Fire at Clyde Colliery.

PIT FIRE AT HAMILTON. ONE LIFE LOST; SIX MEN RESCUED (May 1905)

Great excitement was created in Hamilton last evening that the news that fire had been discovered in No. 2 pit, Clyde Colliery, belonging to Wilsons Clyde, Ltd. The fire had originated in the haulage engine-room at the bottom of the shaft in the main coal seam.

Fifteen men were engaged on the back shift in Nos. 2 and 3 pits. The fire was first discovered by the men working in No. 3 pit, through which a current of air, after passing through No. 2 pit, finds its way to upcast shaft. A number of the men speedily came to the surface, but it was found that seven were entombed in Pyotshaw and main coal seams, their names being: David Gibson, Park Place; Peter McGuire, boy, Old Town, Hamilton; James McKillop and Alexander McKiliop, boy, Holyrood Street, Burnbank; Henry Nicol, jun., Holyrood Street; John Sharkie, brusher, Hamilton; Robert Dickson, brusher, Beckford Street, Hamilton.

A rescue party was organised, headed by Andrew Hepburn, manager, and James Boyd, oversman, and consisting of 25 men. They once descended the pit. About ten o’clock information reached the surface that they had succeeded in diverting the smoke into another air-course. A later hour word reached the surface that tho rescuers had been successful in bringing to the surface six of the men entombed, the sole victim being James McKillop. When the fire broke out of the men were as far as half a mile into the workings. Their escape was completely cut off by smoke. Luckily one of their number, who had all his life worked in the pit, and was acquainted with its workings, gathered the men together, and led them to an air shaft about 800 yards from the pit bottom. Here they remained in comparative safety, and here they were found by the rescuers.

Unfortunately, the boy McKillop was noticed by his elder brother, James McKillop, to collapse, and this appears to have upset him that he fell down the air shaft, a distance of some 72 feet. Of the six rescued, Dixon and made their way to the surface unassisted, and the others were brought the shaft wrapped in blankets and conveyed their homes in cabs. Their condition is favourably reported on by the doctors.

The body of James McKillop was afterwards found at the bottom of the ventilating shaft, and brought the surface up No. 3 pit. The colliery  was one of the first to be opened 30 years ago in connection with the development of Hamilton coalfield, opened by Mr George Simpson, of Benbar fame. It afterwards came into the hands of the Wilsons & Clyde Coal Company, the head of which is John Wilson, M.P. lias been singularly free from accidents, anything approaching the present being a fire nearly fifteen years ago.

 

 

Burnbank

Burnbank has existed in one form or another since at least the late fifteenth century when a grant of lands was made to Sir John Hamilton of Newton. A further grant of lands to Sir John Hamilton of Zhisselberry (which is later recorded as Whistleberry) also included the lands in and around Burnbank. At this time the extent of the area accepted as Burnbank included the modern districts of Whitehill and Hillhouse and the area around Peacock Cross on the Burnbank Hamilton border. Burnbank today consists of Burnbank Centre, Limetree & Udston.

Predominantly rural, with a number of plantations (Whistleberry Plantation and Backmuir Plantation being most prominent) to feed the lace industry in Burnbank and Hamilton which had been sponsored since before 1778 by the then Duchess of Hamilton, Elizabeth Campbell, 1st Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon.

With the Industrial revolution, Burnbank lost its rural identity becoming a mining village and the population of Burnbank had grown so great by the 1870s that a committee of citizens decided to apply for the erection of a Burgh of Burnbank. At the same time residents of Burnbank’s western neighbour Blantyre re-acted by petitioning for the erection of a Burgh of Blantyre. Both cases came before the Sheriff Court  sitting at Glasgow. The Sheriff gave extra time for the petitioners for both causes to familiarise themselves with the arguments of their opponents and to respond in turn. The Provost and Burgess’s of the existing Burgh of Hamilton, alarmed at the prospect of one (or possibly both) petitions being successful and thus creating a heavily industrialised, modern and vibrant western rival in turn petitioned the parliament of the United Kingdom giving rise to the Burgh of Hamilton Act 1878.By this Act Burnbank was absorbed into Hamilton – ending its own burghal aspirations.

Prior to the nineteenth century agriculture and lace making were important local industries. Burnbank was home to a number of coalmines or pits. Miner’s cottages or “pit rows” were erected by mine owners to house their employees. Many of these were built by local builder Sir Robert McAlpine, 1st Baronet, early in his career and the foundation of his later wealth.

The Udston Mining disaster occurred in Hamilton, Scotland on Saturday, 28 May 1887 when 73 miners died in a firedamp explosion at Udston Colliery. Caused, it is thought, by unauthorised shot firing the explosion is said to be Scotland’s second worst coal mining disaster. Keir Hardie then Secretary of the Scottish Miners’ Federation, denounced the deaths as murder a few days later.

In August 1918 a fire at Albany Buildings (an apartment block owned by the mining company John Watson Ltd) burned to the ground causing £10,000 of damage and leaving 24 families homeless.

In September 1919 strike action in the Lanarkshire coal fields led to the closure of the Greenfield Colliery.

In May 1932 300 men at John Watson’s Earnock Colliery in Burnbank were thrown out of work because of “bad trace.”

In January 1935 Greenfield Colliery, Burnbank, became the last pit in Hamilton to shut permanently. Earnock Colliery also in Burnbank but out-with Hamilton’s boundaries continued working.

During the Second World War Burnbank suffered at least one attack by the Luftwaffe when a bomb was dropped on tenements (known locally as Sing-Sing) near the railway works on the Whitehill Road. In addition to mining a number of other medium-sized industrial concerns have operated within Burnbank including the Stevenson Carpet Factory, Burnbank, at which Jock Stein had his first job in 1935. This is recorded in the Hamilton Advertiser as opening a new factory worth £85,000 in 1958. MEA also operated a factory in the area for many years. A railway wagon cleaning works is located near Whitehill Road.

Two Fat Ladies.

 

Two fat ladies, ,

Kin ye remember years ago in Hamilton some uf the pubs wur bloody manky?
Ye walked in the bar slid awe ower n’ then ye got served by the widow twanky,,
They wur the real auld “spit n’ sawdust, oh aye “whit dae ye want light ur heavy”
Well ye see , back then ye wurnae spoilt fur choice, ur ye jist didnae git a bevvy”
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Then some guy’s got the gether, here’s a great idea, whit aboot a “social club”
Well that day changed everythin’ n’ fur hunners, it soon became the social hub”
They hid a games room, a separate bar, a lounge’ then a great big concert hall”
Music, a trio, comedians, perfict fur dancin’ n” up a hight a big magic”glitterball”
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The Greenfield” wis magic, a resident group, n’ ma auld teacher wis the organist”
They hid somethin’ fur everywan, it wi great sittin in comfort while gittin pissed”
“Can ye hear me in the lounge Andy” well, that always caused a big stampede ”
” Bingo in the concert room” ye see fur awe the women it’s a big o’ game speed ”
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The wimen wur it the ready, wae thir dabbers, a hunner poun fur a full hoose”
Ye could hear a pin drop, the wans thit spoke ower the turn, quiet as a moose ”
The wimen always hid book uf six, cause tae play they hid tae know the lingo”
Eyes doon look in, jist ye ask any woman, thil say it’s a serious game this bingo”
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Ye know thir great places the clubs, thiv got somethin oan nearly every night,,
A kin remember ma mates sayin” where ye bin, n’ cawin me worse thin shite”
Somebody seen ye on Tuesday, gawn past “sing sing” wae wee whitehill Annie”
C’mon spill the beans, “awrite I’ll hivtae admit it “A lumbered it grab a grannie “”

(Well the aulder the fiddle the better the tune)

Burnbank House

burnbank-house

Burnbank House was one of the first grand houses to be built in Burnbank and through time, it had many influential people who owned or lived at the house. The land the building sat on is now used as a public park, situated between Whitehill Road & Burnbank Road. An old wall can still be seen from Yews Crescent that I believe was part of the original boundary wall surrounding the lands at Burnbank House. To put things in to perspective, Burnbank House was situated in the garden behind the flats across from the BP petrol station on Burnbank Road.

burnbank-house1
Satellite overlay of the 1896 map of Hamilton.

Burnbank House was documented as being a superior dwelling house with extensive gardens attached and it was built around c 1715 and it’s first documented owner was a man called McMath. There is very little information on McMath but he was the owner from 1718 to 1744, where it was later owned by a Robert Hamilton and then being sold jointly to John Dewar an Edinburgh tobacconist & the Rev James Hamilton who was the minister at Paisley, where Burnbank House was noted as being a  “Summer House” out in the country.

 

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John Aiton Horse Tax 1785.

John Dewar sold the house to Bailie, John Aiton of Burnbank on the 20 May 1773 and he owned the house up until his death in 1788. Colonel David Muirhead of the honourable East India Service then bought the house on the 10th of April 1789, however his time at the house was short lived as he died in 1791. His trustees sold the house in 1801 to a wine merchant from Hamilton called Charles Gordon and yet again the house was only shortly owned by Charles for four years, as he in turn sold the estate to Charles Campbell in 1805, Charles was a Glasgow Silk Merchant.

A series of occupants lived at Burnbank House, as Charles Campbell rented it out; Charles would have been probably living at his main house in Glasgow.  The people who rented the house were:  Captain Moodie, Captain Brown a Mrs Campbell (probably Charles’s wife) and a surgeon called William Weir. On the 5th March 1832, during the time when Captain John Brown Esq was living at Burnbank House, his youngest daughter Elizabeth was married there by the Rev William Buchanan, minister of Hamilton to Lawrence Brown Esq of Edmonstone. This must have been a beautiful place to be married within the grounds of Burnbank House along with the stunning gardens and vast open countryside surrounding the house.

The house was finally sold (apart from 4 Acres) to Patrick Stevenson who was another Glasgow Merchant, it looks like the sale of the house is now being kept in the Glasgow Merchant clique. The 4 Acres that were sold off separately, was acquired by a William Nelson, who was a spirit merchant in Hamilton, who seems to have gone bankrupt. The Stevenson’s, Jamiesons and even Peter W Dixon and D.R Robertson, men with great wealth and high respect also had an interest in the land until it was bought by the Glasgow merchant and banker Lewis Potter in October 1859. It was this man’s enterprise more than anything else that was to transform Burnbank and its neighbours – Greenfield and Udston into a thriving community which in its boom years reached some sixteen thousand people.

lewis-potter
Lewis Potter 1807-1881.

Lewis potter at the time was living over at Udston House, not far from Burnbank House. When he bought his new property he had a tenant already living there – Sheriff Veitch, who lived there from 1837 right up to 1861. The house seems to have been sold again c 1874 when Robert Lalston is registered as the owner and he rented it to Major George Hamilton who lived here until 1882. The last tenant to live at Burnbank House was William Clarkson who was living there in 1920, by this time the house was divided and it was agreed that demolition was was to go ahead. Burnbank House was demolished in the 1930s.

 

 

 

burnbank-house3
Burnbank House was situated in the gardens behind the Flats at Burnbank Road.
burnbank-house4
The former Gardens at of Burnbank House.

Prior to its demolition it seems to have been used as a Hostel, I am unsure if this was official or if the house was inhabited by squatters. By this time, the London, Midland & Scottish railway (L.M.&S) seem to have now acquired the house and surrounding land and the Hamilton Burgh are now wanting to buy the land from L.M&S, to build houses. The Hamilton Burgh buy the ground, extending to 2,292 acres, including Burnbank House, but excluding the Smithy at the corner of Whitehill Road & Burnbank Road, for the sum of £2,000 with certain conditions  as to upkeep of fencing etc. The Hamilton Burgh later built flats on Whitehill Road, which were later known locally as Sing Sing.

I would like to thank the staff at the Hamilton Reference Library for helping me find the information on Burnbank House, as there isn’t much on line that can be found on this once beautiful grand and historic building. Some of the notes were also written by the late William Wallace who was one of Hamilton’s finest historians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holyrood Street Development 1963.

HollyroodStreet.1.5

The brand new Holyrood Street in Burnbank, this picture was taken on 7/5/63.

In the picture is the shiny new block of flats that were just built. I love the fact that there are only two cars in the street and the m.e.a factory to the right of the picture has is still got it’s fence around it and you can also see the Greenfield Bing behind the flats.

Were you one of the first residents to live at Holyrood Street?
Let us know and share your pictures.

THE BING,

THE BING

A daud ‘o coal hewed oot the the groun
disna weigh a lot yet helped to make a toon.
Doon and doon the miner, further doon wis he
to hew that coal the miner wis doon upon his knee.

Maister in his parlour room, selling aff the coal
nae thoucht to the miner there struggling doon the hole.
They fancy palaces built yet miners ne’er laid a brick
struggling wi damp and gas an only got the s**t.

The holes jist got deeper the Bings higher rose
nae thoucht to hooses above as deeper doon shaft goes.
Bings arny a bony sicht wi slag an dirt anaw
hooses scattered roon aboot aye suffer from the blaw.

Wains skitter roon the toon an bings ur playgruns tae
mithers seeking oot the kids cry up the bing the day!
Wi gum and slag and coal in bags an slidin doon in trays
fitbaw wis the drug ‘o men the bing the wains richt craze.

We playd in slag an dirt aw day t’licht was stole awa
then in the street licht end the day playn at fitbaw.
Miners didnae aw git hame the bing did no come cheap
we didna know that some ‘o them sleep b’neath oor feet.

The above poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Kit Duddy

Frank Brogan

Frank Brogan.
Frank Brogan.

From time to time we like to write about people from Hamilton who have been long standing residents of the town. Frank Brogan has lived in Burnbank all of his days and he still lives at his family home in Hill Street where he has stayed from the age of 6.

He is the son of James Brogan & Annie Smith and Franks dad James who was born in Burnbank in 1890 was a professional footballer who played for Bristol Rovers prior to the first world war. James Brogan joined Rovers in 1910, having previously been playing football in Glasgow. He made 106 Southern League appearances at inside forward and scored 24 goals prior to the outbreak of war, and was Rovers’ top goalscorer in the 1912-13 season with eleven goals.

JamesAnnieSmith.1.5
James & Annie Smith with Franks Brother James and sister Alice.

 

Frank moved to Hill Street with his parents when the houses were first built in 1936 and he went to St. Cuthberts primary school and later went to Holy Cross. When he left school in 1944 he got his first job helping to build Philip’s factory on Wellhall Road, he later moved on to Graces tomato houses in East Kilbride. The next job that Frank did was working over in Rutherglen where hurt his back, after this Frank retired due to his back injury.

When frank was a wee boy his father James was friends with Walter McGowans father Jo Gans and Frank himself was also pally with Jimmy Johnstone. As kids, Frank & Jimmy played football in the back garden for the Hill Street home and Jimmy Johnstone even had dinner at Franks house.

Hill Street Garden.
The back garden of Franks home where Jimmy Johnstone played football.

Frank was the president of Blantyre Celtic, he joined around 1945 and was the first club president, he later went on to do physio at the club. The club later became the Blantyre Vics.

We would like to thank Frank for telling us about his life growing up in Burnbank and for sharing his old family photos.

FrankatHillStreet.1.5
A young Frank at his house in Hill Street with his dad sitting on the step.