Tributes paid to 'generous and kind' Edinburgh legend who owned Portobello sweet shop Hamilton’s
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Tributes have poured in for Thomas Hamilton, the owner of a popular Edinburgh sweet-shop, after his death at the age of 85. The beloved father and grandfather ran Hamilton’s in Portobello for 37 years, from the Seventies up until 2014. After news of his death, many Portobello locals shared their happy memories of Thomas and his sweet-shop. One former customer who used to frequent Hamilton’s described him as “so kind, patient and generous”. Another remembered “lovely memories” of visiting the shop with their children and said: “Hamilton’s will always be part of Porty history”.
Thomas was born at Elsie Inglis Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh in 1937, to parents Thomas and Sarah. He grew up in East Lothian, attending Musselburgh Grammar from the age of five to 17. Upon leaving school, Thomas joined the air force, and was based in Cyprus for several years. His daughter Fiona said he “really enjoyed his time in the RAF”. After coming back to Edinburgh, he worked in the office of Brunton’s Wire Mill, before opening Hamilton’s sweet shop in 1977.
According to his granddaughter Christina, the shop-owner loved sweets and enjoyed every minute of working in Hamilton’s. Four generations of Thomas’ family, including his parents, wife, daughters and grandchildren, worked in the shop alongside him. Christina said: “My fondest memories of my Granddad are working with him and my brother in the sweet shop during the summer holidays and trialling every single sweet on the shelf”. One of Thomas’ grandsons, Arran, described the patriarch as a “cheeky chappy character” who “loved to chat to his regulars in the shop”.
Thomas leaves behind Jessie, his high school sweetheart and wife of 62 years. Jessie said: “Tom was a very kind man - he always looked after the underdog in any situation. He was also funny – he had a wicked sense of humour.” As well as being a father to two and a grandfather to four, Thomas looked after Speedy the tortoise, who he and his wife Jessie have had for over 50 years.
Fiona described her Dad as being “very sporty and handsome”. She remembers happy memories of being taken to gigs in Edinburgh and going canoeing on the Forth with her Dad and sister. Thomas’ other daughter Rachel said: “I remember every Friday my Dad used to get me a treat – one of them was a tiny toy beanie mouse that still sits on my piano.” His Grandson Arran says he will remember Thomas as “being a real Father to the family who really wanted the best for us all”. Christina added: “He showed kindness to everyone he met and was so generous, yet he never wanted any recognition or anything in return. He was just an amazing, charismatic and sometimes grumpy man and it is obvious from the response from the people of Portobello to his passing that he was not only loved deeply by us, but widely by the community.”