Local Shops

Over the years a surprising number of people have run shops in the community. Some have lasted longer than others, but all have been memorable in their own way. The fortunes of retailers have waxed and waned with the general fortunes of the community.

There were three key factors at play here, most notably of course with the arrival and rapid expansion of the Blanefield Printworks from the early-1800s. This was accelerated by the arrival of the railway in 1867 and further by the extensive construction works for the Loch Katrine water pipelines through the village intermittently between the 1850s and 1890s.

Probably the first shop was opened in 1839 where today Green’s mini-market is located in Old Mugdock Road. By the late 1850s it was being run by Thomas Cullen as a general store. (Initially, Strathblane Post Office was around the corner in Dumbrock Road in the premises of a tailor’s shop and run by the McNeill family.)  Annie Currie took over Cullens , handing it over around the time of the First World War to a Mrs M. Wood whose husband James was the village postman, delivering mail by pony and trap.

Old Mugdock Road looking towards Dumbrock Road. The building with dormer windows was the shop.

By the time Mrs Woods’ son-in-law Jack Brown took over the business, it was a butcher’s shop as well as a post office and general store. Jack’s son Ian started working there at the age of 12. Ian’s sisters Mary and then Christine joined him. They ran the enterprise until 2008 when Ian and Christine retired, selling to brothers Hardev and Bob Singh, whose parents came to Glasgow from India in the 1950s.

Ian & Christine Brown 2008

The now-expanded store was sold to the Co-Op in 2012, which in turn sold it on to Kirkcaldy-based Greens Retail in 2023.

The next shop to open, this time in Netherton in the mid-1800s, was the Blanefield Printworks store, on Glasgow Road where Chillies takeaway and Linda Semple’s Roots hairdressers operate now. Apparently it was required of the printworks’ workforce that they bought their essentials at the company store – thus spending their hard-earned wages to help increase the works-owner’s profit!  Indeed Alison Dryden’s Strathblane 1870-1970: A Century of Change book tells that the workers could even be fined if they used a rival shop opened at Lorne Place on Station Road by a Mr King.

With the closure of the printworks in 1898, the building became a laundry but in 1932 was sold to the Lennoxtown Friendly Victualling Society, one of the oldest co-operatives in the world. (It had been founded in 1812 in Lennoxtown to provide cheaper groceries to working people.)  Probably the best-remembered personality at the Blanefield branch was Willie Linning. Born in 1930, he started as a message boy aged 14 and, apart from a few years a manager in the Lennoxtown store, he spent the rest of his working life at the Blanefield Co-op until it closed in 1967. As a lad in the 1940s, the late Duncan McKellar, our one-time village officer, was also a delivery boy there, using a heavy old bicycle with a huge basket on the front. Then for a number of years it became Lesleys, a ladies clothing shop run by Lesley Guthrie, followed by Brambles, a delicatessen.

Willie Linning of the Lennoxtown Friendly Victualling Society, Blanefield

Across the road stands the old smithy, which turned out its last horseshoe in 1934. In April 1982 it reopened and for nearly two decades operated as Gifted, a popular gift and craft shop, run by Fionna Anderson and Elspeth Posnett (now Elspeth Neill, a Strathblane Heritage stalwart). Since 2005 it has been the Smithy Gallery, owned and run by Natalie Harrison of Drymen.

The Lorne Place shop, just opposite the original Printworks entrance in Station Road, was latterly run by the Telfers until the mid-1960s. It was then taken over by the Neilsons, although it closed in the 1970s and is now a house.

The Telfers

The arrival of scores of navvies into the village for the construction of the Second Aqueduct in the 1880s provided a much-needed boost for the parish’s economy. David McGregor made a business out of selling groceries to them and out of his profits built his shop opposite the Netherton Inn and opened it in 1895. There is a date stone on the building. While business boomed initially, it dropped off after the completion of the tunnel and for some time Mr McGregor had great difficulty staying in business.

The McGregor Building, 1895

Many villagers still remember with fondness Annie Bone’s sweetie shop, which operated from the same building in the 1950s and ‘60s. In 2007, a former resident, Ghislaine Dyer, shared her memories of Annie’s shop with readers of the The Blane magazine: “Little shop of goodies: four Black Jacks for a penny, Lucky Potato and Sherbet Fountain.”  Other outlets that have occupied these premises over the years include Stuart Boyd’s Pestle & Mortar deli. Today the McGregor Building is occupied by Jim and Paul Wilson’s Coffee at the Wilsons and Vishnu Karra’s ShopSmart, two local businesses that did a lot to help local people survive the terror and tedium of the Covid lockdown.

A little further along the road, the tiny building now being converted into an office was once a shop and café serving egg and chips to hungry hikers and later became an antique shop. At the other end of the village, another antiques business, Whatnots, was run out of Robinson Cottage.

Wee shop and cafe near Strathblane War Memorial, later an antique shop

The Blanefield Post Office was first run out of the Printworks shop before it moved down Glasgow Road to No 83-85, near Ballewan Crescent. This building was erected in 1893 by two brothers and started life as a green-grocers before taking over the PO business. George Marshall was the first postmaster, who also published a long-running series of village postcards for visiting holidaymakers and relatives. He passed the job on to Lena Gove in 1947, in whose family’s hands it then continued for a further 57 years.

In 1973 Isobel Gove, the wife of Lena’s nephew Joe, took over, expanding the business into a general store. In those days all the mail and parcels were delivered on foot or by push-bike. Isobel’s day used to start at 05.15 when the coal fire was lit and the sorting began of the day’s deliveries. A big pot of porridge was put on for the four posties and the newspaper boys who operated from the shop.

Blanefield Post Office

Isobel and Joe’s daughter Ailsa joined in the business, and together with her mother-in-law Fiona Murray took over after Isobel sold her last stamp in 2000. When the GPO business transferred up the road to the Strathblane Post Office, the Murrays sold the building into the private ownership of Gillian and Murray Barclay who turned it into an art and gift business, the Post Office Gallery. It is now a private house.

The most recent retail development in the community is the line of three small units built off Southview Road on the border between Strathblane and Blanefield in the 1960s, including a much-needed Strathblane Pharmacy, originally run by Laura Nicolson, now in the hands of the Davidsons group. The second unit was for many years a hair salon run by the inimitable Derek Edward. The third unit once a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, is now the premises of Baxter Accounting and Tax Services.

At Strathblane Heritage we enjoyed a recent trip down this commercial memory lane, courtesy of a booklet produced by the society in 1996 to record the history of Strathblane Bowling Club. Written by the inestimable Murray O’Donnell, our society’s founding president, it also contained a series of cheery adverts from local businesses – each accompanied by a typically witty Murray endorsement and inducement to “Use Them Or Lose Them”!

These bear retelling today, both as a memory-jogger and a testament to Murray’s special way with words!

  • The Spar, run by Walter Gourlay, at 51 Glasgow Road, now occupied by Vishnu Karra’s popular ShopSmart outlet.

“The service is helpful, the prices are cheap

They’re open seven days a week

If your larder is lacking they’ll soon put you right

And serve you until ten at night!”

  • J&K Muir, plumbers and heating engineers, at 44 Glasgow Road

“A dripping tap, a frozen pipe

Worse still a leaky sewer

He’ll stop the rot, he’ll fix the lot

Just notify John Muir!”

  • John Brown, Butcher and Groceries, Old Mugdock Road

“In the heart of Strathblane

Stands a grand village store

With a butcher and grocer

And very much more

There’s a little post office

That sits at the back

And space at the front

To exchange village chat

There’s fridges and freezers

And snacks that are hot

And Ian’s lovely ham

That is cooked on the spot

There’s fresh cakes and pastries

Come see for yourselves

You’ll be quite amazed

What you’ll find on these shelves.”

  • Gifted, 74 Glasgow Road

“Why traipse the town from end to end

Until your feet are aching

Your throat is parched, your head is sore

And your back is breaking?

The answer to your problem

Is right at your back door

For each and all occasions

There are gifts galore

Just browse here at your leisure

And if you need a break

They’ll rest you and refresh you

With coffee and a cake!”

  • Brambles Delicatessen, 71a Glasgow Road

“If your cooking is a shambles

Do not panic – come to Brambles

There’s fresh bread, gateaux, cheese and meat

And the boss’s waistcoats are a treat!”

  • Blanefield Post Office and General Store

“The building is both old and quaint

The shop itself intriguing

But as I’m sure you’ll soon find out

Some things can be misleading

There’s order and efficiency

There’s work that’s done with pride

There’s industry and cheerfulness

So come and step inside

For here’s a postal service

On which you can depend

From Isobel and Ailsa

And their band of merry men!

  • Strathblane Pharmacy

“For bumps and bruises, coughs and sneezes,

Painful joints and winter wheezes

Beauty products, baby care

Tender skin or greasy hair

Your local chemist aims to find

The perfect care to ease your mind!”

Do you have any old photographs of any of these shops and those who ran them, such as Annie Bone? If so please contact us and we will add them to the website.

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