. Do remember going past it on the bus and Gordon calling out “that’s where Mum and Dad had their wedding”.

Mary Sitters Would have been July 1957. They were married 1st July 1932.

Elizabeth Weaver Mary Sitters I remember Gordon falling asleep as the evening went on and your mum making him a wee bed out of coats to sleep on x

Brian Weaver I remember that Aunt Alice did all the catering herself! I had never seen so many cakes in one place… a seven year old notices these things! And I remember Grandpa dancing a polka which amazed me.

Elizabeth Weaver I don’t remember the polka but I do remember him doing the sword dance in the living room in Victoria Street! Maybe that’s why we all like dancing 😉
Mary Sitters Brian Weaver Mama was the world’s best cook. Can’t think how many cakes she baked in her lifetime. Certainly catered all food for my first wedding in 1966.
John Daly I was a 5-yr-old Page Boy at my cousin Bridie’s wedding reception in there. So that would have made it 1961-ish.
Great slidey floor, I remember.

Ann Hartman Loved that hall went to Miss Brown’s dancing classes on Sat morning for years way back in early 60s only thing was I was terrified of the heat Dane which Sat oot side to me it was the size of a horse think it belonged to garage owner next door

Isabella Chatham This was used as the dinner hall for St Joseph School my aunt Lizzy Kanye was one of the dinner ladies I was also at a few weddings there.

Andy Callaghan On 7th May 1955, after making my First Communion in St Josephs church with my primary class we were taken to the Community Centre for a breakfast/celebration. In those days before receiving Communion you had to fast from midnight the night before. So breakfast was very welcome. Forget what we had but I know I enjoyed it

Margaret Mary OSullivan My Mum and lots of ten o’clock weekday mass goers used to nip in after mass for a cuppa. It was a real wee social hub. These are the kind of things that built a feeling of community. Such places so important!
Nicky Springett I attended the latch key after school club here in the 80’s xxx

Eleanor Connor So did ma son Michael Connor. …was a great place.

Michael Connor Remember it well
Ray Couston Went to play group there in the early 90’s. Mrs Anderson, one of my neighbours, used to work there. I don’t know if she lead the group but she was one of the older women and was really well liked and respect. I think she retired not long after I left there to go to primary school, which was in 1994.
Betty Brown My wedding was held in there, coop purvey
Mr mc fails band smiddy bar, those were the days👍👍👍👍❤️❤️❤️

Robert Henderson Went to a youth club in there in the 70s
Thomas Barrett Youth club Tuesdays Thursdays dancing Saturdays Sundays in the early 70s
Sheena Thomson Went to the youth club and disco nights I the late Sixties.
Sylvia Mclaughlin Rolls n sausage for lunch
Sadie Dolan Used to play netball in there , x
William Mullen davy ? n ian glen ? mid 70s wid take canoueing ?
Marianne Timmons Mum & Dad’s wedding reception was in there, went to playgroup there then the summer club those were the days no permission slips needed or extra parents a load of kids & 2 adults lol 😃

Keith MacLean Played my 1st ever gig there with Punk Band,Minor Onsets 1978 😊

James Sime Youth club on Monday nights and summer playscheme in the 90s run by Louise Forrest and volunteers. Great wee club that focussed me onto my future career in youth work and teaching. Louise ran the club into her 60’s, when she retired my mum kept the club going briefly until the centre closed in 1997. We tried to protest against closure but the council had their own way. The building was old but it could have been refurbished. The council said there were plenty other facilities nearby for community groups to use instead. Only 10 years later Blantyre had to fundraise and support the opening of the miners welfare resource centre due to the lack of community facilities in Blantyre. Im sure the council would have made money from the land and sat back and let the voluntary orgs provide the community facilities.

Kaye Cunningham Loved the playscheme

Elaine Speirs I loved thd summer play scheme in the 1970s
Elaine Speirs I also loved the cafe.

Kaye Cunningham I attended nursery here in the early 80s aswell as the Playscheme in the 90s.

David Nuttall Gordon Hunter remember us doing the birthday parties, discos and after school club in here and helping your mum in the cafe. Good old days 😊
Lilian Breslin Youth club 1968/ 1970
James Faulds i was on the youth club committee along with chick doc tary mc millian anda few others duncan morgan and wee lui from hill house ran the club we used to go hostilling at aberfeldy with the david livingstone youth club jimmy glen sandy thomson sammy trussler tomy trussler we had lots good times in the community centre
Michael Connor I used to go to the latch key club after school in here for years
Elizabeth Clements Parker When there in 1979 with my young brother I was twelve and he was ten great days in the summer and they ran a bus to ayr brilliant day lots of good memories x
Brenda Cropp Jeffrey Happy memories. The Summer playscheme was fab always lots to do and often went on day trips to Ayr. Saturday night discos lol x
Karen Hamilton Went to playgroup there then many a disco as a teenager.


 

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