Aw the Best for 2017.

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for sending us your pictures, stories & poems over 2016. It has been great reading all of your comments and sharing your memories.

On behalf of myself, my wife Emma & my three boys, Daniel, Ryan and Caiden. We would like to wish you all a very happy new year when it comes.

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book, why not help us write a good one!!!!!!

Garry
Historic Hamilton.

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WAITING ON THE BELLS, 1940-1980’s

WAITING ON THE BELLS, 1940-1980’s
By Wilma S. Bolton.
 
The custom of saying goodbye to the year that is drawing to its end and the traditional celebrations to welcome the arrival of the New Year is inextricably embedded in the soul of the Scot. As the old year departs taking with it with all our hopes and dreams, some of which have come to fruition and others perhaps not so successful, the optimists among us will once again start the yearly cycle filled with the eternal certainty that this is the year when life will take a turn for the better. Every generation is different and I can’t help noticing that today many men reduce the stress and pressure of the festive frenzy on their wives by sharing the cooking and cleaning chores. This welcome change is perhaps due to the fact that many women work.
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The impending arrival of the New Year heaped more responsibilities on the shoulders of women, for until the modern world liberated us with labour saving devices such as Hoovers, washing machines and tumble dryers, women were slaves to cooking and cleaning. Fridges were almost unheard of. We lived in a prefab in Mill Road and it had a gas one which came with the house and we also had our own bathroom. Most tenement buildings had outside toilets which were shared with neighbours. Hogmanay was a frantically busy time and women worked their fingers to the bone preparing for the arrival of New Year. There were no supermarkets then and women baked and cooked for hours to feed their families over the festive season. Plum puddings would have been made a few days before, but soup and steak pies were made on Hogmanay. The smell of cooking and baking which permeated throughout the house for most of the day bore witness to their hard work.
 
Tradition dictated that both the inside and outside of the home had to be shining from top to bottom. Windows had to be cleaned, brass letterboxes were polished with Brasso until they shone and all ornaments were washed. Fitted carpets were still in the future and instead there was a large carpet square in the middle of the floor, the edge of which stopped about eighteen inches from the wall and between its edge and the skirting board there was linoleum to be dusted and polished. Smaller carpet runners had to be taken outside and beaten with a cane carpet beater until all the dust had been removed. All bed linen had to be changed and there had to be no dirty clothes or linen waiting to be washed and all the ironing had to be done and put away.
 
The cleaning of outside stairs was sacrosanct and not just any old cleaning. The stairs had first to be swept clean and then down on your knees you went with a metal pail (no plastic then) containing bleach and water and you scrubbed away with a hard bristle scrubbing brush. After every mark and piece of dirt had been removed by sheer brute force, the stairs were rinsed with clean water and then dried down with an old rag. There were no rubber gloves then either and a great many women suffered pain and itch from dermatitis due to the exposure their hands got to cleaning products; my mother among them.
 
Not a scrap of household rubbish was allowed to remain inside the home. It would either be burned on the coal fire or removed to the metal dustbin out the back. Vegetable peelings and scraps were deposited into the brock bin to be collected by Andrew Ballantyne who boiled them in a massive cauldron hanging inside the fireplace of the Leigh Bent farm which stood just across from the gates of the Bent Cemetery. As the brock boiled it smelled like soup and the pigs loved it.
 
THE HANDS OF THE CLOCK. As the dying embers of the old year were fast fading away, the door of the house would be opened to let the old year out “then locked not to be opened again until “after the bells.” My mother Peggy Russell would by this time have laid out two trays covered with her lovely hand-embroidered cloths. The first tray would hold my dad’s bottle of whisky, ginger cordial for my sister and myself and for my mother, the same bottle of Bertola Cream sherry would make its New Year guest appearance and she would half fill a sherry glass and toast the health and wealth of our small family and then back into the cupboard went the bottle for another twelve months. My mother was 29 when she married and she had quite a good bank book which her sister my aunt Ella Lang kept for her and my father never knew of its existence, although he was a good husband and father. She used to say “never tell your right haun whit your left haun is daein.” She used the money to keep the wolf from the door when the pits were out on strike. She was really good at managing money and we had a secure and happy home life.
The second tray paid tribute to Peggy’s excellent baking skills with her home made shortbread and slices of sultana and cherry cakes. My sister and I could barely conceal our excitement waiting for the “bells.” On the stroke of midnight my father Jimmy Russell would open the kitchen window to let in the New Year and then he would hold me up to the window whispering “can you hear it?” and away in the distance through the still night air, came the unmistakable sound of the pit horn at Blantyre’s Dixon’s Colliery welcoming the New Year. In turn he would kiss my mother, my sister and myself and solemnly shake our hands wishing us a “Happy New Year” and my mum Peggy with her thick Aberdeen accent would hold up her glass of sherry and say “I wish ye all I wish myself and I couldna wish ye better.” The door was opened with the arrival of our first foot.
 
Now Jimmy was partial to a wee hauf of whisky and Peggy I must say, tried to make sure that was all he got for the bottle was destined to be drunk at the large family gathering at my Grandpa Lang’s house in Russell Street. If a man had a bottle of whisky at the New Year, then he was a happy man and if he had two, he was worth a few pounds or knew somebody with connections. My father knew everybody and occasionally managed to obtain a second bottle. Alcohol was expensive to buy and a bottle of whisky was a rare sight in our house except for very special occasions and the New Year came into that category.
 
In the early afternoon we would walk from 133 Mill Road to 73 Russell Street to join with our relatives in a lovely happy New Year’s day party. The women had all discussed what food they would bring with them and my mother’s job was to supply the plum puddings and some pies. The kitchen at Russell Street was tiny and I am sure that the table only sat four at the most, so we were fed in relays; adults first of course.
 
There would be much singing and telling of tales, reminiscing of old times and planning for the future. We kids had a ball and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. At the end of the night my Grandpa, Guy Lang lined all of us up and gave each and every one a 10/- note; a fortune in those days. By the time we had to go home my father of course like the rest of the men was quite merry. I can say however that despite the large numbers of people there, I never remember a cross word between any of them. It was always a big happy family party.
It wasn’t until I was an adult and had family of my own that I realised that most of my Lang cousins were in were in actual fact no blood relation, not that it made any difference. My father had been brought up across the road from them and my Granny Lang, a lovely woman had felt sorry for this family of five boys and one girl who had lost their mother while they were living in America and she was really good to them. My Grandpa Russell had brought them all back to Scotland on a troop ship in 1916 and my Granny Lang had played a hugely important part in their lives. Eventually my Uncle Guy Lang married my mother’s sister Eleanor Stewart, so Gavin, Stewart and Eleanor Lang were my full cousins and the others would have disagreed with anyone who said we were not theirs. Happy days…… Wilma S. Bolton. 2016. Ⓒ

MURDER AT PALACE GROUNDS.

MURDER AT PALACE GROUNDS, 1950.
Three Hamilton men sentenced to hang.
 
A vicious assault took place at the Hamilton Palace recreational grounds on September the 9th, 1950 where a man later died.
 
At the High Court Trial at Glasgow, four men who are charged with murder, in Hamilton Palace Recreation Grounds, where John Edwin Newall of 6 Cadzow Street, Hamilton, died in Killearn Hospital on September 14. It was alleged that the assault was committed on the evening of Saturday September 9th, when a clash occurred between a gang of about 20 or 25 young men and employees of Bertram Mill’s Circus.
 
The accused are Robert Gallacher, a labourer of 9 Portwell, John McGuire, a machinist of 36 Church Street, Robert McKenna, a labourer of 43 Tuphall Road and Edward McGuire, a labourer of 36 Church Street who are charged with acting together with others unknown and who are also accused of having committed a breach of the peace, seizing brushes and shovels belonging to the circus and adopting a threatening attitude towards circus employees, particularly Noel O’FIynn struggling and fighting and throwing missiles at them and circus vehicles.
 
All the accused pleaded not guilty and John McGuire tenders a special defence of alibi. An additional charge against Edward McGuire alleges that he assaulted John Leonard Wool, staff manager of the circus and attempted to strike him.
Mr H.R. Leslie, K.C., Advocate-Depute, conducts the case for the Crown, and the accused are represented as follows—Gallacher, Mr W R . Milligan, K.C.; John McGuire, Mr C.W. Graham Guest, K .C .; McKenna, Mr C.J.D. Shaw, K.C and Edward McGuire. Mr W Ross McLean, K.C.
 
Mr Cyril Bertram Mills chairman of Bertram Mills Circus, gave evidence to the effect that the circus was being dismantled after the final performance on September 9. A little before 10 o ‘ clock he saw three men fighting, and soon afterwards another two fights. His own men were involved and he called to them to group together and to drop any of the tools they might have been using. He saw a group throwing bricks and stones at a tractor the windscreen of which was broken, and then he saw a group of seven men and a woman kicking a man. The four accused were identified by witness as having been amongst this group Mr J.L. Woolstaff, manager, said he saw a crowd of about 20 men entering the ground in a hostile manner Some had bottles, one picked up an iron stake, and another had a 14-lb hammer with a broken shaft They were looking for a man whom they called “the Belfast Irishman.”
 
Cross-examined by Mr Ross McLean, witness agreed that he had seen Edward McGuire at the circus the previous evening he arrived late when the box office was closed and was refused admission.
 
Constable William Aitchison of Hamilton Burgh Police stated that he saw John McGuire at Hamilton Old Cross at ten minutes past ten on the night of the assault McGuire said, ‘You are going to have a busy night’, and witness told him and others to “Move on.”
At 10:25, after he had been called to the Recreation Grounds, he saw John McGuire and the three-other accused, all of whom he knew well, kicking a man lying on the ground the man whom he recognised, was unconscious, bleeding from the ears, nose, and mouth.
 
The date of the execution was fixed by Lord Keith as 26th November 1950 at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.
 
DEATH SENTENCE APPEAL.
On the 13th of November, Edward McGuire has lodged an appeal against his conviction on the ground of misdirection of the Jury. It was also announced on Saturday Appeals on behalf of the other two men. Robert Gallacher (23) and Robert McKenna (31), who were also sentenced to death, are expected to be lodged to-day.
 
CIRCUS CRIME: THREE MEN REPRIEVED.
On Saturday the 23rd of December 1950, the three men due to die on Boxing Day for the Hamilton circus murder were reprieved yesterday.
 
Mr Hector McNeil, Secretary for Scotland, has advised the King to commute the capital sentence to a sentence of life imprisonment.
I couldn’t find the deaths for the men, so I am assuming that they all did life at Barlinnie and either died there or were released.

Your Local Pub.

Alex Hosie was telling us about all the Burnbank pubs that he drank in. Alex wrote:
 
“Before clubs were invented, these are the pubs I remember in Burnbank (and I was in every one of them, so yer lucky I can still remember anything!) –
 
The Golden Feathers
The Club Bar
The Thistle Bar
The Clansman
The Enfield (a door on each street, Glasgow Road and High Blantyre Road)
The Earnock Vaults (the Tap Shop)
The Victoria Bar (Duffy’s)
The Greenfield Bar (Peter Smith’s)
Flannigan’s Bar
The Empire (still there)
The Glenlee (still there)
 
Hope I’ve not forgotten any in my auld age!”
 
What was your local pub and tell us your stories of the shenanigans that went on?
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Childhood Memories of Michael Martin.

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Michael Martin shared some of his childhood memories with us and he told us about his time growing up in Burnbank. Michael wrote:
 
“I stayed at 72 Hill Street and we would all meet up at Tommy Stirling’s for a game of football after our dinner Rab Nelson (poker), Sanny Hunter, Wullie Mackie, Davie Stirling (ruck) Alex wales (ki) then when it got dark we would have a game of bedlam where we would go into teams and chase each other over the jungle.
 
we would also be up the bing where you had trenches built by the older guys they called themselves the ‘Black Hoods’ Jimmy Stirling, Tommy Gallacher, Benny McGowan, Billy Stirling & Tam Weir (r.i.p) have to say they built good trenches and they were deep with beams across them then tin sheets on top and to finish it off they cut out chunks of grass and earth and put them on top.
 
But us ‘white hoods’ weren’t scared of them pulling down their teachers we use to go to the back of Phillips factory and steal the fluorescent lights and make them into pea shooters we used big itchy coos.
 
Your parent’s didn’t need to shout on you when the street lights went on it was time to go home and one last thing Earnock could never beat the jungle boys at football.”
 
Michael thank you for sharing your memories with us. In my day we did ‘Doakies’ and there wasn’t a back door garden in the Jungle that me and my mates, Andrew Robertson, James Beggs, Billy Bradley, Tommy Holmes, Jason Holmes, James Holmes & Raymond McGuire never jumped over. We played everywhere and also built good trenches! When I was younger the bing was long gone, but we had Udston woods where we would also make crossbows and uses elastic bands as the string and we had the best rope swing down in ‘Carter’s woods’ where we would play from morning to night.
 
That’s Burnbank Memories, what about the rest of Hamilton, Can you share your memories from your area, “Whitehill, Eddlewood, Fairhill, Earnock, Hillhouse, Quarter” Let us know and tell us your childhood memories of growing up in Hamilton.

May Street

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I love it when you guys put names to faces!

In June Robert Harrison sent us a picture of himself when he was a wee boy. Robert Wrote:

“This is another photo of May street backyard, with myself and Billy Duncan. No recollection of the two girls. Does anyone from May street remember them?”

Well done and a big thank you to Amanda Belshaw who contacted us on Christmas day and gave us the names of the two girls in the picture. Amanda wrote:

“Hi there my mother in law Margaret Belshaw (maiden name Scott) is the younger of the two girls in the picture. Her sister Betty is the older. She says she spilt ice cream on Bert’s hair and they stayed at 30 May Street”

Another little mystery solved!
If you have an old picture that you would like to send us, then please feel free to send them in and we will share with everyone.