HAMILTON POETRY FROM 1895.

Published on Friday the 7th June 1895.

This poem which I recently discovered was written by a lady named Lizzy Smith. Lizzy lived in Meikle Earnock village in 1895 and I get the feeling that she was quite the character. I also must admit that in this period, Lizzy’s poem is the first which I have stumbled across which was written by a woman, as most poems seem to have been written and sent to the local newspaper by men. So, she was probably quite a head strong woman.

For me, this poem is a real gem and I am so happy that I found it, because Lizzy not only tells us of what life was like in 1895 but she tells us in the language of the day, how the old Hamiltonian’s spoke and of the people who were alive in this period and we hear old family names being mentioned. So, here is Lizzie Smith’s poem, in her own words.
THE PLOOMANS BALL.

By Lizzy Smith 1895.

In Meikle Earnock’s ancient toon,
Leaves Wullie Smith a cairter loon,
And a bonny day in June,
He met a lass,
Wha, search the country side aroun,
Nae coo’d surpass.

Her beauty, elegance, and grace,
Her bonnie lauchin, winsome face,
Garr’d ither chiels join in the chase,
Her he’rt to win,
But Willie did them a’ ootrace,
And steppit in.

At least he thocht that first he’d been,
But he like plenty mair, I ween,
Was sae in love wi Bonnie Jean,
He couldna’ see,
What ithers a’ alang hsd seen,
She’d twa or three.

He geid her presents o’ the best,
And day nor night he couldna rest,
But thocht himsel uncommon blest,
That thus had got,
His bonnie dear to answer yes,
To share his lot.

And thus wore by the summer time,
And trees and floers were past their prime,
And autumn wi’ its days sae fine,
Had bid adiew,
And grass was wat wi hoary rime,
Instead o’ dew.

Twas then took place the ploomen ball,
Whan fully fifteen couples all,
Were gathered in the spacious hall,
At Chapel Farm,
Which as ye ken, baith young and auld,
Is just the barn.

Twa just to pas the time a wee,
Or else a wee but fun tae see,
Or something else that prompted me,
That night tae gang,
But this is hoo, without a lee,
They got alang.

Gibb Berry, wia lass ca’d Nell,
Thocht nane were as guid’s himsel,
But the truth I was to tell,
I’d say that he,
Doon in the dirt had aften fell,
At mony a spree.

Jock Watson, in his Sunday claes,
As fresh as daises on the braes,
And een as black as ony slaes,
Was there on’ a’,
And aye himsel he tried to rise,
An inch or twa.

For he was swalled wi conscious pride,
And that’s a fact he couldna hide,
And Maggie Rankin by his side,
Was unco mim,
And blushed as sweet as only bride,
And looked at him,

And next a chap, they ca’ him Will,
He’s servin’ up at Cornhill,
He danced and jumped aboot until,
His heid grew dizzy,
And teen joined in wi’ right guid Will,
That winsome hizzy.

But by my sang, he didna think,
As he wi’ Teen that nicht did link,
Pair chap, that he was on the brink,
O’ being jookit;
The stallion man gied her the wink,
And aff they hookit.

Frae Craigenhill there next cam Dan,
An honest and a manly man,
Wi a hizzy o’ the Fifer Clan,
Tho’ somewhat soor,
I think she had made up a plan,
To look aye dour.

Of course for me it widna dae,
To name them a’ in sie a way,
For the truth to tell, its hard to say,
They’d tak’t amiss,
My very life they’d swear to hae,
For writin this.

O’ this discourse I’ve lost the threed,
Bur then it is a lengthy screed,
And sie a Jumble’s in my heid,
O’ mirth and fun,
And then that glorious midnicht feed,
It took the bun.

The time gaed by wi’ mirth and glee,
A’ things were there to catch the e’e,
There was rowth o’ pastries, cakes and tea,
Pankakes and bannocks,
And some they ate sae greedily,
They fyled their stammacks.

A chap who happened to be there,
Got up on tae the barn flair,
And wi’ a voice baith sweet and rare,
Made echoes ring,
Wi’ Norah’s pride o’ sweet Kildare,
Feth he could sing.

But quately speaking, tween me and you,
Twas chappies in the royal blue,
Could shift a pickle mountain dew,
Doon ower their neck,
And everything that cam’ in view,
They took their wheck,

The man wi’ feet was there an ‘,
I’m shair they’re onything but sma,
Twelve inches lang and ither twa,
I’m shair they’d be,
Sis feet as them I never saw,
At ony spree.

And Jean, she sang a sang sae sweet,
To hear her was a perfect treat,
There’s na compeers,
She finished and then took her seat,
Mid deefenin cheers.

And thus, wi mony a dance and sang,
The lightsome hoors they sped aland,
The guid Scotch drink was dealt amang,
The ploomen chiels,
And aye their sturdy legs they flang,
At jigs and reels.

But everything maun hae en end,
And sae maun balls, as well ye ken,
Oor several ways we a’ did wend,
Just as daybreak,
For fear oor maisters we’d offend,
And get the seck.

Then here’s a health to guid John Mackie,
He did his best tae mak; us happy,
He was sae droll and aye sae crackie,
He cheered us on,
When I gang up I’ll tak’ a drappie,
And drink’t wi John.
Meikle Earnock Lizzie Smith.

This poem was probably written just after the party in the barn ended. The barn dance could have been a once a year event that took place in the summer, where the hard working ploughmen had a chance to go out and meet some nice girls and also in turn, the young girls some allowed to go and by the sound of the poem, some that went without their parents knowing.

The barn dance sounded like a community event where old and young enjoyed each other’s company and it could have been a bit like a gala day. So, a day and night out, that all looked forward to.

I wanted to find out more about Lizzy Smith, so I decided to do some research and luckily for me, there was only one person called Elizabeth Smith who lived in Meikle Earnock in 1895 and here is what I found.

Lizzie, or Elizabeth Smith was only nineteen when she wrote this poem. She was born in Glasgow on the 7th of August 1876 to parents Hugh Smith & Mary Sweeny. The family lived at Haggshouse Farm in Kinning Park, Glasgow where Lizzie’s father was working as a ploughman. Her father then moved the family to Blantyre, where he was now working as a greengrocer.

In Blantyre, Lizzie and her family lived at Aitkenhead Buildings and Lizzie worked along with her father as a green grocer’s assistant, but the their time at Blantyre was short lived as they then moved to Meikle Earnock, where Lizzie’s dad was now working back on a farm and working as a cow feeder.

When the family lived at Meikle Earnock, there was another family that went by the name of Cuthbertson and I will come to this soon and let you know why I have mentioned this.
Lizzie Smith was now working most likely at the same farm as her father. Her farther was the cow feeder on this farm and Lizzie, just like she did at the green grocers in Blantyre worked side by side with her father and she was working as a dairy maid. I get the feeling that Lizzie and Hugh had a close father daughter relationship.

On the 9th of December 1898 Lizzie married a Cambusnethan man who went by the name of James Gilchrist. James who was a coal miner worked in various places including Muirkirk in Ayrshire, Ormiston in East Lothian, Tranent, East Lothian and then back to Hamilton. This man’s father was a coal miner just like him and it is unknown why the family lived in mining communities scattered all over Scotland, perhaps his father was blacklisted by the colliery owners, but this is just a guess.

Lizzie Smith Divorce..PNG

The marriage with James produced seven children and sadly two died in infancy, but this was not a happy marriage. On the 11th of June 1913 James files for divorce from Lizzie, now there was probably more to this, but the reason given was that Lizzie was talking of another man while she slept and when confronted by James, she confessed to have been unfaithful.
By the time of the divorce, James was living in Hamilton at 9 Windsor Terrace on Bothwell Street and Lizzie was living at Whitecraighead in Cleland. I found a newspaper report printed in the Motherwell Times on Friday the 13th of June 1913 which stated:

“MOTHERWELL DIVORCE CASE. Betrayed by Talking- in Sleep.

The story of how a woman betrayed herself in her sleep was narrated in the Court of Session on Saturday last. James Gilchrist, miner, Orchard Cottage, Bellshill, sought divorce from wife, Elizabeth Horne Smith or Gilchrist, Whitecraighead, Cleland, by Motherwell, and Thomas Lindsay, mason, ’station Cottage, Muirkirk, was called as the co-defender.

Divorce in Paper..PNG

The pursuer said the marriage was solemnized in 1898, and there were five surviving children. The co-defender had been a lodger in the house. One Sunday in
April 1912, when they were then living at Strathaven, the pursuer heard his wife talking in her sleep.

She was carrying a conversation with someone to whom’ she was heard to say: “This would have to be their last meeting and that it would be better to separate.”

The preceding week had found a letter sent by Lindsay to his wife, in which he said that he was uneasy in his mind. When he taxed his wife, whom he awoke, she admitted having had relations with the co-defender. She subsequently signed an admission, of misconduct. After some further evidence, decree was granted to the pursuer on the ground of the defender’s infidelity”.

After the divorce, Lizzie moved back to Meikle Earnock in Hamilton. Her dad Hugh had died on the 16th of March 1910 at his house in Hollandbush Cottage. If I were to take a guess about one of the reasons as to why Lizzie was not happy in her marriage, then it could have been a lack of compassion from her husband, or perhaps she was so close to her dad that she may possibly of had a bit of depression after his death, however, this is only what could have happened and I do not have any evidence to back this up.

After Lizzie moved back to Meikle Earnock, she met a man named Robert Cuthbertson, who was a widower. It appears that Lizzie and Robert were old acquaintances and they knew each other in their younger years, and it appears that they were childhood sweethearts. Robert lived at Meikle Earnock at the same time as Lizzie when she was living in the village.
They married on the 21st of June 1913 in St. Rollox in Glasgow, the reason as to why they married here is unclear, however, they did continue to live at Meikle Earnock after the wedding. They lived at Croft Cottage right up to May 1921, where they decided to leave Meikle Earnock and indeed Scotland forever.

Passanger list WM..PNG
On the 21st of May 1921 the couple boarded a passenger ship and left for Sydney, Australia. Travelling with them are Robert’s sons James, Malcolm and his daughter’s Mary & Nancy and Lizzie’s son Hugh. They saw out the rest of their days in Australia and Robert lived to the ripe old age of 89 where he died in Nowra, New South Wales on the 18th of June 1962.

Lizzie died only seven months after her husband passed away. She died at the same place on the 12th of January 1963.

What started of a poem written in a local news paper turned into a story of a strong lady who had her ups and downs in life. Lizzie Smith from Meikle Earnock emigrated to Australia and she now has family connections on each side of the world. I wonder if what we write today will have someone reading about it in another 125 years. Also, I would love to go to a party in a big barn, I wonder if the local farmers around Hamilton still have parties like this? Below is a picture of Lizzie Smith.

Lizzie Smith.Lizzie Smith & James Gilchrist..PNG
Written by Garry McCallum
Historic Hamilton.

BRACKENHILL FARM.

BRACKENHILL FARM.
Researched & Written by Garry McCallum.

Brackenhill Farm WM2.JPG

Until 2017, Brackenhill Farm and its surrounding lands were situated in the quiet countryside, high up on a hill, on the outskirts of Hamilton. Its closest neighbour was Meikle Earnock, which was also at one point a small hamlet quite far out from the Hamilton Town Centre.

As Hamilton grew in size, it swallowed up little hamlets like Meikle Earnock and in turn, they all became known as a part of Hamilton. Brackenhill Farm had escaped this expansion of the town and even in the late 1990s, when Torheads was built upon, the Farm of Brackenhill always remained a little bit semi-rural.

In this year, 2018 another new area of Hamilton will be created taking its name from the little farm steading high up on the hill and we will see a new part of Hamilton being born called Brackenhill Park. The new luxury houses are currently being built in three sections by Stewart Milne, Bellway Homes and Barrat – who will finish the off development with their style of houses. The new houses will command views that stretch across Lanarkshire and when complete it will take on the semi-rural feel that Brackenhill Farm had in its day.

The first farmer which I found to be living here was in the year 1858, where a man named John Alston, appears in the old ordinance survey name book. It is unknown at the moment, if he was the man responsible for building the Farmhouse or if he was the person who first farmed the land, and in the old 1858 Ordinance Survey book, Brackenhill Farm is described as “A good Steading, occupied by the Proprietor. There is no other authority of any value to be had in the locality.”

John Alston then appears on the 1864 Valuation Roll of Hamilton where he is listed as the Owner and tenant of Brackenhill Farm.

1864 Valuation Roll Brackenhill Farm John Alsoton.

I wanted to find out a bit more about John Alston, so I decided to do some research on him. Before I tell you about this John Alston, I don’t want to confuse him with the John Alston who owned the Ranche. I found that John Alston was a man who was born in Hamilton c1803 to parents Thomas Alston – who was a Stone Quarrier and Janet Lawrie. The first records I found, told me that the farm consisted of 30 arable Acres.

As I started to research John Alston, I discovered very quickly that this poor man suffered the loss of most of his family. He spent most of his life at Brackenhill Farm and here is his story.

Alston Family Tree.

John Alston was born in 1803 in Hamilton and he married his wife Mary Miller on the 14th of June 1830 at Hamilton. Between them, they had 4 children in the space of 10 years. I first found John on the 1841 Census where he is living at 37 Shuttle Street in Glasgow, he is working as a Cow Feeder. He would have moved from Hamilton in the year 1841 as his third son John Lawrie was also born at Hamilton in the same year.

I don’t believe that John would have kept his family at 37 Shuttle Street for too long as it seemed to be quite a rough place. I found various newspaper reports of dark things going on in the mid-1800s, including two suicides at the very same address.

10 Years later we move onto the 1851 census and the Alston family moves downtown to the more upmarket 38 St. Andrew’s Square. John has his kids living here and a House Servant called Isabella Allen, but his wife is not recorded on the Census. I did a lot of searching and I could not find Mary and even her death is hard to find, but I soon established that she died between 1841 and 1851. John Alston never remarried which was very unusual in the 1800s and especially being a Hard-Working Farmer. I get a strong feeling that John Alston was heartbroken after his wife’s death.

City life was not to be long-lived for most of the family as they head back to Hamilton and this is when John Alston buys Brackenhill Farm. He bought the farm between 1851 and 1857 and as I stated, there is no found documents to support my theory that he built the farm but as I can’t find any reference to Brackenhill Farm before 1858, I am making an educated guess that he was indeed the man who built the farm steading and started farming the land.

Brackenhill Farm was now going to be a fully working dairy. On the 1861 Census return, Brackenhill Farm boasted of having 30 Acres. John’s son Thomas stays behind in Hitchesontown in Glasgow where he becomes a master Joiner and House Builder. He marries a local girl called Jane Russell and decides to make Glasgow his home.

Brackenhill Farm WM2

As the rest of the family settle into their new home at Brackenhill Farm, life seems to be going along well for John and apart from Thomas, his two other sons and daughter are still living with him. Between 1861 and 1871 he has a dairy maid living at the farm called Elizabeth Henderson.

The first recorded marriage takes place at the farm when on the 29th March 1872 John’s daughter Mary marries another farmer from Meikle Earnock who went by the name of David Strachan. The Strachan’s were probably their closest neighbours and would have been another well-known farming family. David Strachan later becomes the rock of the family and lives and works at Brackenhill Farm.Mary Alston & David Strachan Marraige.jpg

This was a double celebration as John Lawrie Alston also marries Elizabeth Strachan (David Strachan’s sister) at the Meikle Earnock farm on the very same day. I find this strange as to why the two families did not hold a joint wedding. Why would two farming families living so close together marry at different places on the same day? Was there a fallout, or was it simply just a case of two proud fathers wanting to hold a wedding at their own farm? Perhaps we will never know! I have my own thoughts that the Alston’s and the Strachan’s were a close family and like today a lot of farming families prefer to marry their own kind and within their community.

John Alston & Elizabeth Stachan Marraige 1874.jpg

Sadly, John Lawrie dies at Brackenhill Farm on the 14th of November 1874 and he dies of bronchitis. Thomas Alston was the informant of the death and on the 10th of November 1878, James Alston also dies of congestion of the lungs. John has lost two sons in the space of 4 years and both have died as the direct cause of a respiratory problem. His wife remarries another farmer called Andrew Baird, who was a farmer at Townhead Farm in Coatbridge. It is unknown currently if this is the same Baird’s who later own Brackenhill Farm.

In the meantime, John’s daughter Mary has been living over at Leighstonehall Farm with her husband David Strachan. They have been working on Leighstonehall Farm for roughly around 10 years.

John Alston Death 1890..1.5

John Alston lived to the grand age of 86. He died at Brackenhill Farm on the 11th of January 1890 and the cause of his death was Senile Decay. His son in law David Strachan was the person who registered his death.

Brackenhill Farm is left to Thomas Alston in his fathers will. Thomas’s wife dies at Glasgow and he moves back to Brackenhill Farm as the new owner, however as he was a Master Joiner and House builder, farming wasn’t his forte. His sister and brother in law David Strachan also move to the farmhouse and David takes over the Farm.

The 1891 census return lists Thomas as a Visitor but I believe that he moved back to his family home to escape the smoggy Glasgow air. Perhaps the fresh country air was what he needed as he had been diagnosed with cardiac disease.
Thomas died at Brackenhill on the 7th of October 1893. His brother in law David was the person who registered the death.

Brackenhill Farm for its first time has a new owner which does not bear the Alston name. David Strachan takes over the farm and continues to work the land and when we see the family recorded as living here in 1901, he has 1 Ploughman also living here who went by the name of Thomas Baird. I believe this man is no relation to the Baird family who will later become owners of Brackenhill.

Mary Strachan becomes the fifth and final member of the Alston family to die at Brackenhill, she dies on the 7th of July 1904 and the cause was a haemorrhage.

1911 Census Brackenhill Farm.jpg

David Strachan continues to live on the farm where he sees out the rest of his years and we last see David recorded on the 1911 Census, where he has his daughter Mary and his sister Janet living here with him. David also dies at Brackenhill on the 19th of August 1917, he lived to the grand old age of 86.

Brackenhill Farm WM3

After the death of David Strachan, the Farm gets bought by Thomas W Watson, who was the son of Sir John Watson the 1st Baronet of Earnock. The farm for the very first time now has a Tenant Farmer working the land. The tenants are called William and Mary Berry. They are renting the Farm for £126 per annum.

As we track the tenant farmers throughout the years we see that in 1925 Gilbert Berry is now the tenant farmer, paying £125 per Annum and when we move on to 1930, it is still owned by Thomas Watson of Neilsland, and the tenant farmer is a man named William Wood, who was paying an annual rent of £195.

On the 21st of March 1935, Thomas Watson dies, and the farm is now in the ownership of Douglas Hamilton Watson and William Wood is still the tenant.

Douglas Hamilton Watson died on the 20th November 1958, and by this time the lands which the Watsons owned were starting to be sold off. The farm is sold and is now back in private ownership.

At this point, I needed help to identify who the recent farmers were, so I turned to the readers of Historic Hamilton for help and at that point, I managed to speak to Scott Baird and Ross Power.

Ross managed to fill in the gaps with the recent farmers and he told me that Alexander Thomson was the owner, who I believe would have purchased the farm from the Watson Family.

Alexander Thomson later sold the farm around 1968, to a man named Bill Boreland who ran it up until he eventually sold it off and the very last owners of Brackenhill Farm were the Baird’s. The Baird’s being a well-known farming family in Hamilton.

The Baird’s purchased Brackenhill Farm on the 27th of March 1973 and they continued to live here until they sold the houses and the land off to Stewart Milne Homes in 2017. When I spoke to a representative of Stewart Milne homes they told me that the negotiations between the Baird’s lasted for 13 years.

This was indeed the end of an era for the little farmhouse high up on the Brackenhill. There has been a family living on the farm since at least 1857 and possibly even earlier and the sale of the land has ended 161 years of farming around this little farm steading.

Harrowslaw DriveWM1

In May 2018, the first houses on the land are complete and the first new people have moved in. This will be the start of possibly another 161 years of occupation on this land and in the coming years, I personally believe that we will be joined on to East Kilbride.

I am lucky enough to be moving into the first phase of the development in June. The second field, at the start of the Stewart Milne development on Meikle Earnock Road, will now be known as Harrowslaw Drive. The name of the new street will keep some sort of reference to the land that has been farmed here for the past 161 years.

Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton. © 2018

Guys Inn

Guys Inn…

Guys Garry & Andy.

 

As some of you will know, I have moved back to Hamilton after being away for 18 years. I went out for a pint with my old pal Andy (Blue T-shirt) and we went to Guys Bar in Meikle Earnock.

This was the first time that I had been in Guys Bar since I was 14 years old and no I wasn’t drinking in it, I used to sell newspapers in the pubs at night and this was where my round started before making it dow it down Low Waters Road and over to Peacock Cross.

For those of you who haven’t managed to sample the fresh lager & cider, I would like to tell you that they serve a great pint. They also sell good food with the restaurant at the back of the pub.

Guys.

Guys Bar is a cosy wee pub with friendly staff and I can see this becoming my new local. So if your passing, why not pop in for a meal or a drink? It’s an old Hamilton pub with a relaxed atmosphere.

Cheers!

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

73 YEAR OLD EDDLEWOOD GROCER DEFEATS MASKED GUNMAN.

Thomas Whitehouse.

On the 26th of January 1946, Mr Thomas Whitehouse, who was the local grocer at Eddlewood Toll, had just come back to his house after a long day’s work and he was sitting in his lounge with his daughter Christina when he heard a knock at the door. It was around 8:00 pm at his house number 2 Fairhill Place in Meikle Earnock and thinking it was the shoemaker he sent his daughter to fetch the money to pay for the shoes and when he answered the front door he saw two young men with handkerchiefs over their faces.

Thomas at first thought it was a prank until the two men pushed their way into his hallway and at this point, he saw one of them with a gun in his hand. The one with the gun said, “your money” and started to wave the revolver around and Mr Whitehouse told them that there was no money in the house and immediately opened his kitchen door to find something to protect himself with, but couldn’t find anything, and at this point the other man said, “let him have it”.

Trying to defend himself, Thomas grabbed the throat of the man with the gun and the man fought back, but Thomas – even though he was 73 years old, managed to push the young lad back into the hall. It was at this point his daughter saw what was happening and she ran up and closed the door.

When they opened the door a few seconds later they saw the two men run off with another two who were hiding in the bushes in his garden. Mr Whitehouse did indeed have money in his house, he had £80 sitting on his sideboard in the Livingroom so he felt relieved that this wasn’t stolen. The CID were quickly on the scene after the hold-up and several men were detained.

4 MEN ON PETITION
At the J.P. Court, a few days later, four young miners were on trial for the hold-up, they were Charles Hassan Jr, of 2 Irvine Terrace in Eddlewood, Terance Murphy of 45 Strathaven Road, Eddlewood, Thomas McCrum of 16 Eddlewood Rows & John Thompson 26 Austine Street, Cadzow.

They were all accused of attempted robbery and assault to Mr Whitehouse and his daughter Christina and were remanded in custody and later remitted to the High Court.

Christina Whitehouse was the wife of William Wallace, who was a well-known garage proprietor in Hamilton.

Six years later Thomas died at his home on the 3rd of September 1952, he died of cardio vascular disease and his son in law William Wallace was the person who registered his death. Thomas was the son of Thomas Whitehouse & Christina Ballantyne.

A PLANK OAN WHEELS ? AYE ? AYE- POPEYE !

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 !

THE HAMLET OF TOWNHEAD.

townhead-hamlet

The little Hamlet of Townhead was a couple of houses on the lands of “Meikle Earnock” Well known by the name. They belong to J. Urquhart & D. Clarke Esquires.

They would have been two little farm steadings possibly lived in by tenant farmers or Cotton weavers. Little documentation is written about the little cottages, and it is hard to find any information on the people who lived here. I have come across a document from 1858 stating that Thomas Jackson, Factor J. Urquhart Esqr, Fairhill &  William Nimmo, Meikle Earnock are associated with the cottages.

The cottages at Townhead were situated on the land between Brackenhill Drive & Scotia Gardens. Scott Robertson, who is the great-nephew of one of the tenants of Townhead farm sent us some pictures of his Great Uncle Sanny Robertson who lived at the farm, and also a picture fo the farm itself. townhead-farm-1

 

 

 

sanny-robertson

 

 

 

Have any of the residents from Brackenhill Drive or Scotia Gardens noticed any old ruins on the land between your streets? If you have seen any evidence of this, then this is where the old cottages once stood.

townhead-hamlet-1