Donald's History

Donald's History

What better way to start my first blog than to give everyone an insight into the history of Donald's. All of this is based on census records and stories I've heard over the years so I'm more than happy for anyone with more information to correct me or help.  

Our founder, George hailed from Girvan in Ayrshire and had come to Uddingston around the turn of the century in 1901. Born the son of a coachman, George was listed as a Butcher's assistant. According to that years census, the 27 year old lodged in "Royal Buildings", right at Uddingston cross, above the now solicitors and pub. The landlady was Barbra Wilson who lived there with her children, one of which was her daughter Jessie. George and Jessie must've grown fond of each other as in later census records they have married, at Uddingston public hall, have a family and even have Barbra living with them. 

George must have worked at one of the many Butcher shops in the local area. Apparently there were quite a few in Uddingston and Bothwell at one time. Given my age I barely remember Lothian's in Bothwell and Dewar's in Uddingston, the rest I've only ever heard of. 

We are unsure of exactly when George branched out on his own. Possibly 1910 as our est. date suggests but I think it could be earlier. It's possibly nonsense but what I was led to believe my whole life is that we started in Bellshill Road. Across from the current site of the Tunnock's factory. Apparently our original shop was next door to Pie Tam's. Yes that's correct, the original Thomas Tunnock. Going by Tunnock's timeline, there was a fire in 1910 which destroyed their bakery. We wonder if that's what made us move to our current location at 77 Main Street. 

During their lifetimes the elder generation of Tunnock's struck up a great friendship. That relationship is something that continues to this day. Did you know we use Tunnock's pastry in our pies and they use our meat in theirs? Something we are extremally proud of and hope to continue for a very long time. 

What we do know is that by the time the next census came around in 1911, George was listed as a Butcher/Employer. By that point he was living at 107 Main Street - above Tinto Tapas I think. They now had seven year old Barbra and four year old Alexander. 

Alexander or Alex to us, followed in his father's footsteps as on his marriage certificate, the then 24 year old's job is listed as a Butcher Manager. With his father noted as a Butcher Master.

Alex married 29 year old, Helen Ferguson Miller. A book keeper. George would have been about 57 by now but both he and Jessie are still alive. Unfortunately, after a cancer diagnosis, George passed away at the age of 59. 

Alex and Helen lived in Homeston Avenue after a short stay in another flat on the main street, and Woodland's Avenue. During their marriage, Helen would work in the shop, helping with the book keeping and eventually being responsible for selling off parts of the building. The whole of 77, 79 to 81 & 83 belonged to the Donald's. This made up the current shop, the two units which have now become the charity shop, all the flats above as well as the back green which was sold to make the car park for Wellbank Place. Eventually all that was owned was the shop it's self. Although the last wasn't sold until the early 90's - not by the Donald's but by my Great Uncle, our Captain, Marshall. 

Born in 1934. Thomas Marshall Smellie, was brought up in Bellshill and he attended Mossend Primary and later Bellshill Academy. He did okay in school overall but always told the tale of how in Music, he was told to give out the books and sit there with his mouth shut. He couldn't hold a tune, much to my delight as a child, I would always ask him to sing as it would make me laugh so hard. 

He started his Butchery career with the Cooperative. Delivering and eventually working his way up to learn the trade. He attended night school to gain his qualifications. He was also the proud winner of the Dalziel Cup. Marshall eventually moved to Donald's to work, where he'd made quite the impression I'm sure. Even into his old age, Marshall was a very dedicated, dependable, reliable person. You always got him the one way. Traits which I believe set him off down the path to becoming the owner. 

Marshall married my Gran's sister Margaret. They lived in Alpine Terrace to begin with, eventually saving up to buy their first home in Loancroft Gardens. I never asked what made Marshall go into the trade and I should have. He did come from a farming family though so I wonder if that had any influence. His maternal Grandfather, owned Sweethope Farm in Bothwell. Most of which is now houses, but the farmhouse still stands.  

At one point he had secured a lease on a shop of his own. When he told Alex he was leaving, he clearly didn't want to lose Marshall and offered him half the business to stay. The Donald's had no children of their own, so must have been thinking this would be a great way to keep it all going. Marshall joined the business as a Partner and when Alex died, he purchased the remaining 50%. 

Finally moving to Lynnhurst, Margaret and Marshall settled there and remained for the rest of their lives. Despite trying for a family, they, like the Donald's were never able to conceive. Margaret took a more active role in the business after Marshall's first cancer diagnosis as he wanted her to be able to keep things going if anything happened to him. Fortunately he got through it, and a second time much later on. 

To Margaret's annoyance he was a work-a-holic, even trying to find a payphone every other day when abroad just to check on things. I'm sure she'd be glad they never lived in todays age as with all the technology at his fingertips, he would never have shut off.

Notoriously known to be as tight as as water. He never liked to spend money and would often give us all a laugh at his money saving tactics, which made everyone's job ten times harder. One day a wooden brush head broke off the handle and instead of buying a new one, he rummaged about in his garage for some rusty screws of varying sizes. Brought them to the shop and spent about two hours trying to screw the head back on. Needless to say some of the screws were so long, they'd scrape the tiles when you brushed the floor. So a new one was bought anyway. 

He was so well known by everyone as he was an absolute Gentleman and very kind hearted. I love that people still come in and speak about him Marshall continued with the shop until the day he died in 2013, age 79. He was a great guidance to all of us, especially me and he is missed very much. 

I was born in 1986 and as Margaret & Marshall never had children, they took me on as a surrogate granddaughter. Taking me to markets from about 5 years old - I'll never forget being hosed down with freezing cold water in the garden before I was allowed in the house. He raised me knowing I'd one day take his place. They were always teaching me from a young age, weather that was the  different breeds of cattle on road tips to France, proper Butcher knots, or even Margaret teaching me how to count money like it was an Olympic Sport. We have a lot less cash nowadays as cards have begun to take over but I've never lost the mad skills she gave me. I was always told though, that I had to have my own career and oversee things here. 

I met Kevin at high school in 1998. Our names were beside each other on the register and lucky him, he got to sit next to me in most classes. I wasn't so keen on him to begin with but he grew on me and asked me to the S2 Christmas Disco. I agreed. When he turned up with sunglasses on - in December - I went straight back to not so keen. Ha!  After years of will we, wont we, we eventually made it official once Kevin left school to work in a Car Part Shop. After a while he was looking for a change and Marshall was looking for a new apprentice. The rest as they say is History. We got married in 2010 and have three little beauties who came in quick succession. 

Kevin getting that apprenticeship, by chance, made him stumble upon a career he absolutely loves. He gives it his blood, sweat and tears. Over the past five years especially, he has been at the forefront of what you see in the shop everyday. He is very proud of what he does for a living and we are so lucky to have him. Quite frankly, like Marshall, it wouldn't be the same without his influence. 

I did what I was told and followed my own career path into teaching. A secondary school teacher of Design & Technology, I did this for twelve years. 

In 2017, we ripped out our Uddingston Shop, taking it back to the sandstone and renovating it. EHO would constantly moan about the 100 year old tiles etc, so we decided it was time. If you're going to do something, you might as well do it right. That being said, tradition is important to me as I'm so sentimental. We installed a dry ageing window so we could go back to years ago when meat was allowed to be hung there unrefrigerated. We kept the tiling similar and retained the original stained glass and electric clock. I often wonder what the man who tried to screw a broken brush back together would think of the expense. 

Recently in 2021, we opened a new shop in Hyndland Glasgow. The street feels very similar to Uddingston. It's bustling and busy. It just felt right. We opened on the 3rd of September and so far it's going great.

In order to be able to cope with the pressures of another premises, I resigned from my job. I can be found in Uddingston most days, doing a bit of everything to help out, trying to make it look like I remember what to do from my Saturdays and Summers in the shop as a teen. For now Kevin is based in Hyndland but were trying to get to a point where he can split some of his time. That will come.  

So that's us. From 1910 until today. One hundred and twelve years, what a privilege and responsibility at the same time. Now that we have the first blog done on our history, we can start to blog about the industry, the innerworkings of Donald's, our news and perhaps even share some recipes. 

If you've made it all the way through that, thanks for reading. 

'Till next time,