Old Neilsland House1

On Wednesday the 3rd of September 1902 The Hamilton shooting case, which caused quite a sensation at the time of its occurrence, came up for disposal before Lord McLaren, in the Glasgow High Court. Justiciary Buildings, Jail Square. This Shooting had taken place on the Third of July 1902 at the Old Neilsland House.
The accused was a pleasant looking servant girl called Janet Laird, who was 20 years old and was smartly attired in a blue costume, and had felt her position keenly, and wept bitterly while she sat in the dock. She was charged with having, on the 3rd July in that year at Neilsland House, Hamilton, occupied by Colonel Rutherford, discharged a breech loading gun, (A Shot Gun) charged with cartridges containing powder and pellets at Alfred Annette, who was an officer’s servant, with intent to murder him.
Mr Morton, who appeared for accused, tendered on her behalf a plea of guilty assault with intent to do serious bodily harm. This plea was accepted by Mr Dove Wilson who prosecuted. The Accused, he said, was about 20 years age, and went into domestic service with Colonel Rutherford, commanding the 71st Regimental District, 28th May that year, bearing good recommendations from her previous mistress.
The only other servant in the house was Alfred Annett and after Janet entered Colonel Rutherford’s service her habits became somewhat idle and dirty, and this led to friction between her and the other servant, who had occasionally to some of her work. Eventually Annett complained to Colonel Rutherford and the complaint was made about June 27, however, Colonel Rutherford seemed to have postponed his decision to dismiss Janet until the 3rd of July where Colonel Rutherford sent for the young woman and dismissed her from his service, giving her a month’s wages in lieu of notice.
The Colonel left that evening do some regimental duties, and shortly after his departure Annette, who from the evidence did not appear to have been on good terms with the Janet Laird, went into a small room to write some letters. He sat down with his back to the door, which shortly afterwards was opened by Janet, who said: “You have done me harm; I will now do you harm.” At this time, Janet Laird had in her hand a double-barrelled Shotgun which she had taken from the wall Colonel Rutherford’s bedroom.
The gun was not loaded it the time, but three cartridges happened to be on the table, and Janet had evidently taken them. As soon as she had spoken she discharged the gun, and from the position of the chair in which Annette sat, it was little short of marvellous that he was not killed on the spot with the pellets from the cartridge just missing him. His face, however, was marked with powder.
Mr Morton said that the case was in some respects as sad a one as had ever engaged the Court. Although he could not set up plea of Insanity there was doubt that Janet was distinctly weak-minded from the time she entered Colonel Rutherford’s service until she left.
It would have come out in evidence that Colonel Rutherford himself came to the conclusion that Janet was not right in her mind, not that was insane, but that she was weak. He then gave instances of some extraordinary things that Janet had done while at Hamilton and argued that they seemed to point to the fact that Janet was somewhat erratic in her behaviour.
On the morning of the affray, she gave one of the silly little laughs which were characteristic her. She was not in a temper and did not appear like one to commit a crime. It was quite clear that she was not at all a person of ordinary mental capacity, and the Colonel although he did not say as much to her, had evidently formed that conclusion also.
The gun had two cartridges, but after firing the first cartridge she threw down the gun and ran off. Janet had never been in trouble before and the Judge thought that the ends of justice would be met with a short sentence.
Lord McLaren in sentencing the accused said that he was sorry to see a respectable girl like Janet to be in court. He was willing to give all the weight he could to what had been said in her favour. If the case had gone to trial, and she had been found guilty of assault with intent to murder, he would have dealt seriously with Janet. But as it was, it was a case for substantial punishment. Lord McLaren could not take it that the gun went off by accident, but it had been discharged with intent to do mischief. In these circumstances, he sentenced her to Six Months Imprisonment. Janet was carried off to Jail in a sorry state.
It was also noted that some of Janet’s friends were prepared to take care of her when she got out of prison. She had already spent the past two months in jail.
How things have changed since 1902! Today if you tried to kill some with a double-barrelled shotgun, you would most certainly get life in prison and not just six months. I wanted to know what became of Janet Laird and Alfred Annett so I decided to go and see what I could find.
Alfred was born around 1876 at Banbury, London. He was the son of James & Charlotte Annett; his father was a butcher in London. He came from a large family and in 1881 he was living at Islington, London. He joined the Army in 1894 and this is possibly where he met Colonel Rutherford. At some point between 1895 & 1902, he left the Army and gained employment at Neilsland House working as Colonel Rutherford’s servant.
After the shooting incident, a year later in 1903, Alfred married Janet McGregor in Hamilton. In 1905, he later moved to 27 Kirk Road in Cambusnethan where he is now working as a Postman. In this marriage, he had 5 children.
Between 1906 & 1907 Alfred moved back down to England he settled at Sunbury in Middlesex. He died on the 17th of January 1952 at Sanbury.
Unfortunately, after the court case, the trail go’s cold and I can’t find any further info on Janet Laird.
** The word Slovenly is what your great aunt Mabel might call you if you came to high tea without a necktie. It means “messy or unkempt,” but is a word you probably won’t hear messy or unkempt people using. This is not a word often used in modern day.


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 !

Drinking doon the Palace Grounds.

Rodge Palace Grounds..JPG


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.

Jack Bruce Band

Jack Bruce Band1.JPG

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 & BARNCLUITH taken from the Illustrated London News (1882)


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.