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Clydesdale Inn

Clydesdale Inn

The Clydesdale Inn is the most historic building in Lanark. In 1790 Lanark Burgh Council established a company by selling fifteen shares of £50 to Gentlemen of the County for the purpose of erecting a modern Inn. One of the gentlemen was David Dale, founder of New Lanark. Later Robert Owen was for a brief while a shareholder.

Not long after it was built Britain was at war with Napoleon. The Inn was used to house French officers taken prisoner. During the renovations in the late 1990’s a French Officer’s boot was found.
The Inn became very fashionable in the early nineteenth century for visitors to the Falls of Clyde. William and DorothyWordsworth with their friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge stayed at the Inn in August 1803. Dorothy was not initially impressed with the Clydesdale but gradually changed her mind. Apparently she enjoyed ‘the boiled sheep’s head with the hair singed off’. Her brother was less impressed. He commented on ‘the eyes staring balefully at the diners!”

Charles Dickens visited the Inn in August 1841, arriving under the assumed name of Nicholas Nickelby. Whilst in Lanark Dickens had his hair cut by a local barber who kept the cuttings and displayed them in the window of his shop!

In January 1844 the Caledonian Railway Company was formed in the Clydesdale Hotel under the chairmanship of William Lockhart of Milton Lockhart.

It was in the nineteenth century that the Clydesdale became the major stop for coaches travelling through Lanark. It was in the same century that in 1829 it was decided to build the Assembly room at the back of the inn. During its construction a number of skeletons were found which were reckoned at the time to be connected to the Friary.

The Inn was initially supplied with water from a well behind the Inn. This well was rediscovered in the late 1990s. The Inn also boasted in the 1850 of having the first flush toilets in Lanark. These were designed by Thomas Crapper.

At the dawn of the 20th century William H. Cox, the founder of the Cox’s garage company, became the first sole owner in 1908. He hosted the officers of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry after their annual military exercises.
He also provided accommodation for the judges and officials for the Lanark Aviation meeting in August 1910. This was the greatest event in Lanark’s history and it was to be the Inn’s finest hour. On August 13th 1910 the judges, aviators and dignitaries attended a dinner where the medals were presented to the aviators. One century later, August 12, 2010 thanks to J.D. Wetherspoon, a commemorative dinner was held.

From 1910 onwards other major events took place in the Clydesdale Inn. Field Marshall Montgomery dined in the Inn, when he was inspecting the Polish and Scottish troops in Lanark. It was also from the Inn that the first live BBC broadcasts took place after the Second World War.

Prior to the restoration of the Inn by J.D. Wetherspoon, the Lanark & District Archaeological Society dug in the path running down to the housing development to the rear of the Inn.

The excavation revealed that in the 12th century leather and metal working went on near the Inn. Then in 1326 Robert the Bruce founded the Greyfriars Monastery where the Inn is located. The excavations revealed a wall of the cloister of the monastery as well as evidence for Lanark’s very first piped water supply.

A great number of finds were made which show that the Greyfriars’ monks lived in style with the best cuts of meat which were washed down with wine in fine pottery jugs. No graves of the Greyfriars monks were found – maybe the ghost of the Greyfriars in the Inn might be able to answer that question! However without doubt the Clydesdale Inn has a fantastic past.


Ed Archer
Paul Archibald.

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