Udston Colliery, one of Hamilton’s old coal mines which was opened in 1875 was situated on the higher ground at Hamilton. I say Hamilton, however, boundaries change through time and today the location of where the mine was situated crossed over three streets at West Craigs in Blantyre. The exact location of the two coal shafts was where the waste ground is behind the playpark on Westpark Avenue and this would be the reason as to why no houses are built directly above on this land. However, one shaft entrance was directly under the back garden of no 28 Blackcraig Brae.

In my opinion, there should be some kind of plaque or memorial for the 73 men and boys who were brought to the surface here dead and not one miles away at Hamilton town Centre. The exact location of where the miner’s rows once stood is on the overgrown bushy land that is immediately across from the entrance to Davington Drive at the start of Newhousemill Road.

The streets that now stretch across where the colliery was situated are Thorn Avenue (The Bing), Blackcraig Brae (The railway line and Bing and a shaft), Glamis crescent (The Water Tanks).

Perched high up on the hill it offered splendid views across Lanarkshire and further back up the hill a bit was the houses for the miners that came with the job, or tied houses, so when you worked here you got your own little house supplied for you and your family to live in. This area was known as Udston Rows or speaking in old language it was known as Udston ‘Raws’.

Udston Rows was a little community in itself and had its very own school for the miner’s children and as it was so far out of Hamilton believe it or not, it had its very own public house. Which many of the men from Udston would have spent their hard-earned money chatting about their day and discussing everything relevant to them, I for one would have loved to go back in time and listen in on some of their conversations. The little pub at the corner of Udston Rows was also on a great location for the miner’s wives to come and find their men and they did not have far to go when it was time for the nightly round up at home time.

The Colliery was owned by the Udston Coal Company and when it opened in 1875 it was really quite small compared to others in the Hamilton area. It employed approximately 200 men and boys and they worked in three seams of coal and it had a depth of nearly 1000 feet. The workings of the colliery extended for 150 acres and crossed the border of Blantyre, Earnock & Greenfield Collieries.

The last remaining evidence of this little thriving community was removed between 1999 & 2002 when the construction of the West Craigs estate got underway.

There are hundreds and hundreds of newspaper reports of fatalities that happened across the coalmines of Lanarkshire, Hamilton had more than its fair share, but sadly Udston had far more than others. This little coal mine was home to the second worst mining disaster in Scotland where 73 men & boys tragically lost their lives while earning a living at the coalface. The first recorded accidental death at Udston happened on the 22nd of May 1879 where a boy called James Stewart who was only 17 was killed by a roof fall and this boy’s death would be the start of many more to come.

On the 31st of July 1879, the first rule breaker caught at Udston was a man named Neil McNeil a miner from Burnbank who was charged when on the 25th of July that year was caught in possession of a lamp key while working underground. Now why was this such a big deal? If you had a lamp key, then you could open the safety of the glass case on the davy lamp and in turn, if there was any sign of toxic underground gasses or better known as after damp, then you could effectively cause an explosion underground which would kill everyone in the vicinity. It was found at court that Neil had endangered the lives of his fellow coal miners on shift that day.

Having a lamp key was banned while underground and Neil was going to be made an example of, so he was sentenced to three months imprisonment with no option of a fine, this was a harsh sentence as it meant that his wife and children would not have an income for those three months. When Neil returned from prison, his name was also blacklisted by other coal masters and he had to move away from the area to find other employment. Even in July 1879, it was known that Udston Colliery was giving off a lot of gas underground and it was only a matter of time when an accident had occurred, which did happen in 1887.

In October 1879 Robert Ure & David Boreland Proprietor & Manager of the colliery were both fined when they employed a group of women to work at the pithead after 9:00pm. The women were also on the dayshift and were paid for the overtime. They were given the option of a £5 fine for Robert, £3 fine for David, or one month’s imprisonment.

On the 17th of April 1882 a man named Simon Taylor (28) was recorded as being killed at the colliery, however, when I investigated this man’s death, I found that he has been incorrectly recorded as being killed at the mine. He actually died of pneumonia on the 3rd of May 1882 at royal infirmary in Glasgow. I also went on to find that this man’s residence was actually at Dykehead. So, its at least one name that can be removed from this coal mines accident history.

On the Monday the 15th of May 1882, there was an explosion caused by afterdamp at the colliery. Three men were killed and eight were found severely burned. William Archibald (53) Charles Morrison (35) and his son William Morrison (13) were killed by afterdamp poisoning.

On Monday the 26th of May 1884 an accident happened where a mineral train being shunted ran over the brakes man who was called Donald Fraser. He suffered a broken leg and was taken to the Glasgow Royal infirmary.

The next fatality to happen at Udston was when a man named William Rennie who was working as a wagon trimmer was instantly killed when he was caught between two wagons, he was crushed to death.

The miners were underground working for their full shift and smoking underground was banned, this however did not stop a few gasping for a smoke taking down tobacco and matches. In November 1886, a miner called James Lindsay was fined £2, or the option of one-month imprisonment for doing the very thing that was banned. The newspaper reports of the time also tell us that the owners were aware of the explosive gas that was in pit No1. Health & Safety was no longer the point of focus for the managers of Udston as in the same month two other Udston Miners named Wellington & Chandler, were each fined £1-, or seven-day’s imprisonment for firing a shot that was not under the direction of the fireman. At Udston Rows, there was approximately 58 buildings to start and the by 1881 there were 70 and during the time of the 1881 census, these houses consisted of 40 Single & 17 double rows, the double rows kept for the workers with larger families but did come with a higher rent. They were built on the land directly behind Newhousemill Road and when I looked at the 1881 census if found the following families living here:


Double Row 1: DAVID MORRISON – Horse Keeper – Born at Campsie, Stirlingshire. His family consisted of his wife Sarah & four sons called James, Alexander, David & Allan & daughter Flora.

Double Row 2: John Winter – Spirit Storekeeper – Born at Kinnoull, Perth. His family was Wife Isabella, Walter (Killed by Explosion in 1887), Isabella, John & Janet.

Double Row 3: Thomas Paterson (Survived the 1887 Explosion) – Underground Fireman – Born at Coatbridge. His wife Ann and son Alexander.

Double Row 4: James Cathcart – Colliery Pithead Man – Born at Hamilton. His family living with him were, Wife Giles, two sons, David & Richard & two daughters Annie & Agnes. He also had a lodger living with him who was called David Fernie.

Double Row 5: Was Vacant on the night of the census was taken.

Double Row 6: William Stalker – Coal Miner – born at Tillicoultry, Stirring. Living here was his large family with his wife Charlotte, his two daughters Margaret, Charlotte. His Granddaughter Charlotte. His three sons, George, John & Hendry.

Double Row 7: Edward Torley – Colliery Oversman – Born at East Kilbride, He lived here with his wife Margaret and his two sons Hugh & Alexander (Killed by Explosion in 1887) and daughter Margaret.

Double Row 8: Unknown.

Double Row 9: Andrew Kerr – Coachman & Domestic Servant – Born at Bellshill. He lived with his wife Janet.

Double Row 10: William Ballantyne – House Joiner – Born in Blantyre. William lived here with his wife Ellen.

Double Row 11: John Bolton – Coal Miner, born at Hamilton. John was one of the survivors of the 1887 disaster. John lived here with his wife Elizabeth, two daughters Agnes & Jessie and son William.

Double Row12: Andrew Rodger – Colliery Clerk – Born at Barrhead. He lived here with his wife Agnes and his stepdaughter Maggie McLarty and their other kids, William & Mary.

Double Row 13: John Madden – Coal Miner, born in Ireland. In this family were his three sons & daughter, who were called John, Bernard, Mary & Andrew. John & Bernard had a lucky escape when they both survived the 1887 pit disaster & Bernard went on to assist with the rescue of the trapped miners.

Double Row 14: Patrick Cain – Coal Miner – Born in Ireland. Patrick lived here with his wife Elizabeth and 3 sons Patrick, Michael & James.

Double Row 15: John Gunion – Commercial Clerk – Born at Glasgow. He lived here with his wife Elizabeth. This family had two daughters, however, none lived at Udston with them. Elizabeth emigrated to Auckland in New Zealand where she married and settled down.

Double Row 16: David Boreland – Coal Miner born at Larbert. He lived here with his wife Mary and their four kids, Robert, James, Ann & Elizabeth. David also survived the 1887 pit disaster.

Double Row 17: Unknown.


Single Row 1: Alexander Gourley – Carter – Born in Ireland. He lived here with his wife Margaret and three daughters, Elizabeth, Isabella & Sarah, and son William. They also had a lodger called William Rainey, who was a widow.

Single Row 2: Vacant on the night the census was taken. A miner would have most likely just left employment that day or not long before. They were never empty for long.

Single Row 3: David McKenzie – Coal Miner born at Edinburgh. He lived here with his wife Elizabeth.

Single Row 4: Samuel Meek – Coal Miner born in Ireland. Living with him was his wife Rose and grandson John Rodgers.

Single Row 5: James Ballantyne (Widow) – Engineer & Fitter born at Carmichael.

Single Row 6: William Cathcart (Survived the 1887 disaster) – Coal miner, born at Quarter. William lived with his wife Ellen and daughter Jessie.

Single Row 7: Unknown or unoccupied.

Single Row 8: Unknown or unoccupied.

Single Row 9: Charles Harden – Coal Miner brusher, born in England. This house would have been cramped as Charles lived here with his wife Agnes and five kids, Hugh, John, Ellen, Mary & Amory. The family also had a lodger called James Kirk.

Single Row 10: James Queen – Coal Miner – Born in Ireland. James lived with his family who consisted of his wife Sarah Ann and their children, Mary Ann, John, Elizabeth, James & Maggie.

Single Row 11: Maria Swanson – No Occupation recorded. She lived here with her son Robert Bolton and a lodger called Alexander Hunter.

Single Row 12: James White – Colliery Fireman – born at Blantyre. James lived here with his wife Jane and son William. He also had two lodgers living here with him who were called George Simpson & James Holmes.

Single Row 13: Adam Thompson – Coal miner – born at Coatbridge. Living here was is his wife Ellen and his kids, William, Peter, Mary & Ellen. Adam eventually became destitute and had resorting to scavenging for food. Before he died in 1910, he was receiving poor relief.

Single Row 14: Richard Clyde – Coal Miner born at Kilsyth. He lived here with his wife Janet.

Single Row 15: Thomas Brannan and his wife Margaret. Thomas was a Brickwork Labourer and he was born in Ireland.

Single Row 16: John Muirhead – Joiner – Born at Cambusnethan. He lived here with his wife Janet and son Thomas. John survived the 1887 disaster.

Single Row 17: David Linn – Coal Miner – Born in Ireland. He lived here with his wife Susan.

Single Row 18: Owen Quinn – Coal Miner – Born at Ireland. He lived with his four kids William, Owen, Elizabeth & Ellen.

Single Row 19: Robert Maxwell – Coal Miner – Born at Glasgow. He lived with his wife Margaret and their kids, Allan, Jane, John, Robert, James & William.

Single Row 20: Allan Maxwell – Coal Miner – born at Glasgow. He lived here with his wife Grace.

Single Row 21: Unoccupied on the night of the census.

Single Row 22: Robert Finnie – Coal Miner – Born at Irvine. He lived here with his wife Margaret and a boarder called Thomas McGowan.

Single Row 23: Robert Robinson – House Carpenter – Born in England. He lived here with Wife Mary Jane and his two kids Emma & Robert.

Single Row 24: Samuel Robertson – Coal Miner – Born at Irvine. He lived here with his wife Mary and kids, James, Elizabeth, John & Margaret.

Single Row 25: James Alasoan (Allison?) – Born at Bridgeton – coal miner. He lived with his wife Mary and three kids James, Ellen & Agnes.

Single Row 26: Unoccupied on the night of the census.

Single Row 27: John Bolton – Colliery Engine Keeper – Born at Hamilton. He lived here with his wife Agnes and son John. John was a survivor of the 1887 disaster.

Single Row 28: Nisbet Pope – Joiner – Born at Wishaw. He lived here with his wife Sarah and their four kids, Amy, Christopher, Sarah and James.

Single Row 29: Archibald Muir – Coal Miner – Born at Pollockshaws. Living here was his wife Jennie and his three kids, Mary, Elizabeth, and Janet. He also had his mother-in-law Elizabeth Ferguson living here.

Single Row 30: James Torley – Coal Miner (Unable to work on the night of the census) Born at East Kilbride. He lived here with his two brothers, Felix & Richard, along with a boarder called John Philips. Felix Torley was one of the men killed at the 1887 disaster.

Single Row 31: This would have been a tight squeeze, however, James Barrowman – Colliery Engine Keeper – Born at Dundonald lived here with his wife Mary and six kids, who were called, John, James, Mary, Jane, Isabella & Margaret.

Single Row 32: Andrew Cooper – Coal Miner and former Soldier – born at Stonehouse. He was living here with his wife Mary and two kids, Janet & Andrew.

Single Row 33: Catherine Cain. Catherine was recorded as the head of the household, however on the night of the census she stated that she was the wife of a night watchman. She was living here with her five sons, Patrick, John, James, Thomas & Henry.

Single Row 34: John McLusker – Coal Miner – Born at Cadder. He lived here with his wife Margaret and their five kids, John, Alexander, Margaret, Janet and Sarah.

Single Row 35: John Cowan – Blacksmith – Born at Stevenson, Ayrshire. He lived with his wife Janet.

Single Row 36: Francis Newlands – Coal Miner – Born at Oakley, Fifeshire. Francis lived here with his wife Catherine and their six kids, James, William, Matthew, Mary Jane, Francis Jr & Maggie. In 1901 Francis was in ill health and was living at 11 Thornwood Rows in Uddingston. He went missing from his home. He was later found drowned in the Clyde. His family were devastated.

Single Row 37: Robert Cain – Coal Miner – Born in Ireland. Robert lived here with his wife Agnes and five kids, Patrick, Rose Ann, Daniel, William & Henry.

Single Row 38: Thomas Allan – Coal Miner – Born at Wishaw. Thomas lived with his wife Ann and three kids, John, Mary & Margaret.

Single Row 39: John Maxwell – Colliery pit fireman – Born at Glasgow. He lived here with his wife Jane and five kids, James, Marion, Grace, John & Jane.

Single Row 40: John Tolan – Coal Miner – Born in Ireland. He lived here with his wife Isabella.

After the 1887 pit disaster half of this community were quickly replaced but before the disaster the colliery owners were trying to take the health and safety of its miners more serious. The coal mines across Lanarkshire were still a very dangerous place to work and with men & boys losing limbs, being crippled, burned and even killed at work almost on a daily basis they had to make examples of employees who flouted the laws.

The inevitable did however happen at 09:30am, on the morning of Saturday the 28th of May 1887, when an explosion happened. On this day it was Mordred that there was 220 men working underground.

The explosion was heard from as far away Greenfield Colliery in Burnbank. This brought echoes from the past back to a lot of families when only ten years earlier Scotland’s worst mining disaster happened at Dixon’s pit in Blantyre where approximately 220 men and boys were tragically killed.

The explosion happened in what was called the splint coal seam and there was carnage everywhere and immediately when the explosion happened a sheet of flames shot up the shaft and the wooden frame-built sheds were on fire above the pithead and the wooden shafts which descended down in the dark mine were thought to have collapsed.

The up and down cast shafts of No1 pit and the down cast of No2 pit, where simultaneously blocked by cages that were jammed in the wooden frameworks. In No 2 pit, where the explosion occurred, there were 119 men & boys and in No 1 there were 66. It was then found that the cage in the upcast shaft of No 2 was not jammed and three men were in fact still in the shaft. After a lot of difficulty, the cage was wound up to the surface.

Word very quickly spread and the Wives, brothers, sons & daughters who were above ground on that fateful day darted towards the pit head. Rescue parties from Blantyre and Hamilton ran up to Udston as quickly as they could to help and in fact, there was countless men who offered to assist with the recovery mission. The disaster made the second edition of most newspapers throughout Scotland, Ireland, and England and by 6:00 pm that very same day it was reported nationwide.

One of the men in the cage who was called James McGorky had been killed when he was found dead in the cage and the others were slightly injured. Mr McGavin, the colliery manager, who was on the spot, took the necessary steps to restore communication with the mine workings below, which were obstructed by the slides on which the cage travels being broken at several points. Thirty fathoms down one man was found, who had climbed all the way up from the bottom (A Thanom was 1.8 meters high) And further down the shaft three others were reached. The ell, or upper seam, which is 118 Fathoms from the surface, was soon was soon reached by the exploring party.

By Noon that day 45 men who were working in the upper seam of the colliery had managed to be brought out, one of whom was dead, and the others were suffering from afterdamp* and shock. It was found that access to the lower seam was blocked and that the safety of at least half of the 140 men trapped below was despaired of. *Afterdamp is a toxic mixture of gasses left in a mine following an explosion caused by firedamp, which itself can ignite a much larger explosion of coal dust. On reaching the surface of the pithead, they were wrapped in blankets and after being treated by Dr Robertson, they were sent home to recover. (No NHS in 1887).

Attention was then directed to the trapped men in the main, or middle seam where 46 were found. Their shouts could be heard, but before they could be found it was necessary to do a temporary repair to the shaft.

This stage of the rescue mission proved to be somewhat tedious and after around two hours of tireless work the exploring party were able to reach the main shaft. They found 41 men alive and 5 dead. It was later found the five who were killed would have probably survived had they not run to the lower end of the coal seam, where chokedamp fumes gathered from the lower seams. Other men were saved by their fellow miners when they removed them, unconscious to places of better air.

When the rescue party reached the bottom later on that day, the access was found to be blocked in the lower seam by falls of debris. Messrs. Gilchrist, manager at Earnock; and Park, manager of Allanshaw, two neighbouring collieries, penetrated through the coal seams and into the lamp cabin, and rescued Alexander McLean, who was dreadfully burnt around the face, body and hands, the dead body of a man (Unidentified) was nearby.

In the lower, or splint seam of coal which was around 11 Fathoms below the main seam; it was found that nothing further could be done to reach the seam until they could put in ventilation and repair the shaft, this was now a mission to retrieve the bodies of the trapped miners. There were 75 men & boys working in the splint seam that day which some had managed to escape.

From the said 220 men who were thought to be working at the coal face that day and after an official count, it was found that 184 men had descended down the shafts that morning. From that number 62 bodies were brought up during the first stage of the rescue from the coal mine and 12 were still to be recovered and it was thought that in total, 73 were tragically killed.

At the Udston Rows, every household was affected, and there was hardly a house where one occupant was not killed, in some cases, entire families were swept away! One man who was called John Boyce lost his three sons, his two daughters were left widows, his son-in-law’s brother was killed and also his nephew. There was also around 35 widows and 110 fatherless children. The community of Udston was devastated. The final body to be recovered was a man names Andrew Buddy, who was a Fireman. The disaster touched the hearts of many people across the UK and even Queen Victoria herself sent a Telegram to the people of Udston.

The Udston disaster Relief fund was quickly set up to help the grieving widows and families affected by the accident. By the 1st December 1887 they had reached a total of £11, 010.8s 11d, which was £7000 under where they wanted to be in that year. This would have been worth around £1,455,892.67 in today’s money. Perhaps it was a large sum of money back then, however, no amount could make up for losing a husband, father, brother, son & uncle.

Despite the death count, the coal mining jobs were once again quickly filled and during the course of the next year in various newspaper reports the talk of Udston was overshadowed by the devastating disaster and it was not until 1889 when reports start to appear that talk about other things happening at Udston Rows. Another stupid incident happened when a Burnbank boy named John Harrison was caught underground with a lucifer match and considering what had happened with the disaster, he was in my opinion let off with a slap on the wrists. He was given the choice of either a fine of 10s-, or 7-days imprisonment. I am sure that the judge would have reminded him of the many boys and men killed and that this would have given him something to think long and hard about.

On the 20th of December 1889, another tragic accident happened underground where a miner named Michael Daly was crushed to death by a roof fall, his friend working alongside him had a narrow escape. In February 1890 the local shop keeper at Udston Rows was walking across land from Blantyre and he fell into a disused Quarry. His wife Agnes and three of his kids took the coal company to court as they were believed to be negligent and the family were awarded £235 in damages.

On Friday the 21st March 1890, the negligent owners of Udston brought the end to a notorious criminal. George Black, or sometimes known as Lamberton who at the time was working as a coal miner at Udston and living in the Rows. George was known throughout Lanarkshire and one of his better-known escapes from the law was when he was being transported from Wishaw to Hamilton by the police and he jumped from the top of the wagon over Clyde bridge which crossed the Avon and swam away. The local constable could not keep up with George. However, on this night he fell over the railing of the stair which led to his house at the rows. He was taken to the Royal infirmary in Glasgow but died of his injuries.

Udston Coal mine was still unstable and probably from the explosion which happened. Over the next few years there was frequent roof falls and collapses. And even after Michael Daly was killed production stopped as the pit was deemed unsafe to work. In July 1891 they stopped all work as the shaft at No 2 pit had completely collapsed. There were no recorded casualties, however, this is not to say that no one was indeed injured.

A sad reminder for one woman happened on the 15th of December 1892 when her husband James Dunsmuir was tragically killed while working underground at Udston. He was crushed by yet another roof fall and the weight of the coal that crushed him was rumored to be around 12 tones. What made this death worse was that he had only married his wife three months prior. Also, his new wife had been shadowed by a series of fatalities which started with her first husband James Nelson, who was killed in Dixons Colliery under peculiarly harrowing circumstances and in the Udston disaster, she lost her second husband Hugh Auchterlonie and her two sons to her first husband. To make it even worse for the poor woman, her two remaining sons were at home struck down with fever.

The deaths caused by roof falls continued and the next unfortunate person to be killed was a boy named George Boyd. George was killed on the 5th of December 1903 and he was only 16. His cause of death was a fractured skull.

Another man who was called Henrich (Henry) Bosebeck was killed while at work on the 16th of January 1912, when he was run over by hutches. For a small coal mine, Udston was one of the more dangerous collieries to work in. This family also had more tragedy surrounding it. Henrich was born in Germany and had come to Scotland with his wife for a better life for them and before his death he married his wife Wilhelmine at Blantyre in 1899. The family tragically lost two children, one who boy was called Heinrich and died only a few months old in Udston in 1903 and the second child who was named after Wilhelmine died aged 4 at Udston. Sadly, for Wilhelmine, she was classed as an illegal immigrant and in October 1918, she was due to be deported back to Germany but instead of waiting on being rounded up by the police, she left on her own account. Her two surviving children who were Scottish and born in Scotland had to start a new life in a country which they had never been.

The Udston mines was really unsafe and you would think that with all of these accidents caused by roof falls that all of the men at work would be extra careful with their “Pit Props”, but this was not the case when on the 19th of December 1913 two miners did not follow these health & safety rules. Peter & Thomas McInally who lived at Windsor Street in Burnbank were at work that day, deep underground and on inspection of their work it was found that they had dug out 23 feet of coal and for reasons only known to them, perhaps sheer laziness, they left the full section unsupported with no wooden props. They both denied it, but the evidence against them was simple, there was no props, and this put not only the two men’s lives at risk, but it also put anyone’s life in risk who was working the next shift! They were both given the option of a 15s fine, or four days in prison.

By the time WW1 started, the stories in newspaper reports are not of miners breaking rules, but it was written about the men of Udston Rows being killed in action. There were many young men from the area who jumped at the chance to get out of the pits and the thought of being taken away from the rows and over to a different country was really appealing to most. If only they knew what lay ahead of them, they would have opted to stay.

The first recorded casualty of WW1 who was from Udston Rows was a miner named Patrick Kyle, this family lived at 57 Udston Rows. Patrick was in Z Coy of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and he died of wounds on the 8th of August that year. He had enlisted on the 16th of January and was sent to the Dardanelles in June. Prior to joining the Army, he was employed in the lamp room at Udston and it was said that he was very well respected by his fellow workmen. He left his wife (Ellen Hannigan) and six children.

Another death by a roof fall happened on the 25th of September 1916 where a miner named James Gourlay was killed. He was 35 years old. James was working as a machine-man in No 1 pit and he had been clearing the wheel at the rear of the machine with a fellow work man. Next there was a shout and when James was found, he was lying under a large stone which was thought to have weighed a ton. He was married and at the time of his death he was living at Bute Terrace in Blantyre.

By August 1919, the coal mine was still turning a profit unlike other collieries which were being exhausted and closed down. The net profit recorded was £2,351, which added to the £11,900 brought in giving the colliery a disposable balance of £14,251. For now, the coal company were still going to keep the place running, but for how long? When the company was reviewed only one year later it was in the red and the accounts for the past 12 months recorded a loss of £15,732 and a surplus of £7,487 brought forward was converted into a deficit of £8,245. The future of the coal mine was not looking so good.

Udston Colliery stopped production in March 1922 and even though there was plenty of coal still beneath its lands it laid off its 250 strong work force leaving the miners and their families destitute. In a cost cutting exercise, the remaining coal was to be dug out from Greenfield Colliery in Burnbank. The miners were left with no option but to apply for poor relief.

In the whole Blantyre district, things went from bad to worse for all the miners in the area. Blantyre at the time once boasted of being the largest mining district in Scotland and after the closure of Udston the other mines followed suit and what followed was hardship, distress, and considerable poverty in the area. Craighead Colliery had just been dismantled, Udston was in the course of being dismantled and then the inevitable happened and then the 4th of the Blantyre collieries which belonged to William Dixon Ltd was in the course of being abandoned.

During the disastrous coal dispute of 1922, the colliery was the subject of a special enquiry when something mysterious happened at the pit bottom, which caused considerable damage to the shaft and pit bottom. After the damage, there was no hope of the colliery ever opening. The pump rods were withdrawn from the shaft, the pithead frame was taken down, and the shaft was to be filled up. Over 1000 men were getting poor relief from the parish council or the Labour bureau and following suit, just as wee see in today’s world, the shop keepers started to fall on hard times as no one had any money to spend.

The Udston Coal Company never hung around with breaking up the business and in June the same year, they started breaking up the colliery assets and sold everything at auction, they sold machinery, wagons, and anything else which could be removed from the colliery. They even offered to ship the machinery out by rail free of charge.

Now the Udston Rows were completely cut off from everyone and the little village had become a glum place to live. Families who were unfortunate enough to be unemployed continued to live at the Udston Rows and the little Dykehead primary school still continued to teach the remaining children.

In February 1938, the Lanarkshire Education Committee were now considering closing Dykehead Primary School at Udston. At one time the little school had 200 children on the school roll, and in February 1938 there was now only 4, one of whom was actually under school age.

When Udston Colliery was in full operation the little village which sat off the road between Hamilton and East Kilbride had 80 houses, and it was one of the most prosperous mining villages in the west of Scotland. Following the general strike in 1926, the colliery fully closed down and gradually the miners moved away to other districts. Around 1936, the houses started to fall into disrepair and were never repaired, so they slowly became condemned and the families were transferred to the new housing scheme at Eddlewood.

In February 1938 only three houses were still occupied but the families were soon to be moved on to new houses elsewhere. A small committee of the education committee had been appointed to report on the position, and it was understood that the parents had been asked to decide which school they wished their children to attend. The schools offered were Glenlee Primary and greenfield, both in Burnbank. A sanction of the education department was obtained in order to allow the transfer of the last three pupils.

In the last years of Udston Rows being a community, there was various newspaper reports on its residents and most were for court appearances for petty crimes. It was a close nit community and more than often problems would have been sorted man to man and out of the courts. There would probably have been more issues that went unreported that there was that did get reported.

The land at Udston today has one privately owned house that stands at what would be the edge of the Rows. It is hard to believe that at one time, this little part of Hamilton was once a thriving community with its own school, public house, and store. Hundreds of people pass the site of Udston rows every day and If you never knew about its history, then it only looks like empty land. If only we could hear whispers of the poor but happy miners who lived their lives here, it would certainly tell us a few stories.

Researched & Written by Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton. © 2020 & Info on some of the miners deaths, Ref; Black Faces & Tackety Boots by Wilma Bolton and also from various national newspaper reports.


Everyday Hector, the dog, comes out and sits at the door to watch and wait for children he knows, but who he will never see scamper from the school again.

He also used to wait for the butcher’s van which used to bring him his bones, but this will happen no more. In January 1939 he was the only dog living in the derelict mining village of Udston which in 1939 was just outside Hamilton’s boundary.

On the 15th of January that year the last family, the Boyd’s, moved away to a new house which was found for them over in Eddlewood. Within a few weeks of this picture being taken the wind and rain found its way into the Boyd’s old home, as it had into the other deserted houses of the two hundred folk who once lived in this little thriving hamlet just outside Hamilton.

When the mines from which Udston drew its living closed, the people of this little community continued to live on for seven years, hoping that the mine would be re-opened, which never happened. With the dying of hope they all moved away from Udston. Most of the residents moved on down past Muttonhole Road, down Strathaven Road and into Eddlewood.

Little Hector at the time belonged to the barmaid who used to live and work in the village pub and the poor wee dug never realised what was happening at the time, so he continued to sit and look up, then look down the village’s one street.

The newspaper reports of the time tell us that little Hector continued to sit and keep his vigil looking out for the butcher and his pals at the local school right up to May of that year and even though the village was deserted, the pub had license which ended in May, so perhaps Hector had the company of his barmaid owner and perhaps she continued to keep the little village pub open for any thirsty miners or for the passing trade to E.K.


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.

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.

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.

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.

We are looking for your old Pictures!

Hardy Family..PNG

HI Everyone,

I have noticed an increase in the number of people who have now joined Historic Hamilton, so welcome to the group.

As always I am looking for your old pictures of Hamilton. Do you have an old picture that you can share with us? If you have an old family picture, or any kind of picture from Hamilton, then we would like to see it.

When we share a picture, we have readers from all over the world who view our Facebook page and website, so your picture will be viewed in many different countries.

Also if I can make a story based on your picture, I will look in to your families history, or write something based around your photo, so please have a look in your old albums in the loft or the ones which you have tucked away.

You can send your picture as a PM on the Facebook page, or you can email me direct by clicking the ‘Send Email’ tab at the top of our page.

Again, a very warm welcome to the group. Come from Hamilton? Share your photos and stories here!

Garry McCallum.


Harry Paton Evans.


Harry Paton Evans sent us this picture of some workers of Phillips factory. Harry told us:

“A Philips outing in the late 1940’s, very early 1950’s to Blackpool.

My Dad, Harry Evans was a Works Superintendent and ran one of the main production lines after his War, around late 1949 early 1950’s.”

Do you recognise any of the people in the picture? Let us know.

Hamilton folk.

Linda McFarlane

Linda McFarlane sent us one of her family pictures. Linda told us:

“Ma wee story behind this photo!

A few months ago my cousin was back over here on holiday from Australia so we went to visit our auntie and a few of our cousins so naturally the old photos came out and I was so thrilled when this one appeared as I myself am now in my sixties and this was the very FIRST photo I have ever seen of my dad as a child
Left to right My Auntie Ann Martin,
My Granny Mary Kerr Martin,
& My Dad Malcolm Kerr Martin from Fairhill.”

Thank you Linda, your picture is now in our Hamilton Folk album.

Do you have a family photo that you would like to share? Please feel free to send them to us at Historic Hamilton.



1888 Map of Cornhills Farm..PNG

The surrounding areas of Quarter today, are as they were a hundred years ago, with many little farms doted around the green fields of the southern end of Hamilton. Cornhill Farm is an old Hamilton farm which has been standing on the same spot since before 1855.

Connected to this farm, was an old right of way path which would have been used by people wishing to walk from Quarter through to the western side of Hamilton at Meikle Earnock, Torheads and further afield. The old right of way would have been used by miners walking to and from their place of work and travellers wanting to walk back from this side of the parish in Eddlewood, Annsfield & Quarter.

This old right of way was eventually closed off to the public and on Friday the fifteenth of December 1899, an unnamed angry rambler wrote to the Editor of the Hamilton Herald Newspaper (now the Hamilton Advertiser) to voice his concerns of his favourite walkway being closed.

An old Right of way - Hamilton Herald.

The anonymous reader wrote:
“Sir, – Through the columns of your valuable paper allow me to call public attention to the closing of an old right of way, which has been used as a public road for upwards of 70 years. This old road branches off at what is known as the Strathaven railway bridge, through part of Mackie’s farm and on to Cornhill farm, making a nice “short cut” to Hamilton water works. Now, it’s a great pity that we should lose a nice country walk, to be shut out and compelled to walk on a dusty toll road toll-road on a nice summer’s day. Does any of our parish councillors know of this? If so, why is it allowed? I hope that our councillors will see to this and have it re-opened unless there is a reason for having it closed. I fail to see whatsoever. I am yours etc. – RIGHT OF WAY, 1899.”

Cornhill farm in its early years was owned by the Duke of Hamilton. In 1855 James Hepburn was the farmer who was leasing the steading and he was paying an annual sum of £110, which in 1855 was a large amount, in fact today in today’s money he would have been paying an annual rent of £11,748.23 or £979 per month.

Also attached to this farm was a little house, or building called ‘Neuk’, this little building was situated away from the farm and was built on the bottom of the farmers field and sat high up above the crags of the Cadzow Burn. Perhaps, this was a farm laborer’s house, or cattle shed for winter, it is unknown.

I have recently been on the site of this old Neuk and there are still old sandstone blocks lying scattered on the ground. When this was demolished, the stone was clearly not taken for the stone to be reused. Next to this site is a stone structure built into the Craggs of the Cadzow burn, so there may have been at one point an old bridge crossing the burn. The Cadzow Burn during heavy rainfall flows fast and this part of the burn can be really dangerous, perhaps in old days, this may have been an old Toll bridge? Was the house a Toll house that once connected to the old right of way?


This old right of way may have been at one time a recognised as a byroad, or path used by travellers not wanting to venture into Hamilton, or by travellers not wanting to be seen by anyone in the busy town. If you look closely at the old 1888 map of Hamilton, you will see that next to the Neuk, there is a path crossing the Cadzow Burn. This path is further upstream than the stone structure that his built in to the Craggs.

On Tuesday the 10th of September 1907, three miners were charged at Hamilton Sheriff Court with poaching on the farmland. Alexander Hamilton, John Hughes & Joseph Salisbury were caught on the 28th of August 1906 shooting on the farm. They were found guilty and each had the choice of paying 17s each or the alternative of ten days imprisonment.

Not much has been written about this farm over the years, not even with thefts, or poachers there doesn’t seem to be much that went on. This is certainly a good thing for the farmers who have occupied or owned this steading, but one thing that I am happy with is that the farm has been a working farm from when it was built and still to this day.

Former right of way. WM.PNG

Today Sunday the 18th of August 19, I took a drive over to the old right of way and then visited Cornhill farm. I knocked on the door and I spoke to the owner Jim Waddell, whose family have been living in the farm for close to 100 years. Jim told me that as a boy he can remember the old well and remembers another one further up. He also told me that there was a bridge crossing the Cadzow Burn but it was before his time. I chatted with Jim and his wife at the farm for around 30 minutes and he told me that that the farmers at Whitecraigs used to come across the burn to the well to fetch their water. This was where they all got their water as it was the only source back in the old days. Jim then told me that the farm helpers and ploughmen used to get oats and a can of water from the well and they used to cook this for their lunch.

Top of Hill WM..PNG

Old Right of way road on Farm Hill. WM18-08-19.PNG

So, I could have spoken to Mr Waddell all day and I was curious about the previous owners of the farm, so I decided to go over old records to see what I could find. I looked back as close as I could to try to trace this farming family. In 1940 I found that a James. A. Waddell was the owner of the farm, however, his address as Drumfin, 6 Whinfield Avenue in Prestwick and the Tenant was Thomas A. T. Waddell. I went back a little further and then found that Thomas was leasing the farm from James from between 1930 to 1940. In 1925 James was the owner and occupier of the farm. From 1925 to 1940 the also had its own plantation attached to it and there was a rent being paid for it.

When I looked back to the 1925 valuation roll, I found that James and Thomas were listed as joint owners of the farm and interestingly, they also had the rights to the site of a club house belonging to the curling pond. It seems that there were a few curling ponds on the south side of Hamilton, where in this area about two miles further west, Sir John Watson also had a curling pond at the Tallyho on Torheads lake. Curling at the wintertime seems to have been a popular pastime for many an old Hamiltonian.

The farm was purchased from the Duke of Hamilton between 1920 and 1925, during this period the Duke was packing up the palace and leaving Hamilton to move out to Strathaven and this is when he started to sell off most of his lands.

When the Duke still owned Cornhill farm, he had tenant farmers who worked his land. In 1915 I find that the tenant farmer was called Robert Frame and this man was the farmer on Cornhill from at around 1864 to 1890. Robert Frame was born in Hamilton c1814 and he married Lillias Rae Reid in 1841. Robert died at Cornhill farm on the 15th of June 1890 and his son Robert took over the running of the farm. So, like the Waddell family, the Frame’s were long time farmers of Cornhill.

Old PenWM

The next record that I found was in 1854, where the sitting tenant of the time was a man named James Hepburn. This man farmed on Cornhill form at least 1854 to around 1861. The very first farmer that I could trace was a man named James Pollock and in 1841 he was working on the farm.

Today, i wanted to learn a bit more about the old right of way path which was closed to the public many years ago and when looking in to this, I now want to know more about Cornhill Farm and its tenants.

More to follow on the history of Cornhill Farm.



Gibson Family Tree.

Peter Gibson, or better known to us as Freddie Kruger (Facebook Name) Asked if I could look into his family history. Peter here’s what I found.

To start, if you are getting confused as to who I am referring to, then please have a look at your family tree above to use as a guideline. Your ancestors were scattered from around mostly Lanarkshire and you only have one family line which has been in Hamilton for a good few generations, however, I will come back to this as the story unfolds.

I firstly started with your direct bloodline and researched the Gibson side of your family. Your father Edward was born in Hamilton on the 13th of November 1942 to parents James & Mary Ann Gallagher.

Your Grandfather James was born at 8:00 pm at 78 Windsor Street in Burnbank, a street that no longer exists and he married your Grandmother Mary Ann on the 6th of June 1941. They married at the Burnbank parish Church. At their wedding the best man was Walter McGowan (Possibly a relation to the Boxer) of 28 Sempie Street and Mary H Anderson of 12 Bryan Street. James worked as a Colliery Labourer and later a general labourer and he seemed to be a labourer most of his working days. When he married, he was living at 26 Milton Street. Your grandparents later moved to 48 Shawburn Street. Your grandfather had two brothers and two sisters; Isabella, Peter, Jeanie & John. Your grandfather died in Hamilton in 1975, he was 58 years old. I will come back to your Grandmother once I tell you about your Gibson side of the family.

Andrew Gibson Birth WM.PNG

Your Great grandparents were called Andrew Gibson and Isabella Matthews. Andrew was born on the seventh of September 1887. He was also born at Windsor Street (Number 8). He continued to live at Windsor Street until at least 1911. He married your great grandmother Isabella on the 29th of November 1907. They also married at 20 Windsor Street; this is where Isabella lived. When they married. James & Helen Gibson were the witnesses. Your Great Grandfather worked all his days as a coal hewer. Andrew died at 8:15 pm, on the 21st of July 1966 at Stonehouse Hospital. The cause of death was generalised arteric sclerosis. His son Cunningham Gibson was the person who registered the death.

Andrew Gibson death 1966.jpg

In your Gibson family line, your great grandfather was the first person to be born in Hamilton. When I looked at your 2-x great grandparents I found that they were a family of coal miners from Ayrshire. Your 2 x great grandparents were called Peter Gibson & Janet (Also Known as Jean) Hutchison. Peter was born c1838 at Kilwinning in Ayrshire. Jean, or Jane as she was known was born in Galston c1855.

They married on the 28th of July 1871 in Jane’s hometown of Galston. They were both like many in this period of time illiterate and they signed their names with an X mark. Peter was thirteen years older than Jean when they married. They moved to Hamilton at some point between 1871 & 1887 and would have come here to work in one of the many coal mines which were being sunk around this time.

Your 2-x great Grandfather Peter died on the 4th of October 1895 at 10:20am. He sadly died at the Hamilton Poorhouse. His cause of death was Typhoid Fever. Your great uncle William Gibson was the person who registered his death. When your 2 x great grandfather died, the family lived at 82 Windsor Street. If you are asking why he died at the Poor House, then it doesn’t mean that it was because he was homeless or an inmate there. These were days before the NHS and if a family couldn’t afford to pay expensive doctors’ fees, then they would have been admitted at the poorhouse hospital and usually this was a last resort for a family to admit one of their own.

Going back another generation, your 3-X Great grandparents were also from the Kilwinning area and their names were William Gibson & Helen Barbour. Peter when I research families, I usually just go as far as Hamilton, and as we are straying quite far out, this is where I stopped my research on your Gibson line. I have however managed to trace 205 years of your Gibson family line and I hope that this gives you some answers on your family line rather than more questions.

Andrew Gibson and Isabella MarriageWM

So, moving back to your great grandmother she was called Isabella Matthews. Isabella was born in Edinburgh c1888 and she was the daughter of Johnathan Matthews & Isabella Agnews? (I have put a question mark against this maiden name as I am unsure if this is correct and it could be Agnew.)

The family did not live in Edinburgh for long and this was due to the job that your 2-X great grandfather did. He was a Blacksmith Journeyman and would have travelled to where the work was and having no fixed smithy, he wasn’t tied down to one place. So, your grandmother Isabella was born in Edinburgh in 1888 and I next find a record of her living with her parents in Glasgow, where in 1891 the family are living in 63 Commercial Road, this was in the Hutchesontown district of Glasgow, or better known as the Gorbals. The family next appear in the 1901 census where they are living at 122 Naeburn Street, still in the Gorbals area. Your 2-X great grandparents were English, Johnathan born c1863 & Isabella c1862. The trail does go cold here for your 2 x great grandparents and I could not trace them any further on the English Censuses and I am unable to tell you what became of them.

James Gibson and Mary AnnWM.PNG

So, I’m now going to backtrack a bit and go back to your grandmothers’ side of the family. Your grandmother was called Mary Ann Gallagher and she was born around 1905. When she married your grandfather, she was living at Burnbank. Her parents and your great grandparents were called Edward Gallagher & Sarah Ann O’Brien McGuigan. Now, with these surnames, I bet that you can guess where this family originated from? I will get to that in a second.

Edward Gallagher, or Ned as he was known was a laborer who lived in Hamilton. Now, he is a bit of a mystery as I can’t find anything on him before he was married. Perhaps, the family moved from Ireland after 1911? (1911 is when I could really trace him on a census).

Edward married Sarah Ann on the 1st of April 1921, and they married at St. Joseph’s Chapel in Blantyre. The witnesses were called Bernard Bonnar & Mary Flannagan. Now, I must let you know here, that we have a family connection through this marriage! Sarah Anne O’Brein McGuigan was the sister in law of my 2nd Great Grand Aunt. My Second Great Aunt was called Margaret McNamee, who married John McGuigan. Also, Bernard Bonnar & Mary Flannagan, who were the witnesses of your grandparents wedding are both in my family tree.

It was here that I got sidetracked with my own family tree, as I had not researched this section in my family since 2013. So, I uncovered more information on my own family tree and had spent some time working on this. Peter, I have always said that everyone in Hamilton, who’s parents were brought up in Hamilton are connected to each other in one way or another. I will be adding your family tree on to mine in due course and when I work it out, I will tell you exactly what our family connection is.

So, Back to Edward & Sarah Ann. When they married Edward lived in 43 Church Street in Hamilton and Sarah Ann lived at 4 Ross Row in Blantyre (Cross Row was part of the Tenements at the Blantyre Works – demolished in 1930). Both sides of this family were all coal miners and even Sarah Ann worked at the local colliery as a Pithead Worker.

Edwards parents who were your 2x great grandparents were called Robert Gallagher & Margaret Hamilton and Robert was born on the 25th of November 1868 at 23 Muir Street. Roberts father was an educated man, as he actually signed for his son’s birth, rather than marking the paper with an X mark. The surname on various documents which I found started off as Gallagher and then as I researched further back it becomes Gallacher, but for the purpose of this story, I will keep it spelled as Gallagher.

In 1871 your 2 x great grandparents were living at 8 Castle Wynd in and then in 1891 I found that they had moved to the better area of Barrack Street. Your 3 x Great grandparents were called William Gallagher & Susan Ginn. William was born c1845 at Bellshill & Susan was a Hamilton girl and was born in c1845.

William Gallagher Death 1878

Your 3-x great grandfather William died at the age of 46 at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, your 2 X Great Grandfather Edward was the person who registered his death. When he died his residence was 34 Leechlee Street. William and Susan had at least seven children.

I managed to go back another two generations on this side of your family and your 4x great grandparents were called William Gallagher & Maria Kelly, both born in Ireland at the turn of the century. William died in Hamilton 25th of November 1885. Your 5 x Great grandparents were called William Gallagher & Susan McCue and I never found any evidence of them coming to Hamilton, so I would assume that they had never moved from Ireland.

Your 3x Great Grandmother’s was called Susan Ginn and she was born in Hamilton c1836 and side of the family were also all from Hamilton. Susan Married William Gallagher on the 7th of August 1853, also in Hamilton. In 1841 the family were living at New Wynd. Susan’s dad was working as a Laborer. She was one of 4 children in the family. If you look at your tree, you will find that William Ginn married Catherine Nugent and from this branch of your family, it also originates from Ireland, so again your 4 x great grandparents were Irish.

Mary Ann Flanagan WM.PNGMoving on to the next section of your family, your great grandmother as I mentioned above was called Sarah Ann O’Brein McGuigan and she was born on the 15th of January 1900 at Duncan’s Buildings in Burnbank.

Sara Ann was the daughter of Charles McGuigan & Mary Ann Flanagan and here I am happy to say that I have a picture of your 2nd Great Grandmother. (Please see Below) Doesn’t she look like a happy wee soul? Do you see a family resemblance in this picture? Let me know.

As I mentioned, Mary Ann Flanagan is also where my family connection lies. Mary Ann was born on the 27th of March 1865 to parents Owen Flanagan & Ann Milligan. Your 3rd great grandfather Owen was also a Blacksmith, and again lived in Ireland.

She married your 2-x great grandfather Charles McGuigan on the 16th of May 1887 at Baillieston.
After I found their marriage cert, I couldn’t trace them again until 1901, where I found them living at Greenside Place in Blantyre.

Margaret Gibson Burial record.

Mary Ann eventually died at Hartwood Hospital in Shotts on the 23rd of January 1935. The cause of death was Influenza and the person who registered her death was one of the Clerks. It is really sad for people with mental disabilities back then. There was no real medication and when their families eventually could not cope, then they were admitted to the Asylum. In most cases once this happened, they also lost contact with their family.

On your Mum’s side of the family we have your grandparents who as you will know were called Thomas McFarlane & Marion Martin Boyle and they married on the 31st of December 1938 at St. Cuthbert’s chapel in Burnbank. I also must say Peter that you have real strong roots in Burnbank, where most of your direct ancestors were born, lived and worked here.

Edward Gibson death 1988

When your grandparents married Thomas was living at 69 Mayfield Road and Marion at 54 Udston Place. Your grandfather was working as a General Labourer and your grandmother was like many young girls of the time working as a Domestic Servant. The best man & woman was John McNulty of 25 May Street & your great aunty Jeanie Doyle of 54 Udston Place.

Your great grandfather on the McFarlane side was called Patrick McFarlane and he was a coal miner and then in his latter years a night watchman. Patrick was born on the 3rd of February 1877 at Springburn and your great grandmother was called Margaret McGeeghan and she was born c 1885 at Cambusnethan.

Mary Ann Gallagher Death.

Your 2 x great grandparents were called John McFarlane & Sarah McCluskey, John born in Ireland & Sarah born in Paisley. They married in 1874 at Paisley.

On your Great grandmothers’ side (Margaret McGeeghan) her parents were called Thomas McGeeghan & Abbie Owens. Thomas was from Airdrie & Annie from Old Monklands (Now Coatbridge). Your second great grandmother Annie died at Burnbank in 1914.

On the Doyle side of your family and your 2 x great grandparents, they were called John Doyle & Agnes Durham. They married at Cambusnethan in 1872 and also a family of coal miners.

In your last family line which I researched, if found that your great grandmother was called Margaret Higgins. She was the daughter of Martin Higgins & Helen Moran. She married your Great grandfather Thomas on the 6th of June 1902 at St. Joseph’s in Blantyre. The witnesses were called James Gourley & Agnes Doyle.

1911 Cenus Burnbank..jpg

She died on the 10th of April 1959 at her house in 37 Douglas Crescent in Eddlewood. Your 2 x great grandparents were called Martin Higgins & Helen Moran. They were originally from Holytown and were also a coal mining family.
Peter, your family like most families in Hamilton and who have at least one or two generations which have been living in the town all mostly had the same occupation and then can be traced back to the same country.

During the mid-eighteen hundred’s, through to the early nineteen hundreds, people from Ireland flocked to Hamilton to gain employment in one of the many coal mines which were being sunk all over the place. As so many people were looking for work sadly, they were exploited and were paid a pittance for their had days toil.

The coal miners of Hamilton had very harsh lives and some were not even so lucky as to have been paid any money at all, as they were trapped in a vicious circle of getting credit form the local colliery owned shop which in turn they had to get their food on credit and then on pay day, pay their wage back the shop.

Peter, when you start to research a family tree, it can be very addictive and when your start you get the passion for it and as in my case, I have been researching for over ten years, it becomes a really great hobby.

You have so much more to uncover in your family history and even though what I have written is nine pages long, I must tell you that I have only just started to lay out the groundwork for you. Like I tell all the people who I do research for, I would ask that you, take a bit of time and take up the hobby of family research. It can be quite addictive.




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