Hotelier Jim was last of Blackpool old guard

Blackpool hotelier Jim McLair, who was born in Newarthill.
Blackpool hotelier Jim McLair, who was born in Newarthill.

Tributes are being paid following the death of a Lanarkshire man who made his name as a Blackpool hotelier.

Jim McLair died on January 20 at the town’s Victoria Hospital. He was 98.

Born in Newarthill in 1920, he met his lifelong love, Jeanne, in 1949 and had a son, Lindsay, born four years later.

He worked at Belmos, first as a tea boy and then as an engineer. Jeanne worked in Cochran’s chemist shop in Bellshill.

He was a lieutenant in the Boys’ Brigade, although Jeanne often pulled rank because she was a Girl Guide captain.

During World War II, he was exempted from the military because he was engineer. After the war he served with the RAF in India.

He was a member of the Masonic Lodge St Enoch.

The McLairs moved to Blackpool in 1955, purchasing a small guest house on St Chad’s Road.

Jeanne ran the guest house, while Jim worked at the Unit Tool Company through the day and played drums at the Brunswick Club in the evenings.

In the 1960s, they purchased the Astoria Hotel on Albert Road. They entertained guests in the evenings, with Jeanne singing and Jim playing the guitar. He could also play piano and saxophone.

Jim became president of the Blackpool Scottish Society in 1969 and was president of the Hotel and Guest House Association, serving from 1971-73.

In 1977, he was a member and Grand Master of Saturnian Lodge in Blackpool.

He was also a member of St George’s United Reformed Church and sang in the choir.

In 1980, they sold the hotel and purchased Dishdolls Restaurant, Out Rawcliffe, with Jim running the bar, Jeanne on reception and Lindsay as head chef. The couple retired in 1983.

His interests included Glasgow Rangers, cigarette card collecting (although he never smoked), listening to trad jazz, crosswords and holidays abroad. Holidaying in Cyprus in 1974, Jim and his family had to be evacuated by the UN when Turkey invaded the island.

Jeanne passed away in 2015. Jim is survived by Lindsay, his grandchildren, Rachel and Lee, and three great-grandchildren.

The funeral will take place at Lytham Crematorium on Friday followed by a service of remembrance at Marton United Reformed Church.