St. Anne’s School in Hamilton.

St. Anne's1

The Old St. Anne’s school.

Wilma Bolton sent us one of her pictures from her collection which I am sure will stir up a lot of people’s memories. Wilma told us:

“Once the old buildings are demolished they are lost forever. However, I managed to get into Saint Anne’s school before they knocked it down. I took a lot of photographs all of which I gave to Hamilton Reference Library. This means that anyone wishing to see their old school will be able to access them in the Reference Library”

 

Did you attend St. Anne’s? share your memories and tell us your stories from your former school

JUMBLE FEVER.

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JUMBLE FEVER.
By Wilma S.Bolton.
 
This story is taken from memoirs of Wilma Bolton.
 
When was the last time you went to a jumble sale or even noticed one being advertised? I certainly haven’t seen any for a long time, yet years ago they were being held almost every weekend and for many a struggling family they were a sure and affordable source of obtaining decent clothing, household goods, toys and prams etc. Going to jumble sales was a favourite Saturday pass time for me when I was younger and I just loved them. They were normally held in church halls and a queue would start forming about half an hour or more before the advertised opening time and there were always a substantial number of people waiting.
 
Not everyone, however, had the manners to queue. In the last few minutes before the doors opened, you would get the chancers appearing and brazenly walk up to the front where they would indignantly insist that their place had been “kept for them”. The early birds who had been waiting for quite some time would have none of it and usually “invited” them to get to the back of the queue, or else. However, there was one “sweet old lady” who without fail used to take a “bad turn” and invariably someone who hadn’t previously witnessed her Oscar winning performances would hammer on the door to attract the attention of those inside the hall. Despite loud protests of “just ignore her”, she’s at it” and “she does this every time” she would fool them into getting her a chair, a drink of water and first place in the queue. The minute the door opened for the start of the sale, an instantaneous miracle occurred and she led the stampede into the hall to get the best bargains. I often wondered how she never got lynched and eventually came to the conclusion that it was more than likely due to her snow white hair, innocent old face and excellent acting abilities. It was also a good job there were no mobile phones then, for if there had been, the ambulance would never have been away from jumble sales.
 
Inside the hall, the goods would be laid out on tables some of which were piled three feet high with clothes. There were separate ones for men, women, babies and children’s clothes. There was also a table for books and clothes racks hanging with coats, suits, jackets and items deemed by the workers to be of a superior quality.
The brick-a-brack table quite often stood alone at the top of the hall and facing it from across the room was the children’s toy section where you could buy anything from a dolls pram to a child’s drum kit. The bric-a-brac table was my favourite and that was the first one I headed for when I got through the door. One particular Saturday morning I was at a jumble sale in Hamilton and the table was almost groaning under the weight of the contents. An unusual looking plate caught my eye and as I lifted it up, a man beside me attempted to pull it out of my hands but he wasn’t quite fast enough. I held on to it and paid the ten pence asking price and put it in my bag. As he was a “dealer” and he had been really anxious to obtain it, I started to wonder if it was valuable so I took it to McTears Auction house in Glasgow and asked them to sell it for me. Four weeks later I opened a letter and enclosed was a cheque for forty eight pounds for the plate. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Forty eight pounds was a fortune to me. That was it, my head was up and the music was playing, I was well and truly hooked and I started going to the jumble sales on a regular basis.
 
I must have taken after my father for my mother would not have been seen dead at one, but a friend of hers Gracie Kane just loved them and I often went with her. Now Gracie had raised a large family and she was the most devout and kindly woman I have ever known. She knew everyone and always kept a lookout for young mothers who were having a hard time coping and kept them in mind when she set off to a sale. She would come back weighed down with bags of good quality children’s clothing and shoes and she made sure that the mothers got them. When Gracie herself was young she had at one point known very hard times due to family illness and she had never forgotten it. She never missed an opportunity to help any mother she thought was struggling and many a child got a fine new rig out via Gracie’s jumble sales. She was one in a million, a friend to all and she always made you laugh when you were with her.
 
The number of jumble sales gradually got less and less over the years and then they just appeared to vanish. By that time I was working as a staff nurse at Hairmyres Hospital and one day I was admitting a Blantyre patient when she said to me “I know you”. I recognised her right away but wasn’t for admitting it, hoping that the uniform would throw her off the scent, but I didn’t get away with it. Before long I could see by her face that the penny had dropped. “I know where I know you from. You used to go to the same jumble sales as me.” I laughed and said “ten out of ten, you have a good memory.” We had a discussion about “good the old days” and both agreed we really missed them. Jumble sales were great fun and I just loved them and many a time they put clothes on my back and shoes on my feet. I believe the reason for their demise lies with the introduction of car boot sales and charity shops. Although these shops do a good job raising substantial amounts of money for charity, they never held any appeal for me because the camaraderie and laughs you could be guaranteed at a jumble sale, were just not there.
 
Wilma S. Bolton.© 2017.
 
Historic Hamilton would like to thank Wilma for sharing her memories with us, Wilma, as always a big thank you to you and please keep your stories coming.

LITTLE MOTHER.

LITTLE MOTHER.

(IN A DEPRESSED AREA.)

 

One at her breast and two at her feet,

Trudging along the dull, squalid street;

Face lined with care but comely and sweet—

Little mother.

 

Irksome her labours tending her flock,

Often her day a round of the clock;

Felon in cell! Your comforts but mock

Little mother.

 

Often her lot is squalor and want,

Wolf on the doorstep hungry and gaunt;

Cares of the day her fitful dreams haunt

Little mother.

 

Same daily struggle, on thro’ the years,

Only her courage quelling her fears;

No time for shedding vain, idle tears—

Little mother.

 

Sister of ease, your scorning forbear,

She envies not your freedom from care,

Counting her blessings precious and rare—

Little mother.

 

You, without daughters! You, without sons!

Think of the trials, the risks that she runs;

Builder of Empires! Feeder of guns!—

Little mother.

 

One at her breast and two at her feet—

Symbol of womanhood, noble, complete;

Honour the name—a name ever sweet—

Little mother.

 

TOM MCEWAN.

Ref. Hamilton Advertiser.

25/2/1939. Page 14.

Courtesy of Wilma Bolton 2005.

EDDLEHURST HOUSE.

EDDLEHURST HOUSE.
Written by Wilma Bolton.
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Above is a photograph of what the road just before the Cosy Corner, Mill Road, Hamilton used to look like before the road was widened by the removal of the site of the old Cadzow Colliery mineral railway line.
 
The walls show the entrance to what we called Laighstonehall House. Originally known as Eddlehurst it had been built for rich Glasgow Merchants (there were another 5 merchants houses further up the Mill Road four at the Bush Park) and one next to Laighstonehall House which we called McAffer’s house which was big and scary, the family who lived there in the 1940/50s sold tomatoes from their greenhouses.
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There was also Chantinghall House further down the road. The Glasgow merchants had built these houses in the country to get away from the dirt and smog of Glasgow and then came the coal mines with all their workers and black smoke right on their doorsteps. They were absolutely surrounded by coal mines. That was not all, the houses started subsiding from the underground workings.
 
The Glasgow merchants moved out and Watson the Coal master bought them and let them to his managers with the exception of this one as his son and heir lived at this property at one time (must have been before it really subsided). As a wee girl, I used to play with a girl called Preece who lived in it and the floors were so uneven I felt seasick when walking in it. You were either walking uphill or downhill.
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Laighstonehall House was built on the site of the old mill (Mill Road got its name from it) which once stood there. The lade can still be seen in the burn just up from the Cosy Corner.
There are two of the merchant’s houses still standing, one on Mill Road, across from the back of St Anne’s school. Known locally as “The Majors” after a major who lived there many years ago. Its real name is Ivy Grove and it was at one time the property of a lawyer called Hay. It is a lovely house but has historic subsidence damage. The other one is at Graham Avenue and it was the South Church Manse for many years. It is now privately owned.
 
The narrow road down to the Cosy Corner had no lights and it was pitch black. I worked in Phillips factory and was really only a wee lassie (17) and had to go down it myself on a day shift. As it was half past five in the morning I used to take to my heels and run like a greyhound from the last house in Mill Road to the houses at Chantinghall. I was petrified as there was a flasher hanging about in the trees. A female police officer (Laura Thorburn) who was Hamilton’s first female detective used to walk this road in an attempt to catch him.
 
Laura was a tall slim blond and he would have spotted her a mile away so she never did catch him.
 
Below is the approximate site of the former Eddlehurst House.
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MILITARY SERVICE REGISTRATION. OVER 3000 MEN REPORT IN LANARKSHIRE.

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MILITARY SERVICE REGISTRATION. OVER 3000 MEN REPORT IN LANARKSHIRE.
 
Scotland provided 26,335 of the quarter-of-a-million men who registered throughout Britain last Saturday under the Military Training Act provisions. The age group, the fourth to register since compulsory military service was introduced comprised the following:
 
(1) men who have reached the age of 20 since December 1, 1939, but before January 1, 1940 (i.e. those born between December 2, 1919, and December 31, 1919, both dated inclusive) and
 
(2) men who have reached the age of 23 since December 31, 1938, but before December 2, 1939, (i.e. those born between January 1, 1916, and December 1, 1916, both dates inclusive.
 
Of the 26,335 registered in Scotland, Lanarkshire provided 3119. Enrolments at the various county Employment Exchanges were as follows (the figures of contentious objectors being given on parenthesis): Uddingston 137 (3) Shotts 254 (4) Cambuslang 235 (12), Motherwell 540 (13), Larkhall 306 (5) Airdrie 329 (12) Hamilton 420 (10), Coatbridge 391 (5), Wishaw 520 (9).
 
The total number of conscientious objectors was 66 or slightly over 2 percent. In the December registration of the 20-22 age group the total registrations were slightly less, 2966, while the conscientious objectors numbered 52, about 1.6 percent.
 
Among those registering last Saturday 453 preferred the Navy, 32 the Marines, and 11 the Navy or Marines, while 130 expressed a preference for Air Flying, 458 for air-ground service and 25 air flying or ground service. The remainder preferred Army service. Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 24/2/1940. The article was Transcribed by Wilma Bolton and sent to Historic Hamilton.

OLD HAMILTON, FURTHERING THE SCHEME OF DEMOLITION. AN OUT-DATED FUE DISPOSITION.

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The following story was printed in The Hamilton Advertiser on the 21/1/1933 and was transcribed by Wilma Bolton.
 
Another old landmark in the town is fated to disappear within the next few days. A start had been made with the demolition of that angle of building behind the Public Library long known as Fore Row and Back Row.
 
For nearly 150 years these two rows of houses have been a conspicuous object, overlooking the Common Green from their loft perch, and as seen from Cadzow Bridge in these latter days, contrasting unfavourable with those palatial villas which adorn the slightly higher reaches of Cadzow Burn.
 
The fues for these houses now being removed were given off round about 1782. The superior was then John Campbell, of Saffronhall, Hamilton and some half- a-dozen pieces of ground were separately feud. In the fue disposition then granted in favour of the various feurs the ground is disponed with the liberty and privilege “of passing upon foot by the front of the said houses through a part of my said other ground to and from the Burn of Hamilton for water according as I shall lay off a road for the purpose, said passage to be shut up upon Sundays, and an hour after sunset every other day.”
 
Cadzow Burn was then a stream of some considerable utility in the town recourse being had to it not only for washing purposes but for domestic supply of drinking water. When the Fore and Back Rows were built, the site would be well on the outskirts of the town, and as dwellings, they housed in some instances citizens of status and substance.
 
In the Fore Row are three very characteristic Scottish houses with their steep roofs, stone skews and circular moulded club skews. But the house at the corner of Muir Street is particularly interesting. Architecturally it is an interesting little gem, with its projecting quoins, rusticated arched doorway, well-proportioned windows, stone cornice, Scottish dormer windows and stone ridge. The front wall has been cemented at some later date, but, in its original state when the stonework was exposed it must have been a very attractive and imposing front.
 
There is no date on but it appears to have been erected in the early eighteenth century. The design is not unlike the Parish Church which may indeed have provided the builder with some inspiration.
 
Latterly these 150 years old dwellings were adjudged to be wretched hovels, only fit for removal. A new block of Corporation houses is to be built on the site and the Dean of Guild as already approved of the plans.
 
Considerable improvement will be affected in Church Street by the demolition of the range of former dwellings between the two common lodging houses there—Greenside and Hamilton Home. Plans have been prepared for a new lot of houses on this site consisting of a block facing the street, and a hostel at the back overlooking the Common Green.
 
This will almost complete the very substantial scheme of improvement which wiped out the New Wynd, and which transformed Grammar School Square, Back o’ Barns and the Postgate.
 
Thus steadily is old Hamilton falling a victim to the modern conceptions of public health and housing.
 

WAITING ON THE BELLS, 1940-1980’s

WAITING ON THE BELLS, 1940-1980’s
By Wilma S. Bolton.
 
The custom of saying goodbye to the year that is drawing to its end and the traditional celebrations to welcome the arrival of the New Year is inextricably embedded in the soul of the Scot. As the old year departs taking with it with all our hopes and dreams, some of which have come to fruition and others perhaps not so successful, the optimists among us will once again start the yearly cycle filled with the eternal certainty that this is the year when life will take a turn for the better. Every generation is different and I can’t help noticing that today many men reduce the stress and pressure of the festive frenzy on their wives by sharing the cooking and cleaning chores. This welcome change is perhaps due to the fact that many women work.
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The impending arrival of the New Year heaped more responsibilities on the shoulders of women, for until the modern world liberated us with labour saving devices such as Hoovers, washing machines and tumble dryers, women were slaves to cooking and cleaning. Fridges were almost unheard of. We lived in a prefab in Mill Road and it had a gas one which came with the house and we also had our own bathroom. Most tenement buildings had outside toilets which were shared with neighbours. Hogmanay was a frantically busy time and women worked their fingers to the bone preparing for the arrival of New Year. There were no supermarkets then and women baked and cooked for hours to feed their families over the festive season. Plum puddings would have been made a few days before, but soup and steak pies were made on Hogmanay. The smell of cooking and baking which permeated throughout the house for most of the day bore witness to their hard work.
 
Tradition dictated that both the inside and outside of the home had to be shining from top to bottom. Windows had to be cleaned, brass letterboxes were polished with Brasso until they shone and all ornaments were washed. Fitted carpets were still in the future and instead there was a large carpet square in the middle of the floor, the edge of which stopped about eighteen inches from the wall and between its edge and the skirting board there was linoleum to be dusted and polished. Smaller carpet runners had to be taken outside and beaten with a cane carpet beater until all the dust had been removed. All bed linen had to be changed and there had to be no dirty clothes or linen waiting to be washed and all the ironing had to be done and put away.
 
The cleaning of outside stairs was sacrosanct and not just any old cleaning. The stairs had first to be swept clean and then down on your knees you went with a metal pail (no plastic then) containing bleach and water and you scrubbed away with a hard bristle scrubbing brush. After every mark and piece of dirt had been removed by sheer brute force, the stairs were rinsed with clean water and then dried down with an old rag. There were no rubber gloves then either and a great many women suffered pain and itch from dermatitis due to the exposure their hands got to cleaning products; my mother among them.
 
Not a scrap of household rubbish was allowed to remain inside the home. It would either be burned on the coal fire or removed to the metal dustbin out the back. Vegetable peelings and scraps were deposited into the brock bin to be collected by Andrew Ballantyne who boiled them in a massive cauldron hanging inside the fireplace of the Leigh Bent farm which stood just across from the gates of the Bent Cemetery. As the brock boiled it smelled like soup and the pigs loved it.
 
THE HANDS OF THE CLOCK. As the dying embers of the old year were fast fading away, the door of the house would be opened to let the old year out “then locked not to be opened again until “after the bells.” My mother Peggy Russell would by this time have laid out two trays covered with her lovely hand-embroidered cloths. The first tray would hold my dad’s bottle of whisky, ginger cordial for my sister and myself and for my mother, the same bottle of Bertola Cream sherry would make its New Year guest appearance and she would half fill a sherry glass and toast the health and wealth of our small family and then back into the cupboard went the bottle for another twelve months. My mother was 29 when she married and she had quite a good bank book which her sister my aunt Ella Lang kept for her and my father never knew of its existence, although he was a good husband and father. She used to say “never tell your right haun whit your left haun is daein.” She used the money to keep the wolf from the door when the pits were out on strike. She was really good at managing money and we had a secure and happy home life.
The second tray paid tribute to Peggy’s excellent baking skills with her home made shortbread and slices of sultana and cherry cakes. My sister and I could barely conceal our excitement waiting for the “bells.” On the stroke of midnight my father Jimmy Russell would open the kitchen window to let in the New Year and then he would hold me up to the window whispering “can you hear it?” and away in the distance through the still night air, came the unmistakable sound of the pit horn at Blantyre’s Dixon’s Colliery welcoming the New Year. In turn he would kiss my mother, my sister and myself and solemnly shake our hands wishing us a “Happy New Year” and my mum Peggy with her thick Aberdeen accent would hold up her glass of sherry and say “I wish ye all I wish myself and I couldna wish ye better.” The door was opened with the arrival of our first foot.
 
Now Jimmy was partial to a wee hauf of whisky and Peggy I must say, tried to make sure that was all he got for the bottle was destined to be drunk at the large family gathering at my Grandpa Lang’s house in Russell Street. If a man had a bottle of whisky at the New Year, then he was a happy man and if he had two, he was worth a few pounds or knew somebody with connections. My father knew everybody and occasionally managed to obtain a second bottle. Alcohol was expensive to buy and a bottle of whisky was a rare sight in our house except for very special occasions and the New Year came into that category.
 
In the early afternoon we would walk from 133 Mill Road to 73 Russell Street to join with our relatives in a lovely happy New Year’s day party. The women had all discussed what food they would bring with them and my mother’s job was to supply the plum puddings and some pies. The kitchen at Russell Street was tiny and I am sure that the table only sat four at the most, so we were fed in relays; adults first of course.
 
There would be much singing and telling of tales, reminiscing of old times and planning for the future. We kids had a ball and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. At the end of the night my Grandpa, Guy Lang lined all of us up and gave each and every one a 10/- note; a fortune in those days. By the time we had to go home my father of course like the rest of the men was quite merry. I can say however that despite the large numbers of people there, I never remember a cross word between any of them. It was always a big happy family party.
It wasn’t until I was an adult and had family of my own that I realised that most of my Lang cousins were in were in actual fact no blood relation, not that it made any difference. My father had been brought up across the road from them and my Granny Lang, a lovely woman had felt sorry for this family of five boys and one girl who had lost their mother while they were living in America and she was really good to them. My Grandpa Russell had brought them all back to Scotland on a troop ship in 1916 and my Granny Lang had played a hugely important part in their lives. Eventually my Uncle Guy Lang married my mother’s sister Eleanor Stewart, so Gavin, Stewart and Eleanor Lang were my full cousins and the others would have disagreed with anyone who said we were not theirs. Happy days…… Wilma S. Bolton. 2016. Ⓒ