Annals of the Parish

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Strathaven's Russian Princess


Mr and Mrs Archibald Morton - Crown House - Sandford circa 1869.

Archibald and Mary Morton (nee Fleming) and their six children, formerly of Piper Row (North Street) Strathaven and Crown House, Sandford, emigrated to the United States of America in 1869 and settled at Havana, Minnesota: about five miles east of Owatonna. Their eldest son John was a highly skilled stonemason. John and his wife went out to the USA ahead of the family to locate a place to settle. They crossed America from east to west and finally reached Hubbel House in Manterville then a stagecoach stop and hotel  - now a fine restaurant. At Hubbel House there is an old registry on display open at the page where John 'signed in'. After reaching Havana, John went back to Scotland to help his parents, four sisters and brother make the trip. His parents Archibald and Mary subsequently purchased a farm near Havana where they settled. Archibald and Mary Fleming Morton lie buried in the cemetery at Havana, Minnesota. "A Morton Family History" by Mary Baker Nee Morton, USA. In the Strathaven Census for 1861, Crown House is described by the Census Enumerator as the 'Five shilling House' (five shillings being a crown in old British currency).

Strathaven Volunteers circa 1887/97. 
Photograph courtesy of the late Mrs. J. Leggate, North Street, Strathaven.

Mrs. Leggate's late husband's father is pictured on the extreme left, front row. He was born at Glassford in 1867, the son of Robert Leggate, boot and shoemaker, who operated from his home at Castle Street, Strathaven. Next to Mr. Leggate is Mr. Owens both he and Mr. Leggate were tailors in the employ of Mr. Shearer, tailor, whose premises were in Waterside Street at its junction with Bridge Street. Mr. Joe Orr of Messrs. R & J. Orr, bakers are also reckoned among the Volunteers pictured above.

According to Miss Gebbies Sketches "On 28th October 1873, the 16th L.R. Volunteers Rifle Company was enrolled, embracing two officers, a sergeant instructor, four sergeants, five corporals and seventy-three privates." "About 60 years ago the officers were Captain Napier, Letham House, and Lieutenant Cochran, Fairknowe. Later after Captain Napier's retirement, Lieutenant Cochran attained the rank of major. The instructor was Sergeant Kennedy, and the company drilled in Grierson's Holm or the railway station yard at Flemington. When the adjutant arrived from Hamilton to inspect them, however, the Strathaven Volunteers paraded in the Commongreen . . . It is nearly 40 years since the Volunteer companies were disbanded. This is how their disappearance is described in Pears' Cyclopaedia: "The Territorial Force of the British Army came into being from 1st April, 1908, when the Volunteer Force and the Imperial Yeomanry were combined in the new organisation." Modern Stathaven with Peeps at its Past, John Brown M.A.

Orr Bros. Bakers, Strathaven

Taylor's Bakery, estd c. 1820

S.W. Gilmour  - The Toffee Shop - 33 Common Green Strathaven

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Regrettably, after a century of service, Gilmour's Strathaven Toffee Shop ceased trading in March, 2005 and so ended Gilmour's Original Pure Butter Tablet "Hand made in Scotland by W.S. Gilmour of Strathaven.

In 1904, Sam Gilmour  moved from Baillieston to Strathaven and opened a shop at 40 Waterside Street (currently Waterside Restaurant). Sam jnr, his successor, was born here in 1909. In 1924, The Toffee Shop at 33 Commongreen was opened. Production of confectionery brought further expansion at 4 Commercial Road (formerly Fleming's Dairy). It wasn't long until the delicacy of Gilmour's Strathaven Toffee, already a household word in Strathaven, became a delicacy known to the sweet toothed far and wide for, from 1924 onwards, Gilmour's sold confectionery wholesale across Central Scotland. Gilmour's Strathaven Toffee, like Strathaven gingerbread before it, put Strathaven firmly on the map. Sweet rationing and other Government restrictive practices during World War 11, meant that the shop at Commongreen became a grocery outlet. Sweet rationing continued right up until 1952 (seven years after the war ended), and it wasn't until 1954 that manufacturing side of the business, with the help of 15 employees,  enabled expansion However, manufacturing at Commercial Road eventually discontinued. The factory demolished (1997) gave way to a new block of flats which adorn the site of what was once Fleming's Dairy (with its own herd of  cows) that became Sam Gilmour's Toffee Factory. The proud boast of S.W. Gilmour  is 100 years service to the Strathaven community a tradition its current owners Ian Gilmour and wife Wendy have carried on into the twenty-first century.

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Avendale Old Parish Church, Kirk Session 1985 
Rev. James P. Fraser (centre)


East Church Kirk Session - 1914

West Kirk - Kirk Session - 1935


Bro. John Sommerville
Lodge St. Andrew(Strathaven) 215,
60 years a Mason, 50 years Tyler of
 above Masonic Lodge

"The masons had been in the habit of meeting socially from the year 1606; but they only constituted themselves into a society on 16th November 1730, when they obtained a charter from Kilwinning Lodge, under the title of Strathaven St. John's Lodge." Sketches of Strathavon and Avondale by Mary Gebbie, 1880.

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St. Patrick's RC Church, Stonehouse Road, Strathaven.

"This Church, from the plans of Messrs. Dunn & Hanson, Newcastle-on-Tyne, is a fine edifice of plain early English Gothic. The plan is a small nave, with a chancel at the western end. The confessional and sacristy are entered from the south side of the nave. The east elevation faces the Stonehouse Road, and is pierced by a large window divided into three lights. The corners are supported by angle buttresses, and the gables are terminated by crosses. The main entrance door is on the north side of th4e nave. At the extreme eastern end the nave is lit from the sides by double-light lancet windows. The interior is seated for 200 persons. The roof is an open timber one; the whole woodwork of the interior is a pitch pine varnished. The windows are glazed with cathedral tinted glass, which gives the whole a pleasant effect. 

At the opening which took place on 14th July, 1901, Mass was celebrated by the Rev. James Rochead, the Revs. Dean Toner and Father Cuthbert, O.F.M., acting as deacon and sub-deacon, and the Rev Gisbert Hartmann, pastor of the Mission, as master of ceremonies. The opening sermon was preached by the Rev. Dean Toner. Father Cuthbert, O.F.M., was the preacher in the evening." (Welsh T. (Ed): The Catholic Directory for the Clergy and Laity in Scotland 1902; The Aberdeen University Press Ltd., Aberdeen 1902 p.188) quoted in Saint Patrick's Strathaven - A History and Insight - October, 2001 printed in Great  Britain by Cavalry Creative Services, Hatfield, Herts; Edited by Edmund J. Garaghty.

Bishop Henry Grey Graham

"Henry Grey Graham was a son of the manse. The Grahams, and before them the Lawries, had provided a line of ministers, father and son in uninterrupted succession for more than 200 years, from about 1685 until 1903. Henry Graham was the last of that long and proud tradition. He was ordained Minister at Avendale Old Parish Church of Scotland, Strathaven before his reception into the Roman Catholic Church in 1903. For almost 30 years, until his death at the age of 85, in 1959, Bishop Grey Graham was parish priest of Holy Cross, Glasgow. Marked by a deep personal piety, he was a model pastor, who had dedicated his life to the preaching of the Gospel in season and out of season". Bishop Grey Graham, 1874 - 1959 - An Essay on His Life and Times.", Hugh G. McEwan.





Second Lieutenant Donald Cameron

Donald Cameron - the elder son of civil engineer James Cameron and his wife, Mary S. Cameron of 'Wellbrae Park House, Strathaven. Donald was born on 3 May 1899. James Cameron, a civil engineer of some distinction had been involved in the construction of the Glasgow underground railway and in the reconstruction of Belfast Harbour. Donald was educated at the Collegiate School, Glasgow, Strathaven Academy and Glasgow High School, where he was a member of the OTC. he entered directly into the Royal Flying Corps on 22 May 1917, and, after training at Farnborough, Denham and at the Cadet School in Oxford, he was gazetted Second Lieutenant on 31 August 1917. His flying training completed, he was awarded his 'Wings' on 31 December 1917. At last he was sent to France on 9 February 1918, being posted to 3 Squadron as a scout pilot. Cameron's 'war flying' training was barely completed when the great German Offensive began on 21 March 1918, and he was killed within days. After the war a relative living in South Africa claimed to be 'in touch' spiritualistically with the late Donald Cameron and relayed 'messages' from his to his mother, messages from which, apparently,  Mrs. Cameron took comfort. Her son's body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing, France. He was eighteen years old.

The Late Mr James Gebbie of Netherfield:

"On Friday there passed away at Prince’s Hotel, Bournemouth, one of Strathaven’s best known men in the person of Mr. James Gebbie of Netherfield, Strathaven, the respected head of the well-known firm of Gebbie & Wilson, writers. Mr. Gebbie was a son of Mr. William Gebbie who was the first writer in Strathaven, and was born in 1834. He was educated at the legal profession at Glasgow University, and on the death of his father in 1865 he continued the extensive law business which had been carried on by his father since 1816. In 1898 he assumed as a partner Mr. John Wilson, writer, and thereafter carried on business under the firm name of Gebbie & Wilson until his retirement eighteen months ago. From an early period in his life he took a keen and active interest in all matters appertaining to the welfare of his native town, and served with distinction on the old Parochial Board, retaining his connection with the change to Parish Council, when he became the first chairman of the latter body. He also had a long connection with the Heritors’ Committee, and for many years has been chairman. A number of years’ service were also give on the School Board. Mr. Gebbie’s abilities as a lawyer were well known and he had many honours conferred up him, the principal of which were the appointment of Clerk of the Peace for the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire and Dean of Faculty for Lanarkshire. For the last twenty years Mr. Gebbie’s activities have been somewhat limited owing to the delicate state of his health, and latterly he has been compelled to winter in more southern latitudes. His interest in Strathaven, however, has never lessened. and on all occasions of public effort his sympathy and practical help has always been forthcoming. Mr. Gebbie’s family consisted of three sons and one daughter, and it was our painful duty some weeks ago to record the fact that one of his sons was killed in action in France. Mrs. Gebbie pre-deceased her husband some two years ago, thus the surviving members of the family are two sons and a daughter, for whom in this time of bereavement much sympathy is felt. The funeral took place on Wednesday from the East United Free Church, in the hall of which the body lay overnight. The funeral service was taken part in by Rev. A.W. Donaldson, B.A., John Muirhead, B.D., and Matthew Urie Baird and the Dead March in Saul was played as the coffin was taken out. The coffin was an oak one, and was covered with wreaths sent by friends in the district and including a floral tribute of sympathy from Lord and Lady Newlands. To the tolling of the bell, the cortege made its way to the graveyard, and here the last rites were performed by the Rev. Robert Paterson, M.A., Glassford".

Hamilton Advertiser, 13th February, 1915.

Willie Campbell with 'Tannochbrae'

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It's the end of the road for Willie's faithful friend

"Willie Campbell and his faithful friend 'Morris' are to part. The two veterans have travelled everywhere together for almost 40 years. But now Willie's sight is failing - and 'Morris' must go. Yesterday 83 year-old Willie gave 'Morris', a 1933 four-door saloon, a last dust, and said, it's like saying goodbye to one of the family."

Willie bought the car for less than £200 in 1935 when it was just 18 months old. Yesterday he proudly drove it out of his garage - it started first time - still shining black. His secret is a coat of varnish which he and his wife Marth gave old 'Morris' when it was young. Willie said, "a good wash does it now. It hasn't been polished for the last five years."

During the time he has run the car, the only repairs have been new shock absorbers, side lights and a battery tray. Everything else is original!" Daily Record, Wednesday, October 20, 1971, (p.3).

Mr Campbell resided at 'Will-Mar', Hills Road, and owned a Butcher's shop in Strathaven. An Elder of Avendale Old Parish Church,he was a respected and 'kenspeckle' figure about the town. Mr Campbell served with the Royal Air Force or Flying Corps during World War I, 

Russians honour Strathaven Veteran 

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A proud moment for Local Hero: Jim Hannah as,
accompanied by his wife Betty,he receives, at the hands of
Russian Ambassador Mr Victor Popov, 
a commemorative medal struck from the gold bullion recovered 
from tbe sunken wreck of HMS Edinburgh.


To go from apprentice Blacksmith to technical college head of department is quite an achievement. But, for Strathaven man James Hannah of Brook Street, this achievement takes second place to his memories of the far off days of the Second World War. James who retired this month aged 65, from his post as head of fabrication engineering at Motherwell Technical College, was one of the heroes of the Normandy landings in 1944.

As a member of the British Army's 6th Airborne Division, he was one of the first to land under cover of darkness on D-Day in a glider far behind enemy lines. But more recently, James was honoured for another achievement - by the Russians. For he was also among the very first to shake hands with Russian soldiers as they met, deep in the heart of Germany a year later.

James began his working career at Harvey Brothers, a former blacksmith's in Strathaven. He volunteered for the Airborne forces in 1940, and after an uneventful start to the war was one of the thousands who trained in secrecy for the D-Day invasion.

He was one of the members of the glider force who landed behind the lines to establish safe territory for the troops landing later by sea. And he was present at the taking of Pegasus Bridge - made famous in the film "A Bridge Too Far". He later served in campaigns through France, and saw action through 1944 and 1945 in the Ardennes (the Battle of the Bulge), and the Rhine Crossing.

It is of his unit, as they fought their way through Germany, with thousands of troops surrendering on all sides, that Jas has some of his most vivid memories.

"In some cases, we were outnumbered 200 or 300 to one," he said. "And, even though officers had officially given the surrender, we were never sure when trouble would erupt. A great many German soldiers did not hand in their arms." James unit were ordered to continue their advance even after they had reached the line - the Elbe - where it had been agreed the British and Russians would meet. Their progress was held up by refugees fleeing from the advancing Russian armies, but they travelled 300 miles into the hear of Eastern Germany before they finally met up with the Russians at Wismar, a large twon on the Baltic Sea. "It was a very tense time," said James. "Wismar was reached on May 1, and the Russians arrived the same day. "We were under orders not to mix, but I decided along with a comrade, to walk into the Rusian sector, where we were met by Russian soldiers. We were taken to the officers' mess, where we met two officers one of whom spoke English. We were given an excellent meal, and then were taken outside to inspect a guard of honour. As I was the senior soldier - I had my corporal's stripes - I was then asked to march up and down inspecting the troops. I took some ribbing about this when I got back to my unit," he said. "We were then escorted back to our lines and given a rousing send off. There is no doubt that the Russinas were grateful - and remain so to this day - for the help they received in fighting the Germands during the war, mostly to those who manned the Murmansk convoys, which supplied them with food and weapons, but also to the soldiers who fought. But my stongest impression of the Russians was their complete disrgard for the German population. But in a sense, this was only to be expected, given the atrocities committed by the Germans in their invasion of Russia. One soldier I spoke to tole me his entire family had be shot," he said.

James later served in Palestine, before being demobbed in 1946. He returned to Strathaven, but worked in Hamilton as a blacksmith/welder, before moving into management at the Euclid plant at Newhouse Industrial Estate, and at the Caterpillar Plant in Tannochside. At both plants, he set up the fabrication departments.

A move to teaching at Burbank School of Building was followed by his appointment to the staff of Motherwell Technical College at its opening in 1967. He became head of department in 1971.

Over the years James gradually lost touch with all his old comrades - but kept his vivid memories of the war. Then, in July 1984, James and his wife Betty travelled to Normandy for the 40th anniversary celebrations of D-Day. And it was there that he met many former colleagues, including his commanding officers Generals (then Brigadiers) Ssir Nigel Poett and Sir John Hackett. Since then James and Betty have attended a number of re-unions and veterans' events.

The Russian connection was made when James spotted an advertisement placed by the Scotland-USSR Society, who were looking for veterans of the Murmansk Convoys, and soldiers who met the Russians in the final days of the war. James answered the advertisement in February this year - and, to his surprise, he and Betty were invited to a special reception at the Russian Embassy in London in May. The event was to commemorate the allied victory in Europe. As well as meeting his former officers, they met Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe, and SDP leader Dr. David Owen.

In June this year, James and Betty were invited to a ceremony in Scotland-USSR House in Glasgow where James was presented with a gold commemorative medal  by Russian Ambassador Mr Victor Popov.

James was one of only six Scots to receive the medal - and the only soldier. The others were Murmansk convoy veterans. "The medal presentation was a complete surprise," said James. "Throughout the ceremony I was very aware of the depth of gratitude of the Russians. They were very friendly towards us. It has all be a fantastic experience - especially the visit to the embassy."

The medal now joins his five other campanig medals and service medals - in pride of place among his mementos of the war. One possession of which he ios especially proud is the German flag which flew at Wismar. He was charged with taking it down, and saved it from being destroyed by other soldiers." Tom Knight, Hamilton Advertiser, Friday, October 11, 1985.  

Strathaven Central Station 

North Station employees Strathaven


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