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Strathaven's Russian Princess
"This is a pastoral district, and the dairy produce is what the farmers chiefly depend upon for the payment of their rents. The Dunlop cheese is made here as good as in any part of Scotland. In many parts of the parish little more land is cultivated than seems necessary for the support of the cattle. The lands, from one end of the parish to the other, are very favourable for pasture. There are, however, excellent crops of oats raised everywhere,- bear or big, barley, and on some farms to the east of Strathaven, excellent wheat. Great quantities of potatoes are also planted, which are chiefly disposed of to the farmers in the low country for seed. Though the soil be peculiarly adapted for turnips, yet they are not extensively cultivated; and in a district where so many cattle are reared, and so much food required, it seems not a little strange that this should be the case." The Third Statistical Account of the Parish, 1835. .Rev. William Proudfoot, Minister,
I'd like to see the old farm just once more,
and my old dog, a sleeping in the shade, beside the door;
hear the cattle lowing as they come home down the lane,
and watch an evening sunset o'er a field of waving grain.
I'd like to see my mother, just once more;
looking as she used to look in days of yore;
I'd like to see my Father as he was when I was young,
and hear him talk with Mother - in the braid auld Scottish tongue
I'd like to meet the neighbours that we had long,
to talk of days of Auld Lang Syne, and friends we used to know;
I wonder why we wander and just what we hope to find,
to take the place of those we loved in the homes we left behind."
real breed of Clydesdale horses is reared here in considerable numbers.
Tradition states, that, at a remote period, one of the Dukes of Hamilton sent a
superior breed of horses to Avondale. They were kept in the castle; and from
these and the common mares of the country have sprung the real Lanarkshire or
Clydesdale breed of horses. It has been alleged that of late this breed has been
injured by being too much crossed with lighter horses, intended more for coaches
and the saddle. They are, however, still to be found here in great perfection
and beauty". The
Statistical Account of Scotland, 1835. Rev. William Proudfoot, Minister.
Strathaven Town Mill
A Town Mill was established on this site, courtesy of the Ducal family of Hamilton, in the 16th century. And a working mill was continuous there until the 1930s when a new power house was installed. But by the 1960s the dereliction of the historic Town Mill had earned it the name of 'Dracula's Castle'. Subsequent restoration, under the aegis of Strathaven Arts Guild with the financial support of the former East Kilbride District Council, Manpower Services Commission and charitable donations, ensured the future of the Town Mill buildings as a centre for the arts in Strathaven and District. The property came into the ownership of Strathaven Arts Guild and is now styled the Strathaven Arts Centre. "Better Canna Be."
Weaving in Strathaven
Cumming, nee Jean Dalziel at her Spinning Wheel
Jean Dalziel, relict of Robert Cumming, died at Crofthead, Strathaven, 21st July, 1888 aged 85 years. Of the four girls pictured above right (all of them weavers) Jean's daughter appears first left back row.
"If it wusnae
for the Weavers' whit wud we dae"
According to the Statistical Account of the Parish of Avondale of 1835 "numbers of weavers in both town and parish may be said to amount to nearly 800 . . . many of the weavers are proprietors of their own houses and upon the whole are diligent and industrious". By 1938 Handloom weaving in Strathaven had altogether ceased.
A postcard depiction of Handloom Weavers (below) is
postmarked Strathaven 27 March, 1907.
Employees of Frew's Textiles Factory, Strathaven.
James and Robert Hamilton (father and son)
James Hamilton, entrepreneur, was remarkable as a textile designer, mill owner and inventor. His cotton mill remains standing in Chapel Road, Strathaven, behind what was his domestic dwelling at Ladeside, Lower Ballgreen. James was essentially a “Designer and Manufacturer of Art Muslin and Tapestry Curtains”. However, when business declined he sold the mill to enter into partnership with his sons trading as “Textile Designers and Jacquard Card Cutters”. In keeping with his progressive ideas James installed a “gas engine” to drive the cutting machine that stamped out the perforations. From 1878 onwards James patented a number of loom modifications but, with characteristic generosity, he chose to bury one invention in his garden ground since it would have resulted in redundancy for many of Darvel’s lace makers. Such, indeed, were James’ entrepreneurial skills that none other than the renowned Lord Kelvin chose to seek James’ advice when designing the Kelvin safety coupling for railway carriages.
Robert Hamilton, son of James, was born 4th April, 1870 at Commercial Road, Strathaven. In adult life Robert pursued a wide range of interests that, besides textile design, included painting and photography. As a true ‘lad o’ pairts’ Robert also excelled in the arts as a painter, photographer, musician, writer, and in sports as an angler and golfer. Robert was the second son of James Hamilton whose domestic life centred around the several children of his marriage to Jeannie Brown. Robert married Elizabeth Cochrane of Main Street, Strathaven. There were two children of the marriage namely, Willie born 1896, and Katie born 1898, each of whom had a keen interest in music and art. Robert was a skilful violinist, and a leading cornet player with Strathaven Brass Band. However, golf was their abiding passion. Katie is especially remembered with affection in the town, indeed, and her membership of Strathaven Golf Club is commemorated in her portrait which holds a place of honour within its members room. Willie, who trained as a commercial artist, gained an L.R.A.M in pianoforte and, thereafter, focussed on teaching music such that textile design became a part-time pursuit..
Robert demonstrated his talent for writing by winning a gold and a silver medal in competitions organised by popular magazines of the day and regularly contributed short to many periodicals. During the 1920s, for example, he produced a serial for The People’s Journal recounting the humorous adventures of Rab Gallie “a modest weaver of Heddletown” (a pseudonym for Strathaven) who following on the death of his brother Wull in Australia falls heir to the princely sum of £14,000.
Robert died at Melbourne Cottage, Glasgow Road, Strathaven in 1925 aged 55 years. His wife Lizzie lived to the ripe old age of 83. Willie and Katie Hamilton remained in residence there until their demise.
Pictures from Robert Hamilton’s collection reproduced by kind permission of Catherine Cochrane and Sheena Andrew, great-nieces of Robert Hamilton.
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