In prehistoric times, the natural place to settle would have been by the river Avon with its fertile holms and abundance of natural resources. Evidence of early man can be found throughout the parish, enabling us to build a picture of how the community of Stonehouse developed over the centuries. The earliest records of a landowner in Stonehouse appear to be about the year 1220, when Sir William (the Fleming) de Douglas of Stanhus, appears as a witness to a charter along with Sir Archibald Douglas. The Douglases were the chief landowners of the parish until the reign of James II who endeavoured to destroy the Douglases and install the Hamiltons to the Barony of Stonehouse. Principally known as a weaving community, Stonehouse has developed and adapted to social and industrial change. Having always retained its strong agricultural identity and beautiful natural environment, Stonehouse’s character and future have been shaped and enriched by its inhabitants throughout the years. Some believe that before the dawn of recorded history, on a small mound half a mile to the west of the village, ‘standing stones’ possibly stood within the old kirk cemetery. The fact that a stone cist was found in the cemetery in 1937, confirms this site as a place of pagan burial. The oldest record of the village appears to be a notice stating that the parish of Stonehouse and the churchyard were to be dedicated in the ninth century to St.Ninian.
(Extracted from local Historian J Youngs Wha’s Like us.”
The Stanis Weavers
Stonehouse prospered and developed as a weaving community during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, latterly in the manufacturing of silk garments. Working closely with Strathaven the Stonehouse weavers produced silk scarfs, handkerchiefs and assorted garments for export to Indian, as well as the home market.
When weaving was at its peak in the early nineteenth century, the weavers were prosperous enough to own their own property. Streets of privately owned cottages were built such as those of Hill Road, Camnethan Street and Queen Street. These Streets form part of the conservation area and still retain the character and beauty of their former existence as working homes.
In 1841 there was talk of decline, despite the fact that there were 400 weavers working in Stonehouse rising to 500 in 1891. With the introduction of the power loom, hand loom weavers were unable to compete. However Stonehouse weavers were able to adapt better than others, specialising in fine silks, woven on the intricate patterns of the Jacquard loom. As work became scarce towards the end of the nineteenth century the weavers sought employment in agriculture or in the mines to supplement their income.
The two last weavers in Lanarkshire were the Hamilton brothers, Robert and James, of Camnethan Street. James died at the age of 84 in 1959 and completed his last “wab” in 1939. The silk loom belonging to the Hamilton Brothers now rests in the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh
The group has a few photographs relating to Weaving and they include
Tam the Beamer
At the Weaving Agents
Photographs can be viewed in the gallery