TOMMY WARD.

TOMMY WARD.

Written by Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton.

Tommy Ward, who in his day, was a man ahead of the times. He was a nice man but one not to be crossed, if you did cross Tommy, then you would see Tommy’s aggressive side and by sure, you would know all about it. Tommy Ward, might have been the toughest man of all, he was often seen walking around in drag and being harassed by the teenagers in Hamilton, however he gave as good as he got, and would not be afraid of chasing his verbal aggressors up Quarry Street, swinging his handbag and chasing them to the Top Cross.

Tommy had a wee dog which he named Judy, and there were many a day where he would have been seen walking through the streets of Hamilton, and shouting ‘come on Judy ya wee bitch, move yer arse up the road, or move it ya wee hooer’. Tommy was often seen out and about down the bottom Cross, and he sometimes liked to wear, what looked to some, as a net curtain around his neck, the man loved his lipstick and mascara and back when this was time where it was unacceptable for a man to do this, he did it anyway and got glammed up and went out on the town.

In today’s world, a lot of young guys don’t go on out without a touch of their “Man-scarra”! Young lads don’t leave the house without their hair all styled and maybe if Tommy, was still alive today, he wouldn’t have looked so out of place.

Tommy Ward, wouldn’t change his appearance for anyone and as a result he did get funny looks from the public and as mentioned he got even more verbal abuse from the homophobes in the town, or from people just wanting to wind him up and even the secret closet men, who actually envied Tommy, but could never be brave enough to do what he did, but none the less, most people in Hamilton, accepted him, and he was one of Hamilton’s, characters who was very well known in the town.

He was tall with long dark hair and was flamboyantly dressed and lived in the Auld toon. He frequented the pubs without shame and went to the off-sales for a carry out, just like the rest of us. Maybe he loved the attention that he got when he walked in a room and all eyes were on him.

A few years ago, I came across a story about Tommy Ward:

“Tommy Ward- the World’s First Homosexual?

 

People who frequented Hamilton Town Centre, in the 1960’s may have heard of the name, Tommy Ward.

Remember, this was a time when Gay was a descriptive word for Paris or described your mood on a night out after a few pints.

In fact, The Sexual Offences Act 1967, became an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom (citation 1967 c. 60). It decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men, both of whom had to have attained the age of 21. The Act applied only to England and Wales, and did not cover the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces. Homosexuality was decriminalised in Scotland by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 and in Northern Ireland by the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982.

To me in my macho world, Tommy Ward was all of the above and a ‘poof’ or any of the other words around at the time, and there were plenty, and worse.

I had heard of the guy, and the fact that he dressed up as a woman, but I had never actually seen him, and as time passed I wrote it off as a myth.

Until one night, coming up from the Splendid Hotel passing by the Chez Suzette’s Coffee Bar and approaching the Cross I was aware of someone standing in a doorway. I turned around, and I’ll be honest, got the fright of my life, it was him – Tommy Ward, not in woman’s clothing, but a tall man, dark hair with makeup, very effeminate looking, a sort of Lanarkshire Liberace.

As I quickened my pace the insults from across the street from a group of lads grew louder, I think you can guess the tone and words used, but he got the works.

I saw him around Hamilton a couple of times after that, and it was always the same, abuse was hurled at him and to be fair he gave it back.

Thinking back, he was a pioneer for gay rights in our area, he took the insults, and life must have been hard for him, but he obviously had guts. He was just born in the wrong era.

Did you know of him?

To me, he was Tommy Ward, the World’s First Homosexual.”

The author of this story is unknown.

 

So, over the decades Hamilton, has had its fair share of characters, a once in a generation person, who everyone had known in one way or another and still to this day everyone talks about.

In recent years, there have been people like Silvertonhill man?? John Reynolds, AKA “Juke Box Johnny”, “American Joe” from the Glebe, Bert McAdam from Burnbank and auld Mr Peacock from Hillhouse & The Hamilton Accies super fan Ian Fergi Russell, who were all well known in the town and in 30 years from now, people will still be talking about them.

In Tommy Ward’s day, there was another couple of colourful characters that were known to most, they were called ‘Jimmy Hamilton’ who was well-known in the town centre, and Jimmy Young, who was the Burnbank man with the Parrot on his head and before all of these people there was also a well-known man called John Williamson, who was better known as ‘Jock o The Lum’. Jock o the Lum, or Jock o the Law were his given nicknames by people. This man was from Hamilton, but was later admitted to Hartwood Hospital where he died in 1910. And even as the late 60s and early 70s, there was still an old saying in Hamilton, where someone would say “Do you think I’m Jock o the Lum” This meant Do you think I’m Daft. This just goes to show how a character from Hamilton, lives on in people’s memories, for years after they had passed away.

People like Tommy Ward are a once in a generation person and sadly, I don’t have a picture of him to show you all what he looked like, to put a face to a name.

If you have a picture of Tommy Ward, that you would like to share, then we would like to add it to our ‘Hamilton Folk’ album. Tell us your memories of the Hamilton’s first Cross Dresser, Tommy Ward.

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Whit ur ye like,

Whit ur ye like,

The poem below was written for Historic Hamilton by

Hugh Hainey.

Hi Historic Hamilton, ave bin thinkin aboot this wee story ye wrote, though it’s bin a while,
Its awe aboot the great Hamiltonians, n’ thir’ compassion, thits never went oot of style,
Others thit ur outsiders view us as hard is nails, n’ quite fond of just “ripping the piss” 
Bit, kin you tell me if thirs any ither place bit oan here thit ye wid see a great story like this,
#
A wee Hamilton guy wis found deed in his flat, n’ he wis destined tae be buried a pauper”
Then we heard the story of the people who rallied roon tae make sure he wis buried propper,
Jist thinking aboot those guys, thit gote the gither and then they turned the whole thing roon ,
Bit, am sure thit yil’ awe agree , thit Its no unusual for things like that tae happen in this toon”
#
Whit about awe the ither unsung heroes, awe the wans we know of bit’ thir story’s ur missin”
Ye awe must know of some thit wid help oot ithers though, they never hid a pot tae piss’ in,
wae hid it least wan neebhour’ thit wis alway’s there when a ” crisis” wid come tae the sreet,,
Ur the wan thit wid be there fur ye whin yir maw wisnae in, n’ they’d make ye somethin tae eat,,,,

( Unsung hero’s wur a very special kind, “Theresa Burnett” just sprung intae ma mind,,,)

MURDER AT HAMILTON 1914.

ACCIDENTAL MURDER AT HAMILTON 1914.

Like most big towns and cities in Scotland, Hamilton has had its fair share of murders, and accidental deaths. As a result of a brawl, which occurred in Almada Street, in Hamilton, on the evening of 25th of September 1914, a charge of murder has been preferred against Robert Tait, a miner, living in George Street, Burnbank, Hamilton.

It appears that Robert Tait and another man named Francis Graham, who stayed in a lodging-house in Limetree, Burnbank, met in Almada Street, and an altercation followed. Both men, were somewhat under the influence of alcohol, and they started to quarrel, which led to increasing in intensity and developed from words into blows. They came to grips with one another, and it is alleged that they fell, Graham, who was beneath Tait, striking his head on the ground with some violence.

There were a number of people in the vicinity at the time, and as Francis Graham was apparently stunned, he was carried into the County Police Office, where he was examined by Dr Hugh Miller, who then ordered his removal to the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow. Francis was taken to the institution in the ambulance waggon, and, without recovering consciousness, died about one o’clock, Sunday morning.

After the man’s death was reported back to the town, Robert Tait was apprehended by a Constable Goldie, of the Burgh Police, and at the Burgh Court on Saturday he was, the motion of Chief Constable Millar, who remitted him to the Sheriff Bailie Slorach.

On the Tuesday, Robert Tait, was detained and remanded in custody and appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court, he was brought before sheriff Shennan at the County Buildings, and was charged on indictment with having, on 25th September, in Almada Street, assaulted Francis Graham, striking him with his fists, knocking and pushing him down and fracturing his skull, in consequence of which he died on 26th September, and did thus murder him.

Francis Graham was a miner who at the time lived in Burnbank, and it seemed that in recent times before he died, luck wasn’t going his way. Before he was killed, he was living at Birdsfield Lodging House, or better known as the Model Lodging House in Birdsfield Street, in Limetree, Burnbank.

Trades Hotel WM.

Francis had been in trouble with the law before as in the 31st of March 1902, he had appeared at Hamilton JP court, on a charge of Breach of the Peace, however, the charges were dropped against him and on the 1st of December 1905, he was again brought before the courts on another Breach of the peace when he was loitering on a Hamilton footpath, this time he was charged and fined 7s 6d.

 

Francis was the son of an Irish Family who were called Francis Graham Sr, and Ann Jane Lang. His father had died in 1876, and his mother had remarried to a man called Robert Beggs.

Francis Grahm Death 1914.

He was from Dalry in Ayrshire and had probably moved to Hamilton to gain employment in one of the many coal mines. His brother, William Graham, had moved to Hamilton, so he may have come with him, however his brother had a tied house to Earnock Colliery and he was living at 13 Argyle Buildings at Burnbank.  It is unclear as to why Francis would not have a tied house himself.

I did find that Francis had a wife, who was called Mary Thompson, and a son, who was also named Francis. The son was born in Hamilton, on the 13th of January 1899. I then found that his wife and son had left Hamilton, and were living back in Dalry without Francis, as they appeared on the 1901 Census without him.

It appears that Francis may not have been a law-abiding citizen and going by what I have found out, it does paint a picture of a man who may not have been a nice person, so I must ask myself, did this man Francis Graham bring this upon himself?

His wife and son were no longer living with him and he was in trouble with the police on at least two occasions, and could he have possibly been the person who was the agitator on the night of the 25th of September 1914, and also the one who started to exchange words with Robert Tait?

 

 

It is likely, that these two men would have already known each other or possibly worked together. They were both from Burnbank, so there may have been some bad blood between them.

After researching Francis Graham, I tried to find what became of Robert Tait. I could not track down any information on his whereabouts. I also couldn’t find any information on the trial, so I have to leave this open for further investigation and possibly another story for another day.

What I did find, was in 1915, I found a Robert Tait living at the Workmen Burgh Dwellings at Low Waters, However I can’t confirm if this is the same Robert.

In my opinion, this was just a tragic accident and one we still hear of in modern times. What started as an argument left one-person dead. When I am researching the history of Hamilton I find lots of nice stories, but sadly, for every nice story that I uncover, there is always a sad one that is waiting to be found.

Researched and written by

Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton.

Doon the Burn.

Doon the Burn.

Doon the burn mam that’s
where we are gaun, an a
canny take the wee yin a’ll
be gaun too long.

There’s just me Wullie an
Jim mam, naw we’ll noa git
in tae bother, naw a canny
mam don’t make me tak
ma brother.

Daunner doon Hillhouse
Road an then ower the fence,
watch an noa snag yir breeks
it widna mak much sense.

Nae thochs o’ any polluted
streams entered oor wee
heeds, we wir fu o’ pirate
ships an fighting dastardly
deeds.

Building up a dam tae mak a
swimming pool, but it only
rose another foot I felt like
such a fool.

Wullie an I were chucking
stanes across the dammed
up pond, wan hit a wee wasps
bike then wan stung ma haun.

Then Wullie filled a pocket
wi mare o’ they wee stanes,
shinned up the tree, a said
It’s aw yir ain the blame.

The rest is confined tae
history aye Wullie he fell
doon, covered he wis in
stings frae his erse tae
his croon.

Wi tried our best tae suck
thim oot o’ his airms and his
legs, a wisnae fur daen the
middle bit he kin dae his
ain wee peg.

Wullie wis wupped aff tae
hospital tae get him some
Jabs, just because we hud
saved him we goat
Sherbet Dabs.

Written for Historic  Hamilton by

Kit Duddy

Chatelherault Country Park From Above.

The following video was sent to us by the Clyde & Avon Valley Landscape Partnership and was filmed by Drone Scotland.

Have a look at the stunning view and hidden panoramas revealed at our very own Chatelherault Country Park.

THE PATON FAMILY OF HAMILTON.

John Paton & Elizabeth Cunningham Kerr.

THE PATON FAMILY OF HAMILTON.
Harry Paton Evans sent us a picture of his Grandparents who were called John Paton & Elizabeth Cunningham Kerr. Harry told us a little bit about the picture where he said it was taken round the back of 79 Cameron Crescent and he pointed out that you could see the Bing just to the left of the picture. Harry told us that this picture was took roughly around the late 1930s or early 1940s.
 
As Harry was kind enough to share his family photo, I thought that I would look in to his family history to see what I could find.
Harry, your grandfather John Paton was born on the 30th of June 1893 to parents George Paton & Mary Ann Simpson, who were married at Rutherglen on the 30th of August 1891. Your grandfather was born at 11 Bertram Street, Greenfield, Burnbank and he was born at 4:30 am. Now your Great Grandfather George was an educated man as he signed his name on your Grandfathers Birth certificate, rather than mark it with a X. Back in 1893 there were a lot of illiterate people, who could not read or write.
 
In 1901, I found your grandfather living with his mum and dad at 32 George Street in Burnbank and it appears that this is where the family settled down, probably because your great grandfather worked at the Bent Colliery. When I was looking at Census returns for your great grandfather George Paton, it seems that he was a man who was really trusted and would have been respected by people in his trade. Your Great Grandfather George Paton was born in the year 1864 at Rutherglen and he was the son of an Irishman called John Paton & your Great Grandmother was called Bridget McCabe.
 
George Paton worked in the coalmines and he was appointed the trusted job of checkweighman, this was documented in the 1901 Census and back then, coal miners were paid by the amount of coal that they had dug each day and in the old days of coalmining, the coal masters were frequently known to underpay the miners, so to prevent this from happening, the miners elected a trusted man of their own to weigh the coal and around 1901 your great grandfather was this man.
 
Your Great Grandfather George was also possibly involved in a minority Trade Union as on the 1901 Census which was taken on the night of 31st of March 1901 he had a Visitor living here with him. This visitor was a man from England who was called William Gee and he stated his occupation as an Agitator for the Social democrat federation. This statement of occupation really tells a story in itself. I can’t find any other record of why the said William Gee was visiting your Great Grandfather.
 
The family are still living at 32 George Street in 1911 and your Great Grandfather has a new job! He is working as an Electrical coal cutting machine man. Electric coal cutters did the job a lot faster but none the less, it was still a very dangerous job. On the 27th of December 1912, a tragic accident happened
Capture
 
in the No1 Shaft of the Bent Colliery. George was at work when he stopped his machine to clear away some dirt when there was a roof collapse and a large section of rock fell and entombed George. It took 4 hours for his fellow miners to get to him and when they found him he was dead. The cause of his death was recorded as asphyxia, he was only 49 years old.
Capture.JPG1
Staying with your Great Grandmother on this side of the Family, Mary Ann Simpson was the daughter of an Irish man called Robert Simpson & Margaret Baird, who was from the Paisley area. Mary Ann was born at Rutherglen 4th of December 1868 at 35 New Street.
 
Robert who was your 2 X great grandfather was born in Ireland c 1848 and worked as a coal Miner. He married Margaret Baird in Ireland on the 20th of April 1867.
 
Robert worked as a Chemical work labourer in Rutherglen from 1870 until at least 1884 when he then moved to Hamilton to work as a coal Miner. When he moved to Hamilton he worked at Earnock Colliery and he and the family moved to 37 Argyle Buildings. Your 2 x Great Grandmother Margaret Baird died on the 7th of June 1914 at Bothwell and your 2 x Great Grandfather died at Shotts on the 5th of May 1920.
Capture.JPG2
Harry, I went back to have a look at your Grandmothers side of the family, Your Grandmother as you told me was called Elizabeth Cunningham Kerr. Now she was born on the 5th of August 1894 at Motherwell. The address that was registered at the time was 25 New Camp? I am unable to find anything on this address, so maybe you could fill me in on this?
 
Elizabeth’s parents and your Great Grandparents were called John Kerr & Agnes Cunningham and when your grandmother was born, her mum was the person who registered the birth, perhaps your great Grandfather was still down at the pub celebrating the birth.
 
Your 2 x great grandparents were married at Bellshill on the 31st of December 1883 and like your other great Grandparents, they were a coal mining family.
 
Your Great, Great grandmother Agnes Cunning died at the family home of 32 George Street in Burnbank on the 29th of February 1920. The cause of her death was Influenza & Bronchitis.
Paton FTWM
Once again Harry, thank you for sharing your picture of your grandparents and if you do not already know about your family history, then I hope that you find this interesting.
George and Harry paton, father and son 1940s
 
Researched by Garry McCallum
Historic Hamilton.

Townhead Street 1997.

Odeon WM1

In this picture, we have Townhead Street and the old Oden cinema and former Park Lane night club. The picture was taken in 1997 and was sent to us by Lucy Mackinnon. If you have an old picture that you would like to share with us, then please send it straight to the page or by Private Message.