Betting has been a popular pastime with many Hamiltonian’s and before the days of bookmakers shops, the ‘Pitch ‘n’ Toss was carried out behind shops, parks & disused land. However, in 1954 the men started to move away from gambling in the open air and the illegal bookmakers were cashing in on a lucrative business which had now become a more organised trade!

On the 3rd of 1954, three men were at court after being caught operating one of Hamilton’s most popular betting premises. John Nallen from Eddlewood was the proprietor of the shop at 5 Cadzow Lane which he had been using as a betting house.

His two accomplices were called John McMenemy of Low Waters Road & Thomas McGilvray of Tuphall Road, both admitted giving assistance in the conduct of betting arrangements on the premises.

This betting establishment was so popular amongst the local men that not only did the three bookies get caught, there was an astonishing 42 other people caught in the shop, all eagerly trying get a win from the popular race which was taking place that day. The police seized more than £16 and a number of betting slips.

The fiscal explained that the police had suspected for some time that the premises were being used for a betting house and when they raided it they found the 45 people inside. The police seized a total of £16 14s & 9d as well as the quantity of betting material.

The provost Mrs. Mary s. Ewart imposed a fine of £10, or 60 day’s imprisonment on John Nallen, which at the time was quite substantial while John McMenemy & Thomas McGilvray were each fined £5 or 30 days in jail.

Thirteen of the punters, who had admitted previous convictions for gambling were each fined £1, while the remaining 29 were each fined 10s. The rest of the money found on the premises was fortified.

It seemed that the judge wanted to make an example of the tree men in 1954 and by then the illegal gambling shops were not uncommon anywhere in Scotland let a lone Hamilton and every town had them. In fact it was so popular amongst people that gambling was made legal in the UK in 1960.


On Saturday the 18th May 1935 there was great alarm among the tenants in High Blantyre Road & Rodger Street in a congested part of Burnbank just up from the Cross, where a fire had broken out at the property of 1 Rodger Street.

The outbreak was discovered by a pedestrian, who saw smoke issuing from a house occupied by a man named James Baird Jnr. A contingent of the Lanarkshire Fire Brigade was speedily on the scene, but the firemen were handicapped by the lack of a nearby water supply.

The fire got a firm hold, and the houses belonging to Mr James Dunsmuir and ex-Parish councilor Baird, father of the occupier of the other house, where badly affected.

Before the flames were subdued extensive damage had been done to the Bairds house, while the other houses were on the ground floor and adjoining were badly damaged by smoke and water.

Rodger Street was a continuation that was directly across the road from Purdie Street in Burnbank and the location is where the Ann Court flats are now built.  At the time of the fire in 1935 the street was just up from the bustling Burnbank Cross and the old tenements were knocked down at some point after 1953 and probably to make way for the new flats. In 1935 there were two tenements and a house in the street number 1, 3 & 5 and at the end of the small street, there was a playground with a little hall.

James Baird Jr was a coal miner and after the fire he continued to live on at Rodger Street. I found no records of what became of him after the fire and if any of his descendants are reading this post, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.