The surrounding areas of Quarter today, are as they were a hundred years ago, with many little farms doted around the green fields of the southern end of Hamilton. Cornhill Farm is an old Hamilton farm which has been standing on the same spot since before 1855.
Connected to this farm, was an old right of way path which would have been used by people wishing to walk from Quarter through to the western side of Hamilton at Meikle Earnock, Torheads and further afield. The old right of way would have been used by miners walking to and from their place of work and travellers wanting to walk back from this side of the parish in Eddlewood, Annsfield & Quarter.
This old right of way was eventually closed off to the public and on Friday the fifteenth of December 1899, an unnamed angry rambler wrote to the Editor of the Hamilton Herald Newspaper (now the Hamilton Advertiser) to voice his concerns of his favourite walkway being closed.
The anonymous reader wrote:
“Sir, – Through the columns of your valuable paper allow me to call public attention to the closing of an old right of way, which has been used as a public road for upwards of 70 years. This old road branches off at what is known as the Strathaven railway bridge, through part of Mackie’s farm and on to Cornhill farm, making a nice “short cut” to Hamilton water works. Now, it’s a great pity that we should lose a nice country walk, to be shut out and compelled to walk on a dusty toll road toll-road on a nice summer’s day. Does any of our parish councillors know of this? If so, why is it allowed? I hope that our councillors will see to this and have it re-opened unless there is a reason for having it closed. I fail to see whatsoever. I am yours etc. – RIGHT OF WAY, 1899.”
Cornhill farm in its early years was owned by the Duke of Hamilton. In 1855 James Hepburn was the farmer who was leasing the steading and he was paying an annual sum of £110, which in 1855 was a large amount, in fact today in today’s money he would have been paying an annual rent of £11,748.23 or £979 per month.
Also attached to this farm was a little house, or building called ‘Neuk’, this little building was situated away from the farm and was built on the bottom of the farmers field and sat high up above the crags of the Cadzow Burn. Perhaps, this was a farm laborer’s house, or cattle shed for winter, it is unknown.
I have recently been on the site of this old Neuk and there are still old sandstone blocks lying scattered on the ground. When this was demolished, the stone was clearly not taken for the stone to be reused. Next to this site is a stone structure built into the Craggs of the Cadzow burn, so there may have been at one point an old bridge crossing the burn. The Cadzow Burn during heavy rainfall flows fast and this part of the burn can be really dangerous, perhaps in old days, this may have been an old Toll bridge? Was the house a Toll house that once connected to the old right of way?
This old right of way may have been at one time a recognised as a byroad, or path used by travellers not wanting to venture into Hamilton, or by travellers not wanting to be seen by anyone in the busy town. If you look closely at the old 1888 map of Hamilton, you will see that next to the Neuk, there is a path crossing the Cadzow Burn. This path is further upstream than the stone structure that his built in to the Craggs.
On Tuesday the 10th of September 1907, three miners were charged at Hamilton Sheriff Court with poaching on the farmland. Alexander Hamilton, John Hughes & Joseph Salisbury were caught on the 28th of August 1906 shooting on the farm. They were found guilty and each had the choice of paying 17s each or the alternative of ten days imprisonment.
Not much has been written about this farm over the years, not even with thefts, or poachers there doesn’t seem to be much that went on. This is certainly a good thing for the farmers who have occupied or owned this steading, but one thing that I am happy with is that the farm has been a working farm from when it was built and still to this day.
Today Sunday the 18th of August 19, I took a drive over to the old right of way and then visited Cornhill farm. I knocked on the door and I spoke to the owner Jim Waddell, whose family have been living in the farm for close to 100 years. Jim told me that as a boy he can remember the old well and remembers another one further up. He also told me that there was a bridge crossing the Cadzow Burn but it was before his time. I chatted with Jim and his wife at the farm for around 30 minutes and he told me that that the farmers at Whitecraigs used to come across the burn to the well to fetch their water. This was where they all got their water as it was the only source back in the old days. Jim then told me that the farm helpers and ploughmen used to get oats and a can of water from the well and they used to cook this for their lunch.
So, I could have spoken to Mr Waddell all day and I was curious about the previous owners of the farm, so I decided to go over old records to see what I could find. I looked back as close as I could to try to trace this farming family. In 1940 I found that a James. A. Waddell was the owner of the farm, however, his address as Drumfin, 6 Whinfield Avenue in Prestwick and the Tenant was Thomas A. T. Waddell. I went back a little further and then found that Thomas was leasing the farm from James from between 1930 to 1940. In 1925 James was the owner and occupier of the farm. From 1925 to 1940 the also had its own plantation attached to it and there was a rent being paid for it.
When I looked back to the 1925 valuation roll, I found that James and Thomas were listed as joint owners of the farm and interestingly, they also had the rights to the site of a club house belonging to the curling pond. It seems that there were a few curling ponds on the south side of Hamilton, where in this area about two miles further west, Sir John Watson also had a curling pond at the Tallyho on Torheads lake. Curling at the wintertime seems to have been a popular pastime for many an old Hamiltonian.
The farm was purchased from the Duke of Hamilton between 1920 and 1925, during this period the Duke was packing up the palace and leaving Hamilton to move out to Strathaven and this is when he started to sell off most of his lands.
When the Duke still owned Cornhill farm, he had tenant farmers who worked his land. In 1915 I find that the tenant farmer was called Robert Frame and this man was the farmer on Cornhill from at around 1864 to 1890. Robert Frame was born in Hamilton c1814 and he married Lillias Rae Reid in 1841. Robert died at Cornhill farm on the 15th of June 1890 and his son Robert took over the running of the farm. So, like the Waddell family, the Frame’s were long time farmers of Cornhill.
The next record that I found was in 1854, where the sitting tenant of the time was a man named James Hepburn. This man farmed on Cornhill form at least 1854 to around 1861. The very first farmer that I could trace was a man named James Pollock and in 1841 he was working on the farm.
Today, i wanted to learn a bit more about the old right of way path which was closed to the public many years ago and when looking in to this, I now want to know more about Cornhill Farm and its tenants.
More to follow on the history of Cornhill Farm.