A summer morning bright and clear
Nae traffic or a morning rush
Tae frighten wains by the gates
Playin their ane we gems
Wae bools an rifle by their side
Fur the coming war.
Ah see wee sammy’s curtains open
Jist five minutes ago
Ah telt mah brither Robert
Tae get his jakeit oan
You get his flank an ahl go straight
Ah hear he hiz a wee pal styin
Tae fight us tae the death
Ur afore oor maw starts cawin.
Awe summer long we fought fae street tae street
An ambush here a picket their barricade an awe
The lassies widnae jine oor war but laughed at us insteed
A block hoose guardin Livy brae
Lookin doon tae stanley street.
We cawed in the boys fae kenilworth
An charged them wae oor boggies
They wull nae come back tae oor street
Until the winter comes tae shine oor slides
And laugh wae us fawin doon the brae.
The snaw wiz thick an white the sallies were awe singin
The curtains were closed and the blinds were shut
Billy cotton was shoutin wakey wakey
The lum wiz reekin fae oor hoose
That gave the gem away.
A hit squad was assembled ahint the raspberry canes
Tae hit us first as we came oot the back door
They came in fae Kenilworth oan oor back grun
And waited patiently fur their turn
Tae seek the spoils o’ war.
Snawbaws tae the back and side whistlin past oor ears
We didnae see them comin we didnae make the gate
Got cut off fae the street and crawled tae oor front door
Ah hud tae drag mah wee brither in he wiz in a state
He wiz sore and wounded wae snaw baws whizzin
Ah bandaged him and cleaned the jam oaf hiz hawn
Tae fight another day.
Mah maw led the coonter attack
And beat them awe back fae sight
She chased them oot the gairdin
Back the wey they came
Telt them awe she knew their maw
And ahll be roon at yir hame
Yir da wull skelp yi tae be sure
Fur pickin oan mah wains.
Ahint the co we could find arrows long and straight
Tae make a bow like Robin Hoods
And practiced day an nicht
And bonfire nicht we had a plan
But we were beaten back
The boys fae king street outdid us awe
Wae their rockets fae three streets doon.
The night wiz rent wae whistling sounds
Fae salvoes o’ russian rockits
It might have been a stray wan
That came crashing through oor lines
It felt like hundreds mair wur whizzen
Fawin oot the skies.
Awe aroon me wur Scared and injured sobbin
Red cross nurses administering tae the burned and blinded
First aid was in triage out by command post one
The front line wiz over run….i tried to tell mah maw
She said its your imagination you should write a story
It could hiv been the Hill st boys careless o’ the wind
Noo go tae sleep an nae mair stories afore yir da comes in
Who ever heard of a wee squib causin awe that din.
The above was written for Historic Hamilton by John Stokes.
On the night of the 5th May 1869, a man belonging to Udston Farm, Udston, while going through a small plantation lying between that place and Glenlee, discovered a man suspended by the neck to the arm of a tree, and quite dead.
From the appearance presented by the body it was evident that he had made most determined effort to end his life. His head was so near the branch to which he had fastened himself that he could easily have put his hands upon it, but they were firmly clenched to his sides.
He had tied a cotton handkerchief once round his neck, and afterwards reached up and fixed it to the tree, the body was in an easy standing position when found, and strangulation could not have taken place without a determined and protracted effort on the part the unfortunate suicide.
Information was sent to the County Police Office here, and the body conveyed thither. The deceased has the appearance of having been employed in some weaving factory, and on his person were found small strip of paper, marked ” Twister, £3 2d,” a pair of small scissors, a key, and Is in silver and 5,’d in coppers. He appears to about 30 years of age.
Above is Udston Woods and possibly the location of where the unknown man was found. I have tried to find out the mans identity, however there is little to go on. This story is still in my “To Do” list.
Ref: The Falkirk Herald 1869.
I haven’t been told off for climbing over fences for many years, but this week I was eager to take a picture of an old cottage at Meikle Earnock, and I thought that the land wasn’t owned by anyone, so as I got on top of the fence and only managed to get one leg over the top, I heard a voice from across the road shouting “Oi, Whit dae you think you are doing get Aff that fence!!” As I looked around in total embarrassment there was this man across the road , so I thought I’d better go and explain what I am doing.
I got chatting to him and explained who I was and what I was doing, and he sort of calmed down after this. His name is Tom Barrie and he is the owner of “The Cottage” at Meikle Earnock, he lives with his mum Elisabeth Across the road at Fairhill Cottage and when I had explained that I run a website called Historic Hamilton, he said that he had never heard of it, but funnily his mum came out at this point, Elizabeth who is in her late eighties and she said, Oh, Is it you that does Historic Hamilton, I love that! I found this really amusing.
Tom was explaining to me that the Cottages had been in his family for many years and that his mum Elisabeth was born in the cottage. The cottage was also owned by Elisabeth’s parents, her father was called Thomas Gardner who was a Road mender.
The family later moved across the road to Fairhill Cottage which is just as old as “The Cottage”. The old Cottage and it’s adjacent building was later used as a mechanics garage for many years.
The old picture of the kids playing at the Meikle Earnock water pump in 1901 is a real snapshot in time and I wanted to get a “Today” picture of the cottage, however when I looked at the adjacent buildings to the cottage it really got me thinking that this little building is probably one of the last buildings in Hamilton that still looks the same now as it did over 100 years ago, this little building itself in my opinion should be preserved as most of Hamilton’s farm cottages and houses would have looked like this in the late 1800s.
PEGGY’S CLOOTIE DUMPLING.
By Wilma Bolton
A lot of my childhood memories revolve around the small kitchen of our prefab at 133 Mill Road, Hamilton. This kitchen without question, was the undisputed domain of my mother Peggy Russell. An all round cook and a great baker, she made apple, currant and rhubarb pies as well as lemon meringue pies, doughnuts, shortbread, gingerbread, pancakes with sultanas on top and currant, treacle and plain scones. Her speciality was truffles and they tasted just beautiful.
When she was baking, my father Jimmy would be forever popping in and out asking her when it would be ready. “When I say it’s ready!” was her standard answer. She would eventually lose her rag with him and ban him from the kitchen.
My father was the only member of the family who took sugar in his coffee. Peggy had other plans for it and although she bought sugar every week, she guarded it like a zealot. What she didn’t use for baking she hoarded in the living room sideboard for eleven months of the year until it was the jam making season.
Jimmy had three plots behind the cottages on Bent Road, two of them filled with black and red currant bushes, raspberries, gooseberries and strawberry plants; the other one was for vegetables. When the fruit was ready, out would come the sugar and the big brass jelly pan, and my father and I would start picking the berries and carry them home in baskets. For weeks the kitchen would be filled with the smell of jam and jelly being made.
Peggy made enough to see us through until the next jam making session the following year. She also gave away a great many jars to friends and neighbours and her jam was beautiful. I still have her brass jelly pan to this day and I’ve used it many times myself to make jam and marmalade.
My father spent a lot of his spare time down at his plots, usually with me and my friends Marjorie Laird or Betty King in tow. At dinner time he would dig up potatoes and cut a cabbage and we would be sent to wash the potatoes while he lit a fire inside a square of old bricks. On top of the bricks he had a couple of oven racks where he placed the pots. He never quite trusted me to make 100% sure that there were no caterpillars on the cabbage so he always washed it himself at the stand pipe in Mary Street. He would either fry bacon or open a tin of corned beef and with his new potatoes and cabbage, we sat down and ate a meal fit for a king from tin plates.
My mother always made a clootie dumpling on Christmas Eve and it was rich and dark with fruits and spices. She would clean and wrap silver threepenny and sixpenny pieces in greaseproof paper and stir them through the dumpling mixture which would then be steamed in a large pot for four hours.
Peggy never lost her Aberdeen accent and she had a lot of sayings. One she used to use when the dumplin was simmering away was; Oh my! the smell of that dumplin’s “gaen roon my hert like a hairy worm.” Another one was “A hairy man’s a happy man but a hairy wife’s a witch.” “He’s got a face like a weel skelpit erse” was her description of a man or boy with a red face. Her sayings were legion.
Every woman who has ever made a clootie dumpling is one hundred percent convinced that her recipe is the best and I am no different. I am sure that my mother’s dumpling recipe was better than any other I’ve ever tasted. It also had the advantage of having the silver treasure hidden in it’s dark recesses. I have to belatedly confess that the thought of the money determined where I put the knife. That was when a knitting needle came in handy. I would push it through the dumpling until I felt it hitting a coin. That is where I cut my slice and then I ran up to Blyth’s shop to spend my ill gotten gains. If Peggy had caught me, there would have been a murder in Mill Road, or then again; she might just “ hae turned a blin ee’”
The above story was sent to us by Wilma Bolton and is taken from her childhood memories of growing up in Hamilton.
Wilma has kindly gave Historic Hamilton readers her mums recipe for her Clootie Dumpling. Enjoy!
PEGGY’S CLOOTIE DUMPLIN’.
1lb self-raising flour
25 g mixed spice
2 1/2 heaped T/spoons cinnamon
2 1/2 ” “ ground ginger
200 g suet
2 tablespoon syrup
3 tablespoons treacle treacle.
1 pound of sultanas
1 pound of currants
Or 2 pounds of mixed fruit
1 pound of raisins
1 large apple grated
2 eggs + milk (not semi skimmed)
1 large soup pot.
A cotton cloth no less than a meter square or an inside out clean cotton pillow case with the seam at one side unpicked for boiling the dumpling. I use the same small table cloth that my mother used.
1. Mix flour, suet, spices, syrup, treacle and mix. Add currants, raisin and grated apple (core and grate with skin on) and mix again.
Add two beaten eggs and milk and mix to stiff dough. The amount of milk required will be judged by the stiffness of the dough. Just go easy with it. The dough should be neither wet nor dry. Just a bit sticky.
2. Put a soup plate upside down on the bottom of a large soup pot and then sit a side plate on top of the soup plate. Pour boiling water into pot until it is just under the plate.
3. Pour boiling water into another pot and imerse the cloth, empty water out and remove and wring out when cool enough. Lay it out on clean table or worktop, sprinkle with flour, place mixture on the floured side of the cloth and bring the four corners of the cloth together and tie in the middle with string above the dumplin’ mixture, leaving a wee bit room for it to expand. Remember you are using self raising flour.
4. When water is boiling place the clootie dumplin’ on the plate. Put spare cloth corners outside pot (keeping away from gas) and put the lid on and simmer away for four hours. Have boiling water ready to top up when the sound of the water boiling changes as the water level falls. When topping up do not pour the water over the dumplin’. Pour down the side of the pan. Just let it slowly boil away with steam coming up the side of the dumpling’. You will hear the plate at the bottom making a noise as the water boils. Don’t let the pot run out of water and always make sure that the water doesn’t go off the boil. You need the steam to cook the dumplin’.
(An alternative to steaming is to put a plate on the bottom of the pot, sit the dumplin’ on top of it add boiling down the side until it covers the dumplin’ and boil for four hours.)
5. After steaming or boiling for about 4hrs lift the dumplin’ out of pot. Leave on a dinner plate for a few minutes to let it cool down a wee bit. Cut the string, opening the top and peel cloth slowly down the sides of the dumplin’. Let it cool a bit more and then put a plate on the top of the dumplin’ and holding the two plates turn upside down and then remove the top plate and slowly remove the cloth. Put it in a pre heated oven (150 degrees) with the door open to let a skin develop on the outside of the dumplin’. Or if you have a fire or a gas fire sit it in front of it. You will know it is ready when it no longer feels wet. It dosen’t take long.
The flats at Whitehill Road, or better known locally as Sing Sing, was a street in Burnbank, however, to the residents it was more like a separate community. The flats ran from Burnbank to Whitehill and Sing Sing was said to have taken its name from the Correctional Facility in Ossining in New York.
Some people who lived outside Sing Sing often said that it was a scary place to walk past and it was noted that the police would never go to the flats without back up, however, many of the families who lived here had fond and happy memories of the flats and they all looked out for one another. Some of the people and families known to have lived at Sing Singe were Rab McGhie, Big Liza, Carol Hughes, pearl Anderson, Betty Whitelaw, Dennis & Rose Cassidy, Anne Farmer, Maggie McNamee, Dane Rodger, the Poultons, the McCluskey’s, the Cannons, the Foley’s, the Haley’s, the Steele’s, and the Aitken’s.
Sharon Allan was born at Sing Sing, Tilda Jack lived at number 72 and Arthur Belk used to have his window open wide and was renowned for music blaring which could be heard by people when walking over from Burnbank to Whitehill, Arthur’s mum was big Liza. Other characters who lived here were Shug n his barrow, Rex and Ann Pan. Most of the families living at Sing Sing were connected to each other in one way or another.
There were sad things too, tragically the young boy Foley was playing between the wagons (just as most of the kids did) when they were shunted and he got caught between the bumpers and was killed outright, everyone was warned to keep out of the railway but no one could the keep the kids away from the tracks and the burn as the tunnel under the railway was a short cut to the public park.
During the Second World War Burnbank suffered at least one attack by the Luftwaffe, when a bomb was dropped near Sing Sing at the railway works on the Whitehill Road, however, I believe that the flats were not affected by the bomb.
The families were eventually moved and re-homed from the flats and Sing Sing was finally demolished in 1973, and the excuse that was given to the residents was that the council was wanting to widen the road and extend the bridge over the railway, the railway bridge used to have a foot path at the side, like the bridge over just up from the portakabin next to the express way in Blantyre.
I spoke with a former local resident James Poulton who is a relation of mine and James told me:
“The people in it were great to get on with but the police were not welcome, the place was one big family and a lot of crooks stayed there but everyone got on and it was a great place for the children with the railway and a burn at the bottom of the drying green everyone who stayed there would have gone back given the chance the place was a community everyone knew everyone else and a lot were connected in one way or another”
What was your memories of Sing Sing?
Families in Arden Road.
Bob Baird sent us a picture of his parents in the garden of their Arden Road home. Bob told us:
“My mother and father both lived in Arden Road in late 40’s and early 50’s. Dad, John Baird, at number 20, and Mum, Margaret (Peggy) Miller at number 39.
Sadly, they both passed away this past decade, and there are no family members left who actually lived in Arden Road. I remember it well, with weekly visits to Gran’s and Grandad’s. Both families were in the upstairs of “4 in a block” houses. Below Gran Miller (No37?) were the Glen family, and below the Baird’s were the McCluskeys (22), and “through the wall” at no26 was (Baldy) Craig.
This picture was taken in the back garden in 1955, my Mum and Dad, me as a 3 year old and my sister Cath not long after she was born in the June. The door in the picture is the back door of the McCluskey house.
Do you have an old picture of any of your family sitting ‘Out the Back’? These pictures captured a real snapshot in time and we would like to see them. Send them to us or you can do it by email: firstname.lastname@example.org