Haud yir weesht!

In memory of all the steel work jobs
that migrated south.

Ravenscraig.

Haud yir weesht!

Haud yer wheesht ya we
bit man a’ll tell ye this
am no a fan. Ye micht
hay dun it when ye
waur 22 but it’s
nay yoose at
40 an yer oan
the buroo.

A wee durty fiver tae git
a drink, am a made
o’ money wad dae
ye think. Ma moneys
aw goan tae monday
week, anywise ye’d
pish yer drawers
an then ye’d reek.

Whaurs yer suit, it’s in the
pawn, nae yoose you
haudin oot yer haun.
A bocht sum tatties
an sum mince fur
wir dinner there
thi nicht, why
don’t ye git
yirsel a joab
an gie us aw
a fricht.

They shut thi Craig thirs nae
Joabs left, thi street
cleaner’s goat a degree.
Thi man in buroo saes
thirs naethin
tae dae an
it’s aw up
fur me.

Am no trained fur nursing
tae lay bricks isnae me,
am only trained as a
hoat bed slinger an
the only bed thas
hoat noo is
the wain’s
when she
pees.

Ifn thirs nae work tae be
hud wits a man tae dae,
thirs nae yoose prayn
tae God he’s been pyed
aff tae.

Aw the factories thas left
it’s weemin they want tae
employ, that an fur sweepin
up jist a young wee boy. A’ll
need tae get a license an
learn tae drive a truck,
mibies a’ll get a joab
then if thi tories don’t
F*** tha up.

Ravenscraig1

Written for Historic Hamilton by Kit Duddy.

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Woodside House & Dr John Dykes of Hamilton 1786-1863.

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.

Woodside.

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.

Woodside1

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.

Woodside3

 

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.

Woodside2
This is the site of the former Woodview House.

 

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.

Woodview Advert.

 

 

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.

Dr Dykes Death Cert 1.5

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.

Dr Dykes Will 1.5

 

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.

 

Woodside House.

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.

William Kilmartin Death 1.5

 

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?

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

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.