CRICHTON’S OF HAMILTON.

CrightonsWM

Crichton’s shoes have been an established business in Hamilton since the store first opened in 1952 and it has been selling quality footwear ever since. The store over the past 65 years has saw off competition from the big named shops and is still a thriving business in the town.

Clifford CrightonWMMay Crichton was the person who opened the shop in 1952 and it has been kept in the family passing down to son & grandson. The family come from Cambuslang however most of their lives were spent in Hamilton. When May eventually retired, the business was passed down to her son Clifford Brain and he was already an established and well-known business man in Hamilton, he lived in the town with his wife Isabel and two sons Alistair & Gordon.

 

Crichton’s are integrated into the Hamilton community and they like to do their wee bit for people in the town and they have a tradition that not many people know about.

Mrs HoldenWM

 

The family have been serving Tea & Coffee to a group of men from the British Legion for over 25 years. This started off to be quite a gathering but, over time, the group sadly has gotten smaller. This has been important to the men who are still able to attend. They have a meeting on the Saturday before Armistice Day before they off for their Parade. Crichton’s have fully supported this, and it is a special day for the shop as well as for the men.

Alistair Brian WM2

 

One display at Crichton’s that many people will remember is the old rocking horse. The rocking horse was a significant part of the shop and many kids used to come in and have a play on it, sadly the shop’s owners have no surviving pictures, so if any of you can help us out, then let us know?

Crichtons WM.

Niki Donnelly, who works at Crichton’s has kindly sent in some old pictures of former staff members, you may see some old faces from the past.

 

So, are you looking for some new shoes? Why not come to Hamilton next week and come into the shop and have a wee look around!

 

The current owner is called Gordon and he is the grandson of May Crichton. This family business which has served Hamilton for the past 65 years has many repeat customers, and why? Well it’s because when you walk into the shop, you will get some good old-fashioned customer service that the big shops don’t have anymore.

 

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THE ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND IN CADZOW STREET TO CLOSE AFTER 115 YEARS IN THE TOWN.

Royal Bank Of ScotlandWM

THE ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND TO CLOSE.
 
It has been announced that the Royal Bank of Scotland is to close 62 of its branches throughout Scotland. Our branch which has stood in Cadzow Street for 115 Years has been confirmed as one of these branches. The new age digital world of online banking has brought the demises of high street banks and for this reason, Cadzow Street will lose an old familiar shop.
 
Hamilton Cadzow Street branch opened as an office of the National Bank of Scotland in October 1902. Hamilton at that time was already a thriving and important town with a population of around 7,600 people. Serval successful decades of coal mining brought considerable wealth to the area, as shown in the numerous fine buildings which were erected in Hamilton and particularly in Cadzow Street around the turn of the twentieth century.
 
The bank agreed to open a branch in the town at the request of William Dykes Loudon who was a local solicitor and town councillor, who believed that Hamilton could provide enough banking business to support another branch, in addition to the several which were already open in Hamilton.
 
National Bank of Scotland had been founded in Edinburgh in 1825 with more shareholders than any other bank in Britain. By the beginning of the twentieth century, it was operating around 125 branches in Towns and Villages throughout Scotland.
National Bank’s Hamilton branch first opened on the 20th of October 1902, with William Loudon himself as its agent. In its early years, the branch operated from Hamilton’s Masonic halls, originally near the bottom of Cadzow Street and Lower Auchingramont Road.
 
Just as William Loudon and the Bank’s directors had expected, the new branch was an immediate success. It was located in a thriving area of the town, with trams beginning to run along Cadzow Street in 1903, and the impressive new Municipal Buildings being opened in 1907.
 
Nevertheless, difficult times were on the horizon when the first world war broke out in 1914, the banking industry found itself facing new challenges. Levels of trade were reduced, money market rates were low, and staff shortages became severe as many Bank clerks of military age enlisted. William Loudon and two members of his staff from the Cadzow Street branch were among 439 employees of the National Bank of Scotland who left their posts to join the war effort.
 
After the war, business returned to normal, but Hamilton itself was changing. The coal mining industry had been severely affected by controls on exports and a shortage of workers during the war, and it never again returned to the levels of productivity that it had experienced at the turn of the century. Numerous Pits in the area were closed during the 1920s and 930s.
 
When the second world war began in 1939 the Banks resumed the special duties which governed their activities in wartime. Five men from the National Bank of Scotland’s Cadzow Street branch left to join the war. Meanwhile, the premises of the branch were also undergoing a change wherein 1942, the bank bought the site of 50 Cadzow Street and set about preparing it for use as a bank branch.
 
In fact, this was not the first time that 50 Cadzow Street had housed a Bank. In the 1860s and 1870s, the building had been owned by the Hamilton branch of the City of Glasgow Bank. This bank collapsed with huge debts and much publicity in 1878, leaving many of its shareholders, including serval citizens of Hamilton financially ruined. (Lewis Potter of Udston House in Burnbank was one of the men who went to prison as a direct result of the collapse of the Bank.)
 
In the early years of the twentieth century, the building had been occupied by a branch of Mercantile Bank of Scotland. More recently it had served as a shop of Peter Wyper & Sons but by the end of the war 50 Cadzow Street had become a bank once more and National Bank of Scotland’s Hamilton Brach was, at last, the sole occupant of premises of its own.
 
The Cadzow Street branch continued to trade successfully throughout the 1940s and 1950s, as new industries moved into the area replacing the old coalmining jobs. New housing was also built around the Town.
 
In 1959, the National Bank of Scotland merged with the Commercial Bank of Scotland, and 50 Cadzow Street branch became part of the National Commercial Bank of Scotland. In 1969 another merger occurred, this time between the National Commercial Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The new bank, with 693 branches enjoyed over 40 percent of Scottish Banking business.
 
The Royal Bank of Scotland now found itself with three branches in Hamilton, all located on Cadzow Street, there was the old National Bank at number 50, a former Commercial Bank Branch at number 88, and the original Royal Bank Branch at number 105. All three branches remained open, although the branch at 88 Cadzow Street was relocated in 1972 to Duke Street, in order to give a better geographical coverage of the town, particularly in the growing shopping area.
 
The branch at 50 Cadzow Street remained in its own premises and in 1980, a cashline machine was installed for the first time. The interior of the premises was also refurbished in the early 1980s and again in the mid-1990, but the exterior remains as much as it did when the branch first opened here in 1902. The branch absorbed the business of 105 Cadzow Street branch upon its closure.
 
Today and 115 years after it first opened its doors for business, Hamilton’s Cadzow Street branch continues to offer a full range of Banking services to our community, but for how long?
Royal Bank Of Scotland1

The Wharrie family & Hamilton’s surgeon’s through the early 1800s. By Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton.

Wordpress Muir Street.

I love it when I stumble across an old Hamilton family that is from a generation or two gone past and are out of common knowledge or memory to people, and this one was a highly respected family who in their day, would have been known by many. I found this family by chance when I was asked to look in to the history of a house on Muir Street.

On the 5th of January 2017 Gordon Duncan sent me a document that he had found in the attic of his Muir Street home. He asked if I would consider looking in to the history of the building.

I love to take on these challenges and do the research for Historic Hamilton and must mention that I have particularly enjoyed this one!

When I looked at the document, I first noticed that it was written in 1813, and it was hard to transcribe, so to make the most of this little snapshot in time, I consulted an old colleague of mine from Edinburgh who used to work at the records office on Princess Street and is also a fantastic transcriber.

Linda Gordon transcribed this document over a couple of days and as I had suspected it was the deeds to the house. Why they were hidden in an attic for so many years will remain a mystery, however it is possible that the owner who was called Dr Thomas Wharrie could have placed the deeds here for safekeeping in the year 1813 and they could have lay hidden and undisturbed for 204 years, which I think is a fantastic find for Gordon Duncan and of course for Hamilton.

This property on Muir Street was probably built by Dr Thomas Wharrie, and it was even built before the reconstruction and upgrade of the Hamilton Palace, which was compete in the year 1842. When you take a wee drive past the house at Muir Street, then think of this, apart from the museum which is on the opposite side of the road and on the same street, you are looking at one of Hamilton’s oldest and inhabited buildings.

1813.JPG

The document was written in ‘Old Scots’ and when transcribed it stated that the house was purchased or built by Dr Thomas Wharrie on the 17th of September 1813. The document was proof of ownership of the house and it laid out the boundaries of the land and garden. The great thing I find about this 204-year-old land certificate is, when this was written, it also takes in to account other people who lived in houses surrounding this building. The document stated that in 1813 the house had attached offices with a yard.

On the east side of the house the closest neighbour was a man named George Ward and there was a hedge separating both houses, and to the south of the garden was Common Green. On the west of the house, the next property was owned by a man named Roger Croft.

The annual payments on the house in 1813 was seventeen shillings and three pence Sterling. The local town clerk in 1813 was Archibald Hamilton and he stamped the document, while a man named John Reid also witnessed the signing.

1814

So, as I have stated, I found that the house was once owned by a prominent family in Hamilton that went by the name of Wharrie. This family were a very well-known one in the town, and they had many friends in many high places, Dr Dykes of Woodhead was an example of this upper-class Hamilton Hierarchy. I had never heard of the Wharrie family and even the name is not a common one in the area. This was when I decided that I was going to research this family.

Thomas Wharrie was not originally from Hamilton, he was a man from Lesmahagow and he married Isabel or Isabella Brown on the 13th of March 1788 and nine months later the family’s first-born child arrived. Thomas James Wharrie was born on the 8th of December 1788 at Lesmahagow. I believe that there may possibly still to this day be family connections to the Wharrie family in Lesmahagow, as Thomas Wharrie had come from a very large, educated and well-off family in this area.

Thomas and Isabella moved to Hamilton between 1789 and 1796, and 3 more children were born, James 23/08/1796, Rachel 19/07/1799 and Jane 13/03/1808. Thomas would probably have come to Hamilton as a doctor where he could have more opportunities in a much bigger town.

What becomes of Thomas and his wife is unknown to me, as I can’t find any other relevant information on Thomas Wharrie or his wife Isabella Brown and the trail stops here. What I can tell you is that Thomas Wharrie died on the 30th of September 1839 and I have this information from his Will and Testament which I discovered.

Thomas Wharrie was a surgeon in Hamilton, and he states in his Will that James Brown Wharrie was his only son, so his first son Thomas has died at some point before his father and yet once more I can’t find any information stating the place of death, and apart from James Wharrie the only other family member that I have come across is his sister Rachel Wharrie, who married a man named Alexander Murdoch on the 2/01/1837 in Hamilton and yet again, there is no information on her or her husband and all that I could find was her death certificate. Jane died on the 26th of March 1872 in Dumfries.

Dr James Brown Wharrie was born on the 23rd of August 1796 in Hamilton and he was the second son of Dr Thomas Wharrie and Isabella Brown. He was to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Surgeon and Dr of Medicine in Hamilton.

He studied to be a surgeon in Glasgow and as well as being a doctor, Dr Wharrie also owned a lot of properties in the town, and one of his legacies that James Wharrie left for Hamilton, was the beautiful house that he built, and lived in. It was the grand handsome house called Avongrange at Castlehill, and this big house still stands to this day, and we all know it now to be called, ‘The Avonbridge Hotel’ this was Dr Wharrie’s main residence.

Avongrange House..png

Castlehill Crescent which is now called Castlehill Gardens, was at the time Hamilton’s affluent street and on this part of Hamilton you would find a Crescent, having on the west side a few fine villas occupied by respectable families. Dr Wharrie’s house was the largest on the street.

He married a lady named Eliza Croil on the 08/01/1837 and I assume that this lady died shortly after they were married, because he re-marries, and as the usual family pattern continues, this lady, like the rest of his family, do not appear on any Old Parish Records and I can’t find a death or any evidence of her re-marrying. He continues to live at his father’s property on Muir Street which he inherited and is still here in 1841, this is at a time when he would probably be thinking about building his mansion at Castlehill Crescent.

James Wharrie re-married, to a girl called Margert Morley Drysdale who was the daughter of Major James Drysdale and Mary Watson Pew. Margaret was born on the 17th of August 1816 in Bothwell, and she was the eldest of her four sisters and two brothers. Margaret was 20 years younger than James.

Dr Wharrie started a family late in life and he was 55 years old before his first child had come along – I am assuming that due to his work commitments, starting a family was an after-thought and not high up on his list until he met Margaret Drysdale.
Avongrange House was built between 1855 and 1858 and the country mansion consisted of one Public Room, a separate Dining Room, six bedrooms, a large Kitchen and Offices which were presumably used for Dr Wharrie’s work.

Things were going well for Dr Wharrie, he was the Surgeon at the Hamilton prison (the prison was situated roughly where the roundabout is at ASDA) and not only did he have a highly paid job as a Doctor, he also had other income in the form of rents, raised from his properties that he owned around Hamilton. He owned two houses and four shop premises on Cadzow Street. He was happily married and now had his very own family which consisted of Thomas, James and John with another baby due to be born in October 1856.

The happiness of the new house at Avongrange on Castlehill Crescent was about to take a turn for the worse! His wife was due to have their fourth child and when little Margaret was born at 8:00am on the 26th of October 1856, sadly James’s wife Margaret died three hours later with complications during the birth. On a sadder note, James was the person who was present during the birth of his daughter, as he was the family doctor and he was also the doctor who certified his wife’s death.

When the 1861 census was taken, Dr Wharrie was living at Castlehill, and he had an adequate amount of staff living here, thus telling us a bit about his wealth. Living with Dr Wharrie were his three sons, Thomas JM Wharrie (10) James D Wharrie (8) and John B Wharrie (7) and his daughter Margaret Wharrie (4). He had a lady named Marion Williamson who was the children’s Nanny, he had a cook named Elizabeth Crawford, and finally he had a house maid that went by the name of Agnes Dobbie.
In 1864 Dr Wharrie was renting his house and shops at Cadzow Street to the following people:

• George Cooper, who was from Cumnock in Ayrshire, rented 58 Cadzow Street and he ran the shop as Tailor and Clothier business, he paid a total annual sum, of £24 and 7 shillings for the house and shop.

•James Keith, a Provost, and famous grocer and spirit merchant of Hamilton, was born in Edinburgh and rented the House and shop at 78 Cadzow Street. James Keith was using this premises as a grocer’s shop and was paying an annual sum of £45 & 5 Shillings. James Keith later became a councillor and his son Sir Henry Keith, followed in his father’s footsteps.

•The third premises consisted of a house and shop which was rented by J&T Thorburn who were confectioners and they were renting these premises for £17 & 3 Shillings.

•The fourth premises on Cadzow Street was a shop, which John Wilson was renting for £15 per annum, this shop may have been rented for a short space of time, as I am unable to find any records for this man.

Wordpress Muir Street.

•The fifth premises that was rented, was his family home that his father built on Muir Street, and the house which still stands today was rented by an Alex Henderson for the sum of £20 per annum. In today’s money, he would have a combined income of £14,616 or £1,218 per month, this in turn would have paid his mortgage at Avongrange, which was set at £95.00 per annum, or in today’s money £11,020 per year or £918.33 per month, this would have been a substantial amount of income as back then in 1864, when you think that the average coal miner earned 2/6 – 3/- per day.

Dr James Wharrie continued to work up until his death, he worked with the local judges of the Hamilton JP court which has been documented in many newspapers of the time. It was reported in the Glasgow Herald on the 2nd of November 1869, that he was present alongside John Meek Esq at the trial of a local man called Bernard Gourley, who was charged with keeping a dog without a licence and who was fined 25s. So, he was in fact a very well-known person in Hamilton.

Dr James Wharrie died at the age of 73 on the 1st of January 1871, at his house at Avongrange. He died at 6:00pm, the cause of death was recorded as Apoplexy or commonly now known as a Stroke. His oldest son Thomas was the person who registered the death.

After Dr James Wharrie died, all his children were still living at Avongrange House and Thomas was the head of the family at 20 years old. Thomas would have inherited a great deal of wealth from his father, as well as Avongrange and in 1871, he studied Law. Marion Williamson who was the children’s Nanny ten years before is still employed by the Wharrie’s and her title in the house now is a domestic servant, they also have one other domestic servant called Elizabeth Crawford living with them.

In 1881, Thomas and Margaret have both moved to Edinburgh, where Thomas is still studying Law and interestingly, they have Marion Williamson also living with them, she was their Nanny and is now their cook and Domestic Servant, this says a lot about the relationship that Marion had with the children, maybe she had taken on the role of their mother, as she was the only woman in the house, that had been there since their mother had died.

John Wharrie, is listed as the head of the house at Avongrange, he doesn’t seem to have a job, but is receiving an income from houses and interests in Hamilton. It would appear, that he is now solely benefiting from his father’s many years of hard work. The house is very large for just one person to be residing in, even though he does have a servant living there with him called Elizabeth Smellie, it wouldn’t be long now until the house at Avongrange leaves the ownership of the Wharrie family.

An advert appeared in the Glasgow Herald Wednesday the 9th of April 1879, and the house was up for let. It is unknown if this went ahead as John Wharrie is still living here in the year 1881. Avongrange remained in the ownership of Thomas Wharrie and it was leased out to various people throughout the years, one of the tenants being the Provost James Moffat. The house was eventually sold off between 1915 and 1920 to Sir Thomas Munro the County Clerk.

After their father’s death, the children of Dr James Wharrie all seem to leave the memories of Hamilton behind them, and when Avongrange is eventually let out they also leave everything behind. They were all born at Avongrange and lived in Hamilton their whole lives, but their father was the only person in the family who was respected, and it was all down to him for giving the Wharrie family the good and respected name that it held in Hamilton.

When Dr James Wharrie died, so did the respected family name and as the new generations of Hamiltonian’s had come and gone, the name Wharrie which was associated with Hamilton, was also gone and forgotten about. All that now stands as a reminder to this family, are the two grand houses, the first one built by Thomas Wharrie on Muir Street and the second house formerly known as Avongrange, where many Hamiltonian’s now enjoy a good Sunday dinner or Christmas and New Year party, which we now call ‘The Avonbridge Hotel’.

So, what happened to the rest of the Wharrie Family?
The Wharrie children all seem to have moved to Edinburgh, this may have been due to the eldest son Thomas studying Law and everyone going with him.

John Wharrie, after being the last to move out of Avongrange in 1881, moved to the house of his brother Thomas at 26 Inverleith Row. There he becomes unwell and dies of pneumonia. He died on the 26th of October 1884. His brother James is the person who registers his death.

James Wharrie also moves to Edinburgh and his occupation is a fund holder and living on his own means. He is still living off his inheritance and seems to have invested his money either in property or stocks and shares, and is receiving an income from this. In 1901, James is renting a room at 15 Atholl Crescent, which is also a few streets away from his brother Thomas, at Edinburgh’s West End. I have concluded that he moved to Edinburgh to look after his brother Thomas, as he is having mental health problems. Later, James pops up again, and I find him living his final days at 7 Castle Terrace which is also St. Marks Church, opposite Edinburgh Castle. He dies here, a single man on the 7th of May 1904. The cause of death is Pneumonia.

Edinburgh..jpg

Thomas Wharrie the eldest son of James and as I mentioned moved to Edinburgh, residing at 26 Inverleith Row, which was a substantial family home in a very upper-class area of Edinburgh. He is having a tough time after his father’s death and is a frequent guest at various Lunatic Asylums. In 1891, he is an inmate at the Edinburgh Royal Asylum for the insane, this institute around this time was a private paying one, so he may have admitted himself and I must mention that he has an income and is living on his own means, so he is also like his brother James still living off the money that was left to him by his father. Sadly, Thomas like his brother, dies a single man on the 22nd of February 1915 at the Sunnyside Asylum for the insane in Montrose. It is unknown why he ended up over in Montrose.

I also found Thomas’s Obituary in the Hamilton Advertiser which was printed on the 27th of February 1915 it read:
“Obituary. —By the death on Monday at Montrose Mr Thomas J. Drysdale Wharrie. there has passed away and the last of the sons of the late Dr. Wharrie, who was well-known to a former generation of Hamiltonians. Dr. Wharrie was prison doctor in Hamilton up till the discontinuance of that institution in our midst. He built and occupied Avon Grange, presently the residence of Provost Moffat. Another link of the Hamilton bygone days has been surrendered.”

I had told you previously Margaret had moved with her brother Thomas to 26 Inverleith Row where she is living here in the year 1881. She then re-appears in the 1911 Census and is living at a place called Wallacehall in Glencairn, Dumfries. She is living with a family called McClelland and she is boarding with them. It is unclear as to why she is living with this family in such a far-away place from the likes of Edinburgh where her brothers were living, but one thing that is listed on the 1911 census is she is recorded as being of “Feeble Minded”.

There does seem to be a pattern evolving with the Wharrie children, but this could also be due to the complications of childbirth that killed her mother.
Again, another death close to her brothers, Margaret died on the 22nd of April 1916 at the house of the McClelland’s at Wallacehall. She died of heart failure and the person who registered her death was the owner of the house a Mr Thomas McClelland, his relation to her on the death certificate is ‘A Friend’.

Margaret’s obituary was printed in the Hamilton Advertiser on Sat 29th April 1916.
“The Late Miss Wharrie, the last we believe of a family well known to Hamiltonians of a generation ago has passed away in the death, on 22nd inst., Wallace Hall, Dunscore, of Miss Margaret Morley Drysdale Wharrie. She was the daughter of the late Dr. James B. Wharrie, who was prison doctor in Hamilton up till the discontinuance of that institution in our midst, and resided at Avon Grange, which he built. The funeral took place on Wednesday from Hamilton Central C.R. Station to the cemetery in Bent Road. Mr Thomas J. Drysdale Wharrie, who died at Montrose in February a year ago, was the last of the sons of the late Dr. Wharrie.”

It is still unknown to me as to why Margaret ended up living with this family in Glencairn, Dumfries, or what the connection to her was. There possibly was a connection to her aunty Rachel, who died here in 1872 so maybe a cousin? Margaret was the last of this well-known Wharrie family from Hamilton and when she died it was the end of an era.

The Watson’s Fountain.

Watsons WordPress..JPG

THE WATSON FOUNTAIN.

 

How many times have you driven past this statue and wondered what it was? This statue is actually a fountain!

The statue is one of the last remaining emblems of wealth gifted to the town by one of the coal masters of Hamilton. Hamilton’s Coal masters during the 1800s were very rich and powerful people and one of the coal masters was Sir John Watson, Bart of Earnock.

In 1893, John Watson donated the fountain to the people of Hamilton. It was erected at the junction between Cadzow Street & Muir Street. In the centre of the fountain is a woman who represents & commemorates the finding and working of coal. In her right hand, she held a miners pick and in the other hand a miner’s wire gauge Davy safety lamp. The fountain was built at a cost of £10,000 (Over £600,000 in today’s money)

Today the fountain still stands, however, the miners pick and safety lamp are both missing and the water no longer runs through the fountain.

The house behind the fountain at Muir Street are no longer there, however, they have been replaced with new flats.

I would personally like to see the fountain switched back on again! When I was young in the 1980s I can recall the water running through it, there were 4 exit points for the water at waist height and i believe there were 4 at the bottom (possibly for animals)

So thank you to Sir John Watson for donating this marvellous gift and now an antique for us – the people of Hamilton!

THE HAMILTON REFERENCE LIBRARY

Library.
The Hamilton Reference Library is contained within Hamilton Town House Library, located at 102 Cadzow Street. Until 2009 this part of the library was unknown to me. I discovered this treasure trove when researching my family tree.
 
I was researching my Di & Granny’s side of the family when I was directed to the Carnegie Room upstairs. As I walked towards the big brown doors leaving the lending library, I looked through the window, went through the imposing Carnegie vestibule, and proceeded to walk up the grand staircase. It was like walking into a film set from a more elegant era.
Stain Glass window with Burgh Crest..JPG
 
As you go up the first set of steps, you are greeted with a beautiful stained-glass window depicting the Hamilton Burgh crest. Arriving at the top of the building reveals the magnificent Carnegie Reading Room with vaulted ceiling and decorative plasterwork.
 
The first thing that you notice in the Reference Library, is how peaceful this upper floor is and even though it is usually busy, there is a sense of respect for other people who are studying or using computers and the quietness of the place is really relaxing.
Wilma Bolton's Display Cabinet..JPG
 
Hamilton Town House is jointly operated by South Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture. The building contains both the town’s main public hall (formerly known as Hamilton Town Hall) and public library, as well as various Council departments including licensing, registration and community learning.
 
The building, although appearing to be one, was constructed in stages over a 21-year period. The library was opened by Andrew Carnegie in 1907, the adjacent Town House offices were opened by King George V in 1914 and finally the Town Hall completed the building in 1928.
 
In 2002, the entire building was closed for a massive refurbishment project, costing £9 million. This was required to bring the internal facilities to current building regulation standards (including modern lifts), whilst also restoring the exterior of this A-listed building. In August 2004, the new integrated Town House complex was revealed to the public, with an official opening by HRH Princess Anne in September. The library won two awards: the “Architect Meets Practicality Award” for libraries of significant architectural interest that are practical and user-friendly and the “Mary Finch Accessibility Award” for the library which most addresses access issues from physical through to cultural barriers.
1841-1901 Censu Collection..JPG
 
For those of you who are not aware of the Reference Library, I would like to share what you can find in there. The resources are incredible, and include the following: Local Authority / Council minutes and reports dating to the 1600s, a section of the Hamilton Estate Papers, a historic collection of over 2000 indexed photographs, a large postcard collection, historic and contemporary electoral registers, Valuation rolls, Hamilton Advertiser and other local newspapers in print bound volume and on micro-film, a collection of fiction and poetry by local authors and about Lanarkshire, a collection of historic and geographical guides relating to Lanarkshire, a large collection of historic and contemporary maps covering Lanarkshire, Census reports on micro-film, free access within the library to the family history website Ancestry.com.
 
There are 15 Internet-linked PCs available in the ActiveIT suite, in addition to free WiFi throughout the building.
 
All published material is searchable on the South Lanarkshire Libraries catalogue online at
 
In addition to the materials held, ‘Scotland’s People’ (https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/gclid=CJKTv5H64tQCFeeV7QodkfcHaA)
 
Vouchers are for sale, there are drop – in sessions for family history advice and guidance, Nostalgia Days at intervals throughout the year, and regular displays relating to the history of Hamilton and Lanarkshire.
Angela Ward..JPG
 
One important thing that I would like to mention is the staff who work at the Reference Library. They are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. One real gem is long-time library assistant Angela Ward whose knowledge of Hamilton is unrivalled. The staff handle family research requests continuously from local and international enquirers.
 
The staff at the Hamilton Reference Library really do try to accommodate everyone, but as you can imagine they are sometimes stretched, so if you are planning to visit the Reference Library for research, then please call in advance to secure a seat and avoid disappointment. The telephone number is 01698 452121.
 
Scott & Angela..JPG
Old Historical Books..JPG
On a more personal note, the Hamilton Advertiser copies that are kept here in storage areas are the last remaining copies ever to be printed of each year and cannot be reproduced in original form. In this digital age, I would like to see the Hamilton Advertiser archived in this way, future proofing the collection for future generations. The collection of Hamilton Advertisers is so large, it would take a lot of time and money for this to happen. These records have preserved the history of Hamilton week by week since 1856. I firmly believe that they should be digitised for future generations to read. Just think that in 100 years from now, someone will be reading what we did today as history! Let’s try put a plan in action and come up with an idea to get funding to have Hamilton’s history stored and made available online.

KEITH’S BUILDINGS OF CADZOW STREET.

KEITH’S BUILDINGS OF CADZOW STREET.

Written by Garry McCallum – HistoricHamilton.

Keith's Buildings.

I am always being asked about the big building at the side of Cadzow Bridge and what it was used for.

This red sandstone building is called Keith’s buildings, and it is one of Hamilton’s old surviving properties, that has graced Cadzow Glen since its construction was complete in 1903.

The Keith family business was started in Hamilton by James Keith, who was a grocer, who moved to Hamilton from Holytown in 1856. He had started his business in Holytown in 1849 and when he moved to Hamilton – presumably to grow his business, he opened his small grocers shop at 78 Cadzow Street, he was renting the shop and house above from a well-known surgeon called Dr Wharrie.

The Keith’s would have their business in Cadzow Street for the next 111 years. By the year 1859, James Keith had entered the Town Council and was now fully involved in how Hamilton was run so this would have given him a huge advantage over his competitors in Cadzow Street. In modern times, we have seen this same sort of influence with a certain nightclub owner. It has, however, been documented that not only was James Keith a great employer but he was a man of great nature, who was Kind and well respected by many. In 1895 James Keith would later move up the political ladder and become the towns, Lord Provost.

James Keith’s only son, who was called Henry Shanks Keith, had taken over the family business when his father died on the 21st of March 1901. He was responsible for the grand sandstone building that we see today. The construction of Keith’s buildings was done in conjunction with the widening of Cadzow Bridge and it was designed by Bonn & Baptie structural engineers.

Sir Henry Shanks Keith1.

It began in the year 1901 and was completed by 1903. The grandeur of the building can be best seen when you stroll under Cadzow Bridge along the Glen, however, when you walk down Cadzow Street the entrance to the building just looks like a normal old sandstone shop and it fits in nicely with the rest of the buildings on that side of the street. Thankfully, this Hamilton building is Grade A listed and it can’t be demolished, but on a sadder note, it is now just rotting away.

As I stated, Keith or Keith’s Buildings as it is called was named after its owner, the wealthy businessman and lord provost of Hamilton, Sir Henry Shanks Keith. Sir Henry Keith, had chosen this site to build his property because, at the turn of the 20th century, Cadzow Street was the best place to go for shopping and Cadzow Street was at the heart of everything in the town and not to mention it was the finest thoroughfare in the burgh. When you entered Hamilton from Glasgow, Keith’s department store was the first shop that caught your eye and the store became the finest delicatessen in Hamilton and at the turn of the 20th century, Cadzow Street had more to offer than its Quarry Street neighbour.

The exact address for this building is 84- 90 Cadzow Street and the building itself was purposely designed to be a large commercial property, with its design of continental and mostly Parisian and Viennese styles and looking at it from Cadzow Bridge, it really stood out from the rest of Cadzow Street. It is built to approximately a square plan and above the bridge level it has a 2 storey and dormer-less attic and it has 4 storeys below the bridge level. The building also has its own lift installed inside it and on each floor, below ground level was a store room where the Keith’s kept their stock.

James Keith Advert.

When the business was in full operation and because of the size of the building they had to transfer money around quite quickly, so they used a pulley system attached to the ceiling where the money would be put in plastic cylinders and transported all over the building.

On the Cadzow Street entrance, there are 3 wide key blocked segmental arches, linked by segment headed doorways and below on the ground level, there is a segmental terraced space with one arch. Like many of Hamilton’s buildings, the stone is a red colour and would have been brought in from of the many neighbouring Quarry’s that surrounded Hamilton and Lanarkshire.

Keith's Buildings at Cadzow Street.

Keith’s store offered a fine choice of foods, it was run as a delicatessen for a time and you could say it was Hamilton’s first supermarket. The shop sold fine meats, steaks, gammon and all poultry. They imported meat from Ireland. They also sold tea, coffee, dried fruit and fresh fruit. They were also Wine importers, wholesale & retail grocers.

Keiths Advert.JPG

Around the 1890s the family saw a gap in the market for affordable whisky and in 1901 they started to produce their very own. They used the cellars at Cadzow Glen as the whisky bond. The whisky was stored here for a minimum of ten years to mature. When the ten years had passed, they started to bottle their whisky and production commenced on the 30th of August 1911 – they gave it the appropriate name of ‘Keith’s Cadzow Blend’ or KCB for short.

Some of the people who worked at the whisky bond were Frank McGrory who was the Blender, Eddie Summers who was the store man and the well known Beef McTaggart was the Lorry Driver.

Keiths Cadzow Blend1

 

James Keith Advert21902

Henry Keith wanted to make his whisky a worldwide product, and around the beginning of the twentieth century, he was advertising all over the United Kingdom. Adverts were in all the local and national papers and the adverts stated, “Possibly the oldest whisky in the world offered at this price”

Sir Henry Shanks Keith.jpg

The company of James Keith was still thriving through both world wars. Henry Shanks Keith had died on 9th of July 1944. The business was passed to his son John thus making way for the third generation of this family run the business.

Rations during World War Two were in force, and Keith’s was no exception to the rules, however, the rules were bent a little. In 1947 Messrs. James Keith Ltd got into a spot of bother for selling too much Whisky to Bothwell Golf Club and they were told that they would be obliged to restrict the quantity of whisky sold to the Bothwell Golf Club owing to recent regulations.

The Convenor submitted a statement of the quantities of whisky supplied to the Club in the years 1939 and 1946 which showed the Club had obtained from Messrs. Keith, a larger amount of whisky in 1946 than they had purchased in 1939. The allocation now offered to the Club would be 18 bottles of whisky per month or roughly 4 bottles a week. It was agreed to conserve the supplies and to ensure that there should be a fair distribution amongst members, to restrict the sale of whisky to one bottle on Wednesday and three on Saturdays. It was also agreed that no large whiskies be supplied.

Keiths Label1

John Keith was also a Major with the 6th Battalion, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) During the 1st world war 1914-18 was wounded at Festubert. John H Keith was the new owner of Keith’s buildings and he continued to run the family business and he was to be the last member of the Keith family to be Managing Director of this family owned company.

John H Keith continued to run the family business up until 1961 when it was taken over by Messrs David Sandeman of Pall Mall London. I would take a wild guess that the company of Keith’s was sold due to declining sales and competition from the new supermarkets and corner shops emerging all over the local area.

 

The new owners tried to make something of Keith’s and they also kept the name, but only 6 years later they closed the doors on Hamilton’s first Super Market. This was the end of an 118-year era passed down from father to son and the 1970s were just around the corner, what was to become of this grand old building?

Keiths Buildings1.JPG

Messrs David Sandeman closed Keith’s and they stated that it was no longer possible for them to trade from Cadzow Street because of excessive burdens in the form of Selective Employment Tax, Heavy Local Rates and ‘other government impositions’. (Nothing has changed in 2017)

They did try to find other smaller premises in Hamilton but without success. The manager of Keith’s at the time was called Alex Wylie and he had worked for Keith’s for 30 years and because of his great work at Keith’s, his job was safeguarded and he was transferred to the sister store at Bothwell.

Keiths Label..JPG

I asked you what was to become of Keith’s? The building was eventually bought by businessman Armando Russo and his Associated Rentals Company. Russo held substantial properties all around the town centre and still to this day, his company owns Keith’s and many more properties in Hamilton and for reasons unknown to many, Russo owned derelict buildings which he refused to sell.

One example of this was the old derelict Regal Cinema, this took the Hamilton Town Council Ten years of negotiations to buy it from Russo. The old Regal was later demolished and its land turned into a car park.

The doors of Keith’s were opened back up again, but not to be a delicatessen or whisky bond some of the people who used the building were Netty and Ian Kane. Netty, used the building as a Café and Amusements whilst Ian, ran a Taxi firm from it and I have heard that Ian Kane was the first person in Scotland to own a Black Hackney Cab. There was also a clothes shop and Fancy dress on the top floor of Keith’s and it was later used as a gym.

The doors closed again for the last time at the end of the 80s and would remain closed. In December 1994 workmen were carrying out maintenance on paving slabs at the side of Keith’s and when they lifted the slabs they made a shocking discovery.

They found themselves staring into a very deep cellar which took you down to the basement of the building where they kept old Whisky barrels. This was found to be one of Three Cellars deemed unsafe by the council and the roofs of them had become quite dilapidated.

If a car had to park on the pavement at the side of Keith’s then it would have fallen straight through. After a series of Meetings with Armando Russo, the council agreed to fill in the cellars with concrete to avoid the roof collapsing as it was a danger to the public.

Keith's Cadzow Glen..JPG

In 2006, the building itself was found to be in poor condition after lying empty since the early 90’s and it was agreed that no less than £500,000 would be set aside for possible spending on Keith’s Buildings. This money was funded by the Hamilton Ahead Initiative, run by the Town Council. It is unclear if this money was ever spent on Keith’s Buildings, but when you put things into perspective, this is a 117-year-old building and it still has a lot of potential to offer to our town so I would imagine it would be in their best interest to invest some money into it.

Today, Keith’s is admired by many people who pass by it and the grand old building is still owned by the late Armando Russo’s company Associated Rentals.

I have done some research to find out what exactly is happening with Keith’s and I am pleased to say that there is currently an offer of Intent to purchase by a man named William Campbell. I don’t know who this man is, but I would assume he is some sort of developer.

Keith’s is a Grade A building and it is protected, so Mr Campbell if you are reading this story of our historic building – that is known as Keith’s buildings, then can I ask, please talk to South Lanarkshire Council and see if an agreement can be reached to give this historic building to the People of Hamilton. This building would make a perfect Hub for our community.

Written by Garry McCallum
Historic Hamilton.

MURDER AT PALACE GROUNDS.

MURDER AT PALACE GROUNDS, 1950.
Three Hamilton men sentenced to hang.
 
A vicious assault took place at the Hamilton Palace recreational grounds on September the 9th, 1950 where a man later died.
 
At the High Court Trial at Glasgow, four men who are charged with murder, in Hamilton Palace Recreation Grounds, where John Edwin Newall of 6 Cadzow Street, Hamilton, died in Killearn Hospital on September 14. It was alleged that the assault was committed on the evening of Saturday September 9th, when a clash occurred between a gang of about 20 or 25 young men and employees of Bertram Mill’s Circus.
 
The accused are Robert Gallacher, a labourer of 9 Portwell, John McGuire, a machinist of 36 Church Street, Robert McKenna, a labourer of 43 Tuphall Road and Edward McGuire, a labourer of 36 Church Street who are charged with acting together with others unknown and who are also accused of having committed a breach of the peace, seizing brushes and shovels belonging to the circus and adopting a threatening attitude towards circus employees, particularly Noel O’FIynn struggling and fighting and throwing missiles at them and circus vehicles.
 
All the accused pleaded not guilty and John McGuire tenders a special defence of alibi. An additional charge against Edward McGuire alleges that he assaulted John Leonard Wool, staff manager of the circus and attempted to strike him.
Mr H.R. Leslie, K.C., Advocate-Depute, conducts the case for the Crown, and the accused are represented as follows—Gallacher, Mr W R . Milligan, K.C.; John McGuire, Mr C.W. Graham Guest, K .C .; McKenna, Mr C.J.D. Shaw, K.C and Edward McGuire. Mr W Ross McLean, K.C.
 
Mr Cyril Bertram Mills chairman of Bertram Mills Circus, gave evidence to the effect that the circus was being dismantled after the final performance on September 9. A little before 10 o ‘ clock he saw three men fighting, and soon afterwards another two fights. His own men were involved and he called to them to group together and to drop any of the tools they might have been using. He saw a group throwing bricks and stones at a tractor the windscreen of which was broken, and then he saw a group of seven men and a woman kicking a man. The four accused were identified by witness as having been amongst this group Mr J.L. Woolstaff, manager, said he saw a crowd of about 20 men entering the ground in a hostile manner Some had bottles, one picked up an iron stake, and another had a 14-lb hammer with a broken shaft They were looking for a man whom they called “the Belfast Irishman.”
 
Cross-examined by Mr Ross McLean, witness agreed that he had seen Edward McGuire at the circus the previous evening he arrived late when the box office was closed and was refused admission.
 
Constable William Aitchison of Hamilton Burgh Police stated that he saw John McGuire at Hamilton Old Cross at ten minutes past ten on the night of the assault McGuire said, ‘You are going to have a busy night’, and witness told him and others to “Move on.”
At 10:25, after he had been called to the Recreation Grounds, he saw John McGuire and the three-other accused, all of whom he knew well, kicking a man lying on the ground the man whom he recognised, was unconscious, bleeding from the ears, nose, and mouth.
 
The date of the execution was fixed by Lord Keith as 26th November 1950 at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.
 
DEATH SENTENCE APPEAL.
On the 13th of November, Edward McGuire has lodged an appeal against his conviction on the ground of misdirection of the Jury. It was also announced on Saturday Appeals on behalf of the other two men. Robert Gallacher (23) and Robert McKenna (31), who were also sentenced to death, are expected to be lodged to-day.
 
CIRCUS CRIME: THREE MEN REPRIEVED.
On Saturday the 23rd of December 1950, the three men due to die on Boxing Day for the Hamilton circus murder were reprieved yesterday.
 
Mr Hector McNeil, Secretary for Scotland, has advised the King to commute the capital sentence to a sentence of life imprisonment.
I couldn’t find the deaths for the men, so I am assuming that they all did life at Barlinnie and either died there or were released.