Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Thomas Hamilton was born as Thomas Watt in Glasgow on 10 May 1952, the son of Thomas Watt and Agnes Graham Hamilton. Shortly after his birth his parents separated and in 1955 they divorced. He and his mother moved to the home of his maternal grandparents in Cranhill, Glasgow.
On 26 March 1956 they adopted him and his name was changed to Thomas Watt Hamilton. In 1963 he accompanied his adoptive parents when they moved to 11 Upper Bridge Street, Stirling. He grew up in the belief that his natural mother was his sister. In 1972 he opened Woodcraft, a shop at 49 Cowane Street, Stirling, which specialized in the sale of DIY goods. The shop closed in 1985 and Hamilton blamed the rumours about his pederasty for his business’s failure.
On 13 May 1974 Hamilton was sacked as a Scoutmaster after allegations that he had become too close to two Boy Scouts. He showed paedophile tendencies towards boys but had still been allowed to run 15 boys’ clubs in Scotland between 1981 and March 1996. In 1987 Thomas Hamilton and his adoptive parents moved to 7 Kent Road, Stirling.
In August of that year his adoptive mother died and in 1992 his adoptive father moved into sheltered housing, leaving Hamilton alone in the house. In 1991 he was sacked as a Scout leader.
Five years later, on 13 March 1996, the 43-year-old marched into the gymnasium of Dunblane Primary School — which had 640 pupils —armed with two 9mm Browning HP pistols and two Smith and Wesson .357 revolvers. With him, he had 743 bullets. He opened fire, killing 16 pupils (15 of them just five years old) and their teacher, Gwen Mayor, and injuring a dozen other children and two teachers, before turning one of his revolvers on himself.
Dunblane Primary School, Doune Road, Dunblane, Perthshire, Scotland
9.30am Wednesday 13 March 1996
There is a memorial to the 17 victims in the local cemetery and a cenotaph in the cathedral. On 9 December 1996, a new version of Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door with lyrics by a Dunblane musician Ted Christopher was released by RCA Records in memory of the event.
It featured the siblings of the dead children singing the chorus and Mark Knopfler on guitar. The Dunblane Centre, a £2 million youth centre and community sports hall built to commemorate the dead, was opened in September 2004.