Eyes wide shut,,,

Eyes wide shut,,,

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

Swings n’ roundabouts, witches hats, see saws’ n’ big “shuggie boats,
Weans wur in thir element, rain ur snaw’ n’some hid nae hats ur coats,
Every scheme in Hamilton hid thim, n’ they wur awe very special places,
A only hiv tae shut ma eyes, n’ awe a remember is the happy wee faces,
😃
Naebody tae tell ye thit “ye cannie dae that” come back whin yir aulder,,
Then y’de spread yir wings n’ go up the fifty feet ur swim in the caulder,,
Time came whin ye could jump oan a bus, n’ go further, n’ further away,,
Like the time ye went tae Crossford, Hazelbank, picking yir fruit awe day,,

The time ye wid go tae the baths, ur walk tae the park ower in Whitehill,,
Ur the time ye went tae the fair doon the pailis” mind that wis a big thrill,,
Things wur changin’ fast back then, soon it wis time fur tae leave school,,
It Wis ma time tae shine ur so a thought, tae me it wis the decade of cool,,
👓
A must hiv walked aboot wae ma eyes wide shut, a looked but never seen,
Maybe it wis the excitement of the times, “Hamilton”, the best thit it’s been,,
Am writin’ this wee rant aboot the past, bit ye know a realy feel like a fool,,
Av learnt mair aboot “Hamilton” on here, thin a ever wis learnt it the school,,
😠
Who knows how many great sites ave seen, n’ passed by, on ma merry way,,
Is It me, am a the only wan thit walked past “no lookin” ur did you dae It tae,?
Awe them iconic buildings, thit we’ve awe bin in,wae no even a second glance,
Oh tae go back n’ look again, a wid look wae open eyes, if a only hid a chance,
🔙
Thirs bin great stories oan here about wur “charachters” “Garry” you are one,
The best thing wis aboot the “Tolbooth” n’ that great auld bell that ye fun”,,
If any cooncillers ur watchin’ gie’ him the credit, lit him achieve his wee goal
Cause am sure thirs many a Hamiltonian” wid love tae here that big bell toll”

(Historic Hamilton, deserves an award,,)

Tolbooth1

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Brandon Street mind 1980s.

Brandon StreetWM..JPG

Brandon Street mind 1980s.

In this picture, we have Brandon Street and the photo was taken during the mid-1980s. As well as the old bus, you will notice the old Hamilton rent office.

There was also the old dentist called Borland & Rankin where I believe the kids used to be terrified of going. And not to forget the Doctors which were very well known by families in this part of Hamilton.

This part of Brandon Street was thriving with small business at one time, but this was long before the buildings were knocked down to make way for the new ones.

THE LOST BELL FORM THE HAMILTON TOLBOOTH. HAMILTON’S LINK TO ITS PAST IS FOUND.

THE LOST BELL FORM THE HAMILTON TOLBOOTH.
HAMILTON’S LINK TO ITS PAST IS FOUND.
 
On the 2nd of January 2017, I published the story of the Hamilton Tolbooth. During my research, I found that the bell from the Tollbooth, was salvaged from the demolition of the historic building, that was first built in Hamilton in 1642. The bell was recovered and it then disappeared, with its whereabouts unknown.
 
That was until July this year, where after I made a few enquires, I managed to track down the link to Hamilton’s past that still survives and I am happy to say is still in Hamilton.
Firstly, let me tell you about the demolition of the Tolbooth Bell Tower, and my reason for going on the hunt for the Tolbooth Bell. The last surviving section of the Old Hamilton Jail was the bell tower wherein 1954, it was demolished for safety reasons when a man, who was looking at an inscription on the wall, suddenly fell through the red ash gravel that was beneath his feet.
Tolbooth..jpg
 
The Cadzow Burn, which ran through a culvert, had started to come close to the foundations of the bell tower due to erosion and underground mine workings. After an investigation from a council official – who made a quick decision, deemed the bell tower unsafe and there was a possibility that it could subside and collapse. A decision was made at the time to demolish the old tower, but after further tests were done, it turned out that the tower was in a sound condition and it could be prevented from being demolished. There was an attempt made to have the building taken over as an ancient monument, but the cost of the repair work being prohibitive.
 
As you can imagine, this would have cost the Hamilton town council money, and as it was cheaper to demolish the historic building, they pushed ahead and approved the demolition and a date was set.
 
The Tolbooth was finally demolished on the morning of Thursday the 21st of January 1954, when a charge of 25 pounds of gelignite exploded at the base of the old Tolbooth steeple and sent it tumbling to the ground.
Tolbooth1
 
Its fall was witnessed by scores of people, some of them within the Palace grounds and others at vantage points in Castle Street, Muir Street and even in Cadzow Street. To set the appropriate funeral note, one of the workmen climbed to the belfry and for about half-an-hour until 11:18 a.m. tolled the Bell. As this sound, has not been heard for several years, the attention of many more people than would have watched was attracted.
 
The steeple came to rest exactly where expected, with the weather vane which for so long had topped the proud and once-handsome tower at the foot of a small tree. It had been feared that the rubble might block the course of the adjoining Cadzow Burn and that part of the stone culvert might collapse with vibration, but only a little of the stonework entered the water, and the culvert remained intact. Surprisingly little rubble fell in Castle Street.
 
When the bell tower crashed to the ground, all the locals – including the children, ran to it and they started to take little souvenirs from the 312-year-old building.
The remains were examined immediately after the demolition, the clock bell was seen nesting among the masonry, and it was still intact. The bell bore the inscription “Thomas Mears, London. 1802.”
 
I discovered that the bell from the Tolbooth was later earmarked to be installed at the Municipal Buildings (The Hamilton Town House & Library) as the old bell from the Townhouse was sold to a Glasgow firm. It was unknown if this did happen, or if the bell went to the Hamilton Museum. This got me wondering what has happened to the bell.
 
The bell was never documented where it went – I made a few enquires, firstly at the Hamilton Town House and then at the Museum, where no one knew about the story of the Old Hamilton Tolbooth Bell. I was left thinking that the bell was taken from the demolition site and its whereabouts lost forever.
I thought it would be worthwhile going back to the Hamilton Town House and asking if a trained member of staff could have a look in its bell tower to see if it was there, and a few weeks later and much to my delight, I received a message on our Facebook page telling me that it was found.
Tolbooth3.JPG
The link to Hamilton’s past has been discovered at the Hamilton Town House and to confirm it is the same Bell from the Hamilton Tolbooth, the Inscription reads “Thomas Mears London 1802”. It appears that after the demolition of the Tolbooth, someone in the Hamilton Town Council made the correct decision to house the old bell in the Townhouse.
 
I am really pleased that the bell has been discovered, but now I know it is here, it has got me thinking about its historical significance to Hamilton!
 
I am asking myself, should the old bell from the Hamilton Tolbooth, which is now 215 years old, be sitting open to the elements?
 
The Hamilton Tolbooth and its bell tower were another lost piece of Hamilton’s rich history, which was taken away from us and the more things that we can find to tell the story of Hamilton’s past should be preserved and looked after.
 
I now would like to see the bell removed from the Bell Tower of the Townhouse, restored and put on display at the Hamilton Museum. In modern-day Hamilton and to the best of my knowledge, the Townhouse building doesn’t have any need for a bell and if there was a need for bells ringing, then surely a loudspeaker could be housed in the tower.
 
In the meantime, perhaps an arrangement could be made with the Hamilton Townhouse to ring the bell one day and let the people of Hamilton hear a sound that all of our Ancestors regularly heard from the year 1812 onwards.
Written by Garry McCallum
Historic Hamilton.

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.

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