Raskals and Zigfields nightclubs (Blantyre)

Raskals Blantyre WM.

Hamilton has always been known to have some decent nightlife, but in the 1980s Blantyre also had some decent clubs.

You had a choice of Raskals or Barnums & Zigfields which were just next door to each other.

What are your memories of Raskals and Zigfields nightclubs?

Zigfields WM.

Sergeant John Wilson


For Bravery in the Field – 21st to 24th December 1917.
Written by Barrie Duncan of the Low Parks Museum.

100 years ago, on 21st December 1917, a four-man patrol from the 10th Scottish Rifles left the relative safety of their trenches and crept into no man’s land. Their objective was to establish the condition of the enemy’s defences and to try and establish the identity of the German unit defending them. It wasn’t until three days later, on Christmas Eve 1917, that two of the patrol would drag themselves back into the British lines – wounded, dehydrated, and suffering from exposure and frost-bite – while the other two members were presumed dead.

The two men who made it back to the British trenches on 24th December 1917 were Sergeant John Wilson, and Lance Corporal John Thomson. Both men were awarded the Military Medal for their actions on the patrol, but within a few days Lance Corporal Thomson had succumbed to his wounds, and Sergeant Wilson would ultimately have both his legs amputated as a result of wounds exacerbated by frost-bite.
The patrol that set-out on 21st December 1917 comprised of four men; Second Lieutenant Ewen, Sergeant Wilson, Lance Corporal Thomson, and Private Aberdeen. Sergeant Wilson had led a similar patrol on the previous evening when a German post was encountered, but this was too well defended for them to try and rush in an effort to secure prisoners.

The patrol came up to what they thought was the German lines, but which actually turned out to be a small section of abandoned trench that the German forces were using as an observation and listening post.

The lone German sentry was successfully captured by the patrol and while returning to their own lines they encountered and were attacked by a German patrol comprising of between 12 and 15 men. In the ensuing fight, the German prisoner was killed, and all four men of the British patrol became casualties.

Lieutenant Ewen was thought to have been killed outright, and Private Aberdeen was badly wounded. Wilson and Thomson, both wounded, were able to get away, using the myriad of shell-holes as cover. Looking back, they saw the forms of Lieutenant Ewen and Private Aberdeen being dragged away towards the German lines.

Using the cover of darkness, Wilson and Thomson dragged themselves to what they thought was the British lines, only to find they had lost their way in the confusion of no man’s land and were actually near the parapet of the German trenches. It took them almost three days to make their way back to the British lines, as by this time Thomson was almost incapacitated through blood loss and the effects of exposure and Wilson had to physically drag him, even although he himself was wounded and suffering from frost-bite.

Having survived all this, the unfortunate pair were almost met with the cruel fate of being killed by their own men, as when they first reached the British lines they were fired upon by the wary soldiers manning the trenches. On Christmas Eve they met a British patrol who assisted them back to the 10th Battalion’s lines.

The fate of Lieutenant Ewen and Private Aberdeen would not be known by the Battalion for some time. Wilson and Thomson had assumed Lieutenant Ewen killed in the fighting against the German patrol.

He had in fact been wounded and taken prisoner. He recovered from his wounds, although he spent the remainder of the War as a prisoner in Germany. Ewen was a chemist and druggist in Aberdeen in civilian life; he had originally served as a private soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps before being granted his commission and had only been serving with the 10th Scottish Rifles for a short time before commanding the fateful patrol.

Private Archibald Aberdeen was also wounded and taken prisoner. He succumbed to his wounds and died the next day, on 22nd December 1917. Private Aberdeen was buried by his German captors in a French cemetery behind their lines. In 1924, Private Aberdeen’s remains were reburied by the Imperial War Graves Commission in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery among his comrades who died in the War.

Wilson and Thomson were awarded their Military Medals on 1st January 1918. Three days later, on 4th January, Lance Corporal John Barr Thomson died of his wounds and the hardships suffered during his ordeal in no man’s land. John Thomson was from Hamilton, Scotland, and was 38 years old at the time of his death. He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.

Sergeant John Wilson was also from Hamilton. He had joined the 6th Scottish Rifles, the local Territorial Force Battalion of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in 1912. John was a compositor with his local newspaper, The Hamilton Advertiser. Embodied for active service when war was declared in August 1914, John first went to France with the 6th Scottish Rifles in March 1915.

Like Lieutenant Ewen, Sergeant Wilson was only transferred to the 10th Scottish Rifles a few months before he took part in the patrol. He had already been wounded in action, and had also served for a short time with an Officer Cadet School where he was considered for training as an officer. During the December patrol described above, Wilson had suffered a gun shot wound to the left thigh.

In addition he suffered severe frost-bite as result of spending so long in wet, freezing conditions. The damage to his legs was severe enough to result in him having both legs amputated, and he was discharged from the army on medical grounds in April 1918, aged 24.

Military Medal of Sergeant John Wilson, on display in Low Parks Museum (obverse – left, reverse – right)

If you would like to see more of these exhibitions, then you can see the fantastic display at the Low Parks Museum.

Beef McTaggart.

Beef McTaggart

Betty McTaggart sent us a picture of her dad ‘Beef’ McTaggart. Beef who was a larger than life character was known for his crazy antics and he was a delivery driver for Keith’s of Hamilton. It was rumoured that Beef had more customers than Keith’s when it came to selling the whiskey.

What are your memories of Big Beef McTaggart?


Police Recover Goods and Make Arrests.

Bob MacTaggart
On Friday the 20th of May 921, the premises of Mr Alexander Proudfoot-Begg, who was a licensed grocer on Low Waters, Hamilton, was broken into late on Friday night or in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The booty comprises salmon, 37 lbs. of cheese, bottles of port wine, sherry, claret, beer, 20 lbs of butter, and £5 in money. According to the information supplied by the police, a considerable portion of the booty was recovered.

During the week after it happened, Chief Constable Clark reported that attempts to enter shops in Hamilton have been frustrated by the vigilance of the police. Soon after the occurrence was referred to, Constables Docherty and Walker, they were early on the scene, and, after a smart round-up, they apprehended two men, who were before the Court on Monday the 23rd in connection with the affair.

The two accused, who have been remitted to the Sheriff, are Joseph White (28), miner, 158 Low Waters, Hamilton, and Robert MacTaggart, junior (31), miner, 121 Low Waters, Hamilton. The charge against them is that of breaking into the licensed grocery premises mentioned and stealing the provisions and money enumerated.

It turns out that Robert or Bob as he was better known was indeed no stranger to trouble and this was not a one-off incident. Five years later, on Friday the 27th of May 1926, there was a fight which had taken place at The Ranche Pub.

This fight is still known of today, as it involved many police officers and of course Robert MacTaggart. It was nearly five years to the day of the break-in at the Grocers where ‘Bob’ MacTaggart had a few too many pints and had been challenging people to a fight out in the street and being already barred from the Ranche, he had it in his head that he was still going to go in and have a pint.

The owner had called the police and Bob was apprehended, but as the Ranche was a tough working Man’s Pub the regulars did not like what they were seeing and tried to free Bob from the custody of the police and then a mass riot broke out involving around 100 men. This was also watched by many hundreds of men outside.

More back up was needed and police officers from Hamilton and Blantyre were called for assistance. The riot act was read and there were many arrests, this included Bob MacTaggart, who received a six-month prison sentence.

Several years after the riot Bob McTaggart with his wife and children emigrated to Canada where he lived until he was in his seventies and died after losing a leg in a lift accident.

With thanks to Alan McTaggart for sending us a picture of Bob McTaggart.

Alan told us: here is a picture of Cadzow St Anne’s football team 1910-1911 a young Robert”Boab”McTaggart is standing back row 3rd from the Left-hand side this is a photo my late father Robert McTaggart had hanging in his house he was the owner of Croftwood store and was well known by many as “Big Rab” or “Boab” hope you find this interesting. Alan.

Hi Folks,

Christmas Logo..png

Hi Folks,

Next week we will be reposting Historic Hamilton’s most popular stories of 2017. This will give you all a chance to have another read over our fully researched publications and it will also let our new readers see what they have missed.

Do you want to know the History of a building in Hamilton? Is there a family mystery that you would like solved or are you curious about your Ancestry? Send us the details and we will look into this for you.

One more thing! Don’t forget to buy your copy of the Hamilton advertiser this week as we will have an advert in the paper, so remember and tell us what you think.


Hammy Ad Cake

For me, it was the end of an era for Campbell Street -when I heard that the Hamilton Advertiser were moving premises after reporting the local news from its old building for more than 150 years. The old press building was at the heart of the town and in its heyday, not only did the reporters all work from the newsroom they also printed and distributed the newspapers from here.

They finally closed its doors to the public on Wednesday the 13th of December and just before it closed, the last customer walked in – this customer was me! Me being the sentimental guy that I am, was quick to tell everybody that I was the very last customer in over 150 years publishing to use the Hamilton Advertisers services in the Campbell Street building. I love nostalgia and it got me thinking of who was the very first customer to pay for the Hamilton Advertisers services. So, a wee trip to the Hamilton Reference library will be on the cards to see if I can find out.

I have met with the staff at the Hamilton Advertiser before, including the Editor and big chief Robert Mitchel or Bob as he is better known to his staff.

Hammy Ad2
Bob’s teamwork great together and when I first met them I was a bit apprehensive walking through the doors of the old press building as I had in my head that the editor was going to be like the one in Spiderman shouting at all of his staff. But no, they are all very nice people and very approachable, and always if you have a story, then they are more that willing for you to come and have a chat with them.

So, as I had mentioned, I was the very last person to use the Hamilton Advertiser in Campbell Street, I was placing an advert in the paper for Historic Hamilton which you will all see in next weeks edition. I spoke to two lovely ladies called who were called Lorna Marshall who is the receptionist and Carole Mathers, who is the Multi-Media Sales Executive.

We ended up chatting about the History of the building and Carole had mixed emotions as she has worked at the old Campbell Street office for 30 years. We got chatting about the strange goings on and apparently, the old Campbell Street building has its very own Ghost.

Hammy Ad1

So, it was sad times for Carole too as this building has played a very big part in her life, but as they say you have to move with the times. I only hope that this Historic building does not get torn down and become another car-park, lets watch this space – pardon the pun.

The new Hamilton Advertiser premises are now located on the ground floor of the Brandon House business centre and they have an open plan office that looks out over Duke Street and the building is also right at the bus station, so bear in mind, Bob’s reporters are watching you as you walk in and out from the bus station and they will see everything that’s going on. This is also an excellent vantage point for the ‘Reader of the Week’ section, so if you’re up this way, then you may just be lucky enough to make Page 3 and get a free box of chocolates.

I paid a visit yesterday (Friday the 15th) and as usual, Bob was still in the office arranging next weeks stories, I had a wee chat with Bob and Carole and they were showing me around. I managed to get a wee bit of the Tunnocks Cake and Carole was showing me my advert for Historic Hamilton. So maybe I can also be classed as the first customer in the New building?

Hammy Ad3

Times are indeed changing as more of the younger generation are turning to news in the digital format, The Hamilton Advertiser’s Facebook page now has a massive 17,314 followers but I’m sure that most of you will agree that it’s just not the same as sitting down with a cup of tea at the table and having a read of the local news.

We still turn to the Advertiser to either do the crossword or to see what is happening in the town or to find the local guy who will give you a free quote to fix your fence. With Bob’s team working all week to get you the best stories I’m sure that the newspaper will still be here for many decades to come. So, to all the staff, good luck in your new home and we hope that you have many happy working years at the Brandon House building.

Hammy Ad4


The grand opening of the Hamilton Fire Station 16th May 1931.
Red Letter Day for the Fire Brigade.
County’s new fire station opened.
Hamilton Fire Station - Freddie KrugerWM.
First phase of headquarters costs £35,000
The first phase of the new fire station in Bothwell Road costing £35,000 was officially opened by the provost Mrs Mary S Ewart on Saturday the 16th of May 1931. When completed the new fire station will become the headquarters of the Lanarkshire fire brigade.
In thanking the fire brigade committee for the honour conferred on her, provost Ewart said that some years ago, when the new question of the new fire station was before the town council, she had been apposed to the idea because she felt it would not fit in with the surroundings of such a lovely part of the town. However, having seen the new station, she had changed her opinion because it was a work of art.
Today, She said, fire fighting and prevention of fire was a very highly skilled art indeed, but the men and women of the Lanarkshire fire brigade were well trained and equipped for these tasks.
The committee had realised the great need for extending the service and providing the best services possible for their personnel. She congratulated the architect on a splendid job of work. The building had enhanced the already beautiful burgh of approach to the Bothwell.
Hamilton’s Strategic Position
Bailie John Fox, chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee, in introducing Provost Mrs Ewart, said he was pleased at the large turnout of people who had been sufficiently interested to come along to the opening of the new station.
He described it as a unique occasion, for not only were they opening a new station at Hamilton, but they were opening a new central Fire Brigade Headquarters for Lanarkshire. Hamilton had been chosen because of it strategic position in the centre of the county.
As the committee included representatives from all the burghs in the county, the members felt that since the delegate from Hamilton Town Council was none other than Provost Mrs Ewart they could find no better person to perform the opening ceremony. He then handed over the key of the new station to Provost Ewart, who in turn presented it to Station Officer George Cathro. Little Miss MacIntosh presented the Provost with a bouquet of flowers.
At the dinner in the new fire station after the annual inspection and sports at Hamilton Park Racecourse, Firemaster A. S. Nisbet extended a sincere welcome to all those who had attended the opening of “a very small part of the new fire brigade Headquarters in Hamilton.” This was the first time, he said, that a function of that kind had been held inside a fire station.
“Reaches the Hearts of the People”
In proposing the toast of “The Fire Brigade,” Bailie Fox said it was one of the services which reached right to the hearts of the people. It was one service which could never be measured in steps of safety. They could lay out great plans for fire prevention, but it was never really possible to measure or gauge how much good the fire service could do. When anyone talked about the fire service they talked about the service the people got, but never about the service the fire brigade gave.
“The last twelve months will go down as a record for the number of lives lost in fires in Lanarkshire,” he said. In one fire nine lives had been lost, and in another four. “What would you regard as the topmost price you would pay for a fire service which could prevent the loss of life?” he asked. “Surely,” he continued, “there is no price which you could put on a service which saves lives.
“The fire service is one of the most essential services there is, because it is dedicated to service: dedicated to the preservation of life and property.”
Proud Record
Bailie Fox said that in Lanarkshire they had a record of which they could be proud indeed. It had been a struggle since 1947 to get all the fire services on to the level they were at today. The ceremony that afternoon was only a stepping stone towards the completion of an ideal to provide a great fire service to the people. A fire service could not operate successfully if it did not have the co-operation of the people it had to deal with, and the county service had been fortunate in its dealings with the Scottish Home Department.
In a short and witty reply, Mr A.S.Nixon of that Department said he thought the committee would have taken the opportunity to prepare some sign or placard for the wall of the fire station recording their “undying appreciation of the attitude taken by the Scottish Home Department”!
The new station was a very fine one indeed, and he thought the committee, the firemaster, and the architect would view it with a certain amount of pride.
The toast of “The Builders” was proposed by Mr W. Lockhart Hutron, the architect, and replied to by Mr. J. T. Robertson. A vote of thanks was proposed by County Councillor J. Aiton, vice chairman of the Fire Brigade Committee.
Mrs Nisbet presented the prizes won at the annual competition and sports.
The New Building
The complete scheme as planned for a central fire station envisages central administrative and training facilities, maintenance workshop and stores, as well as an operational station serving the Hamilton area and providing accommodation for the larger and specialised fire fighting equipment which can be sent to the assistance of any other section of the brigade in any part of the county.
Fire Station.
Behind the main building facing Bothwell Road, there will be a training quadrangle with ground for stores buildings, maintenance workshops capable of dealing with minor and major repairs of the brigade’s fleet of vehicles and appliances, special training facilities, and a hose tower.
The main building will comprise a six bay appliance room flanked on one side by operational quarters, and on the other by the central administrative buildings, while over the appliance room will be situated the indoor training accommodation.
The portion of the building now completed represents a three bay appliance room with the operational facilities necessary to serve the needs of a local station.
The accommodation on the ground floor consists of the appliance room, a muster bay on which the firemen converge from this floor and by means of the poles from the upper floor immediately the “bells go down”, a changing room and a drying room where returning crews may change and dry their clothing, a wash room with shower baths, and a mess room and kitchen facilities. Adjoining the appliance room is the watch room, the nerve centre of the station, containing a comprehensive switch board where all messages are received and from where instructions can be issued immediately by means of alarm bells and signals.
On the upper floor is the duty crew accommodation, consisting of locker rooms, wash room, dormitories, duty officer’s room, and the necessary stores. From each of the upper floors there is a “pole drop” to the muster bay. There are also two small rooms , a quiet room, and a recreation room.
Externally the building is faced with the mellow coloured brick imported from Lancashire, while the appliance bay is faced with synthetic stone blocks produced locally. Internally the finishings are simple and are provided primarily to give surfaces which will be easily maintained and will stand up to the hard wear to be expected where everything is done “at the double.” The rooms are painted in light, attractive colours.
Hamilton Fire station was officially re-opened on the 9th March,1993 after major refurbishment (Phase 3).



Crichton’s shoes have been an established business in Hamilton since the store first opened in 1952 and it has been selling quality footwear ever since. The store over the past 65 years has saw off competition from the big named shops and is still a thriving business in the town.

Clifford CrightonWMMay Crichton was the person who opened the shop in 1952 and it has been kept in the family passing down to son & grandson. The family come from Cambuslang however most of their lives were spent in Hamilton. When May eventually retired, the business was passed down to her son Clifford Brain and he was already an established and well-known business man in Hamilton, he lived in the town with his wife Isabel and two sons Alistair & Gordon.


Crichton’s are integrated into the Hamilton community and they like to do their wee bit for people in the town and they have a tradition that not many people know about.

Mrs HoldenWM


The family have been serving Tea & Coffee to a group of men from the British Legion for over 25 years. This started off to be quite a gathering but, over time, the group sadly has gotten smaller. This has been important to the men who are still able to attend. They have a meeting on the Saturday before Armistice Day before they off for their Parade. Crichton’s have fully supported this, and it is a special day for the shop as well as for the men.

Alistair Brian WM2


One display at Crichton’s that many people will remember is the old rocking horse. The rocking horse was a significant part of the shop and many kids used to come in and have a play on it, sadly the shop’s owners have no surviving pictures, so if any of you can help us out, then let us know?

Crichtons WM.

Niki Donnelly, who works at Crichton’s has kindly sent in some old pictures of former staff members, you may see some old faces from the past.


So, are you looking for some new shoes? Why not come to Hamilton next week and come into the shop and have a wee look around!


The current owner is called Gordon and he is the grandson of May Crichton. This family business which has served Hamilton for the past 65 years has many repeat customers, and why? Well it’s because when you walk into the shop, you will get some good old-fashioned customer service that the big shops don’t have anymore.