Agnes Scott’s Monument of Memories Part 2 Printed 10 June 1966.

Thinking of the now headquarters of the British legion and Toc H, I walked up Quarry Street to the site of the old town hall. There I took a seat, as the burgh has placed several benches around as a temporary means of beautifying and utilising the spot while awaiting development. 

In imagination I was soon inside a packed hall listening to the Albatross Singers who came periodically to delight audiences with their sacred music.  The faces of Hamilton songsters and talented entertainers flagged before my eyes, among them Messrs Gold, Millar & Black, also Miss Pug, Mrs Thompson and a special friend Miss Tina Brunton, a contralto of some repute. For several years before her death Tina was partially blind but she maintained a courageous front and remained cheerful to the end.

I also recalled many amateur dramatics and the words of one little girl making her stage debut ran through my ears…..”Duncan and a’ sodgers made o’ wid?” Somehow I have never forgotten that line or the child’s resounding voice.




I, however, associate the Town Hall mainly with the First World War, the War Pensions Office held therein and the suffering of the men who queued for their disability pensions. Full treatment allowance at that time was £3 per week for a single man, as compared with a basic allowance of £6.15 Shillings today plus the various other amounts to which he may be entitled.

All types were dealt with among them hard cases who knew every trick and device by which they could obtain something for nothing. Others were so grateful for a crumb  of comfort that they almost worshipped the staff whom they would occasionally make a small gift. I still cherish such a present, beautifully embroidered by the wife of the war veteran called “Thomas Barr”.  He had heart trouble and was crippled by  rheumatism, yet one never herd him grumble.

To observe these men and note their reactions to certain circumstances was an education in itself. Returning to “civvy” street totally totally or partially disabled was always a problem and a number could not adjust themselves. Some refused to wear their artificial limbs. One man in particular came in almost fortnightly and threw his artificial leg on the counter accompanied by a torrent of abuse not so John Robertson of Meikle Earnock. Despite severe agony he preserved and for years one did not suspect that he had an artificial leg. Now over seventy his disability tells but he remains a fighter and a hero.

Many disabled accept government grants or had their pensions commuted for a lump sum which to set up in business. Dozens did this but I can name only one who made a success of it. Opportunities were also given for a collage education.

Two men, both joiners, accepted the challenge and they became woodwork teachers at the academy and St Johns respectively. They too deserve praise for making a new life for themselves. Although in retirement now they are still outstanding citizens ans model ex-servicemen.

But it was in a large measure due to the insight and understanding of the various sectaries of the war pensions committee, that the pensioners found new hope. The first was Walter Henderson, depute town clerk. He conducted business in an office in the municipal buildings ans continued from there until work grew to such dimensions that he could not cope with two jobs satisfactory, so he resigned. A new salaried secretary was elected in the person of J Glen Boyd of Lanark, and business was transferred to a larger premises in the Town Hall.

Walter Henderson who died recently, held many positions of trust, including that of county clerk. He was a tireless worker and could not tolerate laziness and inefficiency in his staff. Able and just he was respected  by staff and colleagues alike and if I were asked to name the perfect boss it would be Walter Henderson.

Glen Boyd, who suffered a hand injury in the war, had a charming personality.  He was tall and handsome, broad shouldered and solidly built. His blue eyes under well groomed fair hair could split fire if necessary. But “Glennie” was a big man in every way and became a very popular secretary. He resigned to become the secretary of the sick children’s hospital in Glasgow. His marriage partner was Miss Constable, a teacher at St. Johns.

John Robertson of Blantyre was the third secretary. He was an older man, whose benevolent disposition prevented him from getting tough with any client, however trying the circumstances. His term of office was short for the Hamilton War Pensions office was closed in December 1922 and all work transferred to Motherwell, the area office.


Before I close the door on that part of the Town Hall’s history, mention should be made of the medical referees, Dr Hugh Miller of Auchingramont Road and Dr Robertson of Union Street. The latter always breezed in with his reports, his military training evident in his bearing and his air of authority, whereas Dr Miller was polite and unassuming. Both were well liked by the pensioners.

Dr Robertson vaccinated the staff during the smallpox scar, and the penny-sized dent in my arm is attributable to him and a constant reminder of those far off days. In Mr Henderson’s time Dr J Murray Young was referee with all the traffic on the Town Hall stair, cleaning was no easy task but this was ably undertaken by Mrs Robertson, widow of Charles Robertson, the renowned Town Office and hall keeper. Mr Robertson was allowed to retain the latter post as long as health permitted.

By this time of course, Alfred Duke was the town officer and caretaker of the municipal buildings. I knew Mr Duke and admired him as a smart, intelligent and affable officer. But he is associated with a different story…….




Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson.

Following on from our story about Robert Aiton’s death, Wendy Wilson sent us a picture of her Grandfather Robert Wilson. Wendy told us: “My Grandpa Robert Wilson B 1887 worked in the mines from at least 13 yrs old. In 1912 he emigrated to Canada (from Blantyre) & got a job on the Canadian Pacific Railways. When WW1 broke out he returned to Scotland with the intention of fighting for his country. The recruiting person asked what he did before he went to Canada & when he told them he was down the pit they said he could not join up as they needed miners more than soldiers. So that was him for the rest of his life. I think it was the Clyde pit he worked in which my Dad said was the wettest pit in Scotland. He spent all day up to his waist in water. The pit was shut down in the 1930s & all the miners were offered jobs in Fife. The family moved to somewhere near Dunfermline but my Granny missed Hamilton too much & they only stayed a few years before returning.”

Wendy thank you for sharing your Grandfathers story.


Coal mining deaths in Hamilton.

William Aiton’s Family Tree.

For those of us who’s family have lived in Hamilton for many years will have grandparents, great grandparents and great, great, grandparents who worked in the coal mines of Hamilton.

The coal mine was a very dangerous place to work and many men and boys lost their lives here. One of the many hundreds of men was called William Aiton, he was born in Donegal in Ireland in 1837 to parents Robert Aiton & Rose Barrett. William had come to Hamilton probably to gain employment.

William then met a local Hamilton girl called  Margaret Boyd and they were married  on the 5th December 1856 and they had 7 children. Robert was accidentally killed while at work in the coal mine. He was hit on the head by falling debris from the pit head.

William Aiton Death 1873.jpg

The Aiton’s later became one of Hamilton’s many large families and today there are still descendants of William living in the town. Have you got a story in your family from the coal mines of Hamilton? Good or bad, let us know!

Kin You?


A kin remember, growin up in Lanarkshire’ the times a wis jist a kid,
A kin remember, awe the things us kids got up tae n’ whit we awe did,
A kin remember, when a wis a wee boy, ma new cowboy suit n’ ma gun,
A kin remember,ma wee sister gittin a doll n’ a pram, oh,we hid some fun,
A kin remember, walkin tae school, nae mams school runs fur any of us,
A kin remember, ye hid tae walk, cos ye see, back then, thir wisnae a bus,
A kin remember, tae make a bit pockit money, a wid go n ‘ pick “itchy coo’s,”
A kin remember, the woman thit bought thim, tossed a coin n’ a wid lose,
A kin remember, in the summer, we’d be oot awe day, jump aboot n’ run,
A kin remember, we’d go fur a walk ur play, n’ throw water ower everone,
A kin remember, n’ whit a memory! ye know a kin even remember “the sun”
A kin remember, gawn on the bus tae go “berry pickin” way up in Crossford,
A kin remember, pickin “goosegogs”n’ raspberries, naw” we wur never bored,
A kin remember, walkin oot tae the “Avonbridge” on the way up tae Fernigair”
A kin remember, it wis sunny on this side, bit it wis “pissin” doon ower there,
A kin remember, under the bridge, we’d go “skinny dippin” jist under the falls,,
A kin remember, we wid awe hawd hawns, n’ jump aff, that took a lot o'(guts)
A kin remember, walkin’ roon the bank, n’ we seen that big swan” it the Palace,,
A kin remember, it used tae keep attackin us, bit we never bore it any mallace,,
A kin remember, in the summer nights thir wis always a massive big “funfair ”
A kin remember, every time thit it came, a wid go doon n’ git a wee job there,,
A kin remember, me gein free rides ur prizes, tae some of the people thit a new,,,
A kin remember, that wonderous” time, ” KIN YOU REMEMBER IT TOO”

The above poem was written for Historic Hugh Hainey.

Agnes Scott’s Monument of Memories Part 1. Published in 1966

Published in the Hamilton Advertiser on the 3rd June 1966.

Agnes writes about James Mackie the town Chamberlain, Edith Forbes of the library, Sweet the painter, and the famous “Black Doctor” of Regent Street who mad snowfire ointment a household word; plus a number of “Weel Kent” faces in the vicinity of the old Town Hall, now demolished to make way for the £2m shopping precinct at the New Cross.

One can see the face of Hamilton changing day by day as buildings are demolished and streets wiped out. Often, and for too long, there is an aching void into which associations disappear leaving no trace behind. But past and present are inseparable, so while the new town spreads and lifts its head to the sky, let us pause and pay a tribute to the old and to those worthy citizens of yesterday who helped create the Hamilton now passing.

Death, whether of person or place, is always sad and the sharing of poignant memories is both an outlet for emotion and a memorial to the dead.

As i watched demolition squads at work in the area around Holmes Street, the floodgates of memory open and i saw myself in the Burgh Chamberlain’s office being served by Mr James Mackie, senior. He was the epitome of efficiency and pleasantness and one sensed that the finance of the burgh was in capable hands. The office was small but showed character and solidarity. One distinctively felt that here, if anywhere, communal interests were safe, and that their custodian did not take his responsibilities lightly. His work was his life.

Outside again, I crossed the street and followed Mr Thomas Cameron, secretary of the Glasgow chamber of commerce, into his mothers comfortable little house. Mt Cameron was married but the bond of love between mother and son was a joy to behold. Over afternoon tea, I heard stories of big business on the one hand and words of praise and  adoration on the other. He made a conspicuous figure as he cycled with a pole and pail from job to job. At present his son-in-law carries on business from the workshop.

The shop of Sam Pollock, another-well known name, is also no more where it was but Mr Pollock has been lucky enough to secure the premises in Chapel Street which were formerly occupied by Jean Frame.

The window of the supermarket in Regent Street shone clean and bright but I did not see the goods displayed. Instead I saw in memory twenty people surrounding the stance of the Black Doctor who was demonstrating his corn cure on the foot of a man obviously the worse of drink. The drunk was the only spectator bold enough to take off boot and sock and he kept the crowds hilarious as the doctor accidentally tickled the sole of his foot.

The doctor sold a variety of medicines, including a rub for rheumatics, pills for all ills, and a sure cure for baldness. Quite a number swore by his remedies and returned regularly to obtain further supplies.

Although the doctor made his own compounds, he introduced one man to snowfire.  It proved so effective for cracked lips and chapped hands that he recommended it to his workmates. It was used unfailingly thereafter by every stonemason in Hamilton during the winter months. It was easy to apply and cost only 2.5 pence a block.


Continuing down memory lane, I passed the corner pub outside which Jock, and Jennies from the Fair danced with joyous abandon. They led a hard tough life and a day away from the Farm was freedom indeed. It was “Feeing Day” and perhaps a new job would bring greater happiness.

Most of the lads sported a “Monkey” in their caps and their pockets bulged with bottles and coconuts. The Jennies too were laden with articles their partners had won for them. The music and noise from the showground was deafening so I turned into Allen Place and found sanctuary at the Yuills.

From their parlour window I could see Mrs Forbes and her children in the garden opposite. Mr Forbes was the local inspector for the prevention of cruelty to children. The cruelty Man, as he was called, had to deal with many pitiful cases and his work taught him to be a shrewd judge of character.  His wife survived him and lived till well over ninety, being ably taken care of by her daughter Edith who was admirably suited for her job.


On fair days and at the weekends, the Regent Street of past, saw many Street Hawkers, their barrows piled with fruit. One hawker called Paddy Sinclair came out with his float from Glasgow every Friday and did a roaring trade. His bonnie red-cheeked wife could wheedle an order from any man while Paddy had a way no woman could resist.

Gazing beyond the cars parked on the derelict I pictured the shop of James Sweet, affectionately called the lightning painter and the poor man’s friend,  because he was quick reliable and kept his charges moderate. He was always in a hurry…..


Agnes Scott 1901-1987.

Agnes Scott 1901-1987.
Agnes Anderson was born at No.8 Woodside Walk on 7th.June 1901 and her parents were William Anderson & Mary Allan.
After leaving school Agnes was a shorthand typist. She worked for T J &W A Dykes Cadzow  Sreet Hamilton.When she was about 20 years old she went and worked for a businessman in Malaig. His wife was a doctor.
She later came back home to Hamilton to live with her family at Beechwood house, 41 Portland Place. Agnes got married to James McNeilly Scott, they got their first house at 11 Fairhill Place Meikle Earnock and this is where her son Neil Scott was born. The family then moved to No.15 Fairhill Place as they required a bigger house.
Later in life Agnes became a keen historian and she started to document her life growing up in Hamilton. Her stories grabbed the attention of the Editor of the Hamilton Advertiser and from the 3rd of June through to December 1966 the Hamilton Advertiser published Agnes’s memoirs.
Neil Scott who is Agnes’s son has kindly donated his mums book to Historic Hamilton for us to publish her stories. We will be doing this soon. We would like to thank Neil for sending us his mums memories of growing up in Hamilton.

Auld School

Auld School,,

A left John Ogilvie High school in july 1966, that’s exactly fifty years ago, ,
A wis jist reminisin n’ thinkin’ aboot some of the names a used tae know,,
A look in this Historic Hamilton” n’ thirs a lot of familiar names a kin see,,
A wonder if it’s yir grannies ur granda’s, thit went tae the school wae me,,

RUBY HIGGINS, GINA BELL, mess wae them two ye’d git some merry hell,
MARGARET CARNEY, wee ANN RICE, quiet girls bit they wur awfy nice,,
KATHLEEN BROWN, she wis so aloof, I’m sure she hid “bools” in hur mooth,,
ANNE ROUSE, noo she stood oot a mile,,she wis never withoot a lovelysmile,,
BETTY McEWAN, she’s the wan thit got me started enjoying awe ma dancin”
PATSY MC ARTHUR, a wee “stoater, awe the boys wid try some “”romancin”
LIZ McLAUGHLIN, it sport she beat awe the guy’s aye wee Liz thunderthigh’s,
JANET PROVAN, she wis awe gymnastic, anythin she done, wis jist fantastic”
well thats jist some of the lasses, thit awe stood oot fae some of ma classes,,,

Now a list of the “motley crew” jist some of the auld guy’s thit a knew,,,,

JOE LYNAS, the bluest eyes ye ever seen, he made Sinatra’s eyes look green,,
PAUL FERNON, this guy never showed any fear, split his heed fae ear tae ear”
RAB MCMILLAN, whit a great wee guy, he wid gie ye the last wee bit he had”
DAVIE McCAFFERTY, always a smile, ” Davie Laughaweday” stood oot a mile,,

Is ye git aulder yir good memories always take ye back tae yir’ yesteryear”
The days i spent wae these auld schoolmates in my mind are still clear,,,,,,,,

The Above Poem was written for Historic Hamilton by Hugh Hainey.