Peggy Nicholson

1967 Greenhall House wm

1967 Greenhall House before demolition

Matt Nicholson, the son of former Greenhall 1960 owners Matt and Peggy Nicholson, a couple of years ago sent me this extract of his mothers life. Matt “Nicky” Nicholson and Peggy bought Greenhall on 2nd February 1960 and lived there a short time until 22nd July 1961 when the property was sold to the English Electric Company Ltd. It was a good transaction being bought for £5,000 and sold to English Electric for £6,500 the year later. Pictured is Greenhall House just before demolition in 1967.

One of the sons of the couple wrote an interesting insight into the life of his mother, which I have transcribed here with permission back in 2014.

“Our mother Peggy Nicholson was born on the 20th April 1913, in the small village of Auldhouse, south west Scotland, one year before the start of the Great War. She was the fifth of eleven born to David and Annie Peacock. We can fondly remember our mother reciting her siblings roll call, Kate, Joe, Bella, Annie, Peggy, Mollie, Nan, Helen, Davey, Johnie, Jessie. Our Aunt Jessie survived her.

Their childhood was filled with happiness and music, accordians fiddles and songs. Our mother would tell of playing at the dances held in the school hall on a Saturday evening. I was so small behind the accordion no one could see me, but now and again someone would pass me a bag of sweeties over the top of the accordion as a wee reward.

Peggy enjoyed her schooldays and excelled in her learning to the level of being offered a scholarship at Hamilton Academy which sadly was declined due to having to help look after her young brothers and sisters. This did not deter he from her love of words, even in old age she would still correct our spelling and grammar! Sometimes she would escape he domestic duties by hiding high in the branches of the “Blackies tree” with her best friend Alice Black, there they would sit in silence, undetectable, our mother loved that tree.

It was in Auldhouse where Peggy met the love of her life, our father Matthew “Nicky” Nicholson. Because of the license restrictions brought in at the time of the first World War, drinking was prohibited on Sundays, unless you were a traveller. 

Our teenage father and his pals had a small cabin near Auldhouse, which they visited at weekends and would often walk to their hometown Rutherglen, all the way to Auldhouse, in order to qualify for a drink in the village pub, the “Auldhouse Arms.”. On one such visit Peggy remembered sitting on a bench in the darkness chatting with her friends, when a torch was shone along the lines of faces, eventually stopping at Peggy “and who’s this one? a voice demanded. That was her first encounter with Nicky whom she said was “arrogant and conceited.” Within a year, they were married.

Nicky served in the Black Watch as a military policeman during WW2 and later they lived in a prefab in Rutherglen. After a time when the opportunity arose, they and their 5 children moved to Philipshill House on the outskirts of East Kilbride, the town where our father opened “Nicholsons”, a general store on the main street of the old Village. Later he bought the Torrance Hotel, and subsequently Greenhall estate, a large country house near High Blantyre.

Our mother and father’s relationship was turbulent with many separations and reunions. Anne was the first born, then 5 years later Helen. After one long separation out brother Matt was born, then Hugh, and finally David, the baby of the family. 

On leaving Greenhall Estate in 1961, our mother never saw our father again, all through that time she never sought a divorce. Though bitterly disappointed in their relationship, we felt that she still harboured a love for him, and certainly never forgot him. Her great consolation was the love she had for her children. Anne married James Grater who, along with his 2 brothers ran a successful haulage company, they had 6 children, Jane, George, Guy, Jay, Helen and John. Helen married Charlie Wright, who after being demobbed from the army returned to his career as a professional footballer, coach and manager. They had 3 children, Sandra, Steven and Gail. Hugh married Vanessa and had one child, Heather and finally David married Anne resulting in 2 children Sarah and Davey. We’re still waiting on Matt!

In all Peggy had 5 children, 12 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren, living in England, Scotland, Holland, Australia and the United States. With Anne and Helen married and in their own homes, Peggy and the 3 boys moved to East Kilbride, for the first time they had a number on their door, no longer “Philipshill House”, “Torrance Hotel” or “Greenhall Estate” their previous addresses. 21 Vancouver Drive was a house full of music, guitars, a piano and loads of friends. (our mother would so often have to intervene in disputes over whose turn it was to play that piano!). She looked cooking and baking for us and our friends, pancakes, dumplings, scones, apple pies (a particular favourite of her son in law Charlie). There was in variably a fight over who got the spoon on or the pot when made tablet or toffee!

After 8 years or so, Peggy had the opportunity to move to a block of flats in Dunblane Drive, East Kilbride. There were 3 levels, in the bottom flat lived her sisters Bella and Molly and Molly’s son Norman. Above them lived her sister Annie and he daughter Marion. On the top floor lived Peggy and for a while Matt and David till they both moved to London. Fifty yards away lived Kate, her daughter Anna and her husband Andy with their son Scott, family was everywhere. Hugh says that everytime he visited East Kilbride it cost him a fortune in Thorntons Chocolate Gingers!

Whilst staying in Dunblane Drive, Peggy started to write poetry as a hobby and she and sister Jessie would correspond over the years in humorous and topical verse.  In a phone conversation with our Aunt Jessie last week, she confided that she had been reading their old poems in between laughter and tears.

In 1990 Peggy moved to Kew then to Kingsbury House, Richmond where made many friends. The last 10 years of her long life were spent in Dalemead Care Home where “Mama Peggy” was cared for with love and great affection and for which the family are eternally grateful.”

There’s a lot more to the Nicholsons story and their time in Blantyre and what they did next. I hope to bring this to you another time. With thanks to the Nicholson family for their nostalgic words.

Leave a Reply