|William was the 5th child and youngest in his family. John Watson and Mary Chalmers his parents, originally lived in Chapel Street raising their first son before moving to Honeybank Row in Carluke which was a miners row cottage owned by Archibald Russell, proprietor of Castlehill Colliery. As described elsewhere, the pre-war cottages were squalid and by the time of the census of 1901 William was 3 years old and there were two adults and five children in a two room affair with no piped water, sanitation or electricity. Two outside dry toilets served three families in the row and was likely an appalling health hazard. Possibly 20 people shared the two toilets summer and winter. Inside there were no sinks so cleaning and cooking took place by the single fireside with water coming solely from a rainwater butt fed from the thatched roof. |
By 1901 John Watson (51) was working as a miner at Castlehill and his eldest son George (14) was also employed there, dragging baskets of coal hewn by his father to the hutch for winding up to the surface. William's elder brother John was now 12 years old and it is likely that both were destined to become miners too. Then, mid-war, John Watson senior died age 64 in July 1915 leaving Mary Chalmers and her three sons as breadwinners. So perhaps, even though William by 1917 could have been excused war service as a coal miner, maybe he yearned to escape a claustrophobic life in Honeybank Row and went to war anyway - at this point we do not know. Further research is ongoing.
John, their father, died age 64 in 1915
Mary, their mother died age 74 in 1930
George died age 48 in 1935
John died age 64 in 1953
William died in France age 21 in 1918
Mary, his sister died age 75 in 1971