BECKFORD STREET PREFABS 1946.

Beckford Street Prefabs 1946.

The new consignment of Prefabricated house started to arrive in Hamilton in 1946. In March 1946 Beckford Street was a very busy place when people of all ages were flocking to Beckford Street to see the new prefabs which were erected.

There was a consignment of 18 Houses built on the site and the first tenants were to move in April 1946. All the Tarran Type Houses were built with the walls constructed of concrete slabs bolted together at the back.

Each block was a house in its self with front and back doors and the houses consisted of a Livingroom, two bedrooms, kitchenette, bathroom, wc and a lobby. The prefabs only had one fire to heat the whole house and the bedrooms were fitted with plug sockets so that an electric fire could be plugged in.
Hot air from the fire in the living rooms was passed through channels near the ceiling to each of the bedrooms. The hot water in the prefabs was transported from an electric boiler in the kitchenette.

In 1946 the kitchen equipment was at the time installed with the most modern cupboards with hooks, shelves or racks. A coal bunker was also provided and it was situated at the back door and they also came with sheds for storing prams, cycles and garden tools.

In 1946 Prefabricated Houses were being turned out at the rate of 50 per week at the factory of Messrs Tarran, Ltd, at Mossend. Some months later a new machine was installed at the Mossend plant and they would increase their output to 100 Prefabs per week.

The Beckford Street Prefabs paved the way for these types of Houses to be built in Hamilton. They proved to be very popular with people who were wanting a change from their old tenements with shared toilets.

After the Beckford Street prefabs were built, Hamilton received altogether another 54 Tarran type Prefabs. The prefabs were later constructed at May Street, Cadzow Square and Glebe Street.

With this proving popular Aluminium Houses were also Built at throughout Hamilton which consisted of 12 at Holyrood Street; 10 at Rose Crescent; 11 at Mill Road; and 10 at Donaldson Street & George Street.

Did you live in a Hamilton Prefab, or do you have a picture of one? If you do, then Let us know.

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GINGER STEWART 1920 – 1990.

Robert Ginger Stewart.

GINGER STEWART 1920 – 1990.

Hamilton has produced some great fighters over the years and one of our best was a lad called Robert Ginger Stewart who was a professional boxer and he was active between 1936 and 1950

He boxed at featherweight; lightweight; welterweight; middleweight and took part in 83 professional contests. Carrying the nickname of a 19th-century boxer, Ginger Stewart fought professionally from 1939 to 1950 and he was the Scottish Area Welterweight Champion from 1939 to 1946.

Robert fought seldom in the wartime years and he had to reclaim his title each time after his absence from the sport, this was probably due to his military service. His career record was 61-13-3, with 26 knockouts delivered and he only received six knock-outs.

Robert was born on the 14th of June 1920 and he was the son of John & Margaret Poulson; his father John was a foundry employee. Robert in his day was a celebrity in Hamilton and he was never out of the newspapers, he loved his boxing, but also loved his time in the army.

He joined the army at the age of 15 and he served his time in the army and made it to the rank of Bombardier and in 1949 he was drafted to Malaya. When he was in Malaya, Robert was in the wrong place at the wrong time! At this moment I do not have the full details of what exactly happened, but he was accused of killing a native of the country.

The incident happened in either at the end of 1950 or the beginning of 1951 where he was accused of shooting a local Malayan girl. The newspaper accounts from 1951 which I have so far come across only seem to cover the story of his mother Margaret, who had to make the long 8,000-mile plane journey to see her son.

Robert’s parents first heard the news of the impending trial when a letter came to their house written by the Rev W. J. Campling who was based at the Roman Catholic Parade in South Malaya.

John and Margaret Stewart were astounded to hear of this terrible news, as Robert had never in his life been in any sort of trouble. The trial was set for the 6th of February 1951 and John’s mother Margaret flew over to be with him.

I have to assume here that Robert was not found guilty of the Murder charge, as he was back home in 1952 where he continued his career as a Boxer. Perhaps someone in Malaya was trying to make him a scapegoat.

At this time I don’t have much more on what became of Robert ‘Ginger’ Stewart after his boxing career ended. I did find some reference that he moved down to Blackpool and became a fruit merchant, but I can’t be certain of this.

I do know that Robert Died 20th October 1990, and I would like to tell the story of this Hamilton fighter whose memory should not be lost in the mist of time. If or when I do find a relative who can tell me more, I will update this story of him.

Do you know what became of Ginger Stewart? If you do, then please let us know and we will share with everyone on Historic Hamilton.

Garry McCallum
Historic Hamilton.

OLD AVON MILL.

Old Avon Mill WM.

OLD AVON MILL.

On the banks of the River Avon, up until the mid-1990s, there once stood a Mill on the side of Avon Water, between Old Avon Bridge and Avon Bridge. The Mill originally was a 17th-century building and when it was in full operation it was used for grinding oats, peas, barley and wheat and it was the property of the Duke of Hamilton.
There were several houses, including the Miller’s dwelling, a lodge of the “High Parks” of Hamilton and some colliers’ dwellings, which bear the name of the Mill.

MAP.

The site on where the Mill stood was said to have had a building there since 1627, or earlier. Throughout the 19th century, it was run by the Fleming family who were a family of Miller’s and cattlemen.

The mill was once accessed from the Old Avon Bridge until in 1816, parliament commissioned the great engineer Thomas Telford, to design the New Avon Bridge which connected the Glasgow to Carlisle Highway. The bridge was built under the supervision of a Hamilton Mason called King. It is said, Thomas Telford’s (who was also the designer of the Caledonian Canal) bridges always looked better from beneath than above. Avon Bridge was no exception and when constructed, it came with a Toll House attached to the bridge.

Telford Bridge WM.

The New Avon Bridge was completed in 1825 and was immediately put to the test when the massive pillars for the Hamilton Palace were transported across it.

I found the first record of Alexander Fleming in 1841 and he was living at Avon Mill with his wife Marion. Marion was recorded as the ‘Mistress’ of Alexander and this is not to be confused with today’s meaning! In 1841 a ‘Mistress’ was the term given to a woman of higher social status, whether married or not.

Alexander was originally from Carmunnock and he married Marion Young at East Kilbride on the 27th of May 1821. In 1841 the family were living at Avon Mill along with a William Fleming, who could have been Alexander’s brother and they had 7 children, Marian, James, Stephen, Alexander, John, David & William. In 1841 Avon Mill seems to be making a good profit as Alexander was paying an annual rent of £120 to the Duke of Hamilton.

In 1851, the family are still happily living at the Mill with their children and they also had 3 servants living here with them who were Marion Carslaw, James Wilson & Gavin France.

Alexander continued to run the Mill to at least 1861 where he takes up a new lease at Raith Farm on the Hamilton Estates. He takes his son also called Alexander to work with him and his son David takes over the tenancy of Avon Mill and we first see him recorded in the 1871 Census as the tenant.

Old Picture of Avon Mill.

Alexander’s time at Raith farm was short as he dies here on the 10th of March 1866. His son Alexander Jr takes over the lease of Raith Farm where he lives until his death on the 13th of June 1912.

DEATH.

Alexander’s wife Marion also moves away from Raith Farm and she is next recorded on the 1871 Census where I found her living with her Daughter Marion at Crookedstone Farm in Hamilton. Marion’s daughter marries a man named John Torrance, who was the farmer of 100 Acres. Marion dies at Crookedstone Farm on the 29th of March 1891.

Marion Young Death.

David Fleming continues to run Avon Mill until 1915 where the Mill changes hands and David’s son Robert becomes the new Master Miller. Robert is the third generation of the Fleming family to work this mill. The family have been fully integrated into the Hamilton community for the past 70+ years.

Life seems to be quiet living on the banks of the Avon, but on Saturday the 12th of October 1895, a fire break’s out at the Mill. It happened around midnight when a stack containing thirty-four tons of straw caught alight. The stack was standing not far from the Mill and it belonged to Mr Thomas Wilson a grain dealer. On that night the wind was high, and the flames soon spread to John Torrance’s stack. (John Torrance being the brother in law of David Fleming)

The fire engine from Hamilton was sent for and luckily the wind blowing in the other direction prevented the rest of the haystacks and the Mill from catching alight. The fire burned until 4 o’ clock on the Sunday morning and it consumed both stacks. The damage done amounted to £120, and it was covered by the insurance.

Avon Mill Pic..WMjpg

David Fleming died at Avon Mill on the on the 2nd of March 1911 and an obituary was written in the Scotsman. It read: The Late Mr David Fleming of Avon Mill who died at his residence was one of the oldest and best-known agriculturists in Lanarkshire. He was in his seventy-seventh year, and when a boy went to Hamilton with his father from East Kilbride. About 1860 his father took a lease of Raith Farm on the Hamilton Estate, and David was given Avon Mill where he remained up to the end. A noted breeder of prize taker of Ayrshire Cattle shows in the county and not infrequently he acted as judge of Ayrshire stock.

So, the family tradition continues at Avon Mill and now the 4th generation of Fleming’s are working the Mill. Brothers David & Robert Fleming are now joint owners. Between 1915 and 1920, they form a partnership (D&R Fleming) and thy buy Avon Mill from the Duke of Hamilton. They are overseeing the day to day duties and running the mill as their own business.

Around 1920, the Duke of Hamilton is starting to sell off his assets, the Palace is subsiding, and he is about to turn his back on Hamilton, so perhaps the Fleming brothers got a good price for Avon Mill.

Old Avon Mill - Old HamiltonWM.

Robert Fleming eventually moved from Avon Mill to “The Bungalows” which was adjacent to the Mill. He died at his house on 7th of August 1948, he was 69 years old. His brother David was the person who registered his death.

“Robert Fleming who had a lifelong connection with the Mill was well known among the farming community, in the west of Scotland. He was a widower and 69 years of age. An office-bearer in St. Johns church, Hamilton he had a lifelong connection with the congregation. He was predeceased by his wife some years ago”.

What became of David Fleming is unknown. After Roberts death, the trail goes cold and I can’t find what happened to the Family. I would like to think that there are still descendants of the Flemings living in Hamilton, perhaps if any of our readers know of any family members who worked at Avon Mill then you can let us know.

Old Avon Mill RuinWM.

The Avon Mill survived over three centuries, only to be destroyed by fire in 1963. After the fire destroyed the Mill it sat as a ruin on the banks of the River Avon and it was a beautiful ruin that looked almost ornamental.

Avon Mill6

In September 1985 a Hamilton Businessman had plans to build a £1 Million hotel complex at the old Avon Mill and Toll House. Mr Oreste Pisano applied for planning permission to turn the ruins of the old mill on the banks of the river Avon into a 30-bedroom split level hotel. He also applied to upgrade the derelict Toll House on Carlisle road into staff accommodation.

Avon Mill8

Mr Pisano in 1985 owned the Pinnochio Italian restaurant in Kemp Street and the Italian Connection furniture shop in Duke Street said that it would be a very big project that would create jobs not only in the building of the hotel but should also provide work for 30 people in the running of it.

The planning permission was refused and one of the reasons as to why was because of the Old Avon Bridge. The Old bridge prevented the building of the hotel nearby because no one could work out exactly who owned it, therefore putting a stop to the work.

Avon Mill5.jpg

Legend has it that the old Avon bridge – the first bridge beyond the mill – was built on the whim of a rich priest. Wanting to vote on a matter in town, he lost his chance because the river was too swollen to cross.
After much expenditure, the situation was rectified and our priest, with his own special crossing point, was secure of casting his vote for evermore.

Avon Mill1

The ruin was to become a listed building and it sat undisturbed since the flames went out in 1963. It was illegally demolished in the 1990s, possibly by Mr Pisano, however, I can’t confirm if this was him that instructed the bulldozers to knock down the Mill.

Avon Mill3
It was a criminal act and Hamilton was robbed of its historic Mill which had stood on this spot since 1627. The old connection to our past was taken from us and without our consent.

Avon Mill2

So, what has become of the land where the mill once stood? Well, there is a luxury house built on its site and yes, the old Toll House has been converted to a modern home. Did Mr Oreste Pisano finally get his wish? Or has someone taken his idea? Who knows!

Avon Mill9

In May 2015 I went down to the former site of the Old Avon Mill to see how the new house was coming along and I managed to get some pictures. There is little evidence of the Mill, with old a few parts lying around. The old wall which housed the water wheel is still there and apart from that, there is nothing else to indicate that this was a working Mill, which was home to generations of the same family, who were born, worked and died here.

Avon Mill10

Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton. © 2018

14,000 likes on Historic Hamilton.

Logo (14,000)

This month we have reached another milestone on our Facebook page. We have now got over 14,000 followers!
 
We would like to say thank you to every single one of you for stopping by and spending time with us on Historic Hamilton.
 
After today we will be going offline for a while as we will be moving house. We are moving back to Hamilton after being away from the town for nearly 20 years, so new things on the horizon for the McCallum family.
 
Historic Hamilton should be back in a couple of weeks, please keep sending us your pictures, stories and family research requests as we will pick them up on our return.
 
Thanks again for your support and see you all soon…..

AWARD FOR ANNSFIELD ROAD NEWSAGENT.

Alex Fotheringham 1985WM.

In 1985 Alex Fotheringham was making news instead of selling it. He was elected, president of the Scottish Council of the national federation of retail newsagents.
 
In 1985 Mr Fotheringham’s family had owned the newsagent’s shop at 20 Annsfield Road for more than 50 years.
 
His new post put him in charge of an organisation which represented the interests of 3,000 Newsagent members throughout Scotland.
 
Mr Fotheringham who was 50 at the time said that his wife Ellen, along with his three grown-up children, Anne, Andrew & Ellenor would be helping out in the shop during his presidential time with the organisation.
 
What are your memories of Alex Fotheringham’s Newsagents on Annsfield Road?

The Hamilton Town Hotel 1985.

Hamilton Town Hotel 1985.

The Hamilton Town Hotel 1985.

3 – Course Business Lunch for only £2. With business lunches also available at ‘Pinkies’. Why in 1985 go anywhere else in Hamilton?

The Hamilton Town Hotel will bring back many memories for a lot of people. I can remember when this was called O’Neill’s in the late 90s.

What are your memories of the Town Hotel & Pinkies?