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The Bellshillian
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:10 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

The Snug from memory would have been across from the Brandon.

The Alhambra and the George where mentioned but did you know there where another two picture houses the Rex and the Theatre?

I am from Orbiston (not the Jewel scheme) it was pretty quiet where I lived?
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

The Bellshillian wrote:
The Snug from memory would have been across from the Brandon.

The Alhambra and the George where mentioned but did you know there where another two picture houses the Rex and the Theatre?

I am from Orbiston (not the Jewel scheme) it was pretty quiet where I lived?


This part of Orbiston was on the right of the Hamilton Road looking towards the Bogs Brae, opposite the Orb pub - part of the street right at the back of the scheme there was a bit rough. Mind we are talking about 1960/70.

I know there was a cinema at Mossend Cross on the corner of Calder Road and Holytown Road but it was long gone when I moved there in 1950s, I didn't know about the other one.

Sorry, can't place the Brandon or the Snug. Brandon I should know it as it sounds familiar and might be what I knew as Mary Skelton's on Main Street (first pub on the Mossend side of the Co-operative buildings and same side of the road) but I can't remember anything on the other side of the road from it; I think the football park behind Skeltons was called Brandon park , Bellshill Athletic's ground, but there was another pub - the Spanish Lounge or Bar? - on the corner of the Main Street and the road into the ground (Bowling Green Street?).
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

The area to the right of Hamilton Road as you come from the cross I would class as the West End rather than Orbiston, I lived in the scheme to the left after the Orb. In my opinion this area is an example of post War Council housing at its best. Wide, well laid out streets with plenty of grassed open spaces. Long crescents like Crofthead Crescent and the long straight streets like Community Road broken up with small cul-de-sacs. This is in contrast to the West end which I have images of long narrow tightly packed houses. Mansfield Road, Caledonian Avenue, West End Drive and Bellevue Drive all ran parallel with each other with the furthest from Hamilton being Bellevue which was anything but as it backed on to the Coatbridge – Bothwell cutting which we spoke about above and then Cardinal Newman. I have images of this being a dark foreboding place, so yes it probably was quite rough. I suppose evidence of this was when the council planted saplings all the way up Hamilton Road about twenty years ago. The trees where not touched on the Viewfield Road side or the Mansfield Road side up to Queen’s Crescent. After Queens Crescent they where all destroyed I’m blaming the neds from the West End as they came out the scheme on to Hamilton Road as they went towards the Main Street however I suppose it could just as easily have been Orbiston kids making there way back from Cardinal Newman.    
I have probably got this the wrong way round, the cinema at Mossend Cross was the Rex, there was a car sales place there for years but is now houses. Across from the George on the corner of Main Street and Thorne Road there used to be a petrol station next to that there was the Theatre Cinema, the building is still there and converted to an indoor market.
I used to tell people that Bellshill/Mossend had more pubs and bookmakers per head of population than anywhere else in the UK not sure where I got that information from or how true it was. There where certainly loads of them. I have always known the pub across from the Academy as the Burns Bar although it may have previously been called something else. Skelton’s was just in front of Bellshill and Mossend Bowling Green (now the Royal mail sorting office/houses). My Grandad was a regular in Skelton’s as he was a member of the Bowling Green as well as being club secretary of Bellshill Athletic for a while. The Spanish Lounge does not mean anything to me. In the stretch from the Brandon towards Bowling Green Street I remember there was a bicyle shop we used to go to for bike stuff as well as the Bothwell Constituency Conservative and Unionist offices which always confused me. The Brandon Arms was at the football ground. When thinking about this the old away end at Tynecastle came to mind. You entered the ground behind the goals between two tenement buildings, The Brandon Arms was on the left hand side. I could be wrong about the Snug but I think it was further up perhaps where the Iron Maiden is. It was a small pub (which you could have guessed by the name) and was on the ground floor of a tenement building.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Well, you've woken a long forgotten memory on the cinema front. Yes I now remember the cinema diagonally across Main Street from the George, I used to go it. My only memory of it is taking my late younger brother there for a Saturday morning showing of Disney's Bambi, and us being so wrapped up in the film (magic) that we decided to stay put to see it again. We were well into the second showing when the Usher and my dad shone a torch on the two of us, so we only got to see it wan and hauf times on the same ticket! Think that was demolished and the garage across from the George built on the ground, with YMCA next to it?

I think I've seen an old photo of the other one at Mossend Cross, it had a square shaped tower at each corner each topped by a pyramid shaped roof? I'm sure it was a cleared site then, and lay empty until mid-1960s when a new single storey Mossend Branch of the local Co-op  was built on part of it, near the bus stop. That might be your car showroom

The West end to us was that bit that lay on the Viewpark side of Bellshill Cross - was the Church there not called West End? - up to and including the (then)new baths? When they spoke of the old railway station, they said it was 'down the West End'.

Agree with what you say about the houses around the old Orbiston pit bing, Holy Cross & Lawmuir Primary. We called that Liberty Road, and I used to live there, my gran and lots of aunts too.

The pubs are a bit of a blur. Starting on the Calder Road with the Joker (=1)then going to Bellshill via Mossend Cross : another 2 on Clydesdale Road; between the railway bridge and Mossend Cross there were another 3; turn right another 3 on Holytown Road; turn left 5 on Main Street between Mossend Cross and the George; 5 on Main Street between George and the baths; turn left at Bellshill Cross onto Hamilton Road: 1 at Crossgates , the Orb (1) and last 2 were down the Motherwell Road near the Angle.

I have not included social clubs like ICI, Bowling Clubs or the Miners ('Stute)


Last edited by IBrown on Thu Jan 14, 2016 8:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/scotland/bellshill

Don't know if you have seen the above website. It has a great history of George Palmer who managed the Alhambra, before going on to own the Rex and the George as well as many other cinemas. I didn't realise Tony Verrechia part owned the Alhambra. My parents knew Verrichias probably Tony's son and I knew a couple of his granddaughters, a little bit (I presume they where). Coincidently  I was talking to my mother about Bellshill Athletic and how the chap McGhee who owned the New Brandon land was trying to sell it for £2.5 million, and she asked if it was any relation to the McGhee that managed the George (I doubt it is). As if I would know but in that article it mentions Mr. McGhee who was George Palmers right hand man.  

Of course you are right about the area to the west of the cross up to the West Church being the original West End. The area around West End Drive has acquired that name as well. It is only really separated from the old west end by the railway.

The National Library of Scotland has some old maps of Bellshill online. I think one is from 1931 the same year as the Britain from Above photos which have great clarity both together give a great insight into pre war Bellshill.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Terrific link; I knew George Palmer and more specifically Mrs Palmer who was in the ticket booth. They knew me too as although I was useless at getting barred from Pubs I was great at getting barred from the George.

I still have no minds-eye image of the Picture House, even after seeing the photo, but I obviously correctly remembered where it was as the Bellshill link captions show it was the building that stood on the land next to the garage across from the George which had a car showroom on the Bellshill Cross side of it.

Sacrilege: Bleeding Alahambra under Bellshill instead of M for Mossend which has a photo of the old cinema at Mossend Cross. I see it was more of a pagoda, my first thought, than a pyramid sat on top of the towers.

http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/scotland/mossend.html

And confirmation that it didn't sit right on the corner - that Accolade goes to the famous Tin Hut we called 'the Pole Hall' where a live band belted it out at Sunday night dances every week - inside a hut made from tin sheeting so you know what the noise and heat in there was like. Mossend and Bellshill had a large Lithuanian population which us ignorant folks called Poles - they weren't Polish and the Lithuanian Cultural Centre sat on the opposite side of the Calder Road near the Pole Hall. I lived next door to an old Mrs Lescicz (spelling) (said 'lessicks') and I used to run errands for her to the local shops and get 6d for doing so. My mum used to look out for her, she was a good age and had a great command of Scots and English sweary words

As a child I used to play with Sylvia Verrechia and continued to know her and she me into our teenage years, the last I remember she was working in a Café on Hamilton Road, Bellshill. An absolute stunner.

Not quite as many Italians as Lithuanians, and not as many cafes and chip shops as pubs, but there were still a lot of Italians, and the best special fish supper anywhere ever was a shop on Clydesdale Road, Mossend, not far from Kirklee Road. Nothing I tasted since comes near. There was an old style Italian Café on Calder Road on corner of School? Road (RC Primary), I've been in it but it closed quite early.  The next was Alhambra, then one next to Bowling Green Street - it had outdoor toilets round the back and we used to taunt the life oot the Polis when we had the key off the old guy (his names gone) run round the back making as much noise as possible looking like we were going there to have a piss up the close closely followed by said Polis who were really disappointed to discover the lavvy door open and 6 guys crowded round the bowl.

Think I'll need to watch I don't identify myself here through divulging these State Secrets, except to say like a lot of others I was not known by my real name.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

I think your favourite chippy was always the one you remember from your childhood. As we spent a lot of time at my Grans on John Street, (I went to my gran's every lunch time as I went to Belvidere and the Academy), we liked Cosimini's on Motherwell Road. Pacitis (13a Café) was the best for Ice Cream and it was the end of an era when it closed. I was also friendly with the son of Mr. Zambinini who had the chippy next to the Co-op on Hamilton Road.  The Verrichias are still about in Bellshill, I believe.

The Lithuanian Social Club is still on Calder Road. Did you know the first President of Post Czarist Lithuania was previously exiled in Bellshill! Also Edith McDonald the English Language voice of the Spanish Civil War was born on Calder Road. It's a shame we have such a rich local history which is ignored in our schools.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

History! Had this recent conversation with my dentist, an ethic Indian, on history after he said he never got the Tudors (incidently his assistant is Polish, aye a real one, not those other ones from Bellshill!).

He’s a real character, his dad had an Indian Restaurant in Rutherglen, and he used to work there. He really loved it and as background music his dad played western rock music rather than the more usual Indian music. He picked up on that and it shows big time in the music he plays in his surgery. The Restaurant is now a bookies and oddly enough I’ve been in that as we ended up in it on a bookies & pub crawl that had started in the City Centre after a day-shift -  our ‘playtime’ week. He says he would like to open another one, and there’s a bit of a continuing themes we’ve already spoken about in this in that yonks ago I was in an Indian Restaurant in Motherwell (I think) with some of the guys and we struck up a conversation with the owner during which we told him we didn’t have one in Bellshill and it would be a good place to open – and that happened about a year later, on Main Street, Bellshill, can’t remember exact location though, although us guys were amongst its first customers.

Anyways, history: I asked my dentist where he was educated and when he said Glasgow, I told him he would now know that that Education was English and mostly about England and pish like the Tudors with very little about Scotland, and what little there was belittled us. We were forbidden to use Scots language or our local dialect in school and when we did we were told to speak ‘propa’ BBC English and then given the belt - State prejudice against us Scots in our own country. So if they couldn’t get the National Curriculum right what chance has Local History?

How must 1st generation Lithuanians felt when they arrived here? I’ve been reading snippets on the web about that, and intend to buy that book. I was given another take a good while back on their being forced to take Scots names – I was told it was because Scots couldn’t pronounce Lithuanian names so they were ‘given’ new names more familiar to the Scots. Not prejudice as such, but wrong just the same. I see the Cultural Centre has faced closure because there are so few ethnic Scots Lithuanians left in the area and of those left few can speak Lithuanian. Well who of us can now speak Scots? Tragic, but is that not a result of integration into a community?

I think its adults who are responsible for prejudice. As children we were all mostly ‘just pals’ and I never heard any child  refer to anyone by their ethnic origin. I didn’t know what ethnic prejudice was but living bang in the middle between a Protestant and a Catholic primary, I sure knew about religious prejudice and although for children it usually was never more than childish rhymes and name calling, I was jumped at least once when a gang of 4 or 5 caught me alone in the Pit Lane just because I was from the ‘other’ primary. There was a Chapel on Calder Road, and back then the ‘adults’ in the annual Orange Parade used to take their time, and the flute bands played louder and the big drum banged louder when going past it.

It was only 15/20 years ago that I started taking a real interest in the local history of where I grew up, especially the pits, and found out the Pit Lane was just that (as my mum had told me) the lane the miners used to walk to their work at the Milnwood Pit. I was born in Raith Drive and the Milnwood bing was the first I’d ever seen, my mum saw me staring at it going home one day and when I finally asked her what it was, she told me it was a pit bing.  I didn’t recognise the Orbiston bing at first as I thought it was a hill, but again my mum told me that it once was a huge bing but that the top had been taken off leaving just the grassy flat topped hill we now see. There were once two football parks up there, and ‘the Shows’ (fairground) came there a couple of times every year. There’s even a mention in Hansard about this work on Orbiston bing when a question was asked in Parliament about confirmation that machines would not be used to do the work of reducing the bing and that wholly manual labour would be used as there was mass unemployment in the Bellshill area at that time. And that’s exactly what happened – men, barrows and shovels, and carted away, as I think the Orbiston pits branch railway that crossed Hamilton Road from the old Goods & Mineral station woud have been gone then. The bridge and embankment were gone by my time anyway, although there are photos of them in one of the Old Bellshill books, which is available on-line as a pdf.

And the single storey rows of houses that my pals lived in on the gushet of Calder Road and Clydesdale Road that backed onto the railway line were in fact old miners’ rows, as were the same rows on Holytown Road, just after the entrance to Colvilles, Mossend, that backed onto the Steel Works.

John Street wouldn’t be the one I know – going up Hamilton Road towards Bellshill, after passing under the railway bridge, it was the first street on the right, short and a dead end. I think that’s where Bellshill Cultural Centre & Library is now. I visited there once looking for info on local pits, but had to go over to Motherwell Heritage Centre for that – it’s built on the site of the old baths that we used to go to for years, before our own opened down the West End.

My mate and I ended up in John Street one night (he lived across Hamilton Road from it, after he married his wee boy went to Belvidere, its one of the few that used the phonetic sounds system to teach reading, saw one of the readers, couldn't understand it). He was having a smoke before he went in for the night. The street  was already derelict, the tenements had all been pulled down and we wandered up to the end where I got the shock of my life when I recognised the old play area and the old children’s nursery there – a single storey prefab building with metal windows that opened into bottom hoppers. This all lay behind the old Library and Health Centre building on Main Street, and I think that would be the official way in, as that is the way I remember being taken to it . I had a completely wrong interpretation of my memories of it that were again awakened that night though, as I thought I was a resident there and this had caused me a lot of personal problems for years until I spoke to my mum about what I’d seen that night and what I’d remembered again, waking up in a cot and a nurse putting a wooden tab on my tongue; being collected and taken ‘out’.

This place was a day centre used by working parents. My mum worked at this time and she would take me there in the morning before going to work in Tannochside. She was a seamstress in a factory there – I remember she took me there once as a child. Her younger sister, my aunt, would collect me in the afternoon on her way home from Hamilton College, and take me home to Raith Drive. My aunt confirmed this when I met her just a few years ago when she came up to visit my sister. She’d moved to England  in the late 1960’s. I cannot believe I could have memories of this – from 2 y-o or so - but my mum confirmed them even the incident with the nurse - I had mumps. Speaking to my sister, she says she can remember being pushed about in her pram!

Yet I can't remember where 13A was, or the name of the Café on Hamilton Road at Crossgates - was in there once only when my girlfriend asked me to take her to Pats? - just a wee bit too rough and too near bandit country for me!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

If I can work out how to and have the time I will try and upload some photos. I think one of my brothers may have had a shared experience with you. I have a photograph of some mothers with young babies and suitcases at the back of the clinic as you describe I have never asked what the photo was about but what you describe it could have been that they had a stay at the clinic for some reason. I will ask my mother. John Street is where the cultural centre is and was a dead end, it is off Motherwell Road not Hamilton Road.

I must have been at school with your friends son if he was at Belvidere when the building at John Street was being demolished ('75ish)    

The Indian restaurant you remember would be the one in the old Co-op next to the Academy.

I have a terrible memory but I do remember going to the dentists in the clinic (now a solicitors) and getting gas, the feeling of going under lives with you for ever and I just have this vision of coming round with the nurse and dentist having me under the arms taking me to the sink with lots of blood coming out my mouth. these traumatic things stay with you for ever.

Being an Orbiston kid I regularly played football on the Orbiston bing (our BB played there) Primary played at the Sandy so we had permanently  scabbed knees. None of this carpet smooth 3G stuff! Have you seen this great website www.scottishmining.co.uk My great grandfather worked at Hamilton Palace Colliery, my mother worked at the offices at Thankerton and other relatives worked at Tannochside. The Canyon I mentioned in my first post was a massive series of bings to the left of the Bogs Brae attached to Viewpark Colliery I guess.

I just noticed on the mining website that it mentions as well as the Bellshill Public School (at the top of the North road which is the only one ever mentioned in books) there was a school in the West end and two schools in Mossend in 1885.

Also on that website about cinemas a Mossend train station was mentioned where was that? The Gazeteer says Mossend was 7 furlongs from Bellshill (The Cross I presume) so that is about a mile. So where do you think Mossend starts? After the Academy?

Mossend, a town in Bothwell parish, Lanarkshire, 7 furlongs E by N of Bellshill, 1 1/4 mile W of Holytown, and 4 1/4 miles S by E of Coatbridge. Of recent origin, it has a station on the Caledonian railway, a post and telegraph office, extensive iron and steel works, public and Roman Catholic schools, and a fine new Roman Catholic church, erected in 1883-84 from designs by Messrs Pugin. Pop. (1871) 1501, (1881) 3030, of whom 1701 were males. Houses (1881) 531 inhabited, 23 vacant. [Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, Francis H Groome, 1885]
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Apologies – Hamilton Road should have read Motherwell Road, with John Street off it and when speaking about my ‘finding’ the Day Care Centre in John Street, my mate and I were teenagers and single then so I might be confusing the street’s demolition with a later memory – I worked beside Ossie Armstrong in Glasgow in the early 1970s. He was Irish and had just moved into John Street, he loved it. I left Bellshill in October 1967 and was married by 1969 and my mate wasn’t far behind that. I moved to Larkhall around Christmas 1969 and although we tried to keep in touch it was difficult after my first boy was born, and nearly impossible after I started shift work in Glasgow at the end of 1970. He lived in the new houses in the West End that were put up after Glebe Street etc scheme was demolished, right next to the baths. On my last visit to his home he had a wee boy at Belvidere school and his wife showed me his reading book which was all symbols, she sat with him going through the sounds that the symbols meant. By around 1975 I went back to Helensburgh and we lost touch after that. I can’t remember the wee boy’s first name, his second name was Walker, and his dad worked in Colvilles, Mossend.

Yes, I know the Sandy. 2 ash pitches lying on the Bellshill side of the path that runs under the railway bridge into Unthank Road (and the Pit Lane). For many years another rectangle of ground was fenced off there with spiked palisade fencing and a ‘do not enter’ sign put up in the middle of the ground. Just more encouragement to go in! The ground in there was sinking for many years. Every so often a lorry appeared and tipped ‘earth’ there to restore levels. I learned a few years ago that that’s where the Milnwood pit’s two shafts lay. If I knew that back then I’d not be as keen to climb that fence.

But there was a also a grass pitch on the Mossend side of the same path that lay in the triangle of ground bounded by the path, the railway line, and the back gardens of the houses on Garfield Drive / Garfield Avenue. You went up a rise to get to it and there was always ‘a fight’ to claim that one to play on. It was part of the pit branch railway that connected the main line with the pit head buildings which lay on the ash pitch nearest Bellshill. The nearer the main line you got, the more trace of it there was, eventually ending in sleeper indented ground on both sides of the railway boundary fence.

I’ll leave the Bellshill pits to another post – I’ve a lot on them, so it is likely to be long even after trimming. Thankerton is the one I know least about. I was up there a lot, but still not sure to this day if the demolished ruins there belonged to the pit head buildings, or the village.

Yes, I know Mossend station, I used to hang about it watching the trains until I got into the signal boxes which was a better place to see them from and better understand what they were doing. Looking towards Holytown, the second Mossend station (the one you are talking about) lay on the left side of the Holytown Road where it crossed the railway near the Woodend Pub - or the Shieling as it was called later on. There were two bridges over the railway there. The first crossed a freight only branch line. The second crossed the main line – the present day Motherwell / Whifflet / Coatbridge line. Between the two bridges lay a wide access road, the one on the left went down to the Coatbridge-bound platform, the one on the right went down to Mossend Goods & Mineral station – the same kind of freight depot as the one on the right side of Hamilton Road, Bellshill (looking towards Bogs Brae) that lay between the railway bridge and Crossgates.  

The passenger train services were mainly Glasgow Buchanan Street to Motherwell and Coalburn - not a regular service, and steam hauled to the end, at least I don’t remember any DMUs – there were certainly plenty DMUs on Glasgow Central services through Bellshill  to Hamilton and Shotts.

The first station was unhelpfully called Holytown. It lay on the right side of the second railway bridge and access would have been by the right side access road, which would still go down to the Coatbridge-bound platform. Mossend Goods & Mineral station didn’t exist at this time.

The Mossend / Bellshill boundary on Main Street in my day would be about Bruce Street - looking towards Mossend it was first on the right after the main Co-op building. The Motherwell Road - a rough guide looking towards Motherwell - Mossend lay on the left, Bellshill on the right. But the nearer Bellshill it got the boundary became wavy. I’d say as soon as you got to the Angle, both sides of the road were Bellshill.

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