The new consignment of Prefabricated house started to arrive in Hamilton in 1946. In March 1946 Beckford Street was a very busy place when people of all ages were flocking to Beckford Street to see the new prefabs which were erected.
There was a consignment of 18 Houses built on the site and the first tenants were to move in April 1946. All the Tarran Type Houses were built with the walls constructed of concrete slabs bolted together at the back.
Each block was a house in its self with front and back doors and the houses consisted of a Livingroom, two bedrooms, kitchenette, bathroom, wc and a lobby. The prefabs only had one fire to heat the whole house and the bedrooms were fitted with plug sockets so that an electric fire could be plugged in.
Hot air from the fire in the living rooms was passed through channels near the ceiling to each of the bedrooms. The hot water in the prefabs was transported from an electric boiler in the kitchenette.
In 1946 the kitchen equipment was at the time installed with the most modern cupboards with hooks, shelves or racks. A coal bunker was also provided and it was situated at the back door and they also came with sheds for storing prams, cycles and garden tools.
In 1946 Prefabricated Houses were being turned out at the rate of 50 per week at the factory of Messrs Tarran, Ltd, at Mossend. Some months later a new machine was installed at the Mossend plant and they would increase their output to 100 Prefabs per week.
The Beckford Street Prefabs paved the way for these types of Houses to be built in Hamilton. They proved to be very popular with people who were wanting a change from their old tenements with shared toilets.
After the Beckford Street prefabs were built, Hamilton received altogether another 54 Tarran type Prefabs. The prefabs were later constructed at May Street, Cadzow Square and Glebe Street.
With this proving popular Aluminium Houses were also Built at throughout Hamilton which consisted of 12 at Holyrood Street; 10 at Rose Crescent; 11 at Mill Road; and 10 at Donaldson Street & George Street.
Did you live in a Hamilton Prefab, or do you have a picture of one? If you do, then Let us know.
Above is a photograph of what the road just before the Cosy Corner, Mill Road, Hamilton used to look like before the road was widened by the removal of the site of the old Cadzow Colliery mineral railway line.
The walls show the entrance to what we called Laighstonehall House. Originally known as Eddlehurst it had been built for rich Glasgow Merchants (there were another 5 merchants houses further up the Mill Road four at the Bush Park) and one next to Laighstonehall House which we called McAffer’s house which was big and scary, the family who lived there in the 1940/50s sold tomatoes from their greenhouses.
There was also Chantinghall House further down the road. The Glasgow merchants had built these houses in the country to get away from the dirt and smog of Glasgow and then came the coal mines with all their workers and black smoke right on their doorsteps. They were absolutely surrounded by coal mines. That was not all, the houses started subsiding from the underground workings.
The Glasgow merchants moved out and Watson the Coal master bought them and let them to his managers with the exception of this one as his son and heir lived at this property at one time (must have been before it really subsided). As a wee girl, I used to play with a girl called Preece who lived in it and the floors were so uneven I felt seasick when walking in it. You were either walking uphill or downhill.
Laighstonehall House was built on the site of the old mill (Mill Road got its name from it) which once stood there. The lade can still be seen in the burn just up from the Cosy Corner.
There are two of the merchant’s houses still standing, one on Mill Road, across from the back of St Anne’s school. Known locally as “The Majors” after a major who lived there many years ago. Its real name is Ivy Grove and it was at one time the property of a lawyer called Hay. It is a lovely house but has historic subsidence damage. The other one is at Graham Avenue and it was the South Church Manse for many years. It is now privately owned.
The narrow road down to the Cosy Corner had no lights and it was pitch black. I worked in Phillips factory and was really only a wee lassie (17) and had to go down it myself on a day shift. As it was half past five in the morning I used to take to my heels and run like a greyhound from the last house in Mill Road to the houses at Chantinghall. I was petrified as there was a flasher hanging about in the trees. A female police officer (Laura Thorburn) who was Hamilton’s first female detective used to walk this road in an attempt to catch him.
Laura was a tall slim blond and he would have spotted her a mile away so she never did catch him.
Below is the approximate site of the former Eddlehurst House.
In 1938 the town council were planning ahead for a possible second world war. When Mill road was being constructed they included air raid shelters under the houses. Here is an article from 1939 that describes the air raid shelter and how it worked!
Tenants of the majority of houses being erected by Hamilton Town Council at Fairhill Housing Scheme will not require to be provided with the Home Office corrugated steel air raid shelters.
They will have a splendid shelter of their own, provided by the Council, which is erecting over 800 houses at the site. Each block of four houses will have a shelter, built at an estimated cost of £40, and situated underneath the block.
The shelter, a square room about seven feet high, is whitewashed, and round one side is a form, for seating accommodation.
Mr Gavin Patterson the architect explained that “The shelter is 170 square feet, and the concrete ceiling has been further reinforced by Steele beams running both ways so as to prevent falling debris destroying the whole ceiling.”
There are two entrances to the shelter, each of which has two doors and an air-locked lobby. The door frames are bedded with felt and doors have felt checks with fixtures for securely fitting a felt blanket for to prevent the entry of gas.
The brick walls have been thoroughly pointed and rendered air proof. In the event to interruption to the lighting system, emergency lighting is provided by a battery with a trickle charger.
Mr Patters on further explained that an air intake is provided with an air duct from a position above the height of the house, and provision is made for fitting a home office filter.
The intake air is circulated by a small fan, operated by the battery. If the electrical supply fails then the fan can be worked by a hand pump. There is also ample space for beds and chairs and accommodation is provided for 16 adults for about 12 hours.
Numerous A.R.P officials including superintendent Thomas Renfrew, chief officer for Lanarkshire, have visited the shelters, and have expressed as delighted with them.
In recent years the council have filled in a lot of the air raid shelters! Do you live in one of the houses at Mill Road? If you do let us know if the shelter is still here and in use, or has the council filled it in! Or even better can you remember having to uses an air raid shelter?
Ian Cochran sent Historic Hamilton pictures of his younger years when he was a wee boy living in Fairhill. The pictures were taken in Fairhill Crescent at the corner of Mill Road in the late 50s.
Ian told us:
“I came from a family of 13 i had 8 sisters 2 brothers and myself and maw and da my family were well known in Hamilton all my brothers uncles da grandfather all were killers they worked in The Abattoirs or known as slaughter hoose my Father Jimmy Cochran worked in slaughter houses all over Scotland our nickname was cokey short for Cochran some spelt in cocky”.
Looking behind Ian in the second picture you can see the well healed man, possibly going out in to the town for the night, I also love the wooden fences in the background, they are still to this day in a lot of gardens in Hamilton.
If you would like to share your old photos, then please send them to us on a PM or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.