Location & governance
Burnbank, previously an independent settlement, then part of Hamilton Burgh (in the historic County of Lanarkshire) and then Hamilton District (in the historic Strathclyde Region) is now a district of Hamilton
Hamilton is a town in South Lanarkshire, in the west-central Lowlands of Scotland. It serves as the main administrative centre of the South Lanarkshire council area. It is the fifth-biggest town in Scotland after Paisley, East Kilbride, Livingston and Cumbernauld...
within the South Lanarkshire Unitary Council. Today Burnbank is bordered by Hillhouse to the South, Laighstonehall to the South-East, Hamilton to the East, Whitehill to the North and Blantyre to the West.
Burnbank is named after a tributary of the River Clyde
The River Clyde is a major river in Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland. Flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire....
- the Wellschaw Burn (also known as the Shawburn) which flows through the eastern areas of the district. This has been culverted for most of its passage through modern Burnbank. In historic times this stream's confluence with the Clyde lay within the district but now lies in neighbouring Whitehill. The area around the burn was still open country in some regards as late as the 1901 Census which records a Romany family "living in a field near Shawburn, Burnbank.
Burnbank was a division (later ward) of the Hamilton Constituency in the House of Commons between 1918 and 1997. It then became part of the short-lived Hamilton North and Bellshill Constituency between 1997 and 2005. Since 2005 it has been part of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.
Burnbank is part of the Hamilton North and Bellshill Constituency for the Scottish Parliament.
Burnbank has existed in one form or another since at least the late fifteenth century when a grant of lands was made to Sir John Hamilton of Newton. A further grant of lands to Sir John Hamilton of Zhisselberry (which is later recorded as Whistleberry) also included the lands in and around Burnbank. At this time the extent of the area accepted as Burnbank included the modern districts of Whitehill and Hillhouse and the area around Peacock Cross on the Burnbank Hamilton border.
Predominantly rural, with a number of plantations (Whistleberry Plantation and Backmuir Plantation being most prominent) to feed the lace industry in Burnbank and Hamilton which had been sponsored since before 1778 by the then Duchess of Hamilton Elizabeth Campbell, 1st Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon.
With the [Industrial Revolution] Burnbank lost its rural identity becoming a mining village
A pit village is a term used in the UK for the village serving a deep coal mine.Many of the workers lived in houses that were provided by the colliery. Many villages have experienced depopulation after colliery closures forced people to move to other towns and cities where there are jobs for them...
The population of Burnbank had grown so great by the 1870s that a committee of citizens decided to apply for the erection of a Burgh of Burnbank. At the same time residents of Burnbank's western neighbour Blantyre
re-acted by petitioning for the erection of a Burgh of Blantyre. Both cases came before the Sheriff Court
Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.Sheriff courts deal with a myriad of legal procedures which include:*Solemn and Summary Criminal cases...
sitting at Glasgow. The Sheriff gave extra time for the petitioners for both causes to familiarise themselves with the arguments of their opponents and to respond in turn. The Provost and Burgesses of the existing Burgh of Hamilton, alarmed at the prospect of one (or possibly both) petitions being successful and thus creating a heavily industrialised, modern and vibrant western rival in turn petitioned the Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...
giving rise to the Burgh of Hamilton Act 1878. By this Act Burnbank was absorbed into Hamilton - ending its own burghal aspirations.
Prior to the nineteenth century agriculture and lace making were important local industries.
Burnbank was home to a number of coalmines or pits. Miner's cottages or "pit rows" were ereected by mine owners to house their employees. Many of these were built by local builder Sir Robert McAlpine, 1st Baronet
Sir Robert McAlpine, 1st Baronet , known as "Concrete Bob", founded the British construction firm now known as Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd....
early in his career and the foundation of his later wealth.
The Udston mining disaster
The Udston mining disaster occurred in Hamilton, Scotland on Saturday, 28 May 1887 when 73 miners died in a firedamp explosion at Udston Colliery...
occurred in Hamilton, Scotland on Saturday, 28 May 1887 when 73 miners died in a firedamp explosion at Udston Colliery. Caused, it is thought, by unauthorised shot firing the explosion is said to be Scotland's second worst coal mining disaster.
James Keir Hardie, Sr. , was a Scottish socialist and labour leader, and was the first Independent Labour Member of Parliament elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom...
, then Secretary of the Scottish Miners' Federation, denounced the deaths as murder a few days later.
In August 1918 a fire at Albany Buildings (an apartment block owned by the mining company John Watson Ltd) burned to the ground causing £10,000 of damage and leaving 24 families homeless.
In September 1919 strike action in the Lanarkshire coal fields led to the closure of the Greenfield Colliery.
In May 1932 300 men at John Watson's Earnock Colliery in Burnbank were thrown out of work because of "bad trace."
In January 1935 Greenfield Colliery, Burnbank, became the last pit in Hamilton to shut permanently. Earnock Colliery also in Burnbank but out-with Hamilton's boundaries continued working.
During the Second World War Burnbank suffered at least one attack by the Luftwaffe when a bomb was dropped on tenements (known locally as Sing-Sing) near the railway works on the Whitehill Road.
In addition to mining a number of other medium sized industrial concerns have operated within Burnbank including the Stevenson Carpet Factory, Burnbank, at which Jock Stein had his first job in 1935. This is recorded in the Hamilton Advertiser as opening a new factory worth £85,000 in 1958. MEA also operated a factory in the area for many years.
A railway wagon cleaning works is located near Whitehill Road.
Since the 19th century immigrants from many parts of the world have settled in Burnbank.
Immigration from other parts of Scotland during the period of the Highland Clearances
The Highland Clearances were forced displacements of the population of the Scottish Highlands during the 18th and 19th centuries. They led to mass emigration to the sea coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and the North American colonies...
The most significant to date numerically were undoubtedly the Irish immigrants who arrived between the mid 19th century and the mid 20th century mainly to work in the coal-fields and heavy industry.
Immigration to Burnbank from Italy was mainly from the Lucca and Frosinone in the Abruzzi. Some of the Italian Scots in Burnbank owned ice-cream parlours (which later became fish and chip shops) and operated ice-cream carts (later vans) to such an extent that the local term for an ice-cream seller became "tally" (derived from Italian) as in "tally van".
Immigration to Burnbank from Poland and the Baltic states first came to prominence between the world wars (linked to the mining industry) and was sustained by individuals escaping from the Nazi and USSR occupation of those countries. Further immigration from Poland (and Eastern Europe generally) has taken place following the collapse of the Iron Curtain.
Immigration from the former territories of British India has occurred in the final decades of the 20th century with immigrants from these countries following in the footsteps of the Italians by entering the catering industry.
Burnbank was formerly the site of a railway station (originally called Greenfield Station) of the Glasgow, Bothwell, Hamilton and Coatbridge Railway (later the London and North Eastern Railway's Hamilton Branch situated on Glasgow Road. The station was opened the 1st of April 1878 as Greenfield, and was closed during the First World War on the 1st of January 1917. Re-opened after the war on the 2nd of June 1919 and finally closed on the 15th of September 1952. The trackbed remained until the 1980s but has since been landscaped.
The line ran from the North British Railway's Hamilton Station to Shettleston and Whifflet and, although passenger and general freight services were provided, was primarily intended to take coal from Hamilton, Burnbank and Blantyre to the ironworks at Parkhead Forge and Coatbridge. Today, trains run through the area on the Argyle Line
The Argyle Line is a suburban railway located in West Central Scotland. It connects the Lanarkshire towns of Lanark, Larkhall and Motherwell to West Dunbartonshire via central Glasgow using sub-surface running...
. The nearest railway station today is Hamilton West
Hamilton West railway station serves the Hamilton West area of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, in Scotland, lying on the Argyle Line.It is situated near the headquarters of South Lanarkshire Council; the Hamilton campus of the University of the West of Scotland; Hamilton Sheriff Court; and the...
Trams were operated in Burnbank by the Hamilton, Motherwell and Wishaw Tramways Company in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Buses. A number of bus routes were operated by Chieftan Buses from their depot on High Blantyre Road, Burnbank. Following the take over of Chieftan by Central SMT (itself a subsidiary of the London Midland and Scottish Railway) the depot continued in use until 1962. The routes served continued under Central SMT and its successors including the current operator First Glasgow (No.2) Ltd who have opened a new depot on the borders of Burnbank and Blantyre.
Burnbank has historically been a predominantly (and is today at least nominally) a largely Christian area with the main denominations represented being Church of Scotland which has two parishes in the area and Roman Catholic which has one. The church of Scotland Gilmour and Whitehill parish is recognised by the Church as one of the most economically deprived in Scotland. This parish's Church, has a square tower which was supposed to have a spire on top this was not built however as the ground being undermined by the coal pits in the area it was feared that the weight would cause collapse both to the mine and to the tower itself.
The Church of Scotland's Burnbank parish also has its own Parish Church.
The Roman Catholic parish of St Cuthberts was founded in 1893 and was originally part of the Archdiocese of Glasgow before passing to the Diocese of Motherwell when that diocese was erected in 1947. The current church building dates from 1909. According to the diocesan authorities It has a congregation of some 3,000 souls. In the decades after the second world war visiting Polish priests provided services to the Polish immigrant community.
The former Victorian Police Station (dating from in 1894) was for many years divided between the Public Library and local authourity housing offices. It is now part of the Burnbank Centre complex and houses the local Library.
Burnbank is home to two present day primary schools - St Cuthberts Roman Catholic Primary and Glenlee Primary (which is non-denominational). In addition a Comprehensive Secondary School, St John Ogilvie Roman Catholic High School is located within Burnbank on Farm Road although it has a much broader catchment area.
A previous primary school, Dykehead Primary School at Udston, Burnbank, was closed in the 1930s following pit closures.
A previous non-denominational secondary - Greenfield School was located in the area until the mid 1970s when it became an annexe to John Ogilvie RC High School. This site has now been re-developed as housing.
Burnbank has a number of retail outlets including a small Co-operative grocery which is the remnant of a much larger department store that belonged to the Burnbank Co-operative Society. There is also a post-office, butchers, newsagents, bakery and a number of public houses. The last Bank to have a branch in the area was the Clydesdale- this was closed in the early years of the 21st century and the building is now one of a number of betting shops in the area.
Previously in addition to the Co-operative there was a large fancy goods store serving the community. At various times there have been florists, and haberdasheries in the area.
There was a cinema in Burnbank which later became a Bingo Hall before demolition.
The centre of Burnbank was re-developed in the mid 1970s with one half of the centre being pedestrianised.
The largest area of Burnbank is Udston, built on former colliery land, in the 1950s. It consists of a large number of streets, roads and crescents.
Sir Harry Lauder
Sir Henry Lauder , known professionally as Harry Lauder, was an international Scottish entertainer, described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador!"-Early life:...
worked in various pits in the Hamilton area including Burnbank before launching his stage career.
Sir Robert MacAlpine Bart ("Concrete Bob") was the founder of the major British construction firm now known as Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd. His initial builder's business was based in Burnbank.
John 'Jock' Stein CBE was a Scottish association football player and manager. He became the first manager of a British side to win the European Cup, with Celtic in 1967...
CBE was a football player with Albion Rovers FC, Llanelli Town FC and Celtic FC before becoming a legendary football manager who managed Dunfermline Athletic FC, Hibernian FC and Celtic FC. With the latter he twice reached the final of the European Cup, winning against Inter Milan in Lisbon in 1967 and losing against Feyenoord Rotterdam to a goal in the last three minutes of extra time at the San Siro in Milan was born in Burnbank. He twice managed the Scotland national team in 1965 and again between 1978 and 1985.
James "Jim" Bett is a Scottish former professional footballer, who predominantly played for Aberdeen. He played in central or left midfield....
- was a football player with Airdrieonians FC, K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen (twice), Glasgow Rangers FC, Aberdeen FC, Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur, Heart of Midlothian FC and Dundee United FC. He gained 26 international caps for Scotland.
Willie Savage from Burnbank was a former Scottish footballer, best known with Dumfries club Queen of the South.-Early days:Savage was a native of Burnbank who began his football as an inside forward at the local St Cuthbert School and representing Lanarkshire elementary schools against Glasgow...
- footballing long time servant of Queen of the South F.C.
Queen of the South Football Club is a Scottish professional football club founded in 1919 and located in Dumfries. The club currently plays in the Scottish First Division, the second tier of Scottish football. They are officially nicknamed The Doonhamers, but usually referred to as Queens or QoS...
in the club's days in Scotland's top division.
Walter McGowan, MBE , is a retired Scottish boxer. He is renowned for having been WBC world flyweight champion.He was the son of Thomas McGowan, who had boxed under the name of 'Joe Gans'....
MBE - 1960s World Flyweight Boxing Champion, was also born in Burnbank, and used the old Udston Hospital as a training base.