Jan Wladyslaw Stepek 1922-2012.

Stepeks First store opening 1959-60.WMjpg


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.

Stepeks Store late 60s WM..JPG

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.

Stepek WM..JPG

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.

Stepek Last PictureWM.

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.

Stepek’s first shop in Hamilton.


Stepeks First store opening 1959-60.WMjpg.JPG

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.

Laughs at the Hamilton Baths.

Hamilton Baths WM.

Hamilton Baths

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-

I promise

It’s true.

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.

Where in the World are you reading Historic Hamilton?

Word Press data.

I always like to have a look at our stats on our WordPress site and I find it really interesting where in the world people are reading our stories on Historic Hamilton.

Yesterday we had 40 Views in the UK, 2 in the USA, 2 in Ireland, 1 in India, 1 in Norway and 1 in Canada.

If you are not reading from somewhere in Hamilton, then please tell us where in the world you are right now.



Ross's Pawn Shop Getting Demolished WM..JPG

In February 1974 Anxious to rid Hamilton of Slums, the Council Speeded up its Slum Clearance Programme from 100 houses a year to 150.
This brought forward the demolition of some properties which might have been expected to have a longer life. The council put out advertisements for anyone in the Burgh who were intending to purchase or rent a tenement in Hamilton should consult the Town House before taking any action.
In February 1974, the council agreed to an order for the demolition of 5-19 Johnstone Street, the improvement of 55-77 Gateside Street and demolition of 4-12 Brown Street and all work on these streets were carried out in 1974.
The director of environmental health submitted a list of properties to be dealt with by 1980. These included certain homes, Shops etc., in Woodside Walk, Lorne Street, Chapel Street, Quarry Place, Montrose Crescent, Almada Street, High Patrick Street, Avon Street, Haddow Street, Ann Street, Quarry Street, Glasgow Road, Stewart Street, Glenlee Street, Robertson Street, Burnbank Road, Dalziel Street, William Street, John Street, Portland Park, Portland Place, Campbell Street, Low Waters Road, Morris Street, Townhead Street, Miller Street, Low Patrick Street, Jack Street, Hope Street, 6 Wellhall Road, Windmill Road, Burnblea Street, Union Street, Lamb Street, 1 Bothwell Road, Cadzow Street, Barrack Street & Cadzow Lane.
As you can all imagine, this would have been a major change to these areas in Hamilton and when these houses and shops were demolished, it would change the way that these streets would look for ever.
We would like to know if you were affected by this compulsory purchase by the town council in the late 70s? If you were, where did the Council rehome you, or if you owned a shop where did they accommodate you with new business premises? Let us know and share your memories.


German School kids Hamilton Grammar February 1974.WWM.jpg

In February 1974 Sixteen young German School pupils of the Albert Schweitzer school in Hofgeisamar, were guests of the Provost Robert Sherry at the Town House.
Accompanied by their teacher Mrs Erika Wiemer, and Miss D. Chalmers of the language department of Hamilton Grammar School, they were entertained to afternoon tea and shown some of Hamilton’s civic treasures.
The pupils were in Hamilton in 1974 on a three-week exchange with pupils of Hamilton Grammar School.
A party of Hamilton Grammar pupils were to also spend June in Hofgeismar. This exchange had been taking place between the two schools since 1956.
Were you one of the Pupils that was lucky enough to go on the Trip to Germany? If you were, then tell us all about it.