Joe McGill and his Shop
JOSEPH McGILL (pictured in doorway) had a grocer's shop at Burnside Cottage at Coalburn Brig.
Burnside Cottage and the Shop
The shop at Burnside was owned formerly by the McKenzie family and had the name "Ritchie" and "Mackenzie" above the door. The proximity to Coalburn Inn and the brig can be clearly seen in the above photo.
It was later taken over by the Auchenheath Provident Co-operative Society before it built more commodious premises opposite.
Joe was born in Glespin, coming from that small village to work with the Coalburn District Co-operative Society when he was in his early twenties. For a time he cycled between his home and work, a distance of 18 miles daily.
On marriage to Nettie Mackenzie, he took over the shop at Burnside. This thrived and later he was in partnership with his son Walter, working regularly until a few days before his short but fatal illness. Joe was only 66 years of age when he died.
It was decided to have a registrar in the village, after agitation over many years; previously registration of births, deaths, and marriages for Coalburn had been undertaken at Lesmahagow. Joe was appointed and held the post until 1951 when Margaret Simpson, widow of Bobby Simpson, took over.
During the 1939-45 war, Joe was chief warden for Air Raid Precautions. At the time of his death he was treasurer of Coalburn Royal Arch Chapter and was a Past Master of the local Masonic Lodge.
A keen outdoor sportsman, he was equally proficient with rod or gun and just revelled a day on the moors. On one occasion, when a rat appeared at Nellie's Well near the former bus terminus at the brig, Joe quickly came out of his shop with his gun and shot the rat.
Of an extremely pleasant manner, Joe was fond of company and his agility on the dance floor had to be seen to be believed. His civility, attentiveness and generosity to his light hearted jocular nature, made him a prime favourite in the community.
JIm Hamilton relates "I have memories of going to his shop for an odd message or two as the bulk of our purchases were made at Abbeygreen Co-op store. Joe's was a compact shop, redolent of the aroma of cheeses and ham. Facing the door as you entered was a stand holding containers in which were a variety of biscuits. After being served, Joe had toted up the various items, often on the back of a poke. He would take the money, give the change, then tear out the number of black and white stamps due. These were affixed to a book and when full could be exchanged for a gift."
Demolition of Burnside Cottage and Ritchie Hall. Saturday, 12th April 2008
McGill's shop was demolished in 2008.
Sources of information
Jim Hamilton, COALBURN CHRONICLES, Part 48, Page 2239.
Prepared 1st January 2022 by DH.