The forgotten graveyard of Hamilton

How many times have you driven down Muir Street and looked over to the back of the Hamilton town house and noticed the large car park.  Perhaps you work at the library and park at the staff car park behind the building or do you even live at Back Row?

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The Hamilton town house car park looks spacious and has a rectangle shape to it, however this area wasn’t built or designed this way to make space for cars. The land beneath the car park is actually an old graveyard.  The tarmac was laid over the graves as the last coffin was laid over 100 years ago.

Before Smellie’s Auction House was built there was a United Presbyterian Church of Scotland that was large enough to hold 1050 seats. The church occupied the same area of land as Smellie’s at the corner between Muir Street & Lower Auchingramont Road and the graveyard was situated directly across the road from the church.

Car park Grave yard.(The outline of the graveyard)

It was rumoured that the graves were all moved to the Bent cemetery after they removed the headstones from the graveyard, however there was over 300 graves at the car park and at the Bent there is only one marker stone that could possibly only hold four graves at a maximum.

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The only evidence to this day that the graveyard even existed is a marker stone that shows where the burial place is of John J Thomson & Ann Watson who could have possibly been Husband & Wife.

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Today I paid my respects to all the people of Hamilton who are currently buried at the old Hamilton graveyard under the car park of the Hamilton Library! The next time you drive past take a minute and spare a thought because this could be your ancestors that are laid to rest here.


It was reported in the Motherwell times on Friday the 6th February 1945 that George Kilmartin a spirit merchant, 7 Whitehill Road, Burnbank, Hamilton admitted(1) having in his premises in Townhead Street, Hamilton, between August 17 and September 13 January 1945 prepared methylated spirits for use as a beverage by mixing the same with Irish whiskey, and (2) on September 13 having in his possession 23 gallons and 21 and a quarter gills capable of being used wholly or partly as a beverage in the preparation of which methylated spirits, or a derivative thereof, had been used. It was explained on behalf of the accused that he believed he was dealing in genuine whisky. It would be noticed that there was no charge whatever of selling to the public. A fine of £75 was imposed, with the alternative of three months imprisonment, and forfeiture was ordered.

In April 1926 Mr Kilmartin was Public House Manager at Woodside House in Hamilton and he applied to open his own Public House at 75 Windmill Street in Motherwell, where he was refused and later refused again at an appeal.

It seems that Mr George Kilmartin had a run of bad luck as 14 years earlier it was also reported in the Motherwell times that George Kilmartin’s house was struck by lightning!

It was reported on Friday the 21st of August 1931 that the sharp thunderstorm on Sunday night was responsible for a considerable amount of damage here. Three shops were flooded in Burnbank and it was with difficulty that the goods were salvaged. The loss was fairly substantial.

The large villa occupied by Mr George Kilmartin in Woodside Avenue, Hamilton was struck by lightning with the result the chimney and slates and also part of the masonry was displaced.

The lightning passed through the interior of the house and burned a gas bracket, from which gas escaped in large quantities. Police officers who were early on the scene extinguished the fire which had been created.


Born: 29 December, 1931. Died: 5 November, 2006, aged 74.

BOBBY Shearer was straight out of the mould of Rangers full-backs. He seemed to stand 5ft 7in square, he had legs like tree trunks and his red hair was a beacon wherever the battle was fiercest.

A Hamilton man, he signed for the Accies from local side Burnbank Athletic in 1950 and quickly established himself in the first team, playing in every position except goalkeeper.

Shearer, a right-back, played 407 times in all competitions for Rangers between 1955 and 1965, including a run of 165 consecutive games. He previously played for Hamilton Academical, his hometown club, and also for Highland League Club Inverness Thistle while on National Service in the Army in the early 1950s, at Fort George Barracks just outside Inverness. His combative playing style led to him being nicknamed Captain Cutlass.

(Robert shearers memorial match at the old Douglas park, with Maggie Shearer with Jimmy Johnstone.)

He made his full Scotland debut on 15 April 1961, in the infamous 9-3 defeat against England at Wembley. It was frequently joked afterwards that as an orange football had been used, Shearer and Rangers team-mate Eric Caldow had refused to kick it, while Celtic players Frank Haffey and Billy McNeill had refused to touch it.

Despite this inauspicious start, Shearer won further caps against the Republic of Ireland (twice) and Czechoslovakia in World Cup qualifiers the following month, his final game being a 4-0 defeat in Bratislava.

Shearer captained Rangers to their second domestic treble in 1963-64. In all, he won five league championships, three Scottish Cups and four Scottish League Cups during his time at Ibrox.

(Bobby Shearer at 17yrs old at accies. & also the manager in the suit Jackie cox.)

After leaving Ibrox, Shearer moved to Dumfries club Queen of the South as player-coach in the era of players such as Allan Ball, Iain McChesney and Billy Collings. In January 1967, Shearer was appointed manager of ill-fated Third Lanark, who folded later that year. Shearer moved back to his home town club Hamilton Academical and served as their manager, amongst other tasks.

(Bobby Shearer launching around the world in 80 days at the Gaumont in Keith street in 1956.)

Bobby died following a short illness on 5 November 2006, aged 74.
Hamilton man Chris Thom is the Nephew of Bobby Shearer and he was kind enough to send us some of his family photos of his Uncle & Family.


A lot of the young people in Hamilton today never had the pleasure of Meeting John Reynolds AKA “Juke Box Johnny” He was a Karaoke singer who once appeared in Michael Barrymore’s my kind of people. I can remember if you said to him were you on the telly? he always stopped to speak to you about his semi famous lifestyle and then asked if you wanted his Autograph.
He was another one of Hamilton’s true characters that everyone knew and spoke about. Thank you to Derek Murray for sharing this picture with Historic Hamilton

Eddie McCallum & His wife Annie (McNamee)

Eddie was born in Dundonald in Ayrshire and later moved to Hamilton and spent the rest of his life here. He was an Auld Toon man who lived at Castle Street, he then later lived at Burnblea Street with his wife Annie and her Family (The McNamee’s) Eddie & Annie Later moved to Farm Terrace in Burnbank where they spent the rest of their lives. They had Three children Ann, Janette & Joe McCallum. Picture Courtesy of Garry Lee McCallum.


Jimmy Brunton 1919-2014. Jimmy’s father originally came from Peebles. Jimmy was a proud Old Town man and lived in Hamilton all of his life. He was one of Hamilton’s Last Cattle Walkers. He used to walk the Cattle from the Slaughter House (Next to the current Lightbodys on Bothwell Road) down Muir Street and in to the Market. Jimmy was once gored by a bull during his work but kept on working. He was also well-known in Hamilton, along with his friends for having a sing-song in the middle of Cadzow Street when the pubs had closed, another one of Hamilton’s finest characters.


Today we are posting the second picture that was sent in by David Rams. In the picture is an aerial photograph, looking over the old town and also features the construction of the M74 motorway c1965.

The land at the far left of this picture was part of Hamilton Palace’s Farm Estates, where they grew vegetables for the Duke. Local man Wullie Gardner (also known as Watery Wull) had a farm on this ssection of land. The houses at Mote Hill now occupies the land where his farm was.

At the top of the picture you can see the large football parks where the annual fair used to put on a show twice a year and is now called the Palace Grounds where the retail park and fitness club are today.

If you would like to share some old photos of the town then send them to us on a PM or by email at