I am 38 years old and must admit to being a wee bit embarrassed about not knowing about this place that I am about to bring to your attention, I have walked past it hundreds if not thousands of times, and always thought it was an empty space, with a garage that had been built in my life time, a quick glance up the huge close next to Airdrie Savings bank fooled my eyes into thinking this lane or close was nothing special, I should know better than most never to judge so flippantly.
I was in full McSnappy mode, snapping the Carnegie library for a different project, when I walked far over toward the Sunnyside road end of the car park behind the library to get a different perspective of the wonderful Carnegie gifted building. I quickly became fascinated by the old buildings that lead down toward the main street directly to the right of me, with the actual main street on the other side, I have many of a time walked down the lane next to Ebis bistro cafe, and the old Coia’s cafe, but running parallel to that is another lane I have never in my life seen. I watched a woman quickly make her way down it, and when I arrived at the top of the stairs I thought it must be a back entrance to the old What Every Woman Wants store, or the new MAD dance studios.
The old brick work had me hooked and I quickly plucked up the courage to venture down the old stair way, I was not expecting the delight that awaited me at the bottom, totally bowled over and bewitched by what is now one of my favourite places in this amazing town of Coatbridge. A town full of mysterious surprises and joy for me right now. I was staring at fabulous OLD, very old brick work, my eyes followed along the brickwork of the wall until I could see the back of the old What Every Woman wants, Goldbergs or what ever name people can remember, eager to see what was around this never seen corner of Coatbridge, I was stopped in my tracks by sheer excitement and surprise for the amazing building which appeared, gone unnoticed to me for my entire existence…. a real euphoric surprise, I am glad no one was with me because I must have looked ridiculous fist punching and stamping my feet like a complete tool. I seriously can’t believe no one in the whole of Coatbridge has ever told me about this building…this place, I can only presume that a lot of people are as ignorant to this building as I am.
Rite Fix Motors
So what is the building, well first let me give a big shout out the current owners of it, and a huge thank you for letting me get a few snaps even though they were busy , the current company is called rite fix motors (website attached) check them out and support a local business, the longer they are about the better chance the building has to survive and escape the infamous “making way for progress” signs (by the way, it’s been brought to my attention that it sounds like I am having a dig at a huge local private employer, who use the making way for progress sign, please note my frustration at this saying is directed at the local authority planning team, and not the big company who employ locally and do a lot for the community of Coatbridge, the company in question are hired to do a job, and do it well, so my wee dig at the slogan making way for progress is my humour, and also the sinking feeling I get when I see these signs on historic buildings throughout the country and not exclusive to Coatbridge, this saying is also banded about at meetings when discussions take place over the future of diminishing historic buildings up and down the land, it is just coincidence that the company use it as a ethos motto as well) . I asked the worker/owner what this building used to be, he told me it used to be an old funeral directors. Armed with limited knowledge and not wanting to out stay my welcome, I got my research head on, sadly records are few and far between and photos even more scarce. I did manage to put 2 and 2 together, I already knew that Donald McLaren is one of the longest serving Lanarkshire and UK businesses, having been around for well over 100 years.
Donald McLaren Ltd Funeral Directors and Monumental Sculptors is the oldest family business in Coatbridge and Airdrie and one of the oldest family funeral directors in the U.K.
Donald McLaren Ltd was founded in November 1912 just before World War I when Donald McLaren purchased “The Royal Stables” from Munro Funeral Directors located at 5 Main Street in Coatbridge. Our first recorded funeral took place on 23rd November 1914 costing approximately 8 pounds 11 shillings for a Horse Drawn Hearse and 6 Horse Drawn Coaches.
However I really am struggling to find anything on the period before McLarens, I would love to know more about it, see photos, anything really. The name Royal Stables, kind of gives it away about what it was previously, but would still be great to know more, so please tell if you know. I do however know the building is around 140 plus years old, and was defo there aroud 1858 as per National Library of Scotland maps (links to all info attached)
Anyway, isn’t she a beauty, in fact isn’t this wee square of Coatbridge history just outstanding, get yourself up, in the mean time, I hope you like the images I recorded, lets hope this building is still about in another 150 years from now, and beyond….it really is a special place, I love it. thanks for watching, feel free to share or get in touch with any more info. I have attached the only photo I could find of it from when Mr McLaren owned it (photo is the copyright of McLarens) , it’s hardly changed at all, and I am certain the door is still the same colour, doesn’t look as though its seen much change in all these years… wow, cheers
Crawford O’Hare Photography