Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson.

Following on from our story about Robert Aiton’s death, Wendy Wilson sent us a picture of her Grandfather Robert Wilson. Wendy told us: “My Grandpa Robert Wilson B 1887 worked in the mines from at least 13 yrs old. In 1912 he emigrated to Canada (from Blantyre) & got a job on the Canadian Pacific Railways. When WW1 broke out he returned to Scotland with the intention of fighting for his country. The recruiting person asked what he did before he went to Canada & when he told them he was down the pit they said he could not join up as they needed miners more than soldiers. So that was him for the rest of his life. I think it was the Clyde pit he worked in which my Dad said was the wettest pit in Scotland. He spent all day up to his waist in water. The pit was shut down in the 1930s & all the miners were offered jobs in Fife. The family moved to somewhere near Dunfermline but my Granny missed Hamilton too much & they only stayed a few years before returning.”

Wendy thank you for sharing your Grandfathers story.


Coal mining deaths in Hamilton.

William Aiton’s Family Tree.

For those of us who’s family have lived in Hamilton for many years will have grandparents, great grandparents and great, great, grandparents who worked in the coal mines of Hamilton.

The coal mine was a very dangerous place to work and many men and boys lost their lives here. One of the many hundreds of men was called William Aiton, he was born in Donegal in Ireland in 1837 to parents Robert Aiton & Rose Barrett. William had come to Hamilton probably to gain employment.

William then met a local Hamilton girl called  Margaret Boyd and they were married  on the 5th December 1856 and they had 7 children. Robert was accidentally killed while at work in the coal mine. He was hit on the head by falling debris from the pit head.

William Aiton Death 1873.jpg

The Aiton’s later became one of Hamilton’s many large families and today there are still descendants of William living in the town. Have you got a story in your family from the coal mines of Hamilton? Good or bad, let us know!

Kin You?


A kin remember, growin up in Lanarkshire’ the times a wis jist a kid,
A kin remember, awe the things us kids got up tae n’ whit we awe did,
A kin remember, when a wis a wee boy, ma new cowboy suit n’ ma gun,
A kin remember,ma wee sister gittin a doll n’ a pram, oh,we hid some fun,
A kin remember, walkin tae school, nae mams school runs fur any of us,
A kin remember, ye hid tae walk, cos ye see, back then, thir wisnae a bus,
A kin remember, tae make a bit pockit money, a wid go n ‘ pick “itchy coo’s,”
A kin remember, the woman thit bought thim, tossed a coin n’ a wid lose,
A kin remember, in the summer, we’d be oot awe day, jump aboot n’ run,
A kin remember, we’d go fur a walk ur play, n’ throw water ower everone,
A kin remember, n’ whit a memory! ye know a kin even remember “the sun”
A kin remember, gawn on the bus tae go “berry pickin” way up in Crossford,
A kin remember, pickin “goosegogs”n’ raspberries, naw” we wur never bored,
A kin remember, walkin oot tae the “Avonbridge” on the way up tae Fernigair”
A kin remember, it wis sunny on this side, bit it wis “pissin” doon ower there,
A kin remember, under the bridge, we’d go “skinny dippin” jist under the falls,,
A kin remember, we wid awe hawd hawns, n’ jump aff, that took a lot o'(guts)
A kin remember, walkin’ roon the bank, n’ we seen that big swan” it the Palace,,
A kin remember, it used tae keep attackin us, bit we never bore it any mallace,,
A kin remember, in the summer nights thir wis always a massive big “funfair ”
A kin remember, every time thit it came, a wid go doon n’ git a wee job there,,
A kin remember, me gein free rides ur prizes, tae some of the people thit a new,,,
A kin remember, that wonderous” time, ” KIN YOU REMEMBER IT TOO”

The above poem was written for Historic Hugh Hainey.

Agnes Scott’s Monument of Memories Part 1. Published in 1966

Published in the Hamilton Advertiser on the 3rd June 1966.

Agnes writes about James Mackie the town Chamberlain, Edith Forbes of the library, Sweet the painter, and the famous “Black Doctor” of Regent Street who mad snowfire ointment a household word; plus a number of “Weel Kent” faces in the vicinity of the old Town Hall, now demolished to make way for the £2m shopping precinct at the New Cross.

One can see the face of Hamilton changing day by day as buildings are demolished and streets wiped out. Often, and for too long, there is an aching void into which associations disappear leaving no trace behind. But past and present are inseparable, so while the new town spreads and lifts its head to the sky, let us pause and pay a tribute to the old and to those worthy citizens of yesterday who helped create the Hamilton now passing.

Death, whether of person or place, is always sad and the sharing of poignant memories is both an outlet for emotion and a memorial to the dead.

As i watched demolition squads at work in the area around Holmes Street, the floodgates of memory open and i saw myself in the Burgh Chamberlain’s office being served by Mr James Mackie, senior. He was the epitome of efficiency and pleasantness and one sensed that the finance of the burgh was in capable hands. The office was small but showed character and solidarity. One distinctively felt that here, if anywhere, communal interests were safe, and that their custodian did not take his responsibilities lightly. His work was his life.

Outside again, I crossed the street and followed Mr Thomas Cameron, secretary of the Glasgow chamber of commerce, into his mothers comfortable little house. Mt Cameron was married but the bond of love between mother and son was a joy to behold. Over afternoon tea, I heard stories of big business on the one hand and words of praise and  adoration on the other. He made a conspicuous figure as he cycled with a pole and pail from job to job. At present his son-in-law carries on business from the workshop.

The shop of Sam Pollock, another-well known name, is also no more where it was but Mr Pollock has been lucky enough to secure the premises in Chapel Street which were formerly occupied by Jean Frame.

The window of the supermarket in Regent Street shone clean and bright but I did not see the goods displayed. Instead I saw in memory twenty people surrounding the stance of the Black Doctor who was demonstrating his corn cure on the foot of a man obviously the worse of drink. The drunk was the only spectator bold enough to take off boot and sock and he kept the crowds hilarious as the doctor accidentally tickled the sole of his foot.

The doctor sold a variety of medicines, including a rub for rheumatics, pills for all ills, and a sure cure for baldness. Quite a number swore by his remedies and returned regularly to obtain further supplies.

Although the doctor made his own compounds, he introduced one man to snowfire.  It proved so effective for cracked lips and chapped hands that he recommended it to his workmates. It was used unfailingly thereafter by every stonemason in Hamilton during the winter months. It was easy to apply and cost only 2.5 pence a block.


Continuing down memory lane, I passed the corner pub outside which Jock, and Jennies from the Fair danced with joyous abandon. They led a hard tough life and a day away from the Farm was freedom indeed. It was “Feeing Day” and perhaps a new job would bring greater happiness.

Most of the lads sported a “Monkey” in their caps and their pockets bulged with bottles and coconuts. The Jennies too were laden with articles their partners had won for them. The music and noise from the showground was deafening so I turned into Allen Place and found sanctuary at the Yuills.

From their parlour window I could see Mrs Forbes and her children in the garden opposite. Mr Forbes was the local inspector for the prevention of cruelty to children. The cruelty Man, as he was called, had to deal with many pitiful cases and his work taught him to be a shrewd judge of character.  His wife survived him and lived till well over ninety, being ably taken care of by her daughter Edith who was admirably suited for her job.


On fair days and at the weekends, the Regent Street of past, saw many Street Hawkers, their barrows piled with fruit. One hawker called Paddy Sinclair came out with his float from Glasgow every Friday and did a roaring trade. His bonnie red-cheeked wife could wheedle an order from any man while Paddy had a way no woman could resist.

Gazing beyond the cars parked on the derelict I pictured the shop of James Sweet, affectionately called the lightning painter and the poor man’s friend,  because he was quick reliable and kept his charges moderate. He was always in a hurry…..


Agnes Scott 1901-1987.

Agnes Scott 1901-1987.
Agnes Anderson was born at No.8 Woodside Walk on 7th.June 1901 and her parents were William Anderson & Mary Allan.
After leaving school Agnes was a shorthand typist. She worked for T J &W A Dykes Cadzow  Sreet Hamilton.When she was about 20 years old she went and worked for a businessman in Malaig. His wife was a doctor.
She later came back home to Hamilton to live with her family at Beechwood house, 41 Portland Place. Agnes got married to James McNeilly Scott, they got their first house at 11 Fairhill Place Meikle Earnock and this is where her son Neil Scott was born. The family then moved to No.15 Fairhill Place as they required a bigger house.
Later in life Agnes became a keen historian and she started to document her life growing up in Hamilton. Her stories grabbed the attention of the Editor of the Hamilton Advertiser and from the 3rd of June through to December 1966 the Hamilton Advertiser published Agnes’s memoirs.
Neil Scott who is Agnes’s son has kindly donated his mums book to Historic Hamilton for us to publish her stories. We will be doing this soon. We would like to thank Neil for sending us his mums memories of growing up in Hamilton.

Auld School

Auld School,,

A left John Ogilvie High school in july 1966, that’s exactly fifty years ago, ,
A wis jist reminisin n’ thinkin’ aboot some of the names a used tae know,,
A look in this Historic Hamilton” n’ thirs a lot of familiar names a kin see,,
A wonder if it’s yir grannies ur granda’s, thit went tae the school wae me,,

RUBY HIGGINS, GINA BELL, mess wae them two ye’d git some merry hell,
MARGARET CARNEY, wee ANN RICE, quiet girls bit they wur awfy nice,,
KATHLEEN BROWN, she wis so aloof, I’m sure she hid “bools” in hur mooth,,
ANNE ROUSE, noo she stood oot a mile,,she wis never withoot a lovelysmile,,
BETTY McEWAN, she’s the wan thit got me started enjoying awe ma dancin”
PATSY MC ARTHUR, a wee “stoater, awe the boys wid try some “”romancin”
LIZ McLAUGHLIN, it sport she beat awe the guy’s aye wee Liz thunderthigh’s,
JANET PROVAN, she wis awe gymnastic, anythin she done, wis jist fantastic”
well thats jist some of the lasses, thit awe stood oot fae some of ma classes,,,

Now a list of the “motley crew” jist some of the auld guy’s thit a knew,,,,

JOE LYNAS, the bluest eyes ye ever seen, he made Sinatra’s eyes look green,,
PAUL FERNON, this guy never showed any fear, split his heed fae ear tae ear”
RAB MCMILLAN, whit a great wee guy, he wid gie ye the last wee bit he had”
DAVIE McCAFFERTY, always a smile, ” Davie Laughaweday” stood oot a mile,,

Is ye git aulder yir good memories always take ye back tae yir’ yesteryear”
The days i spent wae these auld schoolmates in my mind are still clear,,,,,,,,

The Above Poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Hainey.

Frank Brogan

Frank Brogan.
Frank Brogan.

From time to time we like to write about people from Hamilton who have been long standing residents of the town. Frank Brogan has lived in Burnbank all of his days and he still lives at his family home in Hill Street where he has stayed from the age of 6.

He is the son of James Brogan & Annie Smith and Franks dad James who was born in Burnbank in 1890 was a professional footballer who played for Bristol Rovers prior to the first world war. James Brogan joined Rovers in 1910, having previously been playing football in Glasgow. He made 106 Southern League appearances at inside forward and scored 24 goals prior to the outbreak of war, and was Rovers’ top goalscorer in the 1912-13 season with eleven goals.

James & Annie Smith with Franks Brother James and sister Alice.


Frank moved to Hill Street with his parents when the houses were first built in 1936 and he went to St. Cuthberts primary school and later went to Holy Cross. When he left school in 1944 he got his first job helping to build Philip’s factory on Wellhall Road, he later moved on to Graces tomato houses in East Kilbride. The next job that Frank did was working over in Rutherglen where hurt his back, after this Frank retired due to his back injury.

When frank was a wee boy his father James was friends with Walter McGowans father Jo Gans and Frank himself was also pally with Jimmy Johnstone. As kids, Frank & Jimmy played football in the back garden for the Hill Street home and Jimmy Johnstone even had dinner at Franks house.

Hill Street Garden.
The back garden of Franks home where Jimmy Johnstone played football.

Frank was the president of Blantyre Celtic, he joined around 1945 and was the first club president, he later went on to do physio at the club. The club later became the Blantyre Vics.

We would like to thank Frank for telling us about his life growing up in Burnbank and for sharing his old family photos.

A young Frank at his house in Hill Street with his dad sitting on the step.