Billy Hamilton and his Café/Shop in Lesmahagow

by Peter McLeish

As far as I know Billy´s father, I think his name was George, had his ice-cream business in what is now the West End restaurant in Kirkmuirhill. I believe he was a councillor for Blackwood/Kirkmuirhill. Billy himself was part of the Kirkmuirhill Juveniles football team which won a host of cups in the inaugural season,1951, including the Scottish Juvenile Cup. Billy was tall and he was the centre half.

When I started working in Abbeygreen Co-op butcher´s shop in 1955, the chemists was next door. It was owned by Bill Milne at that time, then there was Willie McLuskie, who was a newsagent, though earlier he been a gents hairdresser as well. The next shop was the Co-op drapery where Minnie Sinclair was in charge and lastly was the Co-op grocery, their manager was Alex Mitchell.

Billy cafe/shop Lesmahagow

Billys Café/Shop in Abbeygreen. Annie Hamilton is standing at the door. Photo: the late Jim Hamilton.

However, back to Billy´s Café. At the time it was only half the size of what it later became. His wife, Annie Mitchell, served meals there. There were seats and tables on the left-hand side of the café. The seats were taken from a bus which was no longer needed. I was never a coffee fan, but I did like Annie´s. John Veitch came to Lesmahagow from the Peebles area in the late 50s, he was the assistant to Mr Milne and when Mr Milne retired John took over. When the premises next door run by Willie McLuskie became available, John moved the pharmacy there as it was twice the size. This meant the original shop became available and Billy Hamilton moved in and doubled the floor space in his premises. Although Billy and his wife came from Kirkmuirhill, they later lived in New Trows Road. Their daughter, Jessie Binnie later took over. She lives in Blackwood. Their son George, was a policeman.

Some more memories of Billy´s

A roll and beans was definitely part of a trip to Billy's. Aileen Shevill

Used to go in there at dinner time from the school when the cafe was there for ma roll an beans Margaret Tomkins

Billy's tablet was a favourite of my Gran and Papa's, My Mum and Dads, Me and my wife's and my daughter. Lawrie Simpson

Many a good dinner time spent in there at school. I can remember the square sausage in the pan with plenty oil but boy they were tasty .....Allan Burnside

Great memories of Billy's and you could always get what you needed especially in the days before we all had cars, and the tablet, rolls on sausage or beans, bottles of juice sit in or take out you could go on and on. Mary McPhillips

Best tablet ever. Sheena Dalzell

My favourite memory was every Friday my mum would take us 3 kids down to "Billys" for a roll and beans and a wee glass bottle of curries red kola! Every Friday until the wee cafe closed or we got too old I'm not sure! But great memories and when I moved back I've always knew if you need any household items quickly it's off to Billys! She'll be missed by my son now too I think he buys all her tablet ?? Andrina Millar Brown

Billys Abbeygreen Lesmahagow

Billys shop (formerly also a café) in Abbeygreen, Lesmahagow. Photo:2016 taken from Google Street View.

"Billy´s" continued to be run by Billy and his wife Annie until they retired around 1995. The café side largely finished but the shop selling hardware, confectionery, electrical items and pet supplies continued, run by their daughter Jessie until she retired in January 2020. The shop is now used by the Lesmahagow Development Trust.

Related links

Memories from Lesmahagow Facebook page on Jessie's retirement and final closure of shop in 2020. Prepared 12 August 2020 by DH..