Earnock High School 1990.

Earnovk High Pupils WM. 1990.

In March 1990 A man who used to make his living out of danger came to Earnock High School to talk about safety.

Former Motorcycle stunt rider Dave Taylor MBE is pictured with some unknown pupils of Earnock when he came to do a lecture on road safety. This was part of a nationwide tour on behalf of the Institute of motorcycling.

Were you one of the pupils in the picture? If you were, then please let us know and put some names to faces.

The Poll Tax – 1990.

Poll Tax Campainers. 1990.
When the poll tax was forced on to the people of Scotland in 1989 it caused outrage amongst everyone, however, a group of people from Hamilton were not going to stand back and take this without a fight.
So, on Wednesday the 24th of January 1990 a group of around fifty demonstrators stormed the Sheriff’s offices premises in the towns Muir Street. The anti-tax campaigners occupied the sheriff officers’ premises and held up work for about two hours before leaving peacefully at the request of the police.
The demonstration was held on what the campaigners say was the eve of the first direct action to recover tax arrears in Hamilton district by the sheriff officers.
They hailed the action as a victory and a warning to the authorities that “we can mobilise large numbers of people to prevent poindings and warrant sales going ahead.” The action was organised by the Hamilton campaign for Non-Payment, the umbrella organisation for the area’s various anti-tax groups.
An organiser said at the time that they could call on up to 300 volunteers to act as a ‘Flying Squad’ to rush to the home of anyone threatened with a pinding – a valuation of household goods by sheriff officers as a prelude to a warrant sale and these volunteers would prevent the poinding going ahead by “Non-Violent means.”
During the siege at the Sheriff’s Office, the demonstrators took a unanimous vote to carry on the occupation of the building when at the point the manager of the office kindly asked them to leave. They informed the manager that they were not budging and wouldn’t move! Well, that was until they later agreed to leave when the local constabulary arrived. Their campaign spokesman said that their point had been made and that they intended from the start not to provoke arrests.
The protesters did, however, obtain a written guarantee that the sheriff officers would give prior notice to anyone about to undergo the poinding process. The demonstrators failed to exact a promise that a four-day spell of notice to be given which they claim, is the legal minimum.
Later a spokesman for the Sheriff Officers said that their work had been disrupted on the day of the invasion but that the demonstrators had acted peacefully and had not infected damage on the office.
Were you one of the poll tax demonstrators? We would love to hear your story. Tell us your memories of the Poll Tax and the events that followed after its introduction.

WORLD WAR 2 1939-1945.

WORLD WAR 2 1939-1945
Written by Wilma Bolton.

Despite the carnage of World War 1, the 1930’s brought war clouds gathering again over Europe and on the 3rd September, 1939, Britain once more declared war on Germany.

As the country mobilised for war, notices appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser informing the civilian population on issues such as gas masks, the blackout, evacuees, rationing and registering for National Service. The intimations page also underwent a change in content when the headings, Deaths on Active Service, Missing in Action and Prisoner of War were added.

May and June 1940 saw 338,226 troops rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk. Many Lanarkshire soldiers were killed or captured during this evacuation of the British Expeditionary Forces, or when fighting with the rear guard protecting the troops on the beaches. Among the soldiers being evacuated were Eddlewood brothers Owen and Charlie Lawless. Owen was killed in action. Charlie survived and fought throughout the duration of the war.

Two High Blantyre brothers, Robert and Jim McCulloch of Stonefield Crescent were also among the survivors. Unable to re-embark at Dunkirk the brothers who were in different units, both managed to reach Brest where they were picked up by one of the hundreds of vessels involved in the rescue. They were overjoyed when they met on board. Robert was lucky to be there, a wallet tucked into in his breast pocket had stopped a piece of shrapnel which undoubtedly would have killed him.

During the nights of the 13th-14th and 14th-15th March 1941, German bombers flew over Hamilton heading for Clydeside. The sky was lit up by searchlights and the town echoed with the noise from the local anti-aircraft guns firing at the planes, as they flew overhead. Aided by the light of a full moon, the bombers discharged a cargo of 105,300 incendiary bombs, bringing death and destruction to Clydebank.

Within two hours of the air raid starting, a large convoy of Hamilton first-aid ambulance and rescue vehicles, fire engines and mobile canteens left for the blazing town. Among the rescue teams were highly trained First Aid Party (F.A.P.) personnel including John Anderson, house factor; Andrew Adams, Portland Place; Gus Le Blonde, Scott Street; John Henderson, lorry driver, Portland Park; Paddy King winding engineman, Arden Road; Guy Lang, newsagent, Morgan Street; Johnny Logan, Alness Street and Bob Roxburgh, optician. It was to be four days before they returned home. Three men from the rescue teams were injured; Samuel Wright and Frank Bebbington received crushing injuries when bombed buildings collapsed on top of them and John Paul received a serious knee injury.

Blantyre also sent a substantial number of rescue personnel in a convoy of eighteen vehicles, nine of which were destroyed during the bombing. Among the rescue teams was Thomas Limerick a former miner and trained first aider from Bairds Rows. Two of the Blantyre rescue team were injured. Vincent McInerney suffered a compound fracture of his arm and David Paterson sustained serious back injuries.

On the 16th March, seven hundred Clydebank refugees arrived at Hamilton and were transported to sixteen previously earmarked rest centres at churches and halls throughout the town. Most of them had lost everything they owned and arrived with only the clothes they stood in.

Among the many families to take refugees into their homes were the McCrums of 54 Mill Road, Hamilton. Mrs Isabella McCrum had been helping with the refugees at Low Waters School where she worked as a cleaner. On returning home, she informed her husband Robert that all the refugees had been found accommodation with the exception of one family of five adults; a mother, three daughters and a son who did not want to be split up. Feeling sorry for them, they went to the school and brought the family back to their home. This family, the Langs, were to stay with the McCrums for the duration of the war. They were living in two bedrooms; one of them normally used by the McCrum girls who were hastily moved down into the living room to sleep. The other bedroom had been used by the four McCrum sons who were away fighting with the British army. One of them John; a Gordon Highlander fought at El Alamein and was wounded by shrapnel in Sicily but survived his injuries. George, a paratrooper also survived the war as did Robert, who fought with Wingate’s Chindits in Burma, but William, a Royal Scot, was killed fighting in Burma.

There were many local soldiers engaged fighting the grim battle against the Japanese in Burma. Another one was Cameronian, James Spiers one of three Earnock brothers, all of whom were regular soldiers fighting for their country. James was killed in Burma and has no known grave, Alexander, a Seaforth Highlander was captured at St Valerie while defending the soldiers being evacuated from Dunkirk. The third brother John, fought in Europe with the Cameronians. Both men rose through the ranks, Alex to become a Major and John a Captain.

Burnbank Blitz.WM

On May 5th a bomb fell on the railway sidings behind Whitehill Road, Burnbank. Luckily there were no casualties.

The country was stunned when on 24th May; H.M.S. Hood was sunk with the loss of 1,417 men. Three young Hamilton sailors, William Pennycook, John Mullen and John Kirkland were among the dead.

William PennycookWM.

In October,May Baillie a young Hamilton nurse, survived 8 days in an open raft after her ship was torpedoed 700 miles from land. She married two weeks after returning home.

Also in October, Lance-Corporal Jimmy Welsh, 6 Neilsland Drive, Meikle Earnock found himself in the thick of the fighting at El Alamein. During the bombardment he heard a sound which brought a lump to his throat. Rising and falling above the thunder of the guns he could hear the pipes of the gallant 51st Highland Division playing the soldiers into battle. The battle of El Alamein was won, resulting in the retreat of Rommel’s Afrika Korps and eventually the surrender of 250,000 German and Italian troops in North Africa.

By November the Government was calling on all “patriots” to give up disused articles of copper, pewter, zinc, lead, brass, bronze, aluminium to make munitions. Collection points were arranged and the people started clearing out their unwanted ferrous metal. The children of Russell Street, Hamilton helped, by having a door to door collection for scrap. Every piece of scrap paper was also collected and recycled.

All over Lanarkshire, people organised back door concerts, whist drives and other forms of entertainment to collect money for the war effort. Prisoners of war were not forgotten. Weekly lists appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser naming contributors to the Red Cross Prisoner of War Fund for food parcels and clothing.

Many local men were decorated for outstanding bravery and among them was Second Officer John Inglis of Burnbank who was awarded the George Medal in December 1942 for his courage when his ship was attacked by enemy aircraft.

1943 saw a turning point in the war and the country was now on the offensive instead of the defensive and winning major victories.

Sunday 26th October was designated “Battle of Britain” day and ceremonial parades and thanksgiving services were held all over the county. The same week saw the repatriation of 790 prisoners of war and civilian internees. Among the men repatriated were James Steel and Matthew McDonald from Burnbank and George Hall, Graham Avenue Eddlewood. Welcome home parties were held for all three men.

In February 1944 there was great excitement in Burnbank when Mrs Lily McGauchie proprietrix of a newsagents shop telephoned the police about a suspicious customer. It was just as well she did; he turned out to be an escaped German prisoner of war.

Among the mighty armada crossing the channel on D-Day June 6th were many of Lanarkshire’s sons. The Death on Active Service columns in the Hamilton Advertiser told of the high price of freedom being paid by local families. Among the dead were Earnock man Brian Cameron and Arthur Russell from Blantyre.

September saw the lights go on again after blackout restrictions were relaxed. This delighted the local children, many of whom had never seen the streets lights on.

In December the Home Guard held a “Stand Down” parade in Hamilton, three months later on May 7th 1945 the war in Europe ended and Hamilton celebrated with flags of all shapes and sizes flying from buildings and windows. Banners were thrown across streets, fairy lights were connected up and by nightfall the town was a mass of colour. Thousands of people danced in the streets and fires were lit on the top of Earnock and Neilsland bings.

At Larkhall there was cheering and singing around a bonfire at the “Old Cross,” after the official announcement that the war in Europe was over. Music was provided by Larkhall Home Guard Pipe Band and reels were danced at Charing Cross. In Blantyre the celebrations lasted three days, with bonfires, music and dancing.

The war with Japan continued for three months after V.E. Day but at midnight on August 15th, Larkhall folk were wakened by the sound of Trinity Church bells ringing out the news that the war with Japan was over. The bells were soon joined by hooters and sirens all loudly announcing the welcome news. By half past twelve bonfires were blazing all over town and spontaneous street parties were being held in Hamilton Road, Hareleeshill, Old Cross, Raploch Cross and Strutherhill.

Thirty minutes after the midnight announcement of the Japanese surrender, victory fires were lit all over Hamilton. The Old Cross was thronged with delighted citizens who danced eightsome reels to the music of pipers. Eventually most of the crowd made their way to the Council’s open air dance floor and danced the night away to the music of Tommy McLaren’s dance band.

In Blantyre’s Morris Crescent, there was a fireworks display using fireworks formerly employed in A.R.P. exercises. In High Blantyre, an effigy of the Japanese Emperor was burnt on one of the celebration bonfires after it was paraded throughout the village by children shouting “we want Togo” and all over the village, street parties were held to celebrate the end of the war.
Ⓒ Wilma S. Bolton. 2018.


A pencil of light hovered over the sky,
The moonlight revealed each passer-by,
Slowly the beam travelled westward, then
Clear-cut as crystal, compelling as youth,
Between two tall houses, then over the
Roaming the skies with a careless ease,
Touching as lightly as the wind on the
Who would have thought it was searching
for death!

Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 27/4/1940. Page 4.

Cochran Family Tree.


Cochran Family Tree.

Ian Cochran contacted Historic Hamilton as he was wanting to know more about his family history. Ian asked,

“My father was James (Alexander) Cochran he was a killer worked in slaughterhouse he came from Hamilton, my mother Annie (Reid) Cochran came from Hamilton as far as i remember she always said came from the Fore Rows also as far as i remember she worked as cleaner in Hamilton school we were a family of 11 i had 8 sisters 2 brothers.

My brothers were killers too, all my family uncles, father, cousins. grandfather all worked in slaughterhouse when people used to ask who i was and when said Cochran they used to say not the killer Cochran’s they were well known in Hamilton.

And going back i was told grandfather killed the first bull in Hamilton slaughterhouse he even at one time had to kill one of the white cattle from Chatelherault.

I never knew my grandparents they passed very early, also my father used to tell me my mother’s ancestors were related to the Grahams of Claverhouse and these were the ones who betrayed the Covenanters because when i was small if they ever had arguments my father used to call her an old traitor (jokingly). If there is anything else i can provide if i can …”

Ian, here’s what I found.
To start, I have to say that your ancestors in every generation came from a large family and therefore to fully research your family tree it would take many weeks and months to fully research each member, I would really suggest that you look in to genealogy and take this up as a hobby, it is really fun and when you uncover a new member of your family, there is usually a story behind it.

As you stated, your parents were indeed Hamiltonian’s born and bred in Hamilton and they were an integrated family within the community. The slaughterhouse in Hamilton employed many men and when they worked there it was usually a job for life. My great uncle Jimmy Brunton was also an example of this, where he worked there from a young age until his retirement.

Fore Row.

So, before I move on down through your family tree I will tell you where your parents lived. Your mum was born on the 4th of June 1906 at number 2 Fore Row, she was born at 10:30 AM and your grandfather James Reid signed her birth certificate. So, you are absolutely correct that there is a connection with Fore Row. When your mum lived on this street she would have been looking up at the creepy Muir Street cemetery where she may have even possibly played as a kid.

Your mum continued to live at 2 Fore Row right up until your she married your dad in 1924, so 2 Fore Row was indeed your mum’s family home and I have to mention around this time people moved around a lot, but this wasn’t the case with your grandparents, they seemed to like it here.

James Reid Death.

Your Grandfather on your mum’s side was born in Newarthill and this is where he lived with his parents in his younger years. He was tragically killed at the age of 41 where when at work he was run over by a train and he received a broken leg and arm and serious head injuries. This was indeed a very sad tragic accident.

A local newspaper covered his story and had given a brief account of what happened. But your grandfather’s death must have left a big empty hole within the family and left your gran a widow who had to bring up five kids on her own. It is unknown at this time if Ross colliery provided a pension for her.

James Cochran & Annie Reid Marraige 1924.WMpng

Staying with your mum’s side of the family, your great grandparents were called Alexander Reid & Ann Marie Thomson and they were from Holytown. They married on the 5th of June 1863 and your Great grandfather was a Railway Brakes Man and Alexanders parents, your 2 X Great Grandparents were called Robert Reid who was a Railway Gate Keeper and Mary Lambie. As I stated, if you would consider taking up family research as a hobby, you will indeed find out much more about your family, but as we are venturing away out of Hamilton I have stopped researching this line here, but there is much more to uncover.

So, your Cochran linage, this is a massive family to research and I have gone as far as I could, however, the Cochran’s were a really well-known family of Butchers who lived around the Renfrew and Paisley areas.

James Reid & Janet Howie Marriage.WM
Your father James Alexander Cochran was born in Hamilton on the 2nd of August 1903 at 10 Low Patrick Street, a street that no longer exists in Hamilton. At the moment I am unsure how long your father lived at Low Patrick Street, but I later find your family living at 11 Guthrie Street where they lived for roughly ten years. I next find your father living at 48 Chapel Street when this is the stated address on his marriage cert to your mum.

So, your parents married on the 6th of June 1924 at the manse on Union Street. The best man at the wedding was a man named John Faulds of 3 Postgate and Anne Martin of 39 Muir Street so these two people would have been close friends to your parents, perhaps you may know of them?

If I stay on your father’s side of the family, your grandparents were called Robert Cochran & Jane McIlveen Alexander. Your Grandfather was born at Paisley around the year 1874. Your Grandmother was born around 1868 at New Cumnock in Ayrshire.

Janey Cochran Hamilton Advertiser 26-08-1916.

During my research, I see many deaths as the result of tuberculosis (TB) and your grandmother sadly contracted this and succumbed to the disease where she died the at the family home of 48 Chapel Street, she was only 42 years of age. She died on the 16th of August 1916 and an obituary was written by your grandfather and appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser a week later.

Your great grandparents were called James Alexander & Jane McGavin, James was born in Sorn, Ayrshire around 1846 and Jane born in Mauchline around the year 1850. This side of the family lived around Ayrshire all their life.

I did uncover some pictures of your great, Great Grandparents on the Alexander side and they were called William Alexander & Jane Mcilvean. This side of your family came over from Ireland

I see a family resemblance to you in William Alexander, perhaps you carry a lot of his genes. So, the family came from Ireland and they settled in Ayrshire. William died in Catrine, Ayrshire on the 19th of February 1891 and Jane died on the 4th of February 1902 at Sorn, Ayrshire.

On the Alexander side of your family, your 3rd great grandfather was called John Alexander and your 3rd great grandmother was called Jane Roy, both were Irish. Yet again, if you research your family tree, you could learn a lot more. On Jane McIlvean’s side of the family your 3rd great grandparents were called John Mcilvean & Jane Hamilton, so here is your Irish family connection. If I could give an estimated birth year for all four of the 3rd great-grandparents, then the range would be between 1765 & 1805.

Moving back to your Grandfather Robert Cochran’s family, your great grandfather was also called Robert and he was born around the year 1850 at Paisley. He married your great-grandmother who was called Agnes Anderson. Your great-grandfather was a butcher to trade and if I were to take an educated guess, he was probably the son of a Butcher. I say guess, as I can’t find any further information on this line of your family and the reason for this is because there were so many Cochran’s living at Paisley & Renfrew around this time, there are also quite a few Robert Cochran’s to go through and to establish the correct one, this will require extensive research.

One thing which I did find is that your Great Grandparents Robert and Agnes immigrated to Wentworth, Ontario in Canada. They saw out the rest of their days here and you great grandfather Robert died on the 23rd of June 1931 at Wentworth. Agnes died on the 13th of March 1937 also at Wentworth.

Norman Gilbert.WM

Ian, I have discovered that you have lots of living cousins in Canada & America, below is a picture of one of your cousins who died in 2005, his name was Norman Gilbert and he lived in New York, USA and I can also see a family resemblance in him that has similar facial features of yourself. I found that there is still living family members connected to this man in America and also in Canada.

One thing that I would say while researching your family is that I have only just scratched the surface. You descend from a very large family with each generation having many brothers & sisters. I really hope that you or someone in your family do decide to take up family research as a hobby, it is really great fun and you have lots of stories to uncover and even more living cousins waiting to be met.

Ian Cochran 950s Fairhill. Mill Road.

I’m sorry that I could not dedicate more of my time to your research, but I only focus on families living in Hamilton and even though you, your parents and your family are all Hamiltonian’s with great connections to the town, your ancestors were spread across other regions of Renfrewshire & Lanarkshire, thus making it harder with my research.

If you do decide to take this further, then please let us know what or who you find, and you never know, you may even find that “Grahams of Claverhouse” connection.
Written & Researched by Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton.


Carr Family Tree WM.

This month we asked our readers if they would like help with their ancestry and we had a few replies. We were contacted by Ann Cassidy who was looking for information on her father’s family who lived in Hamilton and Ann wrote to us and said:

“Hi Garry, I have recently found out that my Grandmother is buried in the Wellhall Road cemetery. I would really like to find out more about my father’s side of the family, who lived in Burnbank and Hamilton. My Grandmother’s name was Mary Gallagher, I think she was born in 1895…She married William Carr. My Grandmother was only 38 when she died in 1933. My Grandmother’s parents were Mary Ann Gallagher and Francis Gallagher.”

Ann, here is what I found.

Your grandparents were indeed called William Car & Mary Gallagher. They married on the 8th of November 1913 at what was called the Roman Catholic Chapel, I would suspect that this was St. Cuthbert’s.

William Carr & Mary Gallagher MCert.

William was twenty years old and Mary was eighteen and the witnesses were Dominik & Mary Gallagher.
At the time of the wedding your grandfather was living at 145 Glasgow Road in Burnbank and your grandmother living at 1 Grammar School Square and both grandparents were working.

Your grandfather, like many Hamilton men in this decade, he was a coal miner and your grandmother was working as a colliery brass picker, the role of a brass picker was working at the pithead above ground removing the coal from dirt and rocks. Sometimes this job could be just as dangerous as working underground as the conveyor belts did not have any safety rails and often women were dragged to their deaths and caught in the machinery. So, as they both worked at a colliery, it is possible that they met at work.

After they were married your grandparents got their first house together at 126 Glasgow Road, so, another possibility is that they both worked at Greenfield Colliery as this was just a short walk away from the house at Glasgow Road. They continued to live on the same street up to 1925 where they then moved to number 141.

As you know, your father Michael was born around 1930 and your grandparents later moved to a new house at 3 George Street in Burnbank Your grandmother had taken ill with pneumonia and she was so sick that she was taken to the infectious diseases hospital at Udston (Udston House) and on the 5th of July 1933 the illness killed her.

Your grandfather continued to live at 3 George Street and on the 1st of March 1938, he re-married to a lady called Elizabeth Bradshaw, who was a 35-year-old widower. For now, this is as much as I can tell you about your grandfather, so perhaps you could fill in the gaps with what happened to him later in life.

Before I move on to your fathers’ side of the family, I will tell you who your great-grandparents were on your Gran’s side of the family. Your grandmother Mary Gallagher was born at 110 Muir Street on the 11th of September 1895 and her parents were called Francis Gallagher & Mary Ann McGuire.

Your great Grandfather Francis was a Plasterers labourer and both he and your great-grandmother were originally from Newton Stewart. They married there on the 1st of August 1886.

So, as you asked about your father’s side of the family. Your grandfather William Carr was born at 11 Farm Road, Greenfield. He was born on the 11th of June 1893 and he was the fifth child in the family, his siblings were Patrick, John, Margaret & Michael. Your great-grandmother signed William’s birth certificate with an X, so she was illiterate, and this was not an uncommon thing back in 1893.

William Carr Birth.

Your Great Grandparents were called Michael Carr and Mary Tomaney. When William was born your great grandfather was living at Greenfield and as your great-grandfather was a coal miner is likely that he worked at Greenfield Colliery.

Your great-grandparents seemed to go back and forth between Hamilton and Springburn and I would take a guess that this had something to do with Michael’s employment and as of now, I can’t give you an answer to why he moved back and forth so many times. There is also some confusion as to where your great-grandfather Michael was born. I can’t actually find his birth certificate, however on the 1861, 1871 & 1891 census they all state he was born in Hamilton.

Michael was born to parents who were called Patrick Carr & Mary Bryce, this was your 2 x great grandparents and they originally came from Ireland. They moved to Hamilton before 1858 and again the Springburn connection is here, as they moved between Springburn & Hamilton. Your 2 x Great Granddad died at 14 Low Waters Road on the 6th of August 1886 and unfortunately the man who was the informant of the death did not know the name of Patrick’s parents, so the Carr trail stops here.

I did manage to find out where Mary Bryce died. She died on the 15th of August 1886 at the City Poorhouse at St. Rollox in Glasgow and from this document I found that your 3 X great grandparents were called John Bryce who was a fisherman & Nelly Garragh.

Your 2 x great-grandparents, Michael & Mary Married on the 8th of January 1886 and when they married Michael was living at 54 Windsor Street and Mary was living at 112 Watson Street. The family later moved to 9 Albert Buildings at Earnock Colliery and this is where Michael died.

He died on the 15th of January 1899 the cause of death was Cardiovascular disease. His brother in law William Tomaney was the informant of his death.
Your great-grandmother remarried a man named Charles Cairney in 1902 and together they had a son named Charles. They lived at 61 Windsor Street after the marriage.

Staying with your great-grandmother, she was born in Bellshill c1868 and her parents, your two x great grandparents were called James Tomaney Margaret Mullen.

This is as much as I can tell you about your family Ancestry and I hope that it has shed some light on your family. Your family mainly had a strong connection to Burnbank and like many families in Hamilton, we can all trace our family tree going back to Ireland.

McDougall Family.

McDougall Family.png


Anne Louise McLachlan from Austrailia sent us an old family photo of her father and grandparents. Anne told us:

“In the picture is. James McQueen McDougall who was born Hamilton Scotland 1876 and his wife Ruth nee McStea, born Lurgan Ireland 1874.

They married in Hamilton in the year 1899, My father Alexander who is the boy sitting was born in Hamilton in 1902. The baby is Ronald who was born in 1915 after the family migrated to Australia.”

Anne, I did a quick ancestry look up and I found that James McQueen McDougall had come from a big family, so perhaps some of our readers may have a family connection to your family.

If any of our readers think that they may be related to this family, then please let us know and Anne, thanks for sending this great picture to us.

Almada Hill


Almada Hill Sandstone.

Almada Hill in recent years has been known to us as the tenements that used to sit on the land now occupied as a car park for the Douglas Park showroom. Before the tenements were demolished the address for Almada Hill was 139-153 Almada Hill, Almada Street.

The name Almada Hill was not a new name given to the tenements on Almada Street, in fact, this name comes from a much older building that was situated just off the main road.
The original Almada Hill was first known as Almada Hall and was constructed in 1812 and like all the buildings of this time, it was built with sandstone and lime.

The person responsible for building Almada Hill was a Doctor that went by the name of John James Hume. Dr Hume purchased the land on the 14th of May 1811, the Hume family were a very well-respected family of doctors and there were many generations of them practising in Hamilton before Dr John J. Hume.

1812 Map Almada Hall.

Almada Hill, or Almada Hall as it was known in 1812, when constructed was built on the outskirts of Hamilton and out in the countryside, its closest little village was Burnbank and when built the road that we know as Almada Street was known as the “road from Ayrshire & Glasgow” and wasn’t even named Almada Street, so it is possible that this is where the street takes its name from. The next title was recorded on 5th June 1839 in favour of Helen Hume and others, the description therein states, “and houses built thereon”.

Later in the nineteenth century, it was owned by one of the Dykes brothers. The Dyke’s brothers were a family of solicitors & doctors who in their day owned many of the grandest houses in Hamilton.

Anne McEwen WM.

Almada Hill in the nineteenth century was built on a hill that would have had a great view looking over Almada Street and further afield, it was a handsome house with a garden and ornamental grounds to the front. So, going back to the owner, the house was let out by the Dykes family and in 1861 the house was rented to a woman called Ann McEwen who was the widow of Robert McEwen and this man was a wealthy East India shipping merchant. Anne was a lady from Edinburgh but had lived in London and Singapore.

At the moment it is unknown as to why Anne chose to live in Hamilton as I can’t find any connection as to why she was here, although in this period there were one or two Glasgow shipping merchants living nearby in Burnbank, so perhaps it was suggested by someone in this circle of friends who were already living here.

Anne leaves Almada Hill & Hamilton and moves to London before 1864. This is the last time in which we see this family having any connection to Hamilton.

The house is now rented to a man named James Beith Struthers, who seems to be a friend of the Dykes family. James Struthers was a wine and spirit merchant and he married a Glasgow girl called Rebecca Simpson and later marries for a second time to Mary Ann Harrison, again his time at Almada Hill is a short one. He moves on and dies on the 20th of November 1913 at 145 Main Street, Kirkton, Blantyre. James’s son who was called James Beith Harrison Struthers continues to follow in his father’s footsteps and works as a Spirit Merchant.

The building itself sat on one acre and a quarter of land and if not on ground level would have at least have one floor above. It had a porch at the front of the house which looked on to the pathway large enough for a horse and carriage to fit. It did not appear to have stables but did have outhouses and it also appears to have its own water pump in the back garden. The rear of the property was open fields used for grazing cattle which remained untouched for the duration of the building’s life.
Almada Hill was sold to a Solicitor that went by the name of Alexander Watt. The house is sold off between 1864 & 1871.

Almada Hill 1858

Alexander Watt was born in 1836 at Midlothian, Edinburgh and he studies in Edinburgh and marries Margaret Fleming in Blythswood in 1863. Alexander sets up his business in Hamilton around 1871 and continues to live at Almada hill. He is involved very much in the Hamilton Community and is a member of the Hamilton Burns Club.

In 1894 the Clyde coal company were extracting coal from beneath Almada Hill’s foundations. The underground workings could have had an impact on Almada Hill and like many of Hamilton’s buildings, it would have affected it in some way. Alexander around this time is looking to sell up and the extraction of coal may have been the reason as to why he wanted to move from Almada Hill.

The house is on the market for over a year and in various advertisements, they state that the house has not been affected by underground workings. Alexander Watt left Almada Hill in June 1900 and since then, the house lay empty until purchased by the town council.

In 1901 there is fear of a smallpox epidemic and Hamilton was not fully equipped to deal with such an outbreak. In February 1901 the town council was looking to purchase a new site for a temporary smallpox hospital. Almada Hill was shortlisted and a special meeting was set up by Provost Keith to discuss the purchase.

The people involved in the discussions also included Bailies McNaughton, Pollock, MacHale, and Hay. Also, at the meeting were councillors Louden, Smellie, Duncan, Tainsh, Anderson, Hamilton and Cassells, with Messer’s Pollock & Kilpatrick.
The object of the meeting was to consider the proposal to purchase the property of Almada Hill for the sum of £1,700, which for a house of this type was a bargain.

Bailie Hay, as Convenor of the Sanitary Committee, said the state of matters was this, that they were presently very much hampered for accommodation at the hospital, and were likely to be still more hampered in the event of an epidemic of smallpox taking place in the Burgh.

The Committee had accordingly inquired as to what would be required in the way of additional accommodation, and the result of their investigations culminated in the proprietor of Almada Hill being seen with a view to the disposal of the property. They had been offered the property for £1700, and Bailie Hay considered that they were getting it very much cheaper than it could have been bought by a private individual.

It had occurred to the Committee that Almada Hill might be a suitable place for the isolation of persons who had come into contact with smallpox patients, and it was proposed now that the property should be utilised in that way. He did not wish to shrink the fact that, in an event of a serious epidemic, they might almost require to use the premises for the accommodation of patients.

Plans had already been submitted to them for a temporary wooden building, which would give them twelve beds and the cost of this hospital would be between £500 & £600. It was a building which could, in no sense, be a permanent one, and in all probability would require to be burned when the epidemic had subsided.

In purchasing Almada Hill, they put themselves in possession of a site which could be utilised for many public purposes. It was a building which could be temporarily used as a hospital, or, if unsuitable for that, it would be advantageous for isolating parties who had come in to contact with smallpox cases.

Treasurer Keith understood that the Local Government Board had indicated that such a place was essential in a working-class community like Hamilton.

Apart altogether from the immediate requirements of the burgh, this site was moderately cheap. It could be used by the municipality, or it might be sold for the purposes of a technical school or similar institution. Everything considered, the property was moderately cheap, and Bailie Hay and the Sanitary Committee were to be congratulated in bringing the matter before the Council.

Mr Loudon asked to what extent the minerals had been extracted at the building.

Bailie Hay – One third has been worked out.

Mr Loudon – In that case, the building is quite safe.

In reply to a further question by Mr Loudon as to what provision at present existed to cope with an outbreak of smallpox, Bailie Hay explained that just now there were a great many cases of scarlet fever in the hospital, but he had been in communication with the Medical Officer, who informed him that two small rooms could be acquired to accommodate four patients pending other arrangements being made. But there was no provision whatever for isolation, and that, according to present-day medical science, was an important matter.

Mr Cassells asked if the proprietor of this building had been approached as to whether he would lease or let the building for the purposes of isolation. Bailie Hay stated that he will not let or lease the property. Mr Watt has really been in treaty for some time with two other people anxious to secure the premises.

Mr Cassels, on the ground that the proposal was premature, moved to the previous question. He considered that £1700 was an extraordinary price to pay for the premises. He maintained, further, that the building was absolutely useless. As a representative of the Second Ward, which Ward was not represented on the Sanitary Committee. He objected to this Proposal being sprung upon the Council without more time being given to the members to inquire into the various details.
Mr Tainsh, in seconding, said that he had been simply astonished at some of the actions of the Sanitary Committee within the past two or three months. This was one of the most extravagant proposals he had ever heard of.

Mr Duncan asked if the convener had examined the house.
Bailie Hay replied that the late storms had to a certain extent injured the house, but it had since been repaired and made water-tight. As an evidence of that, he had simply to state that most of the proprietor’s furniture was presently in the house.

Mr Loudon said, as a representative of the First Ward, he did not at all like the idea of selecting the site for an isolation house or hospital right in the midst of a populous and residential district.

The price asked was high, but that after all was only relative if it was found absolutely necessary to have such a place and that this was the only such place that could be got suitable for the purposes contemplated. But he should like first of all to be satisfied that there was not the slightest risk of contagion to those residing in the locality.

Bailie Hay explained that the Local Government Board had to be provided with plans, and he thought Mr Loudon might rest assured that so far as human means could go nothing would be done that would in the slightest degree be hurtful.
Mr Loudon – Then they may not approve of this.

Bailie Hay – That is so, but I do not think there is the slightest likelihood of their not agreeing to an isolation house.
Bailie Pollock said, from the nature of the discussion, it seemed that although they purchased this property, they would still require a temporary hospital in the event of an outbreak of smallpox. That being so, and seeing the figure mentioned for the site was so high because any person who knew the house knew that it was not worth the stone and lime.
Bailie Hay – It is not a brick house, so it must be worth stone and lime. (laughter).

Bailie Pollock – Well, it is not worth old material. He thought there were other means of isolating people over and above the method proposed, and he for one could not see his way to support the proposal of the committee.

The council then divided as follows:- For purchasing the property – Provost Keith, Bailies Hay, MacHale, and McNaughton, Treasurer Keith and Messrs Hamilton, Anderson, Smellie and Duncan – 9: for not purchasing the property – Bailie Pollock and Messrs Loudon, Tainsh and Cassells – 4.

The committee’s recommendation to purchase Almada Hill at £1700 was thereupon declared carried. The house gets put to use straight away and by March 1901 there were three outbreaks of Smallpox in Hamilton, the third was a plasterer’s labourer from Church Street.

The man was moved to the county hospital in Dalserf and his wife and four children were moved to Almada Hill which was now being called the reception house. A fourth woman also from the same stair in Church Street contracted Smallpox in April of that year and her husband and children were admitted to Almada Hill.

The epidemic started to spread throughout different parts of Hamilton and at a fast pace. Three children, the oldest being fourteen all from the same tenement in Low Quarry Street became ill and they were transported to Stonehouse Hospital, while their families were sent to Almada Hill.

The smallpox epidemic seemed to have passed and soon Almada Hill was not so much in the headlines, well that was until September 1901 when two boys both aged fourteen who were called William Connor and William Walker were fined 7s 6d or five days imprisonment for stealing grapes from the Vinery at Almada Hill.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Hamilton was in need of a new town hall and library and the focus was now turned once again to Almada Hill. Meetings were held and at the early stages of the talks, it was thought that Almada Hill could be an excellent site as it was close by the railway station at Peacock Cross and not to mention situated between Burnbank and the rest of the burgh. Mr Dixon of the Bent coal company also offered a site at the corner of Orchard Street and Union Street and after a consultation, it was found that due to the underground mine workings, the site would be unsafe to build on.

After more meetings, a site at Cadzow Street was also suggested and plans went ahead for a new Municipal, town hall and library to be built on Cadzow Street.
Almada Hill was now an old building on an acre and a quarter of land and to claw their money back in some way, the council had to use it for something. The town council did consider letting the property once more as a house, however, this was until the electric lighting committee was in need of a site for its new electric lighting station and a section of the land was sold off to the Electricity board.

In March 1904 the Hamilton Burgh are starting to sell more of the Land at Almada Hill and they put out an advertisement and in September of the same year Almada Hill is shortlisted once again to be the site of the new council chambers and again a site in Brandon Street was agreed.

This was to be the beginning of the end for the house once called Almada Hill. Tenements on Almada Street were erected in 1905 and they took the name Almada Hill and this is what kept the name of the old country house alive.

The property eventually was acquired by the Magistrates & C. of Hamilton, a part of which was sold by them to the South West Electricity Board in 1950. If I were to give a rough date as to when Almada Hill was eventually demolished then it would be between 1950 and 1954, and at the moment, there are no known surviving pictures of the old house.

We would like to know if any of our readers are old enough to remember a property being situated on the Almada Street electricity site. If you do remember, then please tell us your memories.