LEST WE FORGET…..
In one way or another, whether being directly or indirectly involved, most of us have been affected by war. For me, I would like to keep the memory alive of two people in my family who were killed in action.
The first person who was killed in action was my second great uncle who was called Michael McNamee. Michael was born at 35 Church Street to parents Thomas McNamee & Jane Adams and after leaving school he worked as a coal miner at Ferniegair Colliery.
Michael enlisted in the army on the 7th of June 1915 and was part of the 17th Battalion with the Royal Scots. He was 19 years and 11 months when he joined.
He was not a large boy, being only five foot four inches tall, and he weighed 98 pounds. Michael spent around three years in the army and he was based in France when he was killed.
His division was engaged in the battle of Ypres when he died of wounds on the 19th of October 1918 at No 2 Canadian Casualty Clearance Station. During Michael’s Army Service he had been awarded the Military Medal.
My second family member who was tragically killed was my mother’s cousin, Robert McNamee Thompson, who was killed in action during the troubles in Northern Ireland. Robert was a Whitehill man and a father and husband.
Robert enjoyed his time in the army and his regiment was the Royal Highland Fusiliers and his life was brought to a devastating end when on the 27th of July 1980, he was on patrol at Moy Bridge, Maughnahan Road, Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone and was killed by a remote-control Bomb. Robert was only 26 years old.
Today there are still former soldiers who either served in the army or survived war. You will see them out in the shopping centres and standing in the rain collecting money and handing out Poppy’s.
One of these men is called James Poulton who served in the Army and never misses collecting money for Remembrance Day. You will find James standing in the doorway at Morrisons superstore over in Whitehill.
Remember to stop by and donate what you can, and wear your poppy with pride, to remember the men who fought and died, not only in both World Wars but in every other war that happened after.
Did you have an ancestor or family member who was killed in action? Send us their picture and we will add it to our ‘Hamilton Folk’ Album and have your picture proudly displayed on Historic Hamilton which is viewed all over the world.
KEITH’S BUILDINGS OF CADZOW STREET.
Written by Garry McCallum – HistoricHamilton.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
WW2 IDENTITY CARDS.
Peter Dowds sent us a copy of his father’s WW2 Identity Card. During the war, it was mandatory to keep your card with you at all times. In this picture, we have John Dowds who was a Hamilton man who lived at 4 Burnside Lane. John Dowds was a Coal Miner and he worked at Eddlewood Colliery.
The National Registration Act of 1939 was an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom. The initial National Registration Bill was introduced to Parliament as an emergency measure at the start of World War II. Royal assent given on 5 September 1939.
The Act established a National Register which began operating on 29 September 1939 (National Registration Day), a system of identity cards, and a requirement that they must be produced on demand or presented to a police station within 48 hours.
Every man, woman and child had to carry an identity (ID) card at all times and the cards would include the following information:
• Occupation, profession, trade or employment
• Address; Marital status
• Membership of Naval, Military or Air Force Reserves or Auxiliary Forces or of Civil Defence Services or Reserves.
65,000 enumerators across the country delivered forms ahead of the chosen day. On 29 September 1939, householders were required to record details on the registration forms. On the following Sunday and Monday, the enumerators visited every householder, checked the form and there and then issued a completed identity card for each of the residents. All cards at this time were the same brown/buff colour.
Do you still have an Identity Card from WW2? If you do we would like to see them.
Extracted from the Hamilton Advertiser. 7/9/1940
A dissatisfied warden writes:- The last day of the “Passing Notes” in last Saturday’s ‘Advertiser’ concluded with patting Hamilton on the back because of its immunity from convictions for contraventions of the lighting restrictions. Anyone who is not blind will wonder why there have been no convictions.
The only reason the writer can see is that there is a great deal of slackness on the part of those who should check or summon the offenders. Wardens and police, either or both, are failing in their duty, or else a score or two of offenders could be got every night. The test is: if it can be seen from the outside that there is a light inside, then the black out is not satisfactory.
With this test in mind, let any person take a walk round the various districts in Hamilton and it will be seen that the existing conditions are disgraceful. People should come out and look at their own windows, back and front, after the black-out, and not be content with “oh, that’ll do.” Streaks of light from tops, edges and bottoms of windows can be seen almost everywhere. Another careless fault arises from doors left open with a hall light on. Again, some people, when seeing their visitors away at night, seem to think nothing of opening wide the front door with hall light full on, and lighting the path to the front gate to let their visitors see their way out.
In a broadcast recently, a pilot said he flew for a considerable time over the district he was to visit but could not determine whether he was over the town or a wood near it. Suddenly he saw a pinpoint of light and that gave him his bearing. (That might have been someone showing visitors out.) Well, that was a British pilot looking for his target over Germany.
The very same thing could happen here and the whole district be endangered be somebody’s carelessness. So far, nothing has happened here, but one never knows what night it might happen. The offenders in these lighting restrictions are not confined to one class. The writer has been all over Hamilton and has found lights in all classes of property, quite often in buildings and houses where a good example ought to be shown. Wake up, Hamiltonian’s! Get to it and make the black-out a black black-out.
Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 7/9/1940. Page 5.
Wilma Bolton. 2005.
ESCAPE FROM THE GERMANS.
A year of army service, two years in a prison camp in the hands of the Germans, several months as an outlaw on the hills of Italy.
That is how Private Robert Cassidy of 94 Kenilworth Crescent Burnbank, Hamilton, has spent his four years of Army service.
He arrived home in July 1944 for a well deserved leave following his return to this country. Private Cassidy joined the forces in 1940, and after only a few months training he was transferred to the Mediterranean theatre of operations.
He was taken prisoner by the Germans at Hellsfire Pass a few months later however and was imprisoned in a camp north of Rome. There he spent two long, weary years under the heel of the Nazis, but luck came his way. News came through of the Italian surrender on September 8 last year (1943) and immediately he made good his escape.
He took refuge in the hills and there he lived until February of this year (1944.) Food was scarce, but he managed to remain alive by eating grapes and the meat from stolen pigs and sheep. Then came the rescue. He was transported to Naples by the allied authorities and from there shipped home to this country.
Private Cassidy, who is 28 years of age, is married and has three of a family. A Cameron Highlander, he is the third son of the late Mr Robert Cassidy and of Mrs Cassidy, 35 King Street, Burnbank. Before joining the forces in 1940 he was a miner at Dixon’s Colliery, Blantyre.
The Story was extracted from the Hamilton Advertiser Archives and sent to Historic Hamilton by Wilma Bolton. For more great stories please visit Wilma’s website www.wilmabolton.com where you will find great real life stories from the the miners of Hamilton.