Image result for Old Butchers Shop
Four prosecutions against Hamilton shopkeepers, at the instance of John Millar, who was the inspector for the burgh of shops act were disposed of in the Hamilton Sheriff court on Tuesday the 24th of February 1915.
Two were for keeping the premises open for the transaction of business after seven o’clock at, night, and two were for being open on Christmas Day after one o’clock in the afternoon. The prosecutions were conducted by Walter Henderson. Deputy Town Clerk.
The first case called was that of John Woods who charged with keeping his shop at 216 Low-waters open after seven on, Friday, January 19th contrary to the Butchers and Fleshers Closing Order.
He pleaded guilty, and Mr Donald C Orr, Writer explained that the case was a very narrow one. While the woman in the shop had been served 10 minutes after 7 o’ clock, she had actually entered the shop before the closing hour.
The Sheriff asked if a shopkeeper was not entitled to serve a customer who entered his shop before the time of closing. Mr Henderson replied in the affirmative but added that what Mr Orr stated was not his information.
The customer had entered the shop 7.12, and when a constable, who had followed, asked the shopkeeper if he knew what tame was. He had replied a quarter past seven. Henderson added that there had been some trouble in the district because two or three shopkeepers were keeping open after hours.
The Closing Order had been obtained at the direct request of the butchers themselves, and it was rather an expensive business issuing such Order. Sheriff Shennan remarking it was unfair to the other shopkeepers remain open after hours, imposed fine of £1, with the option of five day’s imprisonment.
William Andrews, another butcher of 226 Low-waters, pleaded guilty to a similar offence the same date. Mr Orr having been heard on behalf of the respondent had the same penalty of £1 or five days imprisonment was imposed.
James Marshall of 599 Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow, who was the manager to William Marshall & Co, boot makers in Quarry Street, Hamilton, was charged with keeping open on Christmas Day after one o’clock, contrary the Shops Act and the Burgh of Hamilton Non-Exempted Shops Order.
Mr J. Edmonds, writer. Hamilton, tendering a plea of guilty for respondent, stated that he was a manager for a firm which had shops in many towns including Hamilton. The weekly half-holiday was Wednesday, but at Christmas week the respondent had overlooked the fact that Hamilton was an exception for that week, having decided to open on Christmas Day.
Margaret Boyd or Orr admitted to having her shop premises 142 Low-waters open after one o’clock Christmas day. Mr Ritchie, a writer, explained that while respondent should have been closed at the libelled for the sale of toys and knick-knacks, she had the right remain open for the sale of aerated waters, papers, and confections.
She was in the act of selling a sixpenny doll to a girl when an officer entered, and, on pointing out her mistake, she once took back the doll and gave the girl back her money.
The Sheriff (with a smile) stated the respondent was entitled to be two-thirds open. Mr Ritchie even more; I think she had a seven-eighths opening. (Laughter in the court). The Prosecutor admitted that this was not a flagrant case, but still the respondent had not the Closing Order notice exhibited in her shop. A modified fine of 6s was imposed.


Jimmy Hamilton

Jimmy Hamilton needs no introduction on here and people have many fond memories of him. He was very much a part of Hamilton and he was fully integrated into our community.
There is not much that I can tell you about him that you don’t already know, but I will tell you what I do know and hopefully I can keep his memory alive.
Jimmy Hamilton had a few nicknames, the better-known one was ‘Steak Pie’ Jimmy and the other ones were safety pin & Castor Oil, the latter name which he absolutely hated.
He was known as Steak Pie Jimmy because of the many funerals which he attended in Hamilton, people said that he only attended funerals because he enjoyed the food at them, but this was not the case! In fact, Jimmy was a real “People Person” and he loved nothing more than to go out in the town and socialise with people and there was no better place to mingle with old friends and acquaintances, but a funeral.
He was such a character, that he even brought his own knife and fork, which he carried in his coat pocket. He was also invited to weddings and parties because he was such good fun to be around.
It wasn’t uncommon for people from opposite ends of Hamilton to say I bumped into wee Jimmy the day! Jimmy seemed to be everywhere on a daily basis and sometimes he could have been reported sitting drinking tea at lots of cafes in the town within hours of each other.
He often went to the Salvation Army and he came to many cafes in Hamilton, where he would put his hand in his pocket and pull out a hand full of coppers to pay for his fags and tea, however, Jimmy’s coppers were often refused, and he was given his tea and fags for free.
When he left the cafes, he would go to the Corals the Bookies to have a blether with the staff and when he had been out and about he loved a game of Dominos at the pubs, he couldn’t read or understand the numbers, but he loved the company. In Jimmy’s world, he was descended from the Dukes of Hamilton, but he was the Black sheep of the family and the Duke never spoke to him.
He was loved by many people in the town and nowadays I can’t think of anyone who comes close to this Hamilton character. So, let’s keep wee Steak Pie Jimmy’s memory alive and tell us your stories of Jimmy Hamilton.

The O’Donnell family from Donegal.

The O’Donnell family from Donegal.
We were contacted by Ron Currie from Stirling who is currently researching his family tree on his great, great grandfather side and his 2 x great grandfather was called James O’Donnell. Ron was curious as he never knew about his Hamilton Connections and he asked us where Leechlee Street was in Hamilton.
Leechlee Street 1895.1
Hi Ron, so to answer your question about Leechlee Street. Leechlee Street was a street with roughly 21 tenements on it and it was constructed before 1855 and was still known as Leechlee Street after 1958. It was presumably demolished when the new Gateway shopping centre was under construction in the 1970s. As I don’t have the exact date, perhaps some of my readers can confirm this? After the tenements were demolished, the street was renamed Leechlee Road, so this should give you an indication of where the Street was.
Leechlee Road.1
Downie Street is situated in the Low Waters area of Hamilton. When your Great Grand Uncle lived there it was just a small street with around three tenements. It was constructed between 1895 & 1905 and named after its builder who was called Robert Downie. Robert Downie was a Stone Mason Contractor and he lived around the corner at number 8 Selkirk Street.
Downie STreet.1
There are many branches of O’Donnell’s living in Hamilton I have O’Donnell’s in my family tree and most of them were coal miners and at the moment I can’t see a connection with our families. Ron, I see from your 2 x Great Grandfather’s death certificate which you sent me, that he was a shoemaker, and this was the family tradition, as your 3 x Great grandfather was also a shoemaker too.
I looked at the 1891 census of Hamilton and James was living at 226 Quarry Street with his family. The family immigrated from Ireland between 1882 & 1885, this information comes from the birth of your great-grandfather in Ireland and your great uncle James who was born at Hamilton in 1885.
I already had a copy of your great uncle James’s birth certificate and Interestingly, when your great uncle James was born, your 2 x great grandfathers occupation was recorded as a coal miner. Perhaps this was just a stop-gap until he set up his new business in Hamilton as a Shoe Maker?
James O'Donnell1.
Ron, the birth certificate of your great uncle James also tells us that your 2 x great grandparents were married at Donegal in Ireland! My own family connection to the O’Donnell’s also come from Donegal in Ireland, so it is a possibility that your 2 x Great grandfather is a relation to the ones in my family tree.
My family line are not direct descendants of the O’Donnell’s, but the people in my tree are descendants of Richard O’Donnell & Alice Muirhead. Do these names mean anything to you?
If any of our readers who have researched their family tree and are descendants of James O’Donnell and Mary Brogan, then please make yourself known and say hi to your cousin Ron Currie from Stirling.
Ron, I hope that this has shed a wee bit of light and given you some insight into where your family lived when they were in Hamilton. Thank you for contacting Historic Hamilton, we have now taken note of this family line and we have documented it and please let us know if you have any other connections to our Town.

The Letter,

The Letter,,,

A fell ower it school n’ hurt ma hawn, the wee nurse jist gave is a letter,,,,
It said away ye go hame n’ show yir maw,, n’ am sure she’ll kiss it better,,
Mammy, daddy, mammy, daddy, ave skint ma knee,, greetin’ it the door,,
Ma maw fixed it, bit said awe Hughie yir a big boy noo, yir twinty four,,,
A don’t care, a know am merrit noo, bit I’ll always come here whin a faw,,
Cause awe us boys know, whin yir hurtin’ naebdae, sorts it like yir “”maw,,,
Efter awe these years a never ever forgote aboot that wee nurses letter,,
Bit, maw, whin ye left me it broke ma hert’ n’ naebdae tae kiss it better,,,

(HAPPY mothers day tae all,,,)
Written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Hainey.

Hamilton’s Sons and Daughters .

Hamilton’s Sons and Daughters

Written for Historic Hamilton by Kit Duddy.

Hamilton’s sons and daughters
settled within it’s nest, take stock
of what surrounds you this is your
lifelong test.

Milestones are carved, deep in
your subconscious there, but monuments to your past will
die while you sit upon
your chair.

Progress is always marching
sometimes it’s not in step,
demolishing our buildings
which in truth we should
have kept.

One way streets are like merry
go rounds when our planners
have their day, I’m sure it’s
just their children designed
it while at play.

If we are to lose our history
then why can’t the world be
told, this is Hamilton Town
our new buildings must be

Changes are our future as
they were in times gone bye,
why can’t we have a Hamilton
whose beauty makes you sigh.

Kit Duddy.


Old Avon Mill WM.


On the banks of the River Avon, up until the mid-1990s, there once stood a Mill on the side of Avon Water, between Old Avon Bridge and Avon Bridge. The Mill originally was a 17th-century building and when it was in full operation it was used for grinding oats, peas, barley and wheat and it was the property of the Duke of Hamilton.
There were several houses, including the Miller’s dwelling, a lodge of the “High Parks” of Hamilton and some colliers’ dwellings, which bear the name of the Mill.


The site on where the Mill stood was said to have had a building there since 1627, or earlier. Throughout the 19th century, it was run by the Fleming family who were a family of Miller’s and cattlemen.

The mill was once accessed from the Old Avon Bridge until in 1816, parliament commissioned the great engineer Thomas Telford, to design the New Avon Bridge which connected the Glasgow to Carlisle Highway. The bridge was built under the supervision of a Hamilton Mason called King. It is said, Thomas Telford’s (who was also the designer of the Caledonian Canal) bridges always looked better from beneath than above. Avon Bridge was no exception and when constructed, it came with a Toll House attached to the bridge.

Telford Bridge WM.

The New Avon Bridge was completed in 1825 and was immediately put to the test when the massive pillars for the Hamilton Palace were transported across it.

I found the first record of Alexander Fleming in 1841 and he was living at Avon Mill with his wife Marion. Marion was recorded as the ‘Mistress’ of Alexander and this is not to be confused with today’s meaning! In 1841 a ‘Mistress’ was the term given to a woman of higher social status, whether married or not.

Alexander was originally from Carmunnock and he married Marion Young at East Kilbride on the 27th of May 1821. In 1841 the family were living at Avon Mill along with a William Fleming, who could have been Alexander’s brother and they had 7 children, Marian, James, Stephen, Alexander, John, David & William. In 1841 Avon Mill seems to be making a good profit as Alexander was paying an annual rent of £120 to the Duke of Hamilton.

In 1851, the family are still happily living at the Mill with their children and they also had 3 servants living here with them who were Marion Carslaw, James Wilson & Gavin France.

Alexander continued to run the Mill to at least 1861 where he takes up a new lease at Raith Farm on the Hamilton Estates. He takes his son also called Alexander to work with him and his son David takes over the tenancy of Avon Mill and we first see him recorded in the 1871 Census as the tenant.

Old Picture of Avon Mill.

Alexander’s time at Raith farm was short as he dies here on the 10th of March 1866. His son Alexander Jr takes over the lease of Raith Farm where he lives until his death on the 13th of June 1912.


Alexander’s wife Marion also moves away from Raith Farm and she is next recorded on the 1871 Census where I found her living with her Daughter Marion at Crookedstone Farm in Hamilton. Marion’s daughter marries a man named John Torrance, who was the farmer of 100 Acres. Marion dies at Crookedstone Farm on the 29th of March 1891.

Marion Young Death.

David Fleming continues to run Avon Mill until 1915 where the Mill changes hands and David’s son Robert becomes the new Master Miller. Robert is the third generation of the Fleming family to work this mill. The family have been fully integrated into the Hamilton community for the past 70+ years.

Life seems to be quiet living on the banks of the Avon, but on Saturday the 12th of October 1895, a fire break’s out at the Mill. It happened around midnight when a stack containing thirty-four tons of straw caught alight. The stack was standing not far from the Mill and it belonged to Mr Thomas Wilson a grain dealer. On that night the wind was high, and the flames soon spread to John Torrance’s stack. (John Torrance being the brother in law of David Fleming)

The fire engine from Hamilton was sent for and luckily the wind blowing in the other direction prevented the rest of the haystacks and the Mill from catching alight. The fire burned until 4 o’ clock on the Sunday morning and it consumed both stacks. The damage done amounted to £120, and it was covered by the insurance.

Avon Mill Pic..WMjpg

David Fleming died at Avon Mill on the on the 2nd of March 1911 and an obituary was written in the Scotsman. It read: The Late Mr David Fleming of Avon Mill who died at his residence was one of the oldest and best-known agriculturists in Lanarkshire. He was in his seventy-seventh year, and when a boy went to Hamilton with his father from East Kilbride. About 1860 his father took a lease of Raith Farm on the Hamilton Estate, and David was given Avon Mill where he remained up to the end. A noted breeder of prize taker of Ayrshire Cattle shows in the county and not infrequently he acted as judge of Ayrshire stock.

So, the family tradition continues at Avon Mill and now the 4th generation of Fleming’s are working the Mill. Brothers David & Robert Fleming are now joint owners. Between 1915 and 1920, they form a partnership (D&R Fleming) and thy buy Avon Mill from the Duke of Hamilton. They are overseeing the day to day duties and running the mill as their own business.

Around 1920, the Duke of Hamilton is starting to sell off his assets, the Palace is subsiding, and he is about to turn his back on Hamilton, so perhaps the Fleming brothers got a good price for Avon Mill.

Old Avon Mill - Old HamiltonWM.

Robert Fleming eventually moved from Avon Mill to “The Bungalows” which was adjacent to the Mill. He died at his house on 7th of August 1948, he was 69 years old. His brother David was the person who registered his death.

“Robert Fleming who had a lifelong connection with the Mill was well known among the farming community, in the west of Scotland. He was a widower and 69 years of age. An office-bearer in St. Johns church, Hamilton he had a lifelong connection with the congregation. He was predeceased by his wife some years ago”.

What became of David Fleming is unknown. After Roberts death, the trail goes cold and I can’t find what happened to the Family. I would like to think that there are still descendants of the Flemings living in Hamilton, perhaps if any of our readers know of any family members who worked at Avon Mill then you can let us know.

Old Avon Mill RuinWM.

The Avon Mill survived over three centuries, only to be destroyed by fire in 1963. After the fire destroyed the Mill it sat as a ruin on the banks of the River Avon and it was a beautiful ruin that looked almost ornamental.

Avon Mill6

In September 1985 a Hamilton Businessman had plans to build a £1 Million hotel complex at the old Avon Mill and Toll House. Mr Oreste Pisano applied for planning permission to turn the ruins of the old mill on the banks of the river Avon into a 30-bedroom split level hotel. He also applied to upgrade the derelict Toll House on Carlisle road into staff accommodation.

Avon Mill8

Mr Pisano in 1985 owned the Pinnochio Italian restaurant in Kemp Street and the Italian Connection furniture shop in Duke Street said that it would be a very big project that would create jobs not only in the building of the hotel but should also provide work for 30 people in the running of it.

The planning permission was refused and one of the reasons as to why was because of the Old Avon Bridge. The Old bridge prevented the building of the hotel nearby because no one could work out exactly who owned it, therefore putting a stop to the work.

Avon Mill5.jpg

Legend has it that the old Avon bridge – the first bridge beyond the mill – was built on the whim of a rich priest. Wanting to vote on a matter in town, he lost his chance because the river was too swollen to cross.
After much expenditure, the situation was rectified and our priest, with his own special crossing point, was secure of casting his vote for evermore.

Avon Mill1

The ruin was to become a listed building and it sat undisturbed since the flames went out in 1963. It was illegally demolished in the 1990s, possibly by Mr Pisano, however, I can’t confirm if this was him that instructed the bulldozers to knock down the Mill.

Avon Mill3
It was a criminal act and Hamilton was robbed of its historic Mill which had stood on this spot since 1627. The old connection to our past was taken from us and without our consent.

Avon Mill2

So, what has become of the land where the mill once stood? Well, there is a luxury house built on its site and yes, the old Toll House has been converted to a modern home. Did Mr Oreste Pisano finally get his wish? Or has someone taken his idea? Who knows!

Avon Mill9

In May 2015 I went down to the former site of the Old Avon Mill to see how the new house was coming along and I managed to get some pictures. There is little evidence of the Mill, with old a few parts lying around. The old wall which housed the water wheel is still there and apart from that, there is nothing else to indicate that this was a working Mill, which was home to generations of the same family, who were born, worked and died here.

Avon Mill10

Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton. © 2018