Torheads Farm and Lake.

Torheads Farm and Lake.
By Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton.

Torheads Lake1.JPG

The large lands, once owned by the Watson family, stretched over 2000 acres all the way from Earnock past Torheads and down to Fairhill and Meikle Earnock and at Torheads, there is very little written about this part of Sir John Watson’s land. I wanted to tell you the story about the Torheads lake but when I started to research the lands of Torhead I thought that I would do this area of Hamilton some justice, and tell you about the people who once lived here.

Torheads Lake takes its name after Torheads Farm, which was a farm steading situated south of Hamilton Town Centre and the farmland stretched across 57 acres and it was surrounded by fields and woodland as far as the eye could see.

The first owner that I have found was a farmer called William Gardiner who was born on the sixteenth of September 1810, to parents William Gardiner Snr and Janet Hart. William Gardiner who from 1841, owned the farm and he lived here with his wife Margaret Wilson and their nine children who were called William, Janet, Margaret, John, Jane, Andrew, James, Robert and Bethia.

It seems that William was an outgoing social person, who liked to take part in things within his community. One thing that he always took part in was the local Annual Ploughing matches, where in February 1849, he judged a Ploughing Match in Hamilton and later on in 1856, he appears in the Glasgow Hearld as coming in 4th place in a ploughing competition where the Duke of Hamilton was in attendance handing out medals to the winners on this day.

William Gardiner had owned Torheads from at least 1841 up until 1863, where things seem to take a turn for the worse for William as in April 1863, he files for Bankruptcy and he loses his Farm at Torheads. At the age of 53, poor William after working at the farm his whole life is left with nothing. Torheads Farm was later overseen by the Heirs of D. Marshall Esq and was factored by Thomas Dykes of Hamilton. After 1863, the trail goes cold and I can’t find any further info on what became of William and his family.

Ellen Wilson Born at Torheads 1873.

Moving on, the next family that I found living at Torheads was the Wilson Family. In 1865, the farm steading was leased to John Wilson who was a man from Avondale in Lanarkshire and he took over Torheads and became the new tenant farmer.
John Wilson who was married to Elizabeth Blackwood leased Torheads from 1865, up until his death 17th May 1884. In the time that John and his wife Elizabeth lived on the farm, they had six children born at Torheads who were John, James, Elizabeth, Ellen, Robert & Euphemina.

As Sir John Watson started to extend his coal mining empire, he snapped up all of the land and properties around Midstonehall and Earnock, which began with the purchase of the Midstonehall Estate in April 1871. Sir John Watson wanting to put his own stamp on Midstonehall House then changed it’s name to Neilston House taking the name from a nearby Farm Steading which was to be then locally known as the Old Neilston House.

Tor Lake 1877 WM.JPG
Sir John Watson moved on and extended his land portfolio and bought the land at Torheads and in the year 1873, he arranged for a water supply pipe to be run from Neisland Mansion House to the Torheads marshy land which surrounded Torheads Farm at this time. The area was formerly known as the “Tally Ho” and it was transformed into a small lake. When the lake was constructed, a varied selection of trees were planted to form an arboretum on both sides of the glen and a rockery was also created to give it a much grander appearance.

I have to mention that the name “Tally Ho” could possibly have been used in reference to a hunting ground, but this is just my thoughts on it. The Tor Lake was more than likely designed by a Dundee man named David Mitchell, who was a former gardener of the Duke of Hamilton. David Mitchell had also helped build the beautiful gardens at the Grand Neilsland House.

In the year 1895, a man named Robert Maxwell, who was a road foreman, is now living at Torheads and renting from Sir John Watson. As Robert was a foreman, I would say that the house at Torheads was a ‘Perk of the Job’ house. Robert Maxwell, even though was living in the farmhouse and as I stated, was not a farmer, he was a Foreman and did not seem to have lived here for long, as only 10 years later the land at Torheads, is being used once again as a working farm. Robert Nisbet who was a Dairyman is now the tenant farmer and running Torheads as a milk dairy. He is now leasing part of Torheads from the Watsons and once more this tenancy is a short one as Robert died of heart failure at the age of 47, on the 21st of November 1908.

1905 Map of Torheads1.
After the death of Robert Nisbet, the farm is partly leased – yet again from the Watson’s and it was a cow feeder who went by the name of Alexander Baird, who was now overseeing Torhead Farm. Now, I know that a lot of you can relate to the name Baird as they have been a long established family of milkmen in the town.

The Bairds worked on Torheads farm from around 1910, and I have traced this family still living here in 1930, where around this time the lease seems to change hands and there is now a man named Alexander Robertson who also seems to be involved in the farm. The Bairds in Hamilton are still to this day a family of milkmen, they have Dairies in High Patrick Street, Portland Place and I believe that they have farms around the Muttonhole Road area.

Torheads Walk..JPG

I have still got much research to do on Torheads Farm and Lake and I will probably update this story for Historic Hamilton when I gather more information on it. On Sunday the 23rd of April 2017 I visited the swampy marshy land with my two sons Daniel and Ryan and as we approached the field we were greeted by two big deer, which unbeknown to us were standing watching as we walked past.

When we got as close as about 200 yards they bolted and both jumped over a big high metal fence to get away and I don’t know who got the biggest fright, them or us.

Torheads Swamp..JPG

As we approached what was once called the Taly Ho and walked down through the fields and eventually reached old Torhead Lake I was trying to imagine the fun that the Watson’s would have had when they were entertaining their guests with a game of curling. We only managed to get as far as the edge of the lake but it was a hard obstacle to tackle as the overgrown hedges and trees stopped us from going straight through. This area has now been left to mother nature.

Torheads Bricks..JPG

When I went on my trip to Torhead Lake, I was trying to find if there was still evidence of the Boat House that was seen in the picture of the Watson’s curling on the Lake. I never got as deep into the swamp as I would have liked to, but this will be another adventure for another day.

Brick at Torheads..JPG

I would like to ask our readers who live in Pembury Crescent – have you noticed any evidence of brickwork through the dense overgrown trees? For those of you who didn’t know, if you live in the row of houses from 17 to 37, where your back garden looks onto trees, you face the old Torheads Lake.

Torheads Farm 1971.1.JPG


The following story was sent to Historic Hamilton by David Cairns.

Jimmy Scott fae Ratho Park was the first guy ever-ever in the history of the entire world inside my mind, to imagine, design and build a plank on wheels…he even invented the name…”Skate-Plank”…the name never stuck..but his invention did…today…kids the world over…call it a ‘Skateboard’…the best, crazy-fast craze to come and go I ever saw growing up in Hamilton.

Early summer 1977, I saw Jimmy Scott wheeling his way doon the path that ran fae the top of Balmore Drive over tae Ratho Park…he wisnae on roller skates..they were for lassies..and it wisnae a bogey…too wee for a bogey ?? I decided I needed tae go over and talk to Jimmy aboot this contraption. Jimmy was 2 years older than me, and we were only pals part-time…other times, we wurnae on speaking terms…last time I saw him, he’d been oot on the skite in Hamilton aboot 1986 and he was staggering hame at three in the morning in a tee-shirt…and it was freezin’..I gave him a lift..he was a nice guy..wish I’d played with him mair…

Anyway, this ‘ thing’..plank hing ? was a dod of plank, and two halfs of a roller skate nailed through the dod …and that was pretty much it. He pushed off at the top and was travelling about a quarter the pace my granny wheeled a supermarket trolley full of cans of prunes, and by the time he got half way doon the slope..he was flyin’ aboot as fast as I could swim…and then jumped aff…cos of the speed…I mean…you could die…Jeezo…this was real breakneck stuff.

Mair and mair kids were coming for a shot..bless him, Jimmy let everybody have a go. Within a week, my next door neighbour Stuart Baird’s maw went oot and bought him an £18 clear, blue SKUDA board..with a kickboard tail. We were all now in an arms race…like it or not…anybody in the scheme who’s birthday was in the summer or Autumn, was getting a skate-plank…everybody else had tae get an emergency wan….oh, the embarrassment…the shame…we got wan oot the Catalogue Clubby book….a ‘SuperFlyerDeluxe’ widden monstrosity with a rubber bung on the underside heel. It was aboot two foot long, made of wood, and had the logo painted in blue on the tap…all the paint came aff in a week, all the rubber came aff the wheels in a fortnight, and all that…for £6-99.

The wheels wore doon intae a sideywyse ‘v’ shape. The ‘trucks’ were hopeless, and if ye went faster than 10 mile an hoor, ye gote a deadly speed wobble and fell aff….
During that time, ye could only see skateboarding on a wee snippet at the start of ‘World of Sport’ with Dickie Davis on a Saturday before the wrestling. Britain had some guy called Tim Levis who could slalom in and oot o’ tin cans and was going tae the world skateboarding championships in California, where the Yanks claimed, it had been invented…wis it fuck, it was Ratho Park, Meikle Earnock.

That sent ye oot ontae Meikle Earnock’s famous hilly paths, but, as it was September by then, the paths were already covered by Cooncil issue winter road salt. We had tae come doon oot of the altitude of Meiky tae find the best path in Hamilton…the long, path that ran fae Eddlewood Boolin’ Club, doon ower the Fairhill bing and ran steep doon tae Fairhill Avenue at Mill Road..that path was fucken dangerous. A speed wobble was the speed at which a board began to vibrate in the ‘trucks’..but if ye could control it AND were brave enough…ye could get through it….so on that lower path, headin doon parallel tae Buchan Street…I went through the first wobble…and went full pelt tae the bottom…but got another wan at twice the speed..I shit it…and jumped aff…and accidentally broke the world triple jump record en route tae a triple somersault and a triple salchow before skidding tae a halt with blood pouring oot all the new holes in my wooly wis fucken magic.

Roon’ aboot that time, a new ‘ Skate-Park’ opened in Kelvingrove Park in Glesga, and Jimmy Scott was the guest of honour and opened it. Ye had tae have safety gear if I mind right, so my mam got us fucken auld yellow miners helmets. Even worse, some folk had skate pads on their elbows and knees made oot o’ auld socks.
It was a special treat that day, going to the park in Glesga, but fuck me, we were oot oor were wheechin’ aboot upside doon and back tae front and never came aff…not like today, when they seem tae spend a’ their time jumpin aff the fucken hing.

Back in Hamilton, Christmas was coming, and I had my eye oan a £15 board oot a wee shoap near Woodside Road in Hamilton. Oor Scott on the other hand, was after a ‘Grentek Coyote’…I think that had to be ordered oot a magazine? it was £15 tae..and it was a much better board. Murray Clark and seven of his pals got in the Hamilton Ady for forming an ‘Octomaran’ where eight of them joined together and went doon a hill.

The Cooncil then gote tae work building us a long overdue ‘Skate-Park’..wan tae be proud of. They picked the site…Fairhill Bing !! doon on the grass near the bottom. The story wis at the time, a company were gaunae put in Snake runs and Torpedo Bowls and a half pipe and what have ye, for aboot £15,000…the Cooncil worked oot wi’ a bookies pencil oan the back of a fag packet in Skeltons, that they could dae it for aboot ten thoosand…and so , it came tae pass, that a concrete fucking carbuncle was built over a weekend…and before the concrete set, the locals in Fairhill threw bricks, shoes and auld wellys, car batteries and a shopping basket, two cookers and a Labrador intae the setting concrete…and totally fucked the project up afore the fuckin thing was built. It lay like that, collecting rainwater for about two years…then it was bulldozed…ye can still see a big bump at the bottom of the hill where it wis , I heard they buried a couple of Cooncilors in there tae.

That Christmas…everybody and their aunty woke up tae Grentek Coyotes, proper knee pads and helmets, skateboard annuals full of the best Californian Parks and pictures of skimpy bikini clad groupies…and seven fit snaw drifts…wish I’d got a fuckin sledge !



Part of the great Scottish heritage was the various “Bings” that were left following the closure of mines and pits throughout the country. I was born and brought up at the top of Hill Street in Burnbank, better known as the “Jungle” right at the bottom of Earnock bing, as a wee boy I looked on it as my own personal real estate. Many of the coal miners were pigeon fanciers (doo men) and had their loft out the backyard including my own dad which explains a wee bit the following tale.

The poem below was written by
AND WAS DONATED TO WILMA BOLTON. Wilma has kindly shared this for the Historic Hamilton readers to enjoy.
Corrugated iron—wae the ends turned up
Blint— wi stoure and shale
Fifty miles an oor at least
Anither on yer tail

Earnock bing my Everest
The biggest bing aroon
Ah climbed ye every day in life
The tallest in the toon,

Mony’s the time I fell aff the tap
Fae aff yer towr’n heights
Broken taes and fingers
Ah should be deid by rights

Cadzow bing it was’nae bad
But wis’nae near sae steep
Naewhere near the broken bones
Aw’right for grazin sheep.

Dae ye mind wee Wullie doon the road
We put him in a tyre
Ah’m shair it wis aff a Chieftan bus,
An’ fae aff yer very spire,

We gied’m sich a hefty shove
He fell oot haufway doon
He staggert’ roon for hauf an oor
An roon n’ roon n’ roon,

As soon as he could staun at peace
He said “Christ that wiz great”
“Could we dae it agane jist wan mair time”
It wiz clear he could’na wait.

So intae the tyre again he went
This time we tied him in
An wi an even harder shove
We sent him for a spin.
Well “Tottie Minto’s” pigeon loft…
Ah’ ken ye’ve guessed already
It, wiz quite plain for aw tae see,
Even tae blind Freddy

Unhappy circumstances wid unfold
And mibbie even mair
A heid oan crash, a lot a stoure
An’ feathers everywhere

Deid doos deid as dodos
Died in their loft that day
Like road kill they aw’ lay aroon
Ah guess its fair tae say

We thought the wee block doon the road
Wi’ the doos had done his dash
Surprise, surprise, would ye believe,
Fae in amang the trash

A ghostly figure staggert’ oot
An roon n’roon n’roon
He said “Christ that wiz bliddy great”
Ah hope that very soon

“ We dae that agane jist wan mair time”
“This time ah’ll git it right”
at this point ye can guess the rest
its time to say guidnight

Dear Earnock bing where ur ye noo
Wherever did ye go
Scattered to the winds, ah think
Ah’ ken ah miss you so.

Oh Earnock bing my Everest,
It’s time to say fareweel
Ah won’t forget ye ever
Fareweel Fareweel Fareweel!!!!!

(A wee efter thought)
For those of nostalgic persuasion
Ah hope ye enjoyed my heart felt reminiscence
Slidin doon ma Earnock Everest, Oan ma erse…….in verse.

Thomas Matthew Edgar.
Wilma Bolton. 2005.



The following story was reported in the Hamilton Advertiser on the 20 April 1895.

“Cadzow” writes to the Glasgow Herald; Please give me space for the following statement of facts. In a secluded corner on the confines of Fairhill and Earnock estates, within two miles distance of Hamilton Cross, there lies a small burying-place of some old Meikle Earnock families.

It has long since been disused, but a sweeter and more peaceful resting place it were hard to find, or apparently one more unlikely to be disturbed. What was my horror then, sir, on taking a quiet walk along the road that passes this God’s acre to find a human skull lying on the side walk, and grinning in all its ghastliness at passers-by! I reverently lifted the “thing” intending to replace it in the hallowed ground, when I observed that the door and window of the mausoleum which stands within the graveyard had been forced, and on looking into the interior saw that the stone cists round the walls were prized open, the coffin lids wrenched off, and the remains of their contents scattered over the place.

In my hurried glance I saw three skulls and several thigh and arm bones, and a bystander informed me that shortly before I came up some youths had been enjoying a game of football with the hideous relics. Great shades of Yorick! and this on the evening of a beautiful Easter Sunday in the latter end of the nineteenth century! I have no doubt that those more immediately interested will take steps to bring the perpetrators on this gross outrage to speedy justice.

I may add that the scene of this ghoulish vandalism is quite near to where, not long since, a young man, after spending a convivial Saturday evening with some friends, was playfully kicked to death by his boon companions. (The condition of this burial place has long been a disgrace to all interested in it.)

The next day on the 21st April 1895 the following was written:

“Before Hon. Sheriff Patrick, yesterday, John Murphy, pony-driver, Eddlewood, was charged with malicious mischief in connection with the recent desecration of Meikle-Earnock graveyard.

The libel set forth that on 14th inst., be abstracted from a coffin in a vault in the old graveyard a human skull and bones, and, taking them outside, broke the skull with the bones or stick, and kicked the fragments up and down the graveyard. He pleaded not guilty and the case was adjourned for trial.

John Murphy, pony driver, Eddlewood, was tried at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Tuesday 30th April 1895 before Hon. Sheriff Patrick–on a charge of malicious mischief, committed in the old graveyard, on 14th April. Murphy, a boy of 14, pleaded not guilty, and was undefended.

Five witnesses were examined for the prosecution. From the evidence of four young lads, companions of Murphy, it appeared that on Sunday afternoon they met, and one of them gave information that the vault in the old graveyard was open. They went down to see the place. Arriving there, they found a number of other lads congregated.

Accused went into the vault, and, according to one of the witnesses lighted a match. He went to one of the coffins, which was open and contained a number of loose bones, and then opened another coffin. According to the same witness, he inserted his hand and extracted a skull from one of the coffins, this he brought out on the end of a stick, and threw it to the ground. Remarking that he wished to know what was in the skull, he broke it with a stick.

Again he entered the vault and was about to bring out another skull, when his companions remonstrated, and he gave up the notion. Constable Steel of the County police, said two days before the day libelled he had visited the graveyard in consequence of a report that the vault was open. He found that this was correct. The door had parted from its fixing in the wall for a space of about six inches, through the effect of the underground workings, he fixed the door in such a way as to secure it, and communicated with the representatives of the owners who promised to see the door put right. On the Tuesday following.

On information he received, he again visited the vault and found the place broken into, and the coffins and bones in a disordered condition. He further stated that five years ago the vault had been broken into and coffin cords taken away, which the girls in the village used as skipping ropes.

Accused, when asked for an explanation of his conduct, simply denied that he had lighted a match. His Lordship said the evidence disclosed an extraordinary state of affairs, and but for the circumstances that the accused was only one of a large company, all young and thoughtless, and that the place was improperly secured, he would have passed a severe sentence. But he learned from the Fiscal that the present prosecution was brought more as a warning, so trusting that such sacrilegious misdeeds would not be repeated, he would only impose a fine of 15s with the option of 10 days’ imprisonment.

The following story was donated to Historic Hamilton by Wilma Bolton.


(To the Editor of the Hamilton Advertiser.)
(27th June 1874.)
The article below was printed in the Hamilton Herald on the 27th June 1874 and was sent to the paper by a local man called  W.N. Hamilton. The letter was explaining the demands of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army and it  documents the names of the Farmers & business owners of the time.  The farmers were given no choice and they had to supply Charles Edward Stuart’s army with forage and grain that they demanded, or else! Charlie’s army did not pay for what they had demanded, It was easy to persuade people to part with their goods when you are pointing a gun at them.
Today there is still a working farm that was mentioned in the 1745 document and with grateful thanks to the farmer Billy Brownlie,  was kind enough to share a picture with Wilma Bolton who transcribed the 1874 newspaper article from the Hamilton Herald.
Earnock Muir Farm.
Dear Sir, I enclose a copy of a document in my possession, the minute of a meeting held at Hamilton on the last day of 1745, to consider a demand made on the parish for supplies of forage and corn for the use of Charles Edwards’s army, then occupying Glasgow. Should you be able at any time to find a space for it in your columns, it may be interesting to some of your readers.
Besides giving a glimpse of a state of things to which, within her own borders, our country has happily been long a stranger, it possesses, in its record of the sederunt, considerable local interest.
The largeness of the attendance, and the extreme promptitude with which the whole business was gone about, are significant of the light in which the “military execution” threatened was regarded. Fortunately for our fathers, the pressure put upon them was of short continuance, the Pretender having remained but a few days at Glasgow. “from which city.” Smollett says, ” he exacted severe contributions on account of its attachment to the Government.” I do not know whether John Murray who had signed the order referred to in the minute may have been Lord John Murray, who commanded part of the rear-guard of the Highland army in the retreat from Derby. And, who near Penrith. some twelve or thirteen days before the date of our meeting, had at the head of the Macphersons attacked and repulsed two regiments of dragoons sent to harass his march. The spelling is in all their variations, have been transcribed exactly as in the original document. I am Yours truly W.N. Hamilton, June 1874. HAMILTON 31st December 1745.
In consequence on ane order Delivered yesterday to the Baillies of Hamilton & James Naismith of Ravenscraig anent the providing of Forrage* & Corn for the use of the Cavalry while lying at Glasgow intimation is being made by Expresses to the whole heritor and tennants in the paroch of Hamilton who reside therein to meet at Hamilton this day in order to Consider of what should be proper to be Done in Consequence thereof.. *(Hay, fodder etc) Convened.
THOMAS HUTTON of Smiddie Croft for PENEAITLAND & himself
JAMES STRANG, your*(younger) of Meikle Earnock.
Mr Ret. HAMILTON of Burnbank.
DAVID MARSHALL your, of Neilsland for himself and Jno. CORBET in Mirrietoun.
JAMES BAILLIE of Woodside.
JOHN SOMERVILLE son to Rbt, SOMERVILLE of Silvertonhill.
JOHN BORELAND of Allinshaw.
JAMES CUNNISON of Whitehill & Sunnyside.
ARCHD. CUNNISON one of the present Baillies of Hamilton
WILLIAM SMITH of Devonhill.
R0T*. WILSON, wright in Hamilton for Fairholm, Baillie JOHN SYME and himself. (*Robert)
VM. BOGLE of Top.
JAMES NAISMITH of Ravenscraig for JOHN AIKMAN of Ross, ARTHUR NAISMITH of High Auchingraymont and himself.
JOHN CLARK in Welshaw for Welshaw and Clark’ part of Little Udston.
THOS. ROBERTOUN of Kennedys, Earnock.
JAMES KEDDER for Eddlewood.
JOHN HENDERSON por* of Meikle Earnock. (*Portioner. Owner of land, previously divided amongst co-heirs.)
Jacobite rising
JOHN CORBET in Sunnyside for JOHN CORBET in Meikle Earnock.
WM. JACKSON. for ROT. BUCHANAN’S part of Little Udston.
JOHN McGHEE of Highstonehall.
ALEX. EDGAR of Netherhouse.
THOMAS SMITH for Earnock Muir.
ANDREW CARNDUFF in Bent.* (* Bent farm stood at the corner of Arden Rd and 17 Bridge Street.) WB
WILLM. CALDER in Hollinbush.
JAMES WILSON. Simpsonland.
JAMES GOLDER in Thornyhill.
JAMES RENWICK in Blackbog.
Wm. WILSON, in Quarter
JOHN HAMILTON in Laigh Quarter
THOMAS ALSTON in Thinnacker Mils.
THOMAS LOWDOUN in Thinnackers
JAMES YUILL in Walboog.
THOS. WILSON in Cruketstone.
JAMES LANG in Brountod.
ADAM and Wm.FLEMINGS in Airybog.
JOHN and Alexr. YUILE in Cornhills.
JOHN STRUTHERS in Laighmuirhouses.
Wm. MICKLE in Highmuirhouses.
JOHN WATT in Dykehead.
JOHN MILLER in Motherwell.
Wm. SMAILIE yr. for himself and HUGH SMITH.
JOHN CORBET in Muirmains.
Rot. JAMESON in Little Earnock.
JOHN PIRRIE in Laighstonehall.
Alexr. CORBET in Ross.
JOHN MILLER in Udston miln.
ANDREW WATSON in Little Udston.
JOHN RIVE. Tenementer in Hamilton.
DAVID CROW for himself and Raploch’s heirs.
WM. HAMILTON wright yr.
JOHN MUIR, maltman yr. & for ANDREW McDOWALL.
THOMAS BARR merch*. Yr. * merchant.
JOHN NAISMITH for himself & Rot. COUPER’S heirs & DAVID FLEMING coppersmith.
JOHN MEIKLE, barber.
JAMES CORBETS elder and your.
CHARLES HAMILTON wright for himself & Castlehill.
Wm. MILLER, wright
JOHN MILLER, coppersmith.
Wm. JACK, messr.
Alexr. MILLER maltman and for Jas. STEWART.
JOHN WALKER for Bardykes.
JAMES PATERSON for Cunninger.
JAS. HAMILTON Avonmiln’s heirs.
JOHN SEMPLE’S heirs by Alex. MILLER.
The meeting made Choise of Archibald Cunnisen one of the present Baillies of Hamilton to be their Preses, who intimate to the meeting, that yesterday about eleven of the Clock,
There was delivered into his hand an order of the date the twenty ninth Instant directed to the Baillies of Hamilton, Walter Gilchrist, Sheriff Dept. & Arthur & James Naismith all of the Parish of Hamilton, signed John Murray By his Highness’s Command, requiring you, upon sight to meet at the Paroch Kirk & proportion what Quantity of Forage & Corn each individual in the Paroch Heretor or Tenant could Pay, and that conform to their own knowledge of the valuation for the Support of the Cavalry. While at Glasgow, to be sent to the Fish Mercat there, and if any of the Paroch did refuse obedience to the sd. Order, Certifying them Military Execution should be used agnst. their Goods & Effects.
The meeting doe agree that James Naismaith of Ravenscraig, James Strang younger of Meikle Earnock, John Henderson in Highstonhall, Thos Borland of Udston, Robert Burns of Allantoun, John Muir & John Nasmith, Maltmen in Hamilton, Thos Alston in Thinacker Miln and Wm. Smith of Devonhill. Or any four of them, shall in name of the whole Paroch, and upon their Charge Purchase from time to time such Quantities of Forrage & Corn, and send the same to Glasgow, as shall be found necessary for answering the Demand made upon the said Paroch, and that the Expence thereof, shall be payed by the Heretors & Tenents of the Paroch, proportionally according to the valuation as the same shall be cast by Thomas Hutton of Smiddie Croft, Arthur Nasmith of Over Auchengraymont & James Semple mert. In Hamilton, and Appoint the Committee for Purchassing to attend every day at Hamilton, in order to receive orders.
(Signed) ARCHD CUNISON. Ref, Hamilton, Advertiser, 27th June 1874.
(Research by Wilma S. Bolton)
This transcription & picture of  Earnock Muir Farm was sent to Historic Hamilton by Wilma Bolton.



The story below was written for Historic Hamilton by local author & Historian Wilma S Bolton. Wilma tells us of her time growing up in Mill Road, she talks about the a time in her life when she was a wee girl and she shares her childhood memories from the Cosy Corner.


The above photograph shows the bottom of Mill Road, Hamilton before it was widened by the removal of the site of the old Cadzow Colliery mineral railway line. The walls were the entrance to the avenue of large mansion house which we called Laighstonehall House. Originally known as Eddlehurst, it had been one of six large country mansions built by rich Glasgow merchants who wanted to distance themselves from the smog and dirt of the city. The house at one point became the home of the Sir John Watson  second baronet of Earnock and the birthplace of his son and heir John who was killed in action aged only nineteen years  in WW1.

Eddlehurst, like the other five mansions, sustained a lot of damage from subsidence due to underground workings and it was eventually divided into flats and let out to families. I used to play with a girl called Jacqueline Preece who lived in one of them. The floors were so uneven I felt seasick when walking across them. You were either walking uphill or downhill. Part of their flat was what seemed to me to be a large ballroom. It was void of furniture more than likely because it would have taken a kings ransom to furnish it. The house was built on the site of an ancient mill hence the name Mill Road. The mill lade can still be seen in the burn just up from the Cosy Corner.


Heading up the Mill Road and next door to Eddlehurst stood a large wall enclosed scary looking house which we referred to as McAffer’s.  The family who lived there in the 1940/60s sold tomatoes grown in their large greenhouses. My mother used to send me to buy tomatoes and I would take my friend Wilma Alexander who lived  next door the very short distance down to buy some. The doorbell of the house had a huge brass handle and we were scared to pull it in case we were hauled in by our necks and murdered.   All the woodwork inside of the house was varnished dark brown and the inhabitants were Mrs McAffer, a small, genteel, pleasant woman dressed in black, her son Dr McAffer and a small exceptionally thin and scared looking daughter dressed in grey whom we all called Miss McAffer.

During one of our tomato trips Wilma dared me to pick a tulip from their garden on the way out and I was easily persuaded. Big mistake! Dr McAffer who must have been watching us from the window came charging out of the door like a man possessed and we took to our heels and ran. He grabbed me out in the street and shook me so hard that I wet myself. My mother heard me screaming and what followed was an altercation over him shaking a 5 year old untill she wet herself with terror. I don’t remember if I ever went back there. Perhaps I was banned, but somehow I don’t think so. We needed the fresh tomatoes and they needed the income from the tomatoes because as my mother said “they were poor rich”. Tammy Larkin a coal merchant who lived directly across the road from our prefab rented their garage for his coal cart and the stable for his horse.


There were another four merchant’s houses further up Mill Road, two of which are still standing. One is across from the back of St Anne’s school and is known locally as “The Majors” after a major who lived there many years ago. Its original name was Ivy Grove and at one time was the property of a lawyer named Hay. It was a lovely house inside and outside when I was in it in twenty five years ago, but it had historic subsidence damage as have many of Hamilton’s fine old buildings.


The first house on entering what is now known as Graham Avenue was called Hollandbush House and it was eventually purchased by the Church of Scotland to be the Manse for the South Church and it remained so for many years. It is now privately owned.


The next  one was a twelve roomed house called Oakenshaw and was the one time home of Mr Colin Dunlop, jnr., coalmaster and iron smelters at Quarter village. It was also purchased by Sir John Watson Ltd, coalmasters and was eventually divided into flats and demolished sometime in the mid 1950’s.


Fairview was the last of these grand country houses and it again was bought by Sir John Watson Ltd, Coalmaster, to house his general managers. If only walls could talk for this house could have told many a tale as it was the site of a lot of unrest during prolonged strikes at Eddlewood Colliery.  


The wealthy Glasgow merchants who built these houses to live in fresh unpolluted air could never have foreseen what was in store of them. They had quite literally gone out of the frying pan into the fire.  New collieries were soon being developed almost on their doorstep and a busy mineral railway line running parallel with Mill Road was transporting coal at all hours of the day and night. The area became a mecca for thousands of people moving to Hamilton looking for jobs in the coal mines from all parts of Britain, Ireland, Germany and Eastern Europe. Conditions eventually became worse than living in Glasgow due to the smoke and pollution belching from the numerous colliery chimneys and locomotives. The stench from the raw sewage and pit waste being poured into the once beautiful Cadzow burn running behind the houses must have been quite overpowering. The peace and tranquility of their country residences vanished and all six houses were eventually sold and their original owners no doubt moved on to where the air was sweeter and there were no miners tunneling under their homes.


I had a wonderful childhood living in our wee prefab at 133 Mill Road. With two burns almost on our doorstep we spent many hours swinging on long ropes hanging from the trees, playing at “Dokies” (jumping the burn and generally running wild) and guddling for brown trout. The sewage from Eddlewood Rows was by then channeled into sewers the collieries had closed and the burn was a lot cleaner.  We frequently fell into the water and we would go to my friend Marjory Laird’s granny dripping wet.  Marjory lived with her and she was a woman who loved to see children enjoying themselves. We stood in front of her fire drying our clothes and then I could go home. My mother wonderful as she was, drew the line at me falling in the burn.


In early autumn we would light fires on a piece of wasteland behind the prefabs and which we knew as the “hutchard”. We roasted potatoes dug up with our bare hands from Mr Shearer’s garden. His daughter Alice used to cry in case he would find out but poor Alice’s pleas and tears were ignored. The smell of burning wood still brings back vivid memories of these nights for not only me but for friends who shared the experience. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realised that the “hutchard” must have been part of what had been the old Fairhill colliery and would have been the site of their hutch yard where they stored hutches used for transporting coal.


Autumn was a great time for us children. We watched the chestnuts getting bigger and threw sticks at them hanging out of our reach in the trees at the entrance to Laighstonehall House. We spent hours  kicking piles of leaves over hoping to find  any big shiny chestnuts which had dropped from the trees. We also collected what seemed to me like countless hessian bags full of fallen leaves for my father to turn into beautiful leaf mould for the garden, an autumn ritual which I still continue to this day.  When my own four children were small I would waken them about six o’clock on a weekend morning if strong winds had been blowing during the night and off we would go down to the Cosy Corner searching for chestnuts and they just loved it and they all remember the excitement of finding one.  I believe the origin of the name Cosy Corner was an Italian immigrant called Cocozza who used to stand every weekend at the junction of Mill Road and Bent Road selling flowers to people walking to Wellhall and Bent Cemeteries. When asked if he was not cold standing there he replied “no it is a nice wee cosy corner.” He eventually bought a piece of land and opened a shop and cafe called it the Cosy Corner.


The Mill Road was a magical area for children because there were so many different places to play. Even on the old Cadzow Colliery mineral railway line where the trains were still running. I suspect that they were used for the dismantling of the colliery after it closed on the 29th December 1945.  We used to put pieces of broken glass on the line while we were walking up it on the way to Low Waters School and they were powdered when we came home. As I did not go to school until 1949 or 50 it may well have been used for other purposes.


Wilma & Eileen Bolton taken in 1947 out the back of our prefab at 133 Mill Road.


I inherited a love of nature from my father and I spent many hours looking for birds nests.  I vividly remember lying on top of the raised mineral railway lines with my hand reaching down into a hawthorn bush where there was a blackbird’s nest, when out of the blue I felt a hard tap on my shoulder. I shot to my feet with my heart pounding out of my mouth and found it was the local beat constable. “What are you doing on the railway line?” “Looking for bird’s nests.” “Your name?” Wilma Russell, “Are you Jimmy Russell’s lassie?” My father knew everybody!  I confirmed I was. “Away up the road or I’ll boot your erse, you shouldn’t be here” and I was off like the wind.


Childhood flies so quickly away and too soon it was time to earn a living. I worked in a Glasgow office for two years and then went to work in Phillips factory on the Wellhall Road after my father died. At seventeen I was really only a wee lassie and my route to work was down Mill Road to the Cosy Corner and then on to Chantinghall Road. It was a very dark road and scary at half past five in the morning. On a foggy winter’s night it was even worse. I used to take to my heels and run like a greyhound from the last house in Mill Road to the end of the houses on Chantinghall Road. On a back shift I ran the same road but from the other end. I was petrified as there was frequently the inevitable flasher hanging about in the trees. A female police officer (Laura Thorburn) who became Hamilton’s first female detective used to walk the road in an attempt to catch him. Laura was a tall slim blond and he would have spotted her a mile away and try as she did, she never did catch him; but for me somehow, that childhood haunt lost some of its magic.


The wonderful people of this area contributed so much to my happy childhood. Mr and Mrs Alexander in the next prefab were good people and Mrs Davidson in the end one taught me how to tell the time while sitting at her kitchen table and her border collie dog Sparkie went everywhere with me. Even down to Ballantyne’s pig sty which was just across the road from the entrance to the Bent Cemetery and where I always went in to see the piglets on the way down to my father’s plots; now Mary Street.  Sparkie never could resist rolling in the pig manure. The Larkin’s were a lovely family as were the two Lithuanian families the Bodwick’s and the Smiths living next door to them. Mrs Bodwick used to let me help collect her hen and duck eggs from the henhouse. She was such a lovely kindly woman and she always called me Velma and would press a threepenny piece into my hand whenever she met me after we moved from Mill Road to Bridge Street when I was about eleven. Good days, good neighbours and lovely memories.  

 Wilma S. Bolton ©