Mr. William Beattie – or Wullie and his sons Alexanders and Wullie Junior were a performing family of the early to mid 20th Century.
The circus family were the Beattie family, who originally came from Twechar and may have travelled settling for period of time in many places, including Blantyre. Mrs Beattie was a Balfour from Burnbank and her mother was a Holmes.
William in his early years worked on a farm, intenstive hard work, which likely formed his strong physique. The family members known for throwing and lifting weights was Wullie Beattie and his son Alexander (Sandy). Other son Wullie had scars on his body.
Wullie in his later years lived at Dixon’s Rows in Stonefield where his family was known for their perfoming and entertaining shows, even in the raw’s themselves. Wullie Beattie was the British 12 stone Weightlifting Champion in 1929, later touring Britain and Ireland as the mighty Apollo. His family also joined the act as acrobats, jugglers and of course son Sandy as the incredible ‘Young Apollo’.
“The Scottish Apollo” William Beattie could do a bent-press with a pair of 56-pound block weights. It should be noted that he first swung them up to that position which is a fantastic feat of grip strength in holding the blocks together. Beatties was also fond of juggling these weights. William was 5 foot 6, but had a 44” chest and 16” biceps.
Unsurprisingly, Beattie was one of the many students of William Pullum and won the British Amateur Weightlifting Association (BAWLA) 12 stone Championship in 1929. Beattie went on to perform feats of strength and acrobatics with several circuses. The “Scottish Apollo”, and the “Scottish Strongman”, appeared with Sir Robert Fossett’s circus, 1948 and 1949, juggling two 56lb weights. With Rosaire’s circus, touring in 1950 and 1951, demonstrating strength with weight. He lifted 3 1/2 cwt. and nine men on a board, with his feet, lying on his back.
The Apollos, William and his son Sandy Beatty (Young Apollo), were at Rosaire’s circus, Bridlington in 1954, exhibiting feats of strength. At Pinder’s circus in 1956. With Joe Gandey’s circus, Heysham Head, Morcambe, in 1957. His family, including daughter Jean, also appeared as the Four Almadas, balancers, as Victor and Partner, roller balancing, and with Mary Gandey as the Kusicks on the trapeze.
In October 1957 the ‘Mighty Apollos’ advertised, ‘unexpectedly vacant’, from an address at Blantyre, Glasgow.
Joined Mrs C. Pinder’s Royal No.1 circus for 1958, performing in Scottish national costume. The ‘Mighty Apollos’ presented feats of strength and arobatics on Tommy Pinder’s New International Circus in 1959, two men and a girl, attired in tartan kilts. Victor ‘Zane’, noted in 1959 with Winship’s circus, hand-balancing, was one of William Beatty’s sons.
The Three Mighty Apollos, strong act, were with Tommy Pinder’s circus, tenting in 1960, attired in kilts. Note that the Scottish Apollo’s surname was correctly spelled Beattie.
The Beattie family shared a house at 19 Hall Street with the family of Alex Balfour from 1949 until around the final days of Dixons’s Raws in the mid 1950’s. Sixteen people in a two-roomed house will have been very cramped indeed. Robert Beattie who now lives in Australia and who provided some of this information added, “I remember my time in the raws with pride, great friends, and a great Community spirit, despite the hardships of the time,”
William Beattie died in 1968 when his youngest daughter, of 8 children he had, was only 18. He is buried in Blantyre. Even today, some of his grandchildren are known for their feats of strength travelling abroad and winning medals.
With credit to John Wood for words highlighted in blue.
Full extract from “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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