PHILIP’S FACTORY TO CLOSE THIS THURSDAY. END OF AN ERA.

On Thursday the 7th of November 2019 Philip’s factory which has employed thousands of people from Hamilton will close its doors for the final time. This iconic building and world known company will be trading from Wellhall Road for four final day’s and has employed men and women from Hamilton for the past 72 years.

Philips 1950s..PNG

Hamilton used to be a manufacturing hub after the coal mines closed and we prided ourselves on having a world known brand based on our town. The last seventy employees will down their tools next week and the building will fall silent.
The amazing Christmas display that has been enjoyed by many generations will no longer be switched on and soon we will have a new housing estate built on its land.

Philips 1962 Map..PNG

This powerful company once stretched across the Wellhall Road and today there is still an underpass going under the road which transported goods to the lorry depot which was sold off in the late eighties to have the Barratt housing estate built.

In its heyday, Philip’s factory once employed over 2,000 people and over the past thirty years the business has downgraded in size before being taken over by Signify and many of the former workforce were all highly skilled people.

Today, I have gathered some pictures from my archive at Historic Hamilton and would like to share some of your stories of working at the factory. I would however like to document even more and If you have any pictures of Philips factory that you can send, then please send them to HistoricHamilton@icloud.com and we will host these on our website which is viewed in Many countries around the world.

In 2016 Historic Hamilton reader Glancy Clark sent us a newsletter from Philips and was printed in June 1969. These letters were called “The Philham Newsletter”. In the letter was a list of activities & events which included School trips to the factory, they followed Employees and told of people visiting the factory. In Glancy’s 1969 letter there was also a note of one special employee who was leaving.

Philip’s very first operator was leaving in June 1969. Her name was Mrs Emily Glancy and she first started with the company in November 1945. Mrs Glancy had worked at Philips for 24 years and in this time, she only worked in two departments. She was one of the very first select bodies to be still working at the factory since it opened. When she started at Philips, she wasn’t married and was called Emily Green and in 1969 she was still known to her colleagues by this name. When Emily first started, she worked at the transformer department and then moved over to miniature lamps in 1950. In October 1963 Emily married her mobile crane driver husband and she was leaving because they were planning on adopting a baby boy on the 28th of June that year. Her friends and co-workers wished her well and hoped that this was the start of a much larger family.

 

Philips Bill Hunter WM..PNG

In 2016 Bill Hunter sent this picture of his late Father in Law, who was called George Service. Bill told us: “This is my late father-in-law George Service worked at Phillips for many years. He developed MS. This is him leaving the factory.”

Charlie Dunsmore added, I worked at Philips ‘K’ building from 1969-1977, first in the ballast gear and then the press shop.

Anne McCarroll also worked at the same part in this tear.
Ann Leach told us “I never worked there but went to many of the Philips Christmas parties. My uncle worked at Philips, best known as Big Bobby Leckenby”.

Debbie McLean told us that her mum worked there in the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s.

Margaret Hewitt said “My auntie, Rene Cunningham worked in the canteen. My uncle, Arthur rafferty worked for London Carriers and our very good friend, Rene Whitehouse did the wages, I think.” “I worked in Phillips during the holidays from Hamilton College – 1968 – 1970. I packed lightbulbs for two years and then made shavers during my last year. Have many hilarious memories of my time there. Poor Grant McKinnon didn’t know what to do with me!!!”

Karen McDade said: “Worked in Philips from 2000 till took redundancy in 2012. Lorna, Tracey, the newsletter looked slightly better by the time we were leaving xx”

Barbara Seaton told us: “My Dad worked at Philips Hamilton from about 1949. Before that he was glass blower at either Philips or Stella in Middlesex. He was the Union Rep at Hamilton in the late 1950’s early 60’s.”

Catherine Patterson told us: “I worked there first i was in A building then moved to M building John C Dunsmore was Charge Hand Jackie Wilson was Supervisor. In Packing. Jean Copland. Linda Charmer’s happy day’s”

Janette Bouette said: “I worked in Phillips as a apprentice in the tool room, from 1951 until 1956. I served two years of national service and returned for 4 more years. My father R.A.F Bouette worked for Phillips in England and transferred to Scotland when Phillips opened. My father was in charge of the test lab.
The time spent as an apprentice was one of the best years of my life and the training, I received served me very well when I emigrated to the United States in 1967.”

Elizabeth Tennant told us: “Worked in Phillips from 1959 to 1966. Bookkeeper/ comptometer operator ….that was in the days before computers !”

 

The pictures above were sent to us in April 2015 by Angela Seagreave and her dad is in the picture. The first one on the left is Angela’s dad who is out in the yard of Philips enjoying a break and in the second picture are in Angela’s words, “The three Stooges! Angela told us: “The three stooges right to left jimmy Madden (Alfie) Tommy Seagrave and Gibby McConville in Philips Factory”.

 

Philips football team Date un known Frank Sweeny.PNG

In May 2019 the late Frank Sweeny sent us this picture of Philips Football team. Frank, who is no longer with us, told me at the time:

“”It was taken over 35 years ago at the Philips Factory on Wellhall road – the team won the Philips European cup in Eindhoven where they played the tournament every 5 years – we beat Philips Blackburn in the final and all the guys in the photo worked at Philips Hamilton.”

In the picture we have: Left to right, Mr Greenwood (director), Tam Bain, Dougie Stewart, Tam Goodwin, Davy Pollock, Wullie McGrorty, Ronnie Stewart, Wullie Glass, Andy Scott, Bob McCallum (team manager), John Barr, Will Carroll,Andy o’ Halloran, Wullie Halbert, Danny Cunning & Frank Sweeney.

Aileen Henderson told us: “Christmas parties were amazing; my two daughters went to them. My husband, Willie Henderson worked there for 44years also my brother, Colin Hunter and my father Jack Hunter…….happy days.”
Audrey Carlin said: “I remember feeding a few of these guys lol. Good memories. This was taken about two years before I started in Philips Factory.”

Philips outing Harry Evans..PNG

This picture was sent to us back on the 24th of August 2019 and it was a Philips outing. The picture was sent by Harry Paton Evans and he told us: “”A Philips outing in the late 1940’s, very early 1950’s to Blackpool. My Dad, Harry Evans was a Works Superintendent and ran one of the main production lines after his War, around late 1949 early 1950’s.” Harry I believe that this could have been either the very first Philips summer outing, or one of the first, so thanks for sending this.

Mags Gillan Wrote: “My Uncle Steve, (John Stevenson) worked for Philips and travelled all over the world. Sadly, he was taken from us too soon. X”

Donald Orr said, “The woman standing to the right of the man in the very dark suit, is my auntie, Betty Orr, a longtime employee at Philips. Worked there till she retired!”

Ann Docherty said: “My mums next door neighbour fae fleming court used to work in there yrs ago..john dyet.. dont no what dept though. Would have been the early 70s….”

 

Tom Sorbie1212.png

In December 2015 Tom Sorbie sent this picture of him standing on the roof of the Philips factory. Tom Told us: “”The photo was taken in 1984, I think. Certainly, no later than 1985 as the photographer got paid off that year. We had been painting the gantry that used to run between H and G buildings and I climbed up beside the clock. No health and safety in those days!

I worked at Philips for many years although I was never actually employed by Philips as it was sub-contractors I worked for (Falcon Contracts and latterly MITIE). I was the factory painter. Attached is an old photo of me posing by the clock which stood on the roof of G building.
Keep up the good work with your great FB site.”

Paul Kane told us: “Worked in the fluorescent tubes building for six weeks summer 1973. Not the five foot line that had just had installed a mechanical rotating piece of kit with a grab arm that would always stick. Health and Safety aye right you just took cover as Jimmy (the line manager) would girl the tubes along the line like javelins. Poor man took a breakdoon that none of the fitters could sort. Happy days.”

Tom Sorbie also told us: “When I finished up at Philips in February this year the painting side of my job had mostly ceased (I’d painted everything there was to paint) and I was mostly helping out with general labouring.
One of my last jobs was to assist in clearing out junk from various rooms/old offices which had to be thrown in a skip. Tons of stuff which lived in the archive room was also taken away for shredding. You have no idea the amount of old Philips photos contained in that room. These photos were of course not for the shredder/skip but were kept. They have a great photographic record and we spent a good hour or two going through them.”

Linda Thomson told us: “I was made redundant from philips after 20 yrs…worked in sodium…best place av ever worked..”

Philips Bob Baird WM

Bob Baird also sent us a picture of his dad at work in Philips and Bob wrote: “My Dad, John Baird worked in the factory for 34 years til 1987. Started in lamps, then boiler house for long time then “the plant” /maintenance. Got a few pictures somewhere.”

Philips.......PNG

Below are the pictures attached to these words. Please share your memories of Philips and if you do have any pictures, then we would like to see them.

Philips....jpg

PHILIPS FACTORY WORKERS 1970.

Allister Hutton Philips Factory 1970..PNG

Above is a very rare colour picture of workers in Block ‘K’, taken in 1970. This picture was sent to us by Allister Hutton (Front Left) and I am sure that you will all agree that this very rare picture is a real snapshot in time.

 
DO YOU HAVE A PICTURE OF PHILIPS FACTORY THAT YOU CAN SEND? IF YOU DO, THEN WE WOULD LOVE TO SEE IT.
 
Allister told us the following information, but if you see yourself, then please get in touch.
 
From Allister:
 
“Hi Garry, as requested I have attached a colour photograph of Philips Hamilton Toolroom personnel in ‘K’ building during 1970. I served my time in the Toolroom as a Mechanical Engineer with Philips Hamilton from 1966 to 1971, leaving in 1974 to join Martin Black wire Ropes in Coatbridge. I left Martin Black in 1978 to join Shell Exploration and Production in Aberdeen where I stayed for the next 37 years before retiring in 2005 in Banchory.
 
I have tried to identify as many of my ex colleagues as possible in a structured manner, perhaps your viewers could identify the missing names. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
 
Back Row – Left to Right
 
Person with cap and glasses peering over Bob Letham’s shoulder – unknown cleaner.
Bob McCallum ( broad smile in a white coat, shirt and tie ).
John Phillips ( Partially hidden with shirt and tie ).
Danny Creechan ( Smiling with thick black eyebrows ).
Ian Hamilton ( highest person in photo with white tee shirt showing ).
 
Second Back Row – Left to Right
 
Bob Letham of Letham’s buses Blantyre ( tall person in white coat, shirt and tie ).
Person with grey coat and sun on his face and chest – unknown.
Jimmy Gibson ( grey coat, broad smile with Mexican style moustache ).
Alan Lockhart ( roundish face with shirt and tie ).
Person with face partially covered – unknown.
Bert Russell (grey coat, glasses, shirt and tie ).
John Dunse ( big guy with glasses and blue shirt ).
 
Middle Row – Left to Right
 
Jock Richardson ( Short person in white coat, shirt and tie ).
Person with sun on his face with long hair – unknown.
Ian Cuthbertson ( glasses and Mexican moustache and beard ).
Second Front Row – Left to Right
Person with long hair – unknown.
Barry Brown ( grey coat with yellow note book, crew neck sweater, holding onto Philips sign ).
Robert McCartney ( long side burns, moustache, both hands on knees ).
 
Front Row – Left to Right
Allister Hutton ( kneeling with grey coat, blue shirt and hand on vice ).
John Baird ( arms folded next to Philips sign ).
Brian Marshall ( long shoulder length hair, right arm touching Philips sign ).
 
If anyone knows Bob Letham’s contact details I would to speak to him again. Would like to hear from anyone in the photograph.
Regards, “
 
If you would like to be put in touch with Allister, then please send me a PM and i will pass on his contact details.

MRS MARGARET ALEXANDER. EARNOCK SECONDARY SCHOOL. By Wilma Bolton.

Wilma Bolton Graduation.
Wilma Bolton’s graduation picture with her two daughters.

 

Of all the countless the people you meet during the course of your lifetime, if you are fortunate, there will be at least one you’ll never ever forget because of the positive influence they had on your life. For me that very special person was the late Mrs Margaret Alexander my former English teacher at Earnock Secondary School.

 

Earnock opened on the 26th August, 1957 and I was among the first intake of pupils. The teaching staff were excellent but human nature being what it is we all have favourites and Mrs Alexander and science teacher Jimmy Maxwell were both right at the top of my best teachers list. However, you can’t put an old head on young shoulders and being headstrong my only ambition was to leave school and get a job. I certainly put little thought into what I would do and how it would affect my life.  

At fifteen I was off as soon as I could and went straight into the into the world of a Glasgow basement typing pool and what a culture shock that was. The two unhappy looking female owners looked and dressed like something from the turn of the century. They wore grey cardigans and long black ankle length dresses and their faces suggested that a substantial meal would do them both  the world of good. The working conditions were like something out of a Dickens novel. I stuck it for four months then moved on to a Glasgow construction company and you couldn’t have made up the scenario in this office if you tried. It was whispered that the managing director had a penchant for the “ladies” and and he used the building to entertain them in the evening when his staff had gone. There was also a beautifully dressed, very distinguished looking but homeless chartered accountant sleeping in one of the offices.  He was not long out of jail for embezzlement.

Office jobs were plentiful and I moved on to a company supplying motor car spares to garages. My weekly wage was £2 10/-  (£2 50p) for working nine to six Monday to Friday and a half day Saturday. With train fares and deductions there was not a lot left.  I enjoyed working there but moved on after about eighteen months and followed the “big money” straight through the gates of Philips factory and into the lamp section. We sat at a capping wheel making stop and tail lamps for cars and when I got my first wage I felt like a millionaire. In less than a year I was earning £7 10/- a week if I worked a Saturday shift and my widowed mother finally had a decent money coming into the house. She gave me 10/- (50 pence) pocket money and bought my clothes.  We even went on holiday to Belgium and she just loved it.

I was married when I was twenty and left Philips after the birth of the eldest of my four children. Money was really scarce and as soon as they were all off to school I started cleaning shops and offices. Some years later the free weekly paper The Lanarkshire World came on the scene and with my youngest daughter delivered 1,400 papers every week for the magnificent sum of one penny a paper which gave us £14.  The money went a long way and so did our feet;  from Swiscott to Hamilton Central and we delivered them for quite a substantial number of years. I was also cleaning an office at the Peacock Cross starting at 5 am and when I was finished there I would run down to Marks and Spencers where the conditions were quite good and I enjoyed it as much as I could ever enjoy a cleaning job, for I will put my hands up and plead guilty to never ever being over fond of housework.

The turning point for me came right out of the blue when I met Mrs Alexander in Duke Street, Hamilton and twenty three years after I had left school she gave me the third degree as to where my life was going. She was anything but amused with what I told her and went straight into lecture mode. “You wasted a good brain, get to night school and sit your O Grades and Highers.” I thought she was winding me up but she was deadly serious and gave me food for thought and a lot of good advice. When I was seventeen I had seriously considered nursing, but at that time you had to live in the nurses home and that was out of the question with my father not a year dead and my mother really struggling to come to terms with his loss. Taking Mrs Alexander’s advice, I paid a visit to Brandon Street Job Centre to find out what qualifications I would require to be accepted as a student nurse and the answer left me reeling.  Five O Grades and two Highers! Not a chance! The only writing I had done in the previous sixteen years was to sign my family allowance book.

Deep down I knew that it was now or never and so at the age of thirty eight I enrolled for night school classes at  Hamilton’s Bell College and opted for O Grade English starting in September. Eight months later I was sitting in a large assembly hall filled with students and we were listening to the adjudicator giving out instructions for the exam. I was was scared out of my wits and when it was over I swore I would never put myself through that amount of stress again.

On the day the results were due out I was pacing the floor at the crack of dawn and popping outside every five minutes to look for the postman. When I finally spotted him, I was up the street like a shot to get my results. He must have thought I was barking mad and at that particular moment I would have fully agreed with him, however he handed over my envelope. By this time my hands were shaking so much I could barely open it and when I succeeded I found to my absolute disbelief I had obtained a B grade. That was when the penny finally dropped and with it came the realisation that I had taken what for me was a gigantic first step and it had paid off. There was no way I was giving up a second chance to have a good education, a career and freedom.

The following year I sat Higher English and Mrs Alexander was in Marks and Spencers on the day the results came in. She spotted me, grabbed my arm and said “how did you get on?” When I told her that I got another B grade she danced me around the racks of blouses and skirts saying “I knew you could do it” and I knew that I could never have done it without her encouragement and told her so. Two down and five to go. The next year I passed my O grade Biology.

With my confidence increasing and having almost half the required qualifications, my legs were then kicked from below me when Bell College discontinued the night school classes.  I was devastated! Two years later I heard that adults could now attend day school with the children and so I found myself sharing classrooms with fifteen year old pupils at Holy Cross High School. Originally I intended to go to Hamilton Grammar because it was nearer to both my home and Marks and Spencers. However, my children were not at all amused about the idea of their mother joining their classes and on hindsight I don’t blame them so I was off to Holy Cross and it was a really good move. I would finish work, run like a greyhound down to Muir Street and arrive just in time for the bell ringing. In the two years I spent there I was the only adult in the four classes I attended and both children and staff were excellent. I still occasionally bump into one of the girls who was in my Higher Biology class and we have a wee blether. She is now in her early forties; how fast time flies away! It only seems like a few years ago since we sat in class together.  I met her recently and she told me that she had just got a provisional acceptance for university and I am absolutely delighted for her. She is planning on becoming a teacher and I have no doubts that she will succeed.

I obtained the required 5 O Grades and 2 Highers and at the age of forty four I applied to train as a Registered General Nurse at Hairmyres Hospital. My interview was held in the Lanarkshire College of Nursing and Midwifery at Monklands Hospital and I was a nervous wreck.  After countless probing questions from the three senior nurses interviewing me, the Sister Tutor looked me up and down and speaking slowly and deliberately said, “I cannot possibly give you an answer today as to whither or not you will be accepted as a student nurse, you will be notified by post in due course”.  I felt my stomach hitting the floor! My O Grade and Higher certificates were lying on her desk and with both hands she slowly spread them out like a fan, looked directly at me, smiled and said, “what I can tell you is that you ought to be proud of yourself. I would suggest that you buy a pair of white lacing shoes” and I knew that I had been accepted.

My three years as a student nurse were divided between the Lanarkshire College of Nursing and Midwifery for theory and the practical experience was mostly at Hairmyres Hospital but with placements at Bellshill Maternity Hospital, Hartwood Hospital and the district nursing services. I enjoyed it immensely and graduated as a Registered General Nurse. At that time there were no permanent nursing posts available and for almost a year I got a lot of first class experience working as a bank nurse mostly in the Intensive Care Unit where I had already spent three months as part of my student nurse training. The patients in this unit needed one to one care and I vividly remember one particular night when my patient was a critically ill ventilated man in acute renal failure and on haemofiltration. He was connected  to so many infusion pumps and other types of equipment it reminded me of a scene from the Starship Enterprise. Looking around the unit I could scarcely believe how my life had changed and all because of a chance meeting in Duke Street. Some weeks later, a permanent post finally came up in the Acute Medical Receiving Unit and I was offered it and enjoyed every minute I worked there.

I thank God for Mrs Alexander’s faith in me and for giving me the confidence to change my life completely. Without her input I would never have had the courage to do it. My children were also really supportive and encouraged me every step of the way. My only regret was I had waited until it was almost too late. I loved nursing and would have worked for nothing. It was the best eighteen years of my life.

The reason for this very personal narrative is to pay tribute to Mrs Margaret Alexander, a first class caring teacher whose influence on my life was incalculable. She convinced me that no matter how difficult your circumstances may be, nothing is impossible.

Life is not a dress rehearsal, it is the only one you are going to have and there are no second chances. Before you know it, the years have vanished and you are old and you don’t know when it happened. If you want something badly enough, seize the moment, give it everything you have and watch the miracle unfold. So go for it; it might just change your life and be the best move you ever made. It was for me…… thanks to Mrs Alexander.

Wilma Bolton. 10th August 2016.

THE PHILIPS FACTORY IN HILLHOUSE.

AngelaSeagravePhilps1. Fix
Local workers at the Philips Lighting factory.

 

Angela Seagrave sent us a picture of her dad and his work colleagues at Philips lighting. The picture was taken around the late 60s or early 70s.

Would you like to share your old work photos?
Send them to us on a PM or by email to:
HistoricHamilton@icloud.com