Another bite sized chunk of Blantyre History
The next store was a Jewelers, I suppose there had to be someone in Blantyre who could afford a trinket or two. I knew nothing about this store, so we will move on.
The next establishment was the Scottish Clydesdale Bank, again I knew very little about this establishment. (I did hear a mention from the village idiot, that Clydesdale horses were kept here)
Next was the Priory Bar which I really did know a lot about.
It was situated on the corner of the Glasgow Road and my stomping grounds Logan Street which we the family had moved to in 1932. We had left the Honeymoon Miners Raw’s and moved to our new Council House in Logan Street and what a change that was with an inside bathroom and hot running water and a gas stove to keep our soup warm. Life was at the least a 100% better.
The Priory Bar was a fairly large bar compared to the other pubs in Blantyre and it was central so it was very well patronized by the miners and they did sell a very good McEwan’s pint, as I said before the pubs at that time sold what ever kind of beer that the owner thought was a good seller not like today where the companies mostly own the pubs and they have to sell the company’s beer.
The Priory Bar most likely took its name from the Priory Monastery 1240 which was built directly across the river Clyde from the Bothwell Castle, I will touch on both of these buildings in a later street description as they lie further west in Blantyre.
The pub had a main bar room with a large nearly round type bar with tables around to sit down on , which was fairly unique in Blantyre, in most pubs you stood at the bar as close as the crowd would let you and drank your pint. I went home to Blantyre in the year 2003 and there was this particular pub where they were still crowding around the bar 6 deep, you had to call out your order and the pints were passed over to you by the crowd, this was the usual pattern of service and I believe it must be still going on today as I write this.
The floor like the butchers shop was covered in sawdust to catch all the dribbling’s and spittle’s of beer, there was a lot of smoking going on so the place was always reeking of smoke and butt-ends everywhere with the occasional spittoon scattered around, hence the use of the sawdust, they just sweep up every night and in doing so collected all of this garbage.
They also had a private room which was held in reserve for large family parties or business gents with deals to discuss.
Another smaller room was for the ladies, where all the old local grannies and others could go in and have a wee dram. This room was very private and had a sliding window which opened directly on to the bar, allowing only the bartender to see who was ordering the drink. Everything was hush-hush about this room and about the people who used it.
There was also another Sliding door where you could go and order out a few bottles of beer (The original carrie-oot) and have your tin pail filled up with draft beer. This was sold by the pint and was a little cheaper than buying it at the bar. The miner liked that drop of beer to sup as he was washing himself in the big tin tub in front of the fire on a Friday you would see a lot of kids making for the carry-out with a jug or container in their hands, no one ever questioned a child’s age or why they were in the pub, it was always taken for granted that he was there for his dads beer, and he dare never try having a sup himself, it was too easy too smell if he ever tried it.
Drinking age for us boys was right after we left school at 14 years old, the official drinking age was 16 but we could always get our beer. The miners would always get you a carry-out if you asked them nicely, they were the same when they were young so they mostly felt obliged to do so. I was 14 during the war years so rules by this time had become rather relaxed, if you had the money you could more or less buy anything. The black market on everything was really flourishing.
I feel very lucky that I am still here to recall all the good times I had with my mates in the pubs and put that down to the rotten life that I lived, remember only the good die young, so I had to have been one of the bad yin’s.
Continuing the conversation between Thomas Dunsmuir Hartman in Chicago, formerly Logan Street, (known as TDH or Drapadew) and Margaret in Queensland Australia on TalkingScot.
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