Agnes Scott’s Monument of Memories Part 3 Printed in the Hamilton Advertiser on the 17 June 1966.

In the first decades of this century, the populous area to the south side of the town could be said to end at Burnblea Street, with the three story tenement belonging to the Mirrlee’s, Chassel’s who also owned the public house at the corner of Portland Square. Except for the few properties and villas in Low Waters, grazing land stretching from behind Burnblea Street up past the school to the mining communities of Cadzow and Eddlewood.

Thomas Anderson, Beechwood, Portland Place, built a two storey tenement partly in Low Waters and partly in Morris Street which he opened up and named after his lovely wife, Lilias Morris who, before marriage, was the elected Belle of Cambusnethan.

At the foot of Burnblea Street was the town’s most popular playground which gave access to lovers’ lane and, of course, to Burnblea Street, the lower half of which was lined with attractive cottages. The other half consisted of tenements belonging to Chassels, Anderson,Paterson and Scott on the one side and to the Steel and Nicholson on the other.

A filed lay between Butterburn Park and Nicholson’s property. Half of this was owned by Robert Cockburn and occasionally contained a bull or a sick cow. Nicholson’s half was used mainly for poultry.

Sometimes, however, there could be seen a handsome race-horse or a glorious peacock whose gay plumage was a source of childish wonder and provided first-hand knowledge for a school essay. Whenever a menagerie came to Hamilton, which was not up to local expectations, Burnblea Children would boast that they had a better one of their own. Thus one talked of the Burnblea Menagerie.

COLOURFUL CHARACTERS

With so many fields around it, Burnblea Street was an ideal one in which to rear children, many of whom now hold prominent positions in the professional and business worlds. It was a Street of harmony and contentment with a few colourful characters rising above the crowd. Johnie Nicholson, with his breezy alertness, councillor John Walker, with his cheery smiling face; “Paw” Peterson with his searching eye and unhurried gait; and old Andrew Scott, with his sense of humour and deep Christian fellowship-these are but a few.

The street had its quota of teachers, among them the Misses Harley, and tall, distinguished looking Robert Walker M.A. who was killed in the First World War.

The only foreigners were the Italians, the Delgrossos, who had a fish and chip shop in Chassels’ building. They were noted for their cleanliness, besides their delicious fish suppers and they became an integral part of a respected whole.

STRIKE AID

Burnblea Soup Kitchen.
The transformed washhouse then known as the Burnblea Soup Kitchen with residents of Burnblea Street taken during the Strike of 1926.

During the long strike of 1926, the residents rallied around their mining neighbours and supplied vegetables and potatoes which were cooked in one of Anderson’s washhouses.  The washhouse was whitened and everything scrubbed and polished to transform it into a cookhouse or soup kitchen. After a large plate of good nourishing soup the men would have a sing-song or play cards to while away the long summer days. Luckily the weather kept perfect but by the time the strike ended many were heavily hopelessly in debt.

After the 1921 and 1926 strikes, some miners took advantage of the emigration schemes and crossed the Atlantic where, to their horror they found a depression as grave as the one they left behind.  Cold, hunger and the inability to get other than casual labour accounted for one poor chap’s death.

After years of toil and untold suffering dreams. One in this category sent dollars to landlord and grocer to meet debts outstanding for almost twenty years. The money was promptly returned with letters of praise for the touching show of honesty and Scottish independence. But such was the type of people who called Burnblea Street “home”.

 

 

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DEATH OF AN OLD HAMILTONIAN

Hoolet Row
The date of this picture of Hoolet Raw is unknown, however it is possible that Mr Chassels is the man to the left of the picture.

Mr George W. B. Chassels, who died at his residence at Avonbraes on 17th September 1916 was a well-known and highly respected Hamiltonian. Born in 1834. he was 82 years of age, and was oldest worker the Hamilton Estate. He was named after the second minister of Brandon 17. F. Church, the Bev. Wm. Barr, and was associated with the church from baptism, being its senior member at his death.

Brought up in Muir Street, he had many reminiscences to tell of the old coaching days, when the King’s Arms was a stopping place, and in other ways he was a delightful and interesting companion. He entered the service of Hamilton Estate at 16 years of age under Duke Alexander, and continued to serve under the three following Dukes.

Hoolet Row.
Hoolet Raw.

Shortly after the present Duke succeeded to the title he generously, in virtue of having been over fifty years servant of the ducal family, pensioned Mr Chassels. who has since lived a retired but by no means a hermit’s life at his home in Avonbraes, better known as the Hoolet Raw. He made a special study of nature, and was particularly fond of birds, always carrying crumbs in his pocket to feed them.

It was no uncommon thing for him in his walks to address birds by name, and for them to alight on and pick from his hand. The many people from Hamilton and district who visited the Hoolet Raw delighted to have a crack with Mr Chassels, Indeed, it was not regarded a proper visit unless they saw old “Geordie.” he was not only familiarly but lovingly called.

His wife, who predeceased him 21 years ago, was Christina  Nisbet, also an old servant at the Palace. The first keeper of the Mausoleum was her uncle, and the late keeper was a cousin. An aunt of Mrs Chassels was Jane Nisbet, who had been with the Ducal family for the long period of forty years, while a cousin, Marion  Nisbet, was maid for many years to Lady Mary.

 

Mr Chassels was laid to rest beside hie wife on Wednesday last in Larkhall Cemetery, the officiating clergyman being the Rev. J. A. Owen, of the South U.F. Church, who is presently acting as interim-moderator of Session for Brandon U.P. Church. It may be added that Mr Chassels was the twelfth member of a family fifteen and the only survivor is Mrs John Brown of Gateside Street in Hamilton.

Ref: Hamilton Advertiser 23rd September 1916.

The Council Penny Pinchers

The Council Penny Pinchers ?

I’ll always remember Almada St, jist ootside the County Buildin””
That’s where we got oor wee treats, years ago as young childrin”
For some reason they put in a water feature ‘andit looked so swell”
But whit they didnae bank on, was people used it as a .wishin”well”

Ye see the temptation fur awe us wains wis realy far to strong,
Off came the shoes n’ socks, paddlin”fur pennies before long,
The auld guy at the front wid shout, dae ye think yir’bein funny”
Naw”wir awe gawn tae the baths n’we hivnae got any money !!

They tried a security guy, but cost the cooncil a pretty penny”
It wis cause the kids wir’ gittin it, ye see they weren’t gittin any”
Some wid go tae confession, them wans thit went tae chapples”
See ye the morra,Davey, on the line fur Stepeks pairs n’apples””

(Hands up , if ye never dunnit” )

The above poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Haney.

FREE LOVE. ??? Ok, awe ye “Historic Hamiltonians”, am gonnae ge ye a laugh it ma expense, Bit if this wee poem kin relate tae you, ur hits a nerve, a charity gits 50 pence, ****************************** Ye know a loved tae go tae the “Troc”the music wis aboot free love and kissy’s Well noo’when a listen tae the wireless, it jist brings back memories of ‘dissy’s It wis a magic time, a wis dressed tae the nines” and’ a loved awe ma dancin’ Bit the only thing thit lit me doon, wis a wisnae schooled in the art o’ romancin” ******************************* Kin ye remember them ‘stoatin’ wee lassies, they awe hid ugly mates, them gal’s,, They’de stawn on the flare’ posin’, if they didnae lumber thid awe blame thir’pals, A tap’d wan up wan night, “Am fussy no foosted” she replied, whit a wee bitch”” Bit she lumbered wannae ma mates, who? ended up wae the wee wickid witch” ********************************** A wis wonderin why a couldnae lumber’ it bugged me , well a started tae think” A wis sniffin’ ma ‘ochsters, looked in the mirror, am a ugly ur dis ma patter stink? This wee guy fae wisha” said, if ye bin up tae the pictures, up in the golden devan, If ye git lumbered, jist go, many a wee boys went in there n’ came oot a big man, *********************************** Well a met this aulder lassie, n’ we went there, a didnae care if the film wis shite”” We sat doon, d’ye love me” Whit? “d’ye love me,” god, a only lumbered ye last night” Well that wis it, awe the money a spent, on that “romancin” it wis awe jist in vain” She said am jist gonnie go tae toilet ok, a jist knew a widnae be seein hur again”” ********************************** ye cannie beat the lassies fae Hamilton, it takes wan look tae cut tae the quick” Am sure if somebody done survey, the’de find thir uncles the devil saint “Nick” Bit ye know wit that auld lassie done, noo that hurt a wis gutted, n’ no very nice” The worst thing aboot it wis ma new strides” wur ruined” a sat in melted “choc ice” ******************************** Oh well ! I’ll jist hivtae go back tae the Troc” the morra n’ I’ll ge it another try,, I’ll lit ye’s awe know how a git on next time, bit till then it’s a wee cheery bye”” (Doo wa diddy diddy dum diddy doo) The above poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Hainey.

FREE LOVE. ???

Ok, awe ye “Historic Hamiltonians”, am gonnae ge ye a laugh it ma expense,
Bit if this wee poem kin relate tae you, ur hits a nerve, a charity gits 50 pence,
******************************
Ye know a loved tae go tae the “Troc”the music wis aboot free love and kissy’s
Well noo’when a listen tae the wireless, it jist brings back memories of ‘dissy’s
It wis a magic time, a wis dressed tae the nines” and’ a loved awe ma dancin’
Bit the only thing thit lit me doon, wis a wisnae schooled in the art o’ romancin”
*******************************
Kin ye remember them ‘stoatin’ wee lassies, they awe hid ugly mates, them gal’s,,
They’de stawn on the flare’ posin’, if they didnae lumber thid awe blame thir’pals,
A tap’d wan up wan night, “Am fussy no foosted” she replied, whit a wee bitch””
Bit she lumbered wannae ma mates, who? ended up wae the wee wickid witch”
**********************************
A wis wonderin why a couldnae lumber’ it bugged me , well a started tae think”
A wis sniffin’ ma ‘ochsters, looked in the mirror, am a ugly ur dis ma patter stink?
This wee guy fae wisha” said, if ye bin up tae the pictures, up in the golden devan,
If ye git lumbered, jist go, many a wee boys went in there n’ came oot a big man,
***********************************
Well a met this aulder lassie, n’ we went there, a didnae care if the film wis shite””
We sat doon, d’ye love me” Whit? “d’ye love me,” god, a only lumbered ye last night”
Well that wis it, awe the money a spent, on that “romancin” it wis awe jist in vain”
She said am jist gonnie go tae toilet ok, a jist knew a widnae be seein hur again””
**********************************
ye cannie beat the lassies fae Hamilton, it takes wan look tae cut tae the quick”
Am sure if somebody done survey, the’de find thir uncles the devil saint “Nick”
Bit ye know wit that auld lassie done, noo that hurt a wis gutted, n’ no very nice”
The worst thing aboot it wis ma new strides” wur ruined” a sat in melted “choc ice”
********************************
Oh well ! I’ll jist hivtae go back tae the Troc” the morra n’ I’ll ge it another try,,
I’ll lit ye’s awe know how a git on next time, bit till then it’s a wee cheery bye””

(Doo wa diddy diddy dum diddy doo)

The above poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Hainey.

???

Ok, awe ye “Historic Hamiltonians”, am gonnae ge ye a laugh it ma expense,
Bit if this wee poem kin relate tae you, ur hits a nerve, a charity gits 50 pence,
******************************
Ye know a loved tae go tae the “Troc”the music wis aboot free love and kissy’s
Well noo’when a listen tae the wireless, it jist brings back memories of ‘dissy’s
It wis a magic time, a wis dressed tae the nines” and’ a loved awe ma dancin’
Bit the only thing thit lit me doon, wis a wisnae schooled in the art o’ romancin”
*******************************
Kin ye remember them ‘stoatin’ wee lassies, they awe hid ugly mates, them gal’s,,
They’de stawn on the flare’ posin’, if they didnae lumber thid awe blame thir’pals,
A tap’d wan up wan night, “Am fussy no foosted” she replied, whit a wee bitch””
Bit she lumbered wannae ma mates, who? ended up wae the wee wickid witch”
**********************************
A wis wonderin why a couldnae lumber’ it bugged me , well a started tae think”
A wis sniffin’ ma ‘ochsters, looked in the mirror, am a ugly ur dis ma patter stink?
This wee guy fae wisha” said, if ye bin up tae the pictures, up in the golden devan,
If ye git lumbered, jist go, many a wee boys went in there n’ came oot a big man,
***********************************
Well a met this aulder lassie, n’ we went there, a didnae care if the film wis shite””
We sat doon, d’ye love me” Whit? “d’ye love me,” god, a only lumbered ye last night”
Well that wis it, awe the money a spent, on that “romancin” it wis awe jist in vain”
She said am jist gonnie go tae toilet ok, a jist knew a widnae be seein hur again””
**********************************
ye cannie beat the lassies fae Hamilton, it takes wan look tae cut tae the quick”
Am sure if somebody done survey, the’de find thir uncles the devil saint “Nick”
Bit ye know wit that auld lassie done, noo that hurt a wis gutted, n’ no very nice”
The worst thing aboot it wis ma new strides” wur ruined” a sat in melted “choc ice”
********************************
Oh well ! I’ll jist hivtae go back tae the Troc” the morra n’ I’ll ge it another try,,
I’ll lit ye’s awe know how a git on next time, bit till then it’s a wee cheery bye””

(Doo wa diddy diddy dum diddy doo)

The above poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Hainey.

A telt ye

A telt ye”

A want tae, go back up tae Hillhoose, n’ pinch tumshies it “Montgomery’s ferm”
A want tae, watch the wee wains playin’ games ootside, wae nae fear of herm”
A want tae, go oot wae ma pals again, n’ goin knock on some auld guy’s door”
A want tae, show awe the kids the day, how tae hiv some fun n’ games galore”
A want tae, go oot n’ pinch some apples n’ pears withoot me fawin oot the tree”
A want tae, see awe the young uns’ try new things, before they git is auld is me”
A want tae, be back playin fitba’ wae ma mates, bit noo ad hiv tae be the goalie”
A want tae, go swimmin’ roon’ Hamilton baths, bit wthoot swallyin’ a wee toallie”
A want tae, go up tae the Wellhall cemetery, and put flowers on ma maws grave”
A want tae, jist sit n’ blether’ tae hur, and say thanks fur awe the love she gave””
A want tae, go tae Almada street, n’ tae find coins in the fountain, wid be grand””
A want tae, go intae the “Brandon Cafe,” n’ let the lady once again read ma hand”
A want tae, walk intae Hamilton, and tae see awe the wee shops thrive like before”
A want tae, ye see bit a cannie, cause thir pulled doon, ur thir no there any more”
A want tae, go back tae the “Troc” jist tae hear “Chris McLure” singin please stay”
A want tae, close ma eyes n’ jist remember all the sights n’ sounds of yesterday ”
A want tae, tell everyone from Strathclyde, thit yir great n’ a jist love ye tae bits”
A want tae, tell Historic Hamilton, thit am sorry, if ma wee poems git on yir tits””
A want tae, hear ma wee maws voice shoutin oot” “””A WANT NEVER GITS””

This fantastic poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Hainey.

Yir’ daein well,,

Yir’ daein well,,
 
Dae ye mind, of Hamilton in the decade, thit wis the greatest of thim all ?
Dae ye mind, ye could go oot it the weekend, relax in jist hiv yirsel a ball ?
Dae ye mind, back in the sixties, the prosperity wis brought tae the place,
Dae ye mind, walkin doon the street, n’ seein’ happy smiles on every face,,
Dae ye mind, Hamilton, Hillhoose, Blanti’r, Burnbank, n’ all of Lanarkshire,,
Dae ye mind, awe the hustle” n’ bustle” the feeling of hearts bin set on fire,,
Dae ye mind, whole families, in work”n’ awe thir heeds held high wae Pride,,
Dae ye mind, seein thim waitin” fur the buses, tae that place “East Kilbride,,
Dae ye mind, awe them new factories, the workplace so neat n’ newly done,,
Dae ye mind, hivin tae sit fur half the day in that new “tax” place Centre one,,
Dae ye mind, of awe the new things, ye bought, ye wir much better off by far,,
Dae ye mind, the first time ye ever seen families could afford a bran’new car,,
Dae ye mind, when yir hoose wis modernised, a bet ye thought, am dain well,,,
Dae ye mind, ye got the phone in, the first time thit it rang, yir maw shit hirsel,,
Dae ye mind, ye could go oot tae the big shops, withoot ye hivin tae tick oan”
Dae ye mind, if ye hid a wee bit money put by, the bank wid offer ye a loan,,,
Dae ye mind, awe the changes made, everywhere, wis lookin nippin clean,,
Dae ye mind, in them days in Hamilton” ye noticed wis the best it’s ever been,,
Dae ye mind, wannie yir biggest dreams, tae buy yir ain wee hoose some way,,
Mind,,Lookin back dae ye sometimes wish,, it wis still like that ? “A BET YE DAE””
 
The above poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Hainey

Agnes Scott’s Monument of Memories Part 2 Printed 10 June 1966.

Thinking of the now headquarters of the British legion and Toc H, I walked up Quarry Street to the site of the old town hall. There I took a seat, as the burgh has placed several benches around as a temporary means of beautifying and utilising the spot while awaiting development. 

In imagination I was soon inside a packed hall listening to the Albatross Singers who came periodically to delight audiences with their sacred music.  The faces of Hamilton songsters and talented entertainers flagged before my eyes, among them Messrs Gold, Millar & Black, also Miss Pug, Mrs Thompson and a special friend Miss Tina Brunton, a contralto of some repute. For several years before her death Tina was partially blind but she maintained a courageous front and remained cheerful to the end.

I also recalled many amateur dramatics and the words of one little girl making her stage debut ran through my ears…..”Duncan and a’ sodgers made o’ wid?” Somehow I have never forgotten that line or the child’s resounding voice.

 

MEN’S SUFFERING

 

I, however, associate the Town Hall mainly with the First World War, the War Pensions Office held therein and the suffering of the men who queued for their disability pensions. Full treatment allowance at that time was £3 per week for a single man, as compared with a basic allowance of £6.15 Shillings today plus the various other amounts to which he may be entitled.

All types were dealt with among them hard cases who knew every trick and device by which they could obtain something for nothing. Others were so grateful for a crumb  of comfort that they almost worshipped the staff whom they would occasionally make a small gift. I still cherish such a present, beautifully embroidered by the wife of the war veteran called “Thomas Barr”.  He had heart trouble and was crippled by  rheumatism, yet one never herd him grumble.

To observe these men and note their reactions to certain circumstances was an education in itself. Returning to “civvy” street totally totally or partially disabled was always a problem and a number could not adjust themselves. Some refused to wear their artificial limbs. One man in particular came in almost fortnightly and threw his artificial leg on the counter accompanied by a torrent of abuse not so John Robertson of Meikle Earnock. Despite severe agony he preserved and for years one did not suspect that he had an artificial leg. Now over seventy his disability tells but he remains a fighter and a hero.

Many disabled accept government grants or had their pensions commuted for a lump sum which to set up in business. Dozens did this but I can name only one who made a success of it. Opportunities were also given for a collage education.

Two men, both joiners, accepted the challenge and they became woodwork teachers at the academy and St Johns respectively. They too deserve praise for making a new life for themselves. Although in retirement now they are still outstanding citizens ans model ex-servicemen.

But it was in a large measure due to the insight and understanding of the various sectaries of the war pensions committee, that the pensioners found new hope. The first was Walter Henderson, depute town clerk. He conducted business in an office in the municipal buildings ans continued from there until work grew to such dimensions that he could not cope with two jobs satisfactory, so he resigned. A new salaried secretary was elected in the person of J Glen Boyd of Lanark, and business was transferred to a larger premises in the Town Hall.

Walter Henderson who died recently, held many positions of trust, including that of county clerk. He was a tireless worker and could not tolerate laziness and inefficiency in his staff. Able and just he was respected  by staff and colleagues alike and if I were asked to name the perfect boss it would be Walter Henderson.

Glen Boyd, who suffered a hand injury in the war, had a charming personality.  He was tall and handsome, broad shouldered and solidly built. His blue eyes under well groomed fair hair could split fire if necessary. But “Glennie” was a big man in every way and became a very popular secretary. He resigned to become the secretary of the sick children’s hospital in Glasgow. His marriage partner was Miss Constable, a teacher at St. Johns.

John Robertson of Blantyre was the third secretary. He was an older man, whose benevolent disposition prevented him from getting tough with any client, however trying the circumstances. His term of office was short for the Hamilton War Pensions office was closed in December 1922 and all work transferred to Motherwell, the area office.

THE DOCTORS

Before I close the door on that part of the Town Hall’s history, mention should be made of the medical referees, Dr Hugh Miller of Auchingramont Road and Dr Robertson of Union Street. The latter always breezed in with his reports, his military training evident in his bearing and his air of authority, whereas Dr Miller was polite and unassuming. Both were well liked by the pensioners.

Dr Robertson vaccinated the staff during the smallpox scar, and the penny-sized dent in my arm is attributable to him and a constant reminder of those far off days. In Mr Henderson’s time Dr J Murray Young was referee with all the traffic on the Town Hall stair, cleaning was no easy task but this was ably undertaken by Mrs Robertson, widow of Charles Robertson, the renowned Town Office and hall keeper. Mr Robertson was allowed to retain the latter post as long as health permitted.

By this time of course, Alfred Duke was the town officer and caretaker of the municipal buildings. I knew Mr Duke and admired him as a smart, intelligent and affable officer. But he is associated with a different story…….