Dr John Dykes of Hamilton and Woodside House. 1786-1863.
Researched and written by
Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton.
Doctor’s in Hamilton during the 19th Century were usually men who were from an upper-class family. The family doctor in the 1800s was a well-respected gentleman, who people looked up to and were respected by many families across the social classes. Unlike today’s doctors, most were surgeons and did amputations, helped with childbirth and were really hands on.
One of Hamilton’s doctors in the 19th century was called Dr John Dykes who was born in Hamilton on the 27th of June 1786, and was the son of John Dykes, who was a captain in the Royal Navy, and his mum was Isabella Miller.
Dr Dykes was indeed a well-known doctor and surgeon in Hamilton, and information provided by the 1841 and 1851 censuses, suggests that Dr Dykes could have possibly spent some time working in Edinburgh, or did his training there.
He owned a country villa called Woodside House, which was just off Woodside Walk in Hamilton and Woodside house was a ‘fine dwelling house’ which had a large beautiful garden. The garden and house were surrounded by lots of lovely trees and as – at the time, Woodside Walk was quite far away from the centre of Hamilton, it would have given the feeling that one was living out in the country. Woodside house also had a feature that I had not seen before. At the bottom of its garden there was a small pool of water that is recorded as a ‘Bath’. The ‘Bath’ also had a small building next to it and a set of steps leading down to the water.
I am unsure as to what exactly this ‘Bath’ was used for. As I said previously, I have never seen one and to the best of my knowledge, it has been the only one, in an old Hamilton building. I first thought that it could have been an old well, however, a well would not have steps leading in to it and looking at the 1858 map of Hamilton, it seems to be quite close to the Butter Burn, so I am guessing that it was connected to the burn in some way. This is just one conclusion that I have come to but the stone steps and the small building next to the bath may indicate that it was used for sanitary purposes. Another theory that I have is that it could be an old Roman Bath, which was uncovered and put on show.
If it was used as a summer outside bath, then it could have been a feature used to impress his guests. These types of garden features were uncommon in Scotland, so it would have been built as a status symbol for the visitors who were having tea in the garden of Woodside House.
I took a drive over to the area where Woodside House was situated on Saturday the 13th of August 2016 just to see if any remains of the bath were still there and I am glad to say that the old bath still exists!
The bath that was once situated at the bottom of the garden at Woodside House is now in an enclosed corner of the car park for the Mercedes Benz garage on Johnstone Road.
The bath has been fenced off and still has a stone dyke wall surrounding half of the south side of the pool. The water seems to be stagnant and didn’t appear to be running, so this could indicate that it is no longer connected to the Butter Burn.
To put things in to perspective for you, Woodside House stood where the flats on Woodside Avenue are today. It occupied the land from at least 1822, and it was demolished between 1925 and 1930.
Back to Dr Dykes.
Dr Dykes was also a naval doctor, and this family were all professional upper-class working people. He had two brothers named Thomas Dykes Esq, and he was a procurator fiscal; and Dr William Dykes of Woodview House in Burnbank Road.
Dr John Dykes was known for being a kind and obliging person and it was documented that he was well thought of among the working classes.
He was living at Woodside House from a young age, and the House belonged to his parents before John had inherited it. His mother Isabella died here in January 1822, and his dad had died sometime before this.
I first found Dr Dykes documented in the 1841 Census record, he is living at Woodside House with a man named Robert Cuthbert, who was born in England, Betsy Cotton who was his house servant, Ann Cotton who was listed as a support worker and a man named Andrew Pollock age 20.
Moving on ten years to the 1851 census, John is still at Woodside with his servant Betsy Cotton and he still has his “Boarder” Robert Cuthbert living here and this man’s occupation was a listed as a “Gentleman”. I can’t find any other info on the Robert Cuthbert who lived with John, but this man did seem to have been living with Dr Dykes for at least 10 years. It seems that Dr Dykes went away on holiday during the summer of 1851, as I found a To Let advertisement in the Glasgow Herald which read: “WOODSIDE HOUSE – HAMILTON, for the summer months or a longer period if required. The house is of moderate size and commands a fine view of the surrounding country, for particulars, apply to John Ellis Esq, 68 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, or at the House.
In 1861, John is 74 and is now living on his own with one servant living with him named Mary Thomson. I should mention here that in all the documents that I have read over, Dr Dykes seems to be living separately away from his wife. At first, I thought he never married, but when I looked at his death certificate, and his will, a wife is mentioned in both.
It seems that his wife was called Janet Fraser, and it is a mystery to me as to why they were not living together. I can’t find any trace of her and she was still alive after Dr Dykes had died. I have this information as she was recorded on his death certificate as “married to” and Dr Dykes wasn’t listed as a widow of Janet.
Fatal Railway Accident Thursday the 19th December 1863.
Melancholy and fatal accident on the Monklands Railway, on Thursday morning, of the 19th of November 1863 shortly after nine o’clock, an accident’ occurred, near Calder Iron Works, by which Dr J. Dykes, of Woodside, Hamilton, a gentleman about 80 years of age, lost his life.
It would appear that Dr Dykes had been visiting at New Carnbroe, and had left there for the purpose of catching the train at Whifflet Station on the Caledonian Railway, and was passing along the Calder branch of the Monklands Railway for that purpose.
An engine, with a long train of waggons laden with coal and ironstone from Palace Craig to Gartsherrie, was proceeding in the same direction; and the engine driver, on observing a gentleman on the line at once sounded the whistle. Deceased, seeing his danger, stepped onto a side line of rails to be out of the way of the approaching train; but, unfortunately, three coal waggons had to be shunted from the latter end of the train into the same siding.
This was done by the engine driver in the usual way, the fire man shifting the switches, but the impetus which the three waggons received sent them well up into the siding where Dr Dykes was standing and he was instantly knocked down and killed on the spot, the waggon wheels having jammed his neck and head to the ground. (It was reported in another newspaper that “he expired in the course of ten minutes after”)
The deceased was one of the oldest and most respected inhabitants of Hamilton. He was unmarried, and was a hale and hearty old gentleman, but has not, we believe, practised for many years. The deceased by whom his loss will be much felt. (Ref: Caledonia Mercury 21/11/1863)
On the 11th of March 1848, Dr Dykes had already written his will, and when the will was executed in 1864, it was found that he left Woodside House and all his belongings to his brother Thomas Dykes. In his will, he instructed his brother to oversee all his debts and have them paid off. The will also included his brother Thomas’s son.
Secondly, he instructed his brother to look after his wife by giving her no less than 1 Shilling per day so that she could “procure all the necessities of life” he was to also have her lodgings paid for, and instructed his brother to buy his wife clothes and give her money for medical expenses to make her life more comfortable.
Perhaps this is the clue as to why he did not live with his wife, she may have been not a very well or sound minded person.
Dr Dykes also left the annual sum of £10 to his kind and thoughtful servant Betsy Cotton, which I found by this time, Betsy had immigrated to Canada. It is unclear if Betsy received the £10 per annum that was left in the will. His sister and his nieces also benefited from his will.
The house was indeed a very old house and it could have been standing on the same ground in one way or another since c1669 where it was documented that there was a “Customs Post” at Woodside and there is also reference that Claverhouse stayed there overnight about the time of the Battle of Bothwell Bridge
Dr Dykes also gives us reference that his house is very old, where on the 31st of March 1851 he wrote to the Editor of the Glasgow Herald telling the paper of an invention that he had made for a fire which had two air vents. When he wrote to the editor he writes:
“I had a new house built with a regular double vent in 1840. I have also in my own sitting room, in a very old house, fitted up a regular double vent which has been in constant uses for the past two years and all that have seen it in operation can testify both regarding its cleanliness and its efficiency.”
This building was very much known by many as Dr Dykes house and even though it was still owned by the Dykes family it was rented out to people such as J, Guthrie-Smith, John Russell, John Tarnish and Joseph Hutchison.
The House and gardens must have still been kept very well as on the 27th of July 1889 the Boys Brigade of Motherwell were treated to a ‘day out’ at Woodside House, this really puts things into perspective and it tells us that the house being so grand, you could have a day out on its grounds.
The house was eventually sold by Thomas Dykes between 1895 and 1905, where it was bought by a man named William Kilmartin who was a spirit dealer. William also had his brother George living at Woodside House.
William Kilmartin and his brother George were publicans, who owned many pubs, especially in Motherwell. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, they were constantly applying for licences around Motherwell and Carfin, and on many occasions, were refused by the courts, mostly since they were trying to set up pubs in areas where there were already pubs operating.
The Kilmartin brothers both concentrated on business in the Motherwell area, however George had businesses in Tannochside and he was also a Spirit Salesman. In 1912, George Kilmartin, applied for a licence to trade at the Motherwell pub called “The Grapes”. This public house was situated on the corner of Brandon Street and Watson Street, but again the licence was refused.
William Kilmartin owned the house until his death at Woodside House on the 27th of June 1930. He was 69 years old and the cause of death was Liver and Kidney disease.
Woodside House was demolished at some point after the death of William Kilmartin. As of now I don’t have the exact dates, however the estimated year is between 1930 and 1956.
This information comes from the information on both William Kilmartin’s death certificate and his brother George’s. George Kilmartin died a single man at Law hospital on the 1st of January 1956, he died of pneumonia and cardiac failure. When he died, his friend who was called F.B Souter, of 63 Almada Street, was the person who registered the death. George’s residence which was documented on his death certificate was 40 Burnbank Road.
For one reason or another Woodview House was sold and demolished and when it finally happened, it was the end of an era for Woodside Walk. The fine country house which many had admired, and had its very own outside bath was forgotten and lost in the mist of time and with only its old garden bath that still exists to this day to link us to the past and tell us what existed of this once grand old building what does the future hold? Can the old ruin of the bath be investigated?