More like a gallop down memory lane rather than a stroll, I'm writing things as I go, just as they come into my mind. Bear in mind that these are my own memories, and I make no claim regarding their factual or political correctness or accuracy.
Picnics and swimming at the Red Hill dam. This was a very popular and busy place around the late 40's and early 50's. It was where many children, and often adults, met during the long summer holidays; most often those from the 'bottom' (Glazert Bank end) of the village. The site, which had been an old mine shaft, was deemed dangerous after someone drowned, and it was filled in and leveled off in the 1960's.
Another area popular for swimming was the Grey Stane's, which was located beyond Whitefield, on the opposite side of the road, near the Lennox Castle main gates. It can currently be reached via the walk- way.
Lennoxtown Public Hall was the venue for picture shows, again in the late 40's and early 50's. These shows, which were eagerly awaited by all, were presented by the proprietors, L & P Blackwood. They provided great entertainment and an means of escape from the insular life in the village. The cinema was on, once nightly at 7:30pm, (although I don't remember them being on so often) with two houses on Saturday at 6:30 pm and 9pm. Mr. Harris of Cadona Shows ran the pictures for a time, then management was eventually taken over by Mr. Billy McArdle.
Mr. McArdle often had to appeal for calm and patience during film breakdowns, or reel changes, or when the boys rolled lemonade bottles along the floor. He sometimes wore Wellington boots doubled over at the top, giving him a rather 'swashbuckling' appearance, reminiscent of Errol Flynn, who was a popular movie star of the time. The hall was known to local children as 'The Bug-house'. Mr. McArdle, who was one of the proprietors was married to Harriet, a daughter of the local Bradley family.
After the Town Hall pictures stopped, a new weekly show was presented by Kali Nail Works in a room in the works. These film shows were predominately for the families of employees, although others could usually gain entrance if they had the right connections. The admission fee was 9d, and my friend Margaret and I, even when we pooled our resources, were often short of the admittance charge, so we devoted time each week to collect jam jars to make up the deficit. Large 2lb jars could be redeemed for 1d, and the smaller 1lb jars for 1/2d.
The cinema in the Kali Nailworks was opened in 1944, and it showed the latest Hollywood and British movies in a programme generally lasting around 2 and a half hours. At first the idea of film shows was to promote the industry by presenting work related educational programmes; this developed as the directors decided they could offer opportunities for entertainment. The room where the films were shown had been a store-room, but was then painted in the manner of a theatre, and lighting and heating brought up to date. Seating accommodation was provided for upwards of 100.
In the event of a Christening, it was customary for the parents of the baby to make up a 'Christening piece' which sometimes contained money. This was handed to some child, possibly the first, that they met on the way to the service. The recipient was considered honoured, and lucky to receive this 'piece', so children often gathered nearby if they knew a Christening was imminent. Although never personally receiving such a lucky piece, one I did see, comprised 2 tea biscuits, spread with butter, and stuck together. The money - in this case a Florin (2 shillings), was stuck to the butter, between the biscuits.
On Monday mornings in the Public School, each class began the day with a serious observance - the school bank deposits. Children who could afford to bank money, brought it to the class, and the teacher duly recorded the amount in the bank book. This, like the Penny Bank Society of an earlier time, may have been an attempt to instill thrift and forethought in the children, but for those of us without the means to deposit, it was perhaps one of the first lessons regarding where we fitted in the social and economic strata. I must say though, I didn't think badly of it at the time. The banking service was offered in conjunction with the local bank at the time. (Trustee Savings Bank).
For years I dreamed of owning a bank book and being able to deposit a silver sixpence - a dream never realized during my school years.
One of my most enduring memories, is of the village in general, and the church in particular, on Christmas eve. People always seemed to be so warm and friendly when meeting on the way to their respective churches for the midnight services; a real Christmas spirit always seemed to abound.
A local builder, Mr. Sam Rae, presented the Trinity Church with a Christmas tree every year. The tree was placed inside the church, decorated with baubles and lights, and a present for every child likely to attend the Christmas eve service. I later learned that a few extra gifts were always available for emergencies.
Near the end of the service, jingle bells would herald the arrival of Santa Claus, who appeared and duly distributed the gifts. Although aware of the myth of Santa Claus, the excitement of those nights, the music, the warm, comfortable, safe, friendly - even loving feelings experienced, stay with me today.
In recent times, a minister told me that they prefer children to bring gifts rather than receive them, and whilst I appreciate the 'Give rather than receive philosophy', we were hardly discussing like with like. The children of today have so much, whereas we had so few material acquisitions, that there was little to give. Maybe that is why receiving the gift made such an impact.
Whenever a Christening took place in the church, it was customary for the parents and/or Godparents to take the baby to the small hall at the back of the church, to meet the Sunday School children, and have the baby's name entered in the Cradle Roll. This afforded the children an opportunity to see the baby at close range - a nice experience for those of us with no small children in the family.
Although very young at this time, my memory is of my father playing the organ and people dancing and singing in the street in Slatefield. Each of the children had been issued with 'Tinnies' (metal mugs), which we slung over our shoulders by means of a piece of string. The tinnies were to be used for our drinks when we attended the later celebration in the High Park.
The meetings for this mission were in a small hall in School lane. (Photo)
In 1946, the hall and some adjoining property had been gifted to the Mission. A constitution was drawn up which stipulated that five trustees had to be appointed. This was done to ensure that the transfer of the property was legally transacted. The Mission was responsible for the support of its own evangelist, and in the early days this support came mainly from generous, anonymous Christian friends. No public appeals were ever made for help.
The evangelist was Mr. Robert G Anderson, the secretary was William Trueman of Cumroch Road, and the treasurer, Mr. William Pollock, also of Cumroch Road.
The programme had a the following classes:
Joy Campaign Service on a Saturday
Girls Club on a Tuesday
Prayer and Bible Study also on Tuesday
Young People's Meeting on a Wednesday
Boy's Club, also on Wednesday.
A Gospel Service was held in Milton Public Hall on a Sunday, and the Band of Hope was on a Thursday.
By the time I attended the Mission the preacher was Mr. Christy Gunn. He offered refreshments, hymn singing, lectures, lantern shows, and nice place of refuge in the cold winter nights. It was a popular place with children, but even so, they nevertheless sang a little ditty about the place and Mr. Gunn, which is slightly irreverent.
Come ye one, come ye all,
Come ye to the Mission hall.
Admission free, pay at the door,
Cushion seats, sit on the floor.
A cup of tea, and an iron bun,
That's what you get from Christie Gunn.
Although we didn't realize it at the time, I'm sure we all gained a lot more than that from Mr. Gunn.
One annual event which always caught my attention was the crowning of the May Queen in St Machan's Church. I remember watching Maureen Argue, the Queen for that year, and her attendants - who had all made their first holy communion that day, walking in a circle around the chapel building. As I recall, some children walked ahead of the queen, strewing petals in her path. All were resplendent in their 'all white' outfits. I think the boys wore all white as well.
It is only through researching the history of Lennoxtown that I have come to realize how the name 'Field Park' came into being. I've discovered that it was near the site of one of two print fields - known simply as 'The Fields'. Station Road was formerly called Field Road.
Mr. William Partington, a member of Campsie Mechanics' Institution, claims that he approached the owners and offered them £10, for the use of the field, at a time when he had no means of raising the money. He stated the benefits which could be gained by having the field as a recreation area for the workers in Lennoxmill, and was advised to put his request in writing to Mr. R Dalglish, the provost. Mr. Dalglish agreed to the request, and provided the Field Park free of charge, not only to the workers of Lennoxmill, but also for the benefit of the inhabitants of Campsie.
Until 1964, when the railway closed, people intending to travel from Lennoxtown by train needed to walk through the Field Park to get to the station.
It was always cause for great excitement when the shows came to the village; they generated an enormous amount of excitement and interest with the local children, and the village was soon buzzing with the news of their arrival. They always pitched in the Field Park.
When I was very young I won a doll at the shows - a doll with two heads, one black, and the other white. Although now a little the worse for wear, I still have it today.
Every year, we would advance on what became something of a pilgrimage, along the double hedges near Bencloich Farm, and head for the Bluebell woods. These woods, located near (or at ) the Glorat Estate, were awash with flowers, whose heavy scent could be sensed before even seeing the flowers. Each child usually collected an armful of flowers before returning home.
At some point in the year somebody would say "the brambles are ready", and very soon afterwards, generally on Sunday afternoons, we would don trousers, Wellingtons and gloves, before setting off to collect them. Favourite spots to gather the fruit were up around the High Park, and the golf course area.. The resultant jelly my mother made was delicious; I'm sure no 'store bought' jelly ever could match it for taste.
Periodically staff and patients of Lennox-Castle Hospital would produce concerts, to which employees and their families were invited. The productions were elaborate affairs which would have done any theatrical group proud. I remember being very favourably impressed by the patient known as 'The Memory Man' If you told him a date, past or in the future, he could tell you what day of the week it was. His memory feats are the result of his rare, but now well documented condition. Little did I realize that I would eventually work with the memory man. He was a great personality, with a very well developed sense of humour. Even in his 80s he made a bee-line for the daily record every day, but was only interested in the page 3 dolly!
Another concert I remember, was a St Patrick's day go-as-you-please in the Town Hall. This may have been produced by St Machan's Church. Bella McGroarty sang 'Jerusalem', Ellen Carr sang 'Cuddle up a little closer', and although I remember one of the Mooney boys singing, I cannot remember the name of the song.
At the end of Chapel Street, on the right hand side, up nearest the chapel was a small sweet shop which was owned by a woman called Carrie Nock. My feeling is that she may also have stayed on the premises. When Ms Nock opened the door, a little bell tinkled. I don't remember ever being inside the shop - only standing at the door, viewing the beautiful, but oddly shaped jars, filled with sherbet and sweets. My purchase was always the same - 1 pennyworth of sherbet, which was presented in a piece of paper rolled into the shape of a cone.
In Chapel street, on the opposite side of the road to Ms Knox's was a very early betting shop. It was through a close and round the back, in a downstairs house. I remember delivering a note there, and being paid 1d for my trouble. I think betting was illegal at the time!
An Italian family called the Thomas's owned ( or rented), the cafe at the bottom of the town. I think Mr. Thomas was the brother of Menia Arcari, who owned the cafe at the top of the town - near the Swan Inn.
The Thomas's had three daughters, and one of them succeeded in winning her way through to the final of a very prestigious singing competition in Italy. The final was being broadcast on the radio, and many Lennoxtown residents tuned in, anxious to to hear the outcome. As I recall Miss Thomas won the competition and went on to sing at La Scala Milan.
Radios were one of our main sources of entertainment, but they were much less sophisticated that those we use today. I remember moving a very primitive aerial around, trying to tune in to radio Luxemburg. The radio depended on accumulators to generate power, and these had to be charged from time to time. Ours was always taken to Stanley's electrical and plumbing shop on the Main street - just at the junction of Main street and Slatefield. The accumulators, which were square and about 10" high, were made of clear special glass, and had metal strips around the top, to which handles were attached.
Stanley, who ran the shop, was a Polish gentleman who decided to settle here after the second world war.
Attending the Boys Brigade's wonderfully athletic displays in the old Drill Hall, and the dances in the small Trinity Church Hall
My most favourite pastime was dancing. I have fond memories of dancing classes with Sadie Cameron in a small house near the Commercial Inn; classes with Isla Crow in the lesser Hall of the Town Hall, and of course, many, many happy hours with Mrs. Cuthbert in the Rechabite Hall, now called The Masonic Hall.
This is a story related to me by my sister. I have no personal recollection of the events.
Several children were passing Well Lane, when they were suddenly thrown into a state of panic, as a bull, which had escaped from the abattoir came running on to the Main road. The screaming children were rounded up by one of the workmen trying to catch the bull, and sent to stand down under the Glazert bridge until the animal was caught.
The abattoir was situated in Well lane, down near Baker Broon's well.
I remember standing in queues to be vaccinated at Dr Hemphill's surgery at the side of Whitefield dam. Dr Hemphill and his wife were both employed in the vaccinations to try to cope with the rush.
The only car I can remember in my early years was that driven by Mr. Fred Cocker who lived in Holyknowe Road (In what is now Holyknowe Crescent). It was a small black car, possibly an Austen. It was sometimes referred to as 'the matchbox', but I'm unsure if this was a nickname given by the children in the area, or if that was the name of the car. He wouldn't have had any problems parking in those days.
Image: Courtesy of Strathkelvin District Libraries
In our house in Slatefield, every Sunday night without fail, after clothes were organized for school next day, and we all had a bath, and the freshly made dumpling was steaming on the range, the bone combing would begin! It was neck-breaking stuff, which seemed to last for hours. Any movement of the head or any indication that you were fed up, was rewarded with a quick reprimand, and instructions to 'stay at peace.' The only comfort was the piece of hot dumpling when your 'turn' was over. Bone combing and having to take a dose of Cod Liver Oil every night were the two things I hated most when growing up! My mother always shoved the 'oily' spoon in and out of the hot ashes in the fire several times. I'm not sure if it was to get rid of the oiliness, or the smell of the oil.
Cleaning the range was like a theatrical production. My mother covered her hair in a turban created from a scarf, put on her apron, and produced her 'box of tricks' - all the necessary tools of the trade. She had black lead, brushes, steel wool and even a piece of velvet in there. She rubbed and she scrubbed until the range shone; the 'silver' bits were cleaned with the steel wool until they were gleaming, then the entire range was polished over with the piece of velvet. When finished, she would take a couple of steps back, survey her work, rub a couple of areas, then nod her approval of a job well done.
She was also a dab hand at 'stippling' when it was time to redecorate. With a variety of coloured distempers and cloths, she could make the plainest walls come alive with her designs. Wallpaper at the time always came with white edges running the entire length of the roll. These had to be cut off before the paper was hung. Nothing went to waste, so the white strips were tied to a piece of string, and weighted with a metal 'nut', and turned in to wonderful lariats for us to play with.