We're often asked by visitors and passer's by about the history of the building. Due to the public interest we have collected information from various sources over the years but always welcome contributions from anyone with any further information!
East Kilbride, Scotland’s first and most successful New Town, still has indications of its past in the historic Conservation Area of The Village where our premises are situated at 9 Montgomery Street. At the heart of The Village are the Grade A listed buildings of the Parish Kirk and Montgomerie Arms Public House.
Accentuating the prominence of the area, it should be noted that in days gone by, the Court building was adjacent (now an off-sales). The Coaching Inn and the Parish Kirk all played a significant part in the life of 18th / 19th Century East Kilbride. Indeed, in those days the street was named as High Street and only changed its name to Montgomery Street in the early 20th Century.
Our office was built in the 1790's, making it one of the oldest buildings in this area of the town, and exhibits many characteristics of the architectural period such as slate roof, sash & case windows and crow-stepped gable, which was the inspiration for our company logo.
Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
9, Montgomery Street sat immediately adjacent to the Parish Kirk and bounded by Strait Dykes / Kirk Wynd, was in a prominent location within the Village. Strait Dykes was the only road from East Kilbride to Auldhouse, albeit the road was far from straight, and the strait probably refers to ’street’ rather than a geometric term.
Then it was called Aggie Cook’s Hotel, licensed premises which had a reputation for housing a rough clientele as well as being regarded as a house of ill-repute. At that time, this was not unusual and part and parcel of the behaviour found within a number of pubs across the Village area. Due to the lack of Public Hall accommodation, the local Masonic Lodge held their meetings in the small hall in Aggie Cook’s Hotel from 1872-1880. The hall was used extensively for functions, weddings etc. and was a popular local hostelry, maybe too popular, as the licence was eventually rescinded and it had to be rebranded as The Star Temperance Hotel!
Despite the prominence of the property, and detailed discussions with various knowledgeable parties about this era, there appears to be a lack of records about this period, and any further information would be gratefully received.
In the 1920’s, Aggie sold the property to a local prominent family, John and Magdalene Stewart, who were the local bakers, utilising a bake house and shop further down Montgomery Street on the other side of the road. The family also had an allotment where the Kittoch Street car park is now located, where they grew flowers and sold them to Grant's Florists, who are still trading. They raised nine children and in 1940, after the death of his father, the oldest son John took over the business.
It would appear that a number of relatives shared the house with Magdalene over the years, and continued to live there even after her death around 1960. A grandson, Tom Mason, informs us that his parents and their five children moved into the property around 1950 and stayed there until they emigrated to Canada in 1958.
Tom has provided a photograph of the rear courtyard property from a painting that was done at the time. The detail shows that the single storey dwelling to the rear may well have been in separate habitation and the two-storey element comprising residential accommodation with the front and rear door. Further, an old photograph from the 1960’s shows the private parking allocated to the dwelling.
In 1988/89, Ross and Brenda Balfour purchased the property and set about renovating the property to establish a home suited to their specific family requirements. The property was upgraded, new timber windows reflecting the replaced sash & case were installed, all elements of the building were totally re-roofed and a spectacular 18th Century stone fireplace exposed, which now forms part of our reception area.
Donal and Margaret Toner purchased the property in 1994.
Donal’s architects practice was based in two separate offices at the time and he thought that this could form the base for a unification of the practice and a positive move forward in terms of an exclusive working environment.
The main reception is accessed off 9 Montgomery Street providing a comfortable waiting area whilst also housing the administration offices with ramped access to the rear. Our drawing studio provides open-plan facilities for architectural staff as well as meeting areas and reprographic facilities. Five sets of fully glazed doors to our landscaped courtyard provides huge natural light and an ambience that is second to none. One client, on being given the tour, stated it was ‘an oasis of calm within a busy village’.
The first floor comprises Donal’s office, meeting room and ancillary accommodation. The attic space is multi-functional, taking account of the single drawing board (never used), computer hub and a terrific ‘time-out’ zone if anyone requires it.
The rear of the property was developed in 1996 for additional office accommodation and private parking for the practice staff.
With grateful thanks to Bill Niven, Local Historian & Author and Tom Mason, Victoria, BC, Canada for their contributions.
1. East Kilbride, The History of Parish & Village, Thomas Eric Niven, 1965 & 1988
2. East Kilbride In Old Picture Postcards Volume 1, W.M. Niven, 1992
3. Old East Kilbride: Stuart Marshall, 2007 (ISBN 978-1-872074-43-6)
4. East Kilbride Through Time: Bill Niven, 2009 (ISBN 978-1-84868-678-6)
5. East Kilbride From Old Photographs: Bill Niven, 2015 (ISBN 978-1-4456-4880-4)