Agnes Scott’s Monument of Memories Part 4 Printed in the Hamilton Advertiser on the 24 June 1966.

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In the late twenties, William (or Bill) Anderson, a grandson of the aforementioned Thomas Anderson, became aware of the health-giving benefits derived from physical training and started a course of gymnastics. Others got curious, then interested, so Bill and his cousin William Allan, at present town chamberlain of Campbeltown,  together with John Neilson and Adam Steel, founded Burnblea physical culture club which met nightly in the Anderson home. Unlike the scouts or Boys’ Brigade, where the leaders were older men, this was a club run by youths for youths, and it proved an instant success.

So many young men wanted to join that the founders commenced a search for premises. Mr Sherret, the butcher who had taken over the farm-steading when Bent farm was vacated by Abie Brownlie, let them have the barn for 5 Shillings per night. Aladdin oil lamps were bought to light the place and bales of hay were used as mats. For the sum od sixpence per meeting, members enjoyed every minute of their strenuous exercise and quite a number became proficient weight-lifters. Part of the fun was a dip in the big boilers of cold water.

The barn was not the choicest of premises, however, and with the ever-growing membership a friend suggested that Anderson contact Mr A K Foulis of Hamilton Estates. Bill did this and permission to use the riding school was granted in 1930. This proved an ideal arrangement and the 150 members met for three hours every Tuesday and Friday evening. For the nominal sum of 10 Shillings per month, lighting, heating and bathing facilities were included.

DUKES FANS

The lads were delighted with this generous offer and the Boxing Marquis, the present Duke of Hamilton, became their hero.They were well acquainted with johnnie Brown, who sparred with the Marquis, and they now felt they knew the nobleman too. Later they maintained a lively interest in the Duke’s flying adventures, especially his flight over Everest.

A number of young ladies heard of the success of the club and asked Mr Anderson to form a female group. Bill was hesitant at firs, but when a deputation of girls from Gilchrist’s Bakery approached him he was persuaded and so in 1932, with a membership of 30, Hamilton’s first league of Health and Beauty was formed. Members paid an annual subscription of two shillings, plus sixpence attendance fee. An ante-room in the old Town Hall was rented and the ladies met there once weekly. After a few weeks, larger premises were necessary and the Masonic Hall was rented for one evening a week at 12s 6d per night.

Every kind of training apparatus was purchaser and the membership  rose quickly to 120. Social evenings, dances and hiking expeditions brought the sexes together and both clubs had a continued run of success until they terminated, the physical culture club because of the war and the league of Health and Beauty because of the many other interests of the founders.

One fellow, James Lang still has his membership card which he carries around as a memento of the many happy evenings spent in congenial company. A few have a better reminder for they found romance. Bill Anderson and Adam Steel fall into this group, as they married members of the League of Health and Beauty.

BIG CHANGES

Like most of Hamilton, Burnblea Street is undergoing big changes. Police houses have long since replaced Chassels’ tenement and during 1963-65 burgh houses and a new self service Co-operative licence store were erected on the vacant field and on Nicholson’s site. The other tenements  have been ear marked for early demolition and soon all individuality will have been erased from the street. Instead of the once beautiful stone tenements, one shall find new brick and roughcast dwellings; inferior in my opinion, but for the fact that they contain kitchenettes and bathrooms. A few people, however, are reluctant to move when they compare their present rentals with the high rents of the council houses, for therein  lies a problem far greater than the lack of a bathroom.

Agnes Scott’s Monument of Memories Part 3 Printed in the Hamilton Advertiser on the 17 June 1966.

In the first decades of this century, the populous area to the south side of the town could be said to end at Burnblea Street, with the three story tenement belonging to the Mirrlee’s, Chassel’s who also owned the public house at the corner of Portland Square. Except for the few properties and villas in Low Waters, grazing land stretching from behind Burnblea Street up past the school to the mining communities of Cadzow and Eddlewood.

Thomas Anderson, Beechwood, Portland Place, built a two storey tenement partly in Low Waters and partly in Morris Street which he opened up and named after his lovely wife, Lilias Morris who, before marriage, was the elected Belle of Cambusnethan.

At the foot of Burnblea Street was the town’s most popular playground which gave access to lovers’ lane and, of course, to Burnblea Street, the lower half of which was lined with attractive cottages. The other half consisted of tenements belonging to Chassels, Anderson,Paterson and Scott on the one side and to the Steel and Nicholson on the other.

A filed lay between Butterburn Park and Nicholson’s property. Half of this was owned by Robert Cockburn and occasionally contained a bull or a sick cow. Nicholson’s half was used mainly for poultry.

Sometimes, however, there could be seen a handsome race-horse or a glorious peacock whose gay plumage was a source of childish wonder and provided first-hand knowledge for a school essay. Whenever a menagerie came to Hamilton, which was not up to local expectations, Burnblea Children would boast that they had a better one of their own. Thus one talked of the Burnblea Menagerie.

COLOURFUL CHARACTERS

With so many fields around it, Burnblea Street was an ideal one in which to rear children, many of whom now hold prominent positions in the professional and business worlds. It was a Street of harmony and contentment with a few colourful characters rising above the crowd. Johnie Nicholson, with his breezy alertness, councillor John Walker, with his cheery smiling face; “Paw” Peterson with his searching eye and unhurried gait; and old Andrew Scott, with his sense of humour and deep Christian fellowship-these are but a few.

The street had its quota of teachers, among them the Misses Harley, and tall, distinguished looking Robert Walker M.A. who was killed in the First World War.

The only foreigners were the Italians, the Delgrossos, who had a fish and chip shop in Chassels’ building. They were noted for their cleanliness, besides their delicious fish suppers and they became an integral part of a respected whole.

STRIKE AID

Burnblea Soup Kitchen.
The transformed washhouse then known as the Burnblea Soup Kitchen with residents of Burnblea Street taken during the Strike of 1926.

During the long strike of 1926, the residents rallied around their mining neighbours and supplied vegetables and potatoes which were cooked in one of Anderson’s washhouses.  The washhouse was whitened and everything scrubbed and polished to transform it into a cookhouse or soup kitchen. After a large plate of good nourishing soup the men would have a sing-song or play cards to while away the long summer days. Luckily the weather kept perfect but by the time the strike ended many were heavily hopelessly in debt.

After the 1921 and 1926 strikes, some miners took advantage of the emigration schemes and crossed the Atlantic where, to their horror they found a depression as grave as the one they left behind.  Cold, hunger and the inability to get other than casual labour accounted for one poor chap’s death.

After years of toil and untold suffering dreams. One in this category sent dollars to landlord and grocer to meet debts outstanding for almost twenty years. The money was promptly returned with letters of praise for the touching show of honesty and Scottish independence. But such was the type of people who called Burnblea Street “home”.

 

 

HAMILTON FROM ABOVE

HAMILTON FROM ABOVE.
This picture was taken in 1928 and you can notice the changes that the town has gone through in the last 87 Years.
As you can see, there is no M74 at the top of the picture but a road leading up to Motherwell. You can also see the line where the grand avenue of trees lead from the Palace up to the Duke’s hunting lodge at Chatelherault.
Tuphall Road (A) is shown from it’s junction with Quarry Street and Bent Road, with the Gasholder (B) to it’s right. The back of Johnstone Street tenements (C) has Woodside School beyond.
Selkirk Street (D) ran through from Portland Place (E) to cross Tuphall Road. Scott Street (F) and Butterburn Park Street (G) climb, uninterrupted, from Tuphall Road and across Burnblea Street (H).
Low Patrick Street (J) has the old Hippodrome at its foot. Central Station (K) and the former Town Hall are on the Left of the picture.
The fields at the bottom of the picture would be later built on as the construction of much needed council housing got under way.

Arial photograph of Hamilton in 1928.
Arial photograph of Hamilton in 1928.