PRIVATE MICHAEL McNAMEE. 35 CHURCH STREET, HAMILTON, WW1. 1918

MichaelMcNamee.
McCallum’s Family Tree.

 

WW1 Soilder.

Over the past few weeks Wilma Bolton has been sending us her Hamilton Advertiser newspaper transcriptions from her collection.

The names of the people mentioned are mostly now out of recent memory to the families involved, however throughout the day we will be posting Wilma’s transcriptions for you to read.

To start things off, Wilma sent me an article on my 2nd Great grand uncle who was called Michael McNamee, and he was killed in action over in France in 1918. Like many young Hamilton men who went to fight in WW1, a lot never came back. I did know a little about Michael McNamee as I have researched him and have most of his details in my Family Tree, however I didn’t have the transcription from the Hamilton Advertiser, so thank you Wilma for sending this to me.

Michael McNamee service Record.
Michael’s Service Record.

PRIVATE MICHAEL McNAMEE.
35 CHURCH STREET, HAMILTON, WW1. 1918

HAMILTON AND THE WAR.— Pte. Michael McNamee, son of Mr and Mrs McNamee, 35 Church Street, has died from wounds received in action of 18th October.

Twenty-one tears of age, Pte, McNamee left his employment in Ferniegair Colliery in June 1915, and enlisted in the Royal Scots. For his gallantry on the field he was awarded the Military Medal. His commanding officer, writing to his parents, says, Pte. McNamee was “a great favourite with both officers and men.

He was a great boy, and thoroughly deserved the honour he gained, as he always showed himself a brave lad, and willing to help others.” Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 7/12/1918 page 4.
(Wilma S. Bolton 2012)

Let us know if a member of your family has been mentioned in Wilma’s transcriptions.

Holyrood Street Development 1963.

HollyroodStreet.1.5

The brand new Holyrood Street in Burnbank, this picture was taken on 7/5/63.

In the picture is the shiny new block of flats that were just built. I love the fact that there are only two cars in the street and the m.e.a factory to the right of the picture has is still got it’s fence around it and you can also see the Greenfield Bing behind the flats.

Were you one of the first residents to live at Holyrood Street?
Let us know and share your pictures.

WORLD WAR 2.1940, HAMILTON’S BLACK-OUT.

 

Extracted  from the Hamilton Advertiser. 7/9/1940

A dissatisfied warden writes:- The last day of the “Passing Notes” in last Saturday’s ‘Advertiser’ concluded with patting Hamilton on the back because of its immunity from convictions for contraventions of the lighting restrictions. Anyone who is not blind will wonder why there have been no convictions.

The only reason the writer can see is that there is a great deal of slackness on the part of those who should check or summon the offenders. Wardens and police, either or both, are failing in their duty, or else a score or two of offenders could be got every night. The test is: if it can be seen from the outside that there is a light inside, then the black out is not satisfactory.

Black out 1

With this test in mind, let any person take a walk round the various districts in Hamilton and it will be seen that the existing conditions are disgraceful. People should come out and look at their own windows, back and front, after the black-out, and not be content with “oh, that’ll do.” Streaks of light from tops, edges and bottoms of windows can be seen almost everywhere. Another careless fault arises from doors left open with a hall light on. Again, some people, when seeing their visitors away at night, seem to think nothing of opening wide the front door with hall light full on, and lighting the path to the front gate to let their visitors see their way out.

In a broadcast recently, a pilot said he flew for a considerable time over the district he was to visit but could not determine whether he was over the town or a wood near it. Suddenly he saw a pinpoint of light and that gave him his bearing. (That might have been someone showing visitors out.) Well, that was a British pilot looking for his target over Germany.

The very same thing could happen here and the whole district be endangered be somebody’s carelessness. So far, nothing has happened here, but one never knows what night it might happen. The offenders in these lighting restrictions are not confined to one class. The writer has been all over Hamilton and has found lights in all classes of property, quite often in buildings and houses where a good example ought to be shown. Wake up, Hamiltonian’s! Get to it and make the black-out a black black-out.

Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 7/9/1940. Page 5.

Wilma Bolton. 2005.

MRS MARGARET ALEXANDER. EARNOCK SECONDARY SCHOOL. By Wilma Bolton.

Wilma Bolton Graduation.
Wilma Bolton’s graduation picture with her two daughters.

 

Of all the countless the people you meet during the course of your lifetime, if you are fortunate, there will be at least one you’ll never ever forget because of the positive influence they had on your life. For me that very special person was the late Mrs Margaret Alexander my former English teacher at Earnock Secondary School.

 

Earnock opened on the 26th August, 1957 and I was among the first intake of pupils. The teaching staff were excellent but human nature being what it is we all have favourites and Mrs Alexander and science teacher Jimmy Maxwell were both right at the top of my best teachers list. However, you can’t put an old head on young shoulders and being headstrong my only ambition was to leave school and get a job. I certainly put little thought into what I would do and how it would affect my life.  

At fifteen I was off as soon as I could and went straight into the into the world of a Glasgow basement typing pool and what a culture shock that was. The two unhappy looking female owners looked and dressed like something from the turn of the century. They wore grey cardigans and long black ankle length dresses and their faces suggested that a substantial meal would do them both  the world of good. The working conditions were like something out of a Dickens novel. I stuck it for four months then moved on to a Glasgow construction company and you couldn’t have made up the scenario in this office if you tried. It was whispered that the managing director had a penchant for the “ladies” and and he used the building to entertain them in the evening when his staff had gone. There was also a beautifully dressed, very distinguished looking but homeless chartered accountant sleeping in one of the offices.  He was not long out of jail for embezzlement.

Office jobs were plentiful and I moved on to a company supplying motor car spares to garages. My weekly wage was £2 10/-  (£2 50p) for working nine to six Monday to Friday and a half day Saturday. With train fares and deductions there was not a lot left.  I enjoyed working there but moved on after about eighteen months and followed the “big money” straight through the gates of Philips factory and into the lamp section. We sat at a capping wheel making stop and tail lamps for cars and when I got my first wage I felt like a millionaire. In less than a year I was earning £7 10/- a week if I worked a Saturday shift and my widowed mother finally had a decent money coming into the house. She gave me 10/- (50 pence) pocket money and bought my clothes.  We even went on holiday to Belgium and she just loved it.

I was married when I was twenty and left Philips after the birth of the eldest of my four children. Money was really scarce and as soon as they were all off to school I started cleaning shops and offices. Some years later the free weekly paper The Lanarkshire World came on the scene and with my youngest daughter delivered 1,400 papers every week for the magnificent sum of one penny a paper which gave us £14.  The money went a long way and so did our feet;  from Swiscott to Hamilton Central and we delivered them for quite a substantial number of years. I was also cleaning an office at the Peacock Cross starting at 5 am and when I was finished there I would run down to Marks and Spencers where the conditions were quite good and I enjoyed it as much as I could ever enjoy a cleaning job, for I will put my hands up and plead guilty to never ever being over fond of housework.

The turning point for me came right out of the blue when I met Mrs Alexander in Duke Street, Hamilton and twenty three years after I had left school she gave me the third degree as to where my life was going. She was anything but amused with what I told her and went straight into lecture mode. “You wasted a good brain, get to night school and sit your O Grades and Highers.” I thought she was winding me up but she was deadly serious and gave me food for thought and a lot of good advice. When I was seventeen I had seriously considered nursing, but at that time you had to live in the nurses home and that was out of the question with my father not a year dead and my mother really struggling to come to terms with his loss. Taking Mrs Alexander’s advice, I paid a visit to Brandon Street Job Centre to find out what qualifications I would require to be accepted as a student nurse and the answer left me reeling.  Five O Grades and two Highers! Not a chance! The only writing I had done in the previous sixteen years was to sign my family allowance book.

Deep down I knew that it was now or never and so at the age of thirty eight I enrolled for night school classes at  Hamilton’s Bell College and opted for O Grade English starting in September. Eight months later I was sitting in a large assembly hall filled with students and we were listening to the adjudicator giving out instructions for the exam. I was was scared out of my wits and when it was over I swore I would never put myself through that amount of stress again.

On the day the results were due out I was pacing the floor at the crack of dawn and popping outside every five minutes to look for the postman. When I finally spotted him, I was up the street like a shot to get my results. He must have thought I was barking mad and at that particular moment I would have fully agreed with him, however he handed over my envelope. By this time my hands were shaking so much I could barely open it and when I succeeded I found to my absolute disbelief I had obtained a B grade. That was when the penny finally dropped and with it came the realisation that I had taken what for me was a gigantic first step and it had paid off. There was no way I was giving up a second chance to have a good education, a career and freedom.

The following year I sat Higher English and Mrs Alexander was in Marks and Spencers on the day the results came in. She spotted me, grabbed my arm and said “how did you get on?” When I told her that I got another B grade she danced me around the racks of blouses and skirts saying “I knew you could do it” and I knew that I could never have done it without her encouragement and told her so. Two down and five to go. The next year I passed my O grade Biology.

With my confidence increasing and having almost half the required qualifications, my legs were then kicked from below me when Bell College discontinued the night school classes.  I was devastated! Two years later I heard that adults could now attend day school with the children and so I found myself sharing classrooms with fifteen year old pupils at Holy Cross High School. Originally I intended to go to Hamilton Grammar because it was nearer to both my home and Marks and Spencers. However, my children were not at all amused about the idea of their mother joining their classes and on hindsight I don’t blame them so I was off to Holy Cross and it was a really good move. I would finish work, run like a greyhound down to Muir Street and arrive just in time for the bell ringing. In the two years I spent there I was the only adult in the four classes I attended and both children and staff were excellent. I still occasionally bump into one of the girls who was in my Higher Biology class and we have a wee blether. She is now in her early forties; how fast time flies away! It only seems like a few years ago since we sat in class together.  I met her recently and she told me that she had just got a provisional acceptance for university and I am absolutely delighted for her. She is planning on becoming a teacher and I have no doubts that she will succeed.

I obtained the required 5 O Grades and 2 Highers and at the age of forty four I applied to train as a Registered General Nurse at Hairmyres Hospital. My interview was held in the Lanarkshire College of Nursing and Midwifery at Monklands Hospital and I was a nervous wreck.  After countless probing questions from the three senior nurses interviewing me, the Sister Tutor looked me up and down and speaking slowly and deliberately said, “I cannot possibly give you an answer today as to whither or not you will be accepted as a student nurse, you will be notified by post in due course”.  I felt my stomach hitting the floor! My O Grade and Higher certificates were lying on her desk and with both hands she slowly spread them out like a fan, looked directly at me, smiled and said, “what I can tell you is that you ought to be proud of yourself. I would suggest that you buy a pair of white lacing shoes” and I knew that I had been accepted.

My three years as a student nurse were divided between the Lanarkshire College of Nursing and Midwifery for theory and the practical experience was mostly at Hairmyres Hospital but with placements at Bellshill Maternity Hospital, Hartwood Hospital and the district nursing services. I enjoyed it immensely and graduated as a Registered General Nurse. At that time there were no permanent nursing posts available and for almost a year I got a lot of first class experience working as a bank nurse mostly in the Intensive Care Unit where I had already spent three months as part of my student nurse training. The patients in this unit needed one to one care and I vividly remember one particular night when my patient was a critically ill ventilated man in acute renal failure and on haemofiltration. He was connected  to so many infusion pumps and other types of equipment it reminded me of a scene from the Starship Enterprise. Looking around the unit I could scarcely believe how my life had changed and all because of a chance meeting in Duke Street. Some weeks later, a permanent post finally came up in the Acute Medical Receiving Unit and I was offered it and enjoyed every minute I worked there.

I thank God for Mrs Alexander’s faith in me and for giving me the confidence to change my life completely. Without her input I would never have had the courage to do it. My children were also really supportive and encouraged me every step of the way. My only regret was I had waited until it was almost too late. I loved nursing and would have worked for nothing. It was the best eighteen years of my life.

The reason for this very personal narrative is to pay tribute to Mrs Margaret Alexander, a first class caring teacher whose influence on my life was incalculable. She convinced me that no matter how difficult your circumstances may be, nothing is impossible.

Life is not a dress rehearsal, it is the only one you are going to have and there are no second chances. Before you know it, the years have vanished and you are old and you don’t know when it happened. If you want something badly enough, seize the moment, give it everything you have and watch the miracle unfold. So go for it; it might just change your life and be the best move you ever made. It was for me…… thanks to Mrs Alexander.

Wilma Bolton. 10th August 2016.

EDDLEWOOD EVICTIONS 1897.

Miners Evictions.
This picture is for illustration purposes only and is not from the actual Eddlewood evictions.

Printed in the Dundee Courier Friday 22 October 1897

Yesterday morning the Eddlewood ejections were resumed.  About eight o’clock about eighty constables drove up under Superintendent Anderson, and were posted at the entrances to the Rows with orders to let no one either in or out. The Strike Committee had previously warned the inmates of what was to happen by sending round the bellman.

Messrs, Gilmour and Robertson were excluded from the Rows at first, but were afterwards admitted. Mr Smellie was also present. The enforcement of the warrants was again entrusted to T. H. Bell and F. Cassells, sheriff officers, and they had with them nearly thirty assistants. They were conveyed by rail to Meikle Earnock Station, and thence to a joiner’s shop adjoining the Rows.

At ten minutes past eight they emerged from the shop, escorted by police, and were slightly hooted. A number carried augurs, hammers, pincers, and other implements for breaking open doors, if necessary. There were seventeen warrants, divided into two sections. The officers cleared a couple of houses simultaneously. No resistance was offered until Nos. 38 and 44 were reached. They were barricaded, and the work of breaking open the doors proved difficult, but was ultimately  accomplished, and the furniture and bedding removed.

From 44 a baby in a cradle was carried out by the officers. The ejected parties furniture was lying in front of the house ready for removal to temporary premises at Cadzow by a lorry provided by the Strike Committee, who expect to provide for 171 persons. A number of other evictions were carried out, one or two of them taking nearly half -an -hour.

The work in the Row was then completed, and the officers left to carry out their work at the village of Meikle Earnock. The officers were escorted to Meikle Earnock by the police, followed by a large crowd, jeering and hooting.

A stand was made in front of a house at the entrance to the village, but on going inside the officers found the man’s wife ill, and did not execute the warrant. Another house had its door firmly fixed with a large stone. On returning to the colliery office the officers had refreshments, afterwards leaving in a special carriage. Mr Smellie and Mr Gilmour addressed the crowd, praising their behaviour, and condemning the law which allowed such scenes.

Agnes Scott’s Monument of Memories Part 4 Printed in the Hamilton Advertiser on the 24 June 1966.

Agnesscott.1

In the late twenties, William (or Bill) Anderson, a grandson of the aforementioned Thomas Anderson, became aware of the health-giving benefits derived from physical training and started a course of gymnastics. Others got curious, then interested, so Bill and his cousin William Allan, at present town chamberlain of Campbeltown,  together with John Neilson and Adam Steel, founded Burnblea physical culture club which met nightly in the Anderson home. Unlike the scouts or Boys’ Brigade, where the leaders were older men, this was a club run by youths for youths, and it proved an instant success.

So many young men wanted to join that the founders commenced a search for premises. Mr Sherret, the butcher who had taken over the farm-steading when Bent farm was vacated by Abie Brownlie, let them have the barn for 5 Shillings per night. Aladdin oil lamps were bought to light the place and bales of hay were used as mats. For the sum od sixpence per meeting, members enjoyed every minute of their strenuous exercise and quite a number became proficient weight-lifters. Part of the fun was a dip in the big boilers of cold water.

The barn was not the choicest of premises, however, and with the ever-growing membership a friend suggested that Anderson contact Mr A K Foulis of Hamilton Estates. Bill did this and permission to use the riding school was granted in 1930. This proved an ideal arrangement and the 150 members met for three hours every Tuesday and Friday evening. For the nominal sum of 10 Shillings per month, lighting, heating and bathing facilities were included.

DUKES FANS

The lads were delighted with this generous offer and the Boxing Marquis, the present Duke of Hamilton, became their hero.They were well acquainted with johnnie Brown, who sparred with the Marquis, and they now felt they knew the nobleman too. Later they maintained a lively interest in the Duke’s flying adventures, especially his flight over Everest.

A number of young ladies heard of the success of the club and asked Mr Anderson to form a female group. Bill was hesitant at firs, but when a deputation of girls from Gilchrist’s Bakery approached him he was persuaded and so in 1932, with a membership of 30, Hamilton’s first league of Health and Beauty was formed. Members paid an annual subscription of two shillings, plus sixpence attendance fee. An ante-room in the old Town Hall was rented and the ladies met there once weekly. After a few weeks, larger premises were necessary and the Masonic Hall was rented for one evening a week at 12s 6d per night.

Every kind of training apparatus was purchaser and the membership  rose quickly to 120. Social evenings, dances and hiking expeditions brought the sexes together and both clubs had a continued run of success until they terminated, the physical culture club because of the war and the league of Health and Beauty because of the many other interests of the founders.

One fellow, James Lang still has his membership card which he carries around as a memento of the many happy evenings spent in congenial company. A few have a better reminder for they found romance. Bill Anderson and Adam Steel fall into this group, as they married members of the League of Health and Beauty.

BIG CHANGES

Like most of Hamilton, Burnblea Street is undergoing big changes. Police houses have long since replaced Chassels’ tenement and during 1963-65 burgh houses and a new self service Co-operative licence store were erected on the vacant field and on Nicholson’s site. The other tenements  have been ear marked for early demolition and soon all individuality will have been erased from the street. Instead of the once beautiful stone tenements, one shall find new brick and roughcast dwellings; inferior in my opinion, but for the fact that they contain kitchenettes and bathrooms. A few people, however, are reluctant to move when they compare their present rentals with the high rents of the council houses, for therein  lies a problem far greater than the lack of a bathroom.

Hamilton’s Cholera pit.

Church.1
The Hamilton Cholera Burial site.

A cholera pit was a burial place used in a time of emergency when the disease was prevalent. Such mass graves were often unmarked and were placed in remote or specially selected locations. Public fears of contagion, lack of space within existing churchyards and restrictions placed on the movements of people from location to location also contributed to their establishment and use. Many of the victims were poor and lacked the funds for memorial stones, however memorials were sometimes added at a later date.

CholeraCemetery.4.1
The marker stone for the mass cholera burial.

Often the bodies of Cholera victims were wrapped in cotton or linen and doused in coal-tar or pitch before placing into a coffin. Each burial was in a pit 8 ft deep and liberally sprinkled with quicklime. The bodies were sometimes burnt before interment.

As Scottish industry flourished and more people were drawn towards urban areas, overcrowding became a serious problem. The result was overcrowding and slum areas, which were to become the scourge of Scotland’s towns & cities for many years. Conditions in the slums were appalling.

Hamilton was no exception to this illness and by 1831 there were around 10,000 people living in the town and most of the inhabitants of the burgh lived in, or near, the triangle bounded by Muir Wynd, Castle Street and Cadzow Street. There were very few toilets and the few that were here, were shared by hundreds of people, so the cholera epidemic in Hamilton would have spread very quickly.

The bodies of these poor people would have to be buried somewhere, and as the Old Hamilton parish church was quite full and they didn’t want to risk contamination, they dug a cholera pit over the wall to the west of the church yard. The bodies didn’t rest in peace for too long though, as 56 years later in 1881, the Hamilton Bowling club were looking for new ground and acquired the land where the mass grave was and built their brand new bowling green.

Today the Hamilton Bowling club-house now sits on the land where the poor cholera victims are buried and the marker stone has indeed been moved twice from it’s original position but it has been kept as a mark of respect to the poor souls and it sits proudly beside the entrance of the club-house.

Cholera Cemetery.
The Hamilton Bowling Club.

There is an estimated 137 people buried at this site and sadly their names are lost in the mist of time, maybe one day the names of these old Hamiltonian’s will be found through family research and other resources, if they do then I for one would like to see a plaque dedicated to them.

Cholera Cemetery.3
The marker stone that reads: This stone marks the graves of the many poor who died of cholera 1832.

THE BING,

THE BING

A daud ‘o coal hewed oot the the groun
disna weigh a lot yet helped to make a toon.
Doon and doon the miner, further doon wis he
to hew that coal the miner wis doon upon his knee.

Maister in his parlour room, selling aff the coal
nae thoucht to the miner there struggling doon the hole.
They fancy palaces built yet miners ne’er laid a brick
struggling wi damp and gas an only got the s**t.

The holes jist got deeper the Bings higher rose
nae thoucht to hooses above as deeper doon shaft goes.
Bings arny a bony sicht wi slag an dirt anaw
hooses scattered roon aboot aye suffer from the blaw.

Wains skitter roon the toon an bings ur playgruns tae
mithers seeking oot the kids cry up the bing the day!
Wi gum and slag and coal in bags an slidin doon in trays
fitbaw wis the drug ‘o men the bing the wains richt craze.

We playd in slag an dirt aw day t’licht was stole awa
then in the street licht end the day playn at fitbaw.
Miners didnae aw git hame the bing did no come cheap
we didna know that some ‘o them sleep b’neath oor feet.

The above poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Kit Duddy