James and Robert Hamilton (father and son) 

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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.

 

Pictures from Robert Hamilton’s collection reproduced by kind permission of Catherine Cochrane and Sheena Andrew, great-nieces of Robert Hamilton. 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Hamilton family memorial-Strathaven cemetery.    

 

 

 

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            robert.currie3@btopenworld.com

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