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 ?..it 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 jumper..it 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 depth..kids 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 !
Picture the scene, It’s 6 am and the Circus is in town at the Palace Grounds. What better way to end your night or start your day by going down to free the animals with a carryout.
In the picture are the Trainspotting rejects from Burnbank L-R Weirdo (His Nickname) Alec Latimer, Mark (Muzza) Murray, ??, Gary (Rodge) Ramsay, & Billy Bradley.
As stated, this picture was taken at the Palace Grounds at 6 am after an all night drinking session. The bench in the picture was roughly just up a bit from where the McDonalds restaurant is today across from Asda.
Have you got a picture from back in the day that you would like to share? Send them over to us and we will share with the group.
Donald Orr sent us an old flyer from his collection. Donald told us:
“The late, great ,Jack Bruce, bass player, vocalist, and song writer with supergroup Cream, came down in the world, the night he played to a less than full house, in Hamilton.
Posters announced there would be 1000 watts of power, from the Best Bass Player in The World, and with Chris Spedding(” Motor Bikin’ “), on guitar, it was a hard rock performance. Jack, originally from Paisley, moved on to huge crowd again in future years. A great musician!”
Did you go to this Gig? tell us your memories and even better show us your photos.
On the afternoon of Friday, the 24th March 1876 at 3:30 pm a shocking occurrence took place on the Hamilton branch of the Caledonian Railway, near the bridge adjoining Craigknowe farm steading, about a mile from Blantyre Station.
As the driver of the 3 p.m. train from Glasgow was nearing the spot, he observed young man standing at the side of the line, and, thinking he was too near, blew the whistle and at the same time took means to stop the train.
The rate speed at which the train was going being about 30 miles an hour, it took some time draw up the train, and before this could be done the engine and part of the train had run over the young man.
It was found that the wheels had passed over the head and part of his body, and the brain was exposed, and he was otherwise mutilated in a shocking manner. The body was identified that of William Davie Brown, son of Mr J. K. Brown, Avongrange, Hamilton. was about 24 years of age, a young gentleman of great promise, and highly respected. Much sympathy is felt for his relatives in their heavy bereavement.
William was born in Glasgow and he was the son of James Brown a Merchant & Marie Davie, up until his death was living Avongrange at Castlehill at the house of Dr Wharrie as his father was renting the property. In 1876 suicide was illegal and it is sad to think that this young man with a great future ahead of him thought that he had no way out other than to end his own life.
Bothwell Bridge, on the Clyde, not far from Hamilton, is renowned for the battle fought, in 1679, between the Covenanters and the Royal forces under the Duke of Monmouth and Claverhouse, in which the latter were the victors.
Old pictures of this battle represent the bridge with high gateway about its centre. The old bridge still remains, though much altered by additions and improvements. Our view will, nevertheless, show the character of the old structure, with its curious ribbed arches. It will be seen that an addition has been made by which the bridge -was more than doubled in its width; the side paths for foot passengers being carried above iron supports to give more space to the carriage roadway above.
This view is taken looking the river from the left bank. The main battle took place on the opposite side, where the high ground slopes down to some flat fields. The town of Bothwell is scarcely a mile to the north, but there are scattered houses now nearly all the way to the bridge.
The grounds of Hamilton Palace begin on the left bank of the Clyde, at the upper side of the bridge, where there is a handsome entrance-gate, ornamented with the cinquefoils of the Hamilton escutcheon; and the bridge, which has been transformed into handsome one, is now a fine feature in the approach to Hamilton on the road from Glasgow.
Near the gate where visitors enter the Cadzow Grounds, is an old residence called Barncluith, which contains a fine specimen of Dutch gardening. They are supposed to have been constructed by a John Hamilton of Barncluith, in 1582. Queen Mary stayed at Hamilton Palace on her escape from Loch Leven, and just before her final defeat at Langside, near Glasgow. At such an exciting moment it is not likely that Queen Mary would pay much attention to the wells or the water supply of the neighbourhood, but her visit was doubt sufficient to associate her name with this picturesque fountain.
The well still seems to be used in 1896, according to the old map of Hamilton. I wonder if anyone can tell me if the well can still be seen at Barncluth today.