Written for Historic Hamilton
By Kit Duddy.
It’s amazing how some places feature high in your life, your memories keep returning be they bad or be they nice.
The Bottom Cross in Hamilton always had my mind, if you were ever looking for someone it’s one place you must have mined.
Let’s check out the area from my mind to see what still lingers, just how easy that would be when I don’t need to lift a finger.
Back in my school days would be my first journey there, trying to get those Latin verbs out from
In my hair. St. John’s I found was murder, I had to have an out that’s
when I found what Burtons was all about.
No not the corner windows it was just up the stair, the snooker hall or billiards to marvel at the flair. The guys up there were brilliant better than me or you, some of them so magic they had their
Across the road was Equi’s a tally cafe there the patter was fantastic,
an the cokes were priced fair. Four Picture houses round the streets and you always were able to get a seat.
Sometimes the balcony was the thing you sat up there and we could fling nuts at all the courting couples just as the guys moved in for a cuddle?
Later on and looking for style I’d shop in Harrison’s for a while, my first made to measure suit and a pair of winkle picker boots.
The latter was an awful pair my face and nose ended up sair, jumped on a moving SMT bus
my shoes they weren’t very fussed. The pointed toe on the platform bent but my body to the floor was sent, my face and nose was quite a mess while the toe into the laces was pressed.
My first job was a butcher boy in Millers shop there was a real joy, away from Doc Gilmour’s golden rules meant that I could play the fool. Every single
Friday night a game of snooker or a bit of a fight, then the Troc to have a dance get a lumber if you
had a chance
The Bottom Cross where every thing started, lovers met or they just parted. Guys hung out or the Cops moved them on we were all youngsters but now our youth is gone.
My memories linger at
Burton’s door and I would love to be there with friends once more.
I wanted to share yesterday’s Stats for Historic Hamilton taken from our WordPress site. Surprisingly we had a lot of visitors from The Ukraine. We had the following visitors in the countries listed below:
UK 99 Views.
Ukraine 45 Views.
France 19 Views.
USA 16 Views.
Austrailia 11 Views.
Spain 9 Views.
Canada 4 Views.
Thank you to everyone who is reading from around the world. Can I ask you all to do something for us? Can you go to your window right now and take a picture to show us what your view is like? Please remember to tell us where in the world you are when you send your picture.
OUR WEBSITE IS NOW LIVE.
Today we have at last got round to opening up our website for Historic Hamilton.
We have had it sitting unpublished for over a year and the reason for this is due to the time that it takes to build the site. I have been doing this by myself and I am by no way a web designer and this is my first ever try at doing such a thing.
I would like to let you all know that it is by no way near finished and that the content on the site is no way near as good as our Facebook page, but I will endeavour to get this up to speed over the coming months and so on.
We have decided to make the site go live so that we can reach out to a larger audience around the world and hopefully this will attract more visitors to our Facebook Page too.
Last year we opened up the page for 1 day to get some constructive feedback which we did receive and we took on board everything that you told us. When we opened it up, we received 648 visitors in 1 day.
If you would like to have a look at our new website then you can view it by clicking the link below.
The poem below was written for Historic Hamilton
by Kit Duddy.
Jan Stepek ,
Jan Stepek the man wi Tv’s you could buy them for cash have them on Tic, when your mates maw had colour it fair made ye sick.
They started oot wee, mibies a 6 inch screen, the folk on the tele could have been pixies and green. They aw had funny voices like bools in their mooths, great big smiles and white white tooths.
Jan Stepek, Jan Stepek wi a shoap up the street every wan knew him,
an the stock he could keep. He had Grundig an Bush an radio rental when you couldn’t get Caroline it sent you mental.
The shops and memories are all long gone but with Historic Hamilton Garry will make yours go on. So here’s to more memories please write down them all, and send them to Garry and we can all have a ball.
JAN Stepek was one of the most remarkable examples of an immigrant’s ability to survive and prosper in a foreign land, in his case Scotland. He was born on a farm in Maczkowce, Poland, on 13th September 1922 and his early years, during which his father Wladyslaw and mother Janina struggled to bring up their three children Jan, Zofia and Danuta, were happy ones.
This hard but happy childhood was shattered in September 1939, when Poland was caught in a pincer movement. The Nazi invasion from the west was bad enough, then Stalin sent the Red Army in from the east. Wladyslaw was on a Red Army “hit list” of potential resistance leaders, so he fled to Southern Poland. Jan was never to see his father, who died from cancer in 1943, again.
Jan later enlisted in the Polish army but was struck down by typhus and had to leave for a short time. He recovered, rejoined the Polish army, but in early 1943, training in Basra, he contracted a tropical illness in Iraq, so he transferred to the Polish navy.
In February 1943 he sailed for Liverpool, before first setting foot in Scotland when sent to Kirkcaldy for training, then moving to Plymouth for further training as a radar operator.
He studied electronics at the Royal College in Glasgow and also undertook an agricultural course, before putting his war-time radar training to good use, buying parts and repairing radios. He quickly established a reputation as a reliable radio mechanic. At this time he also met, courted and in 1949 married a Rutherglen girl, Teresa Murphy. With her support, he entered the television supply business in 1952.
In 1960, a year after he took out British citizenship, the Stepeks moved to Hamilton and he branched out into car sales, travel agencies, property and financial services, while his name became known beyond his business heartland of Lanarkshire and Glasgow, through his company’s STV advertisements in association with other independent electrical retailers, Glen’s, Robertson’s and Hutchison’s.
In 1970 he was invited to join the board of Hamilton Academical and almost immediately he was plunged into a battle for survival as he helped stave off the advances of Clyde, who wanted to merge the two clubs. Accies were struggling at the foot of the old Second Division; Mr Stepek became chairman and set about taking Accies to the Premier League. In 1987, having achieved that aim, he stepped down as chairman, to become honorary president of the club.
He suffered three strokes in 2002, when aged 80, but recovered and was soon back on the golf course and tending his garden, before the ill-health which blighted his final two years forced him to stop.
Jan died 26 October 2012, Sadly his wife Teresa died less than a month after Jan, going into a coma less than a week after his funeral. He is survived by his 10 children, 22 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.
One of his sons, Martin Stepek contacted Historic Hamilton and kindly donated some family pictures. This is his story:
“Hi, there are three photos of our family business shop in Quarry St. The slightly torn one is the mid to late 1960s and the middle one is when it first opened in 1959 or 1960. The last pic is my Dad (left) with I think Larry Marshall and definitely Jimmy Logan on the right. These two were at the height of their fame so caused a bit of a stir when Dad managed to get them to come and open the Quarry St shop.”
In the days before large super markets dominated the High Street Stepek’s was the place that you went to buy or rent your TV. I can recall walking into the store, looking around and seeing all of these amazing electrical objects like food blenders and American fridge freezers etc, the store was massive.
Once again I would like to thank Martin Stepek for sharing his father’s photos. They are a real snapshot in time and it allows our young people of Hamilton to gain a small insight into how a real family business was set up and ran in the town.
In the picture, we have the very first Stepek’s shop opened in Quarry Street in 1959. Jan Stepek who at the age of 37 is in the picture (Far Left) and this was sent to us by Jan’s son Martin Stepek. Look out for Jan Wladyslaw Stepek’s story coming soon.
By Kit Duddy.
I remember the baths of
old you queued outside
to pay your your fee, maybe to swim or wash your knees.
In through the turnstile left for a bath, straight
on for a swim and plenty of laughs.
The changing stalls had stable doors you could look over the top or underneath for drawers.
When they were full we had little choice especially when you were boys. Up on the balcony up the stairs trying to get changed with everyone there.
Worst was still yet to come when even the balcony was done, they took you through the wash house doors into the stalls through the wash house floors.
The women there were drying their washing
and dirty comments
they didn’t mind tossing. “Dinnae be shy we’ve seen it all before you’re
no in the changing rooms noo son there isnae any doors”.
It’s then you suddenly realise you hired some swimming pants they were medium size. Not like the speedos you might have now just a nappy tied any old how.
The whistles followed you through the door as you walked with a swagger
( or not very sure). Into a noisy swimming baths while all of your mates pointed and laughed.
You knew what was coming it was now your turn, dared to dive and show your bum. Those nappies they hired I am sure it is true were a test of your manhood-
Up on the dails tying it tight you stood there knees knocking and
dying with fright. Two steps to the edge diving right in everyone laughing it’s a bloody sin.
Those nappies triangles of cloth now in two were left on the dails and nothing is covering you. A swim to the side with danger was fraught God help any wee man if you were caught.