A PLANK OAN WHEELS ? AYE ? AYE- POPEYE !

The following story was sent to Historic Hamilton by David Cairns.

Jimmy Scott fae Ratho Park was the first guy ever-ever in the history of the entire world inside my mind, to imagine, design and build a plank on wheels…he even invented the name…”Skate-Plank”…the name never stuck..but his invention did…today…kids the world over…call it a ‘Skateboard’…the best, crazy-fast craze to come and go I ever saw growing up in Hamilton.

Early summer 1977, I saw Jimmy Scott wheeling his way doon the path that ran fae the top of Balmore Drive over tae Ratho Park…he wisnae on roller skates..they were for lassies..and it wisnae a bogey…too wee for a bogey ?? I decided I needed tae go over and talk to Jimmy aboot this contraption. Jimmy was 2 years older than me, and we were only pals part-time…other times, we wurnae on speaking terms…last time I saw him, he’d been oot on the skite in Hamilton aboot 1986 and he was staggering hame at three in the morning in a tee-shirt…and it was freezin’..I gave him a lift..he was a nice guy..wish I’d played with him mair…

Anyway, this ‘ thing’..plank hing ?..it was a dod of plank, and two halfs of a roller skate nailed through the dod …and that was pretty much it. He pushed off at the top and was travelling about a quarter the pace my granny wheeled a supermarket trolley full of cans of prunes, and by the time he got half way doon the slope..he was flyin’ aboot as fast as I could swim…and then jumped aff…cos of the speed…I mean…you could die…Jeezo…this was real breakneck stuff.

Mair and mair kids were coming for a shot..bless him, Jimmy let everybody have a go. Within a week, my next door neighbour Stuart Baird’s maw went oot and bought him an £18 clear, blue SKUDA board..with a kickboard tail. We were all now in an arms race…like it or not…anybody in the scheme who’s birthday was in the summer or Autumn, was getting a skate-plank…everybody else had tae get an emergency wan….oh, the embarrassment…the shame…we got wan oot the Catalogue Clubby book….a ‘SuperFlyerDeluxe’ widden monstrosity with a rubber bung on the underside heel. It was aboot two foot long, made of wood, and had the logo painted in blue on the tap…all the paint came aff in a week, all the rubber came aff the wheels in a fortnight, and all that…for £6-99.

The wheels wore doon intae a sideywyse ‘v’ shape. The ‘trucks’ were hopeless, and if ye went faster than 10 mile an hoor, ye gote a deadly speed wobble and fell aff….
During that time, ye could only see skateboarding on a wee snippet at the start of ‘World of Sport’ with Dickie Davis on a Saturday before the wrestling. Britain had some guy called Tim Levis who could slalom in and oot o’ tin cans and was going tae the world skateboarding championships in California, where the Yanks claimed, it had been invented…wis it fuck, it was Ratho Park, Meikle Earnock.

That sent ye oot ontae Meikle Earnock’s famous hilly paths, but, as it was September by then, the paths were already covered by Cooncil issue winter road salt. We had tae come doon oot of the altitude of Meiky tae find the best path in Hamilton…the long, path that ran fae Eddlewood Boolin’ Club, doon ower the Fairhill bing and ran steep doon tae Fairhill Avenue at Mill Road..that path was fucken dangerous. A speed wobble was the speed at which a board began to vibrate in the ‘trucks’..but if ye could control it AND were brave enough…ye could get through it….so on that lower path, headin doon parallel tae Buchan Street…I went through the first wobble…and went full pelt tae the bottom…but got another wan at twice the speed..I shit it…and jumped aff…and accidentally broke the world triple jump record en route tae a triple somersault and a triple salchow before skidding tae a halt with blood pouring oot all the new holes in my wooly jumper..it wis fucken magic.

Roon’ aboot that time, a new ‘ Skate-Park’ opened in Kelvingrove Park in Glesga, and Jimmy Scott was the guest of honour and opened it. Ye had tae have safety gear if I mind right, so my mam got us fucken auld yellow miners helmets. Even worse, some folk had skate pads on their elbows and knees made oot o’ auld socks.
It was a special treat that day, going to the park in Glesga, but fuck me, we were oot oor depth..kids were wheechin’ aboot upside doon and back tae front and never came aff…not like today, when they seem tae spend a’ their time jumpin aff the fucken hing.

Back in Hamilton, Christmas was coming, and I had my eye oan a £15 board oot a wee shoap near Woodside Road in Hamilton. Oor Scott on the other hand, was after a ‘Grentek Coyote’…I think that had to be ordered oot a magazine? it was £15 tae..and it was a much better board. Murray Clark and seven of his pals got in the Hamilton Ady for forming an ‘Octomaran’ where eight of them joined together and went doon a hill.

The Cooncil then gote tae work building us a long overdue ‘Skate-Park’..wan tae be proud of. They picked the site…Fairhill Bing !! doon on the grass near the bottom. The story wis at the time, a company were gaunae put in Snake runs and Torpedo Bowls and a half pipe and what have ye, for aboot £15,000…the Cooncil worked oot wi’ a bookies pencil oan the back of a fag packet in Skeltons, that they could dae it for aboot ten thoosand…and so , it came tae pass, that a concrete fucking carbuncle was built over a weekend…and before the concrete set, the locals in Fairhill threw bricks, shoes and auld wellys, car batteries and a shopping basket, two cookers and a Labrador intae the setting concrete…and totally fucked the project up afore the fuckin thing was built. It lay like that, collecting rainwater for about two years…then it was bulldozed…ye can still see a big bump at the bottom of the hill where it wis , I heard they buried a couple of Cooncilors in there tae.

That Christmas…everybody and their aunty woke up tae Grentek Coyotes, proper knee pads and helmets, skateboard annuals full of the best Californian Parks and pictures of skimpy bikini clad groupies…and seven fit snaw drifts…wish I’d got a fuckin sledge !

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ALMADA STREET & BOTHWELL ROAD NOW AND THEN.

Almada & Bothwell Road Lucy MacKinnon.

Looking back to May 1997 this picture was taken at the junction between Almada Street & Bothwell Road. The old gatekeepers house that was situated at the entrance of the Furlongs was carefully taken down brick by brick and relocated to Muir Street.

Most of you will also remember the public toilets on Bothwell Road that were closed down due to frequent visitors at night! And by May 1997 the old Hamilton Bus Depo was gone.

Douglas Park snapped up the vacant land and built a fancy car sales room selling luxury cars.

Picture courtesy of Lucy MacKinnon.

Almada Street Junction.

BURNBANK SWIFTS 1885-1962.

BURNBANK SWIFTS 1885-1962.

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Burnbank Athletic or Burnbank Swifts were a local football club based in Burnbank, who played primarily in the Scottish Junior football association competitions from 1885 until they went out of business in 1962.

They won the Scottish Junior on five occasions.  Formed in 1885 as Burnbank Swifts, the club were one of the most successful sides in the early years of the Junior game. They provided four of the team which played England in the first Scotland Junior international fixture in May 1889, with forward Jock Espie scoring the sides first ever goal.

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Back Row L-R. J Newall, B Gillies, J Allan, P Cuthbertson, Jackie Tait, W Summers.

Front Row L-R J Gracie, J Pollock, M Paton, J Mitchell, W McAdam.

Espie later enjoyed a career in England with Burnley and Manchester City while full-back Bob Foyers went on to play for Newcastle United and the Scotland senior side. Having won the Scottish Junior Cup twice in succession in 1888–89 and 1889–90, the club turned to Senior football and entered the 1890-91 Scottish Cup.

An 11–0 thrashing of United Abstainers Athletic was an auspicious debut and Burnbank eventually reached the fourth round before losing 1–0 to Royal Albert. The Swifts briefly joined the Scottish Football Federation for a season in 1891 before leaving to concentrate on cups and friendly matches then flirted again with league football in 1895, joining the Scottish Football Alliance but again, only for one season.

The club returned to Junior football in 1898 and changed their name to Burnbank Athletic in 1900. This immediately preceded their third Scottish Junior Cup victory in 1900–01 and Athletic went on to win the trophy twice more in 1910–11 and 1944–45. The club went out of business in 1962.

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Other former Burnbank players include Tommy Cairns, Bobby Shearer, Willie Telfer and Jimmy Watson who all went on to win full international caps for Scotland later in their careers.

More to come on the Burnbank Swifts.

FIVE HAMILTON MINERS ENTOMBED, ONE BODY RECOVERED.

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On Wednesday the 26th of April 1916, a tragic incident occurred at Neilsland Colliery, owned by John Watson and sadly five men were killed. The coal miners went to work not knowing what tragic events were about to happen that day. A party of men were selected to work in one of the old shafts, when one of the worst pit accidents that had occurred in the district for many years took place about midday, when an old shaft at Eddlewood collapsed and entombed the workmen.

The shaft was formerly Eddlewood No. 3, but some five or six years previous, it was filled up, and the coal to which it gave entrance, was worked from Neilsland. On Wednesday five men were employed in driving roads into the Eddlewood ell coal, take out the pillars which still remained in the workings around the old shaft. Their names were:
Hugh Scott, in charge of the party, married, 30 Low-waters;

Robert Robertson, married, 229 Low-waters;

John Shaw, single, 136 Eddlewood Rowe;

Robert Leadbetter, married, 103 Beckford Street;

George Stewart, married, 187 Low-waters.

Robert Brownlie, a shaftsman, who was giving Hugh Scott a hand, had finished his shift and was leaving for the surface. When he got some distance off, he heard a loud rumbling noise, and fearing an accident he sent word to the officials. Mr James Cook, the resident manager, and Mr James Houston, under-manager, who were in another portion of the pit, immediately proceeded to the scene, but found their course barred by an irresistible river of soft glutty debris flowing like a stream of lava through the workings and filling up every available space.

Acting with commendable promptitude Mr Cook and Mr Houston got the men in the other sections warned, to make their escape and they all succeeded in doing so. The five men employed in the old Eddlewood Ell coal were cut off, and from the first, no hope was entertained of finding them alive.

When the flow of material had subsided, every possible effort to reach the missing men was made by the management and many willing hands. About ten o’clock the body of Robert Robertson was recovered. He had apparently been swept forward by the rush of the incoming debris and was well within reach. The body, embedded in mud, bore no injuries death having resulted from suffocation.

When the serious nature of the accident was revealed, Mr Robert McLaren, H.M. Inspection of Mines, and Mr J. B. Thomson, the manager for Messrs John Watson (Ltd.) were communicated with, and were quickly at the scene of the calamity, bringing their experience and knowledge to bear on the work of rescue.
A rescue brigade from Coatbridge was summoned, but owing to the hopelessness of the situation, their services were not used. Mr John Robertson, miners’ agent also visited the scene.

The next day on The Thursday, the huge cavity caused on the surface by the falling in, of the loose filling-up material was several fathoms deep, (12.8 Meters) and the management had it fenced round. Vigorous efforts were maintained both on the Thursday and Friday to discover a trace of the other four men, but without success.

Public Enquiry

On Wednesday, the 7th June 1916 a public enquiry was held and it was stated that the body of Robert Robertson was recovered late on the same day, but the others have not yet been found, though the efforts of the management have been unsparing, and are still being prosecuted vigorously to reach the place where the four workers were caught in the irresistible inflow of washer sludge.

Mr Robert McLaren and Mr McElhanney represented His Majesty’s Inspectorate; Mr Craig, writer, Glasgow, appeared for the coal masters; and Mr Robert Smillie represented the interests of the miners. Duplicate plans of the workings and of the section where the accident occurred were shown during the evidence, followed by all the parties, including his Lordship and the jury.
The first witness was Robert Brownlie, shaftsman, Eddlewood, the last of those who escaped to see the deceased alive.

He had been commissioned to assist the five men now deceased who were employed driving mine through the Ell coal in the vicinity of the old shaft. The men were working in accordance with the regulations that is believing that they were nearing the old shank they were boring the strata to a depth fifteen feet straight ahead and on both flanks, in order locate the shaft and keep clear of it.

Nothing in these bores, as Robert Brownlie said, indicated conditions beyond the normal, the little water issuing from the holes being, in their opinion, but the expected accumulation in the rock. Besides assisting in the bores, witness putting up brattice cloth deflect the air current. His shift being finished about midday, he left the party to proceed to the pithead, the others coming out of their working place to take their “piece.”

He had gone some distance on his way when heard a terrific noise accompanied by the crashing of wood and the overturning of hutches. He realised what had happened, and fled, pushing forward a workman (Penman), whom he met, but to whom he had no time to make an explanation, and shouting on others. Mr Robert McLaren. H.M. Inspector, said it was to Robert Brownie’s coolness that Penman’s life was saved.

In reply to the Inspector, the witness said that he was satisfied there was at least 15 feet of coal between the workmen and the old shaft, but as the roof was soft thought the bursting in may have come from that quarter.

A few other witnesses were examined, including representatives of the management, Mr Robert Smillie said the jury could see their way to add to their verdict that considered it very dangerous practice to fill disused shafts with liquid sludge from the washers, and that the matter should be further looked into, he believed they would doing a service to the mining community by at least making the Government give this matter their attention.

When Mr Craig had set out address the Jury, his Lordship made a suggestion for a rider which met the views of all parties. The, jury thereafter unanimously found that the men had met their death by the sludge from the disused shaft bursting into the workings and overwhelming them, but there was not Sufficient evidence to enable them make a finding the precise cause of the accident.

In accordance with Lordship’s suggestion, added a rider to the effect that there was sufficient evidence to warrant them calling attention the danger which might arise when disused shafts were filled with liquid sludge and the approach thereto of mineral workings.

Drinking doon the Palace Grounds.

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Picture the scene, It’s 6 am and the Circus is in town at the Palace Grounds. What better way to end your night or start your day by going down to free the animals with a carryout.

In the picture are the Trainspotting rejects from Burnbank L-R Weirdo (His Nickname) Alec Latimer, Mark (Muzza) Murray, ??, Gary (Rodge) Ramsay, & Billy Bradley.

As stated, this picture was taken at the Palace Grounds at 6 am after an all night drinking session. The bench in the picture was roughly just up a bit from where the McDonalds restaurant is today across from Asda.

Have you got a picture from back in the day that you would like to share? Send them over to us and we will share with the group.

Jack Bruce Band

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Donald Orr sent us an old flyer from his collection. Donald told us:

“The late, great ,Jack Bruce, bass player, vocalist, and song writer with supergroup Cream, came down in the world, the night he played to a less than full house, in Hamilton.

Posters announced there would be 1000 watts of power, from the Best Bass Player in The World, and with Chris Spedding(” Motor Bikin’ “), on guitar, it was a hard rock performance. Jack, originally from Paisley, moved on to huge crowd again in future years. A great musician!” 

Did you go to this Gig? tell us your memories and even better show us your photos.

FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT NEAR BLANTYRE.

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On the afternoon of Friday, the 24th March 1876 at 3:30 pm a shocking occurrence took place on the Hamilton branch of the Caledonian Railway, near the bridge adjoining Craigknowe farm steading, about a mile from Blantyre Station.

As the driver of the 3 p.m. train from Glasgow was nearing the spot, he observed young man standing at the side of the line, and, thinking he was too near, blew the whistle and at the same time took means to stop the train.

The rate speed at which the train was going being about 30 miles an hour, it took some time draw up the train, and before this could be done the engine and part of the train had run over the young man.

It was found that the wheels had passed over the head and part of his body, and the brain was exposed, and he was otherwise mutilated in a shocking manner. The body was identified that of William Davie Brown, son of Mr J. K. Brown, Avongrange, Hamilton. was about 24 years of age, a young gentleman of great promise, and highly respected. Much sympathy is felt for his relatives in their heavy bereavement.

William was born in Glasgow and he was the son of James Brown a Merchant & Marie Davie, up until his death was living Avongrange at Castlehill at the house of Dr Wharrie as his father was renting the property. In 1876 suicide was illegal and it is sad to think that this young man with a great future ahead of him thought that he had no way out other than to end his own life.

BlantyreFerme.