Somewhere in the archives

Over the last few months I have been exploring the newspaper archives in search of material on Bridge of Allan. I started searching in the year 1800 and continued thereafter by chronological year. I am now up to 1967 [the year of my birth].

This archive-dwelling has presented a narrative-timeline that is rather different to that which you may find in history books!

This hole ousia post is about two incidental [and ephemeral] findings .

Ephemeral, these findings may be,  but they matter to me because they link family present with family past.

These two archive findings relate to the sale from Bridge of Allan: of a puppy and a car.

The puppy [as printed in the Stirling Observer, 23 January 1948]:The car  [as printed in the Stirling Observer, 17 June 1951]:

I shared these two archive findings with my mother on Facebook, and last night, on the phone, my mother shared with me some of her memories.

My mother [Margaret M. Scott] was born in St Ann’s, Bridge of Allan in the early summer of 1943:

Here is ‘wee Margaret’ in the garden of St Ann’s held in her brother’s arms, alongside her sister Helen who is holding Sprig, the family dog:

This is what my mother shared with me last night:

“I well remember Sprig. Bracken was daughter of Sprig so this [advert] could be for another puppy of Sprig. I can just remember the puppies. Granny was very keen on the Kennel Club and pedigrees!”

This is a photograph of one of my mother’s birthday parties at St Ann’s [my mother is standing front row, farthest left]:

This is a more recent photograph of St Ann’s, Bridge of Allan, in the time that it was ‘Beehive Nursery’:

Beehive was a Nursery for Rachel [my daughter] [granddaughter of Margaret M. Scott]:

Such were Rachel’s bright beginnings.

Now to that car for sale:

Heatherlie, is the house directly opposite Mossgrove [our family home]:

I was aware that my mother’s Granny [‘Mrs Gibson’] had once lived in Heatherlie:

And that Heatherlie was sold by our family in 1951:

My mother has many memories her ‘Granny Gibson’.

Ellen Callender Stevenson [‘Granny Gibson’] was born in Falkirk in late summer, 1879. This is a photograph of her taken a few years before she married:

In the summer of 1907 she married Wilfred Lawson Gibson. Their first family home, was Balhaddie, Dunblane:

Wilfrid Lawson Gibson,  who served throughout WWI, was a kenspecklet figure in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan. He was known to all by his war-time title: ‘Major Gibson’:

Back to that car: the Armstrong Siddeley Sports Saloon, for sale from the house opposite Mossgrove. Who did this car belong to? Who drove it? . . . . had Major Gibson bought it before he died? . . . . Why do these questions matter to me?

I asked my mum last night, this was her reply:

“I don’t think Granny Gibson was ever overseas and in 1950 I don’t think she would be able to. I have no recollections of that grand-looking car. Bob Stevenson was the one who had posh cars and a chauffeur [Bob was Granny Gibson’s brother]. It could have been Grandfather Gibsons I suppose. xx”

4 Replies to “Somewhere in the archives”

  1. It’s frustrating at times Peter when we realise that even our parents and their generation are now just out of the grasp of the answers to things we might have easily had resolved ten or twenty years ago. I find that happens so often now. The vast store house of memories, closed to us, keeps casting it’s shadow further down the line every year and we struggle to fit all the bits of the puzzle together. I find this article very interesting since I know a former inhabitant family of St Ann’s, the Frames (both Anne who sung in Holy Trinity Church choir and her famous brother David who was an acclaimed conductor, a wonderful pianist and contemporary of Sandy Oliver as well as their lovely sister Helen), Anne’s father was killed by a motor collision outside the now demolished lodge to Airthrey Estate (he was not in a vehicle but standing at the bus stop I think). I don’t have anything on Heatherlie but did know Mrs Wilson, or Miss Stirling as she was then, who lived in your own home opposite Heatherlie. I could tell you some colourful stories she told me. Her father had the Italian grocery in the now demolished buildings occupied by the 1970s flats between the cafe and Well Road. Regarding chauffeurs, your newspaper clipping about the joy riders at New Monkland gave me a smile and lastly I remember Mrs Rattray who lived in Castleview Drive, her father was chauffeur for Mr Pullar of Coneyhill. If Mr Pullar’s daughters were at a party he would remain seated outside in the car, no matter the weather (1920s) and ensure they were brought home safely, after which the car had to be cleaned and polished ready for the following day. Needless to say parties then were no different to now – possibly home at 3 or 4am? The chauffer’s house was the white painted property on the corner of Kenilworth and Coneyhill, lately occupied by the McCaigs but now under renovation I see. Mr Pullar need only shout “Rattray” on the doorstep and the car was ready for him. How times have changed. My own grandfather Scott lived at Roughrigg, near Longriggend. His father was an engineman variously on the Monklands railway and colliery pit heads. Craig’s paper mills at nearby Caldercruix was the scene of dispute in the 1920s and my grandpa remembered hearing a story about the men accosting the owner’s motor car, chauffer driven of course. A blockade was put across a road and they manhandled the man out of the back and landed him into a nearby burn. Desperate times and one can see the disparity of those times in those two separate incidents involving “masters and men”. As it happens, it seems that the Pullars were generally held with respect by their workforce. Their benevolence to the village is not in dispute. The late Baillie Andrew Thomson was as close to a union rep as the Pullars would allow and he was a tour de force in the Stirling Co-operative Society. He campaigned successfully for the men to have holiday with pay and they organised a club in order to have sufficient pay accrued to supplement their time off. This some years before the Lloyd George Acts came into force.

    1. Gavin,
      Your contributions to Bridge of Allan and the community are special. I really do welcome your recollections and thoughts which are always so well written. I am certain that my feel about your contributions is widely shared.

      The Grocer, William Stirling, who lived in our house and raised his family here was considered one of the best breeders of poultry in Scotland. He must have bred his chooks in our back garden [the soil at the foot of our garden is still very fertile!] William Stirling won award after award and was a judge at the Highland Games. Sadly he fell down steps one summer and died a few weeks later. I did not know where his Grocer shop had been – so thank you! I did come across a report that he was to open another shop as rats were found in the basement of his shop.

      Many thanks again for sharing such fascinating memories and stories. Please keep them coming!

      aye Peter

  2. Hi Peter, thank you very much for your kind reply – and you have enlightened me that Mr Stirling was a well known poultry keeper, I didn’t know that! It makes sense however, of one of those humorous stories his daughter told me as a very elderly lady – he probably did keep hens in the garden like you say but the story went that there were coops across the road in what is now the play park. The Misses Towers, who lived in “Magdala” were in the habit of obtaining eggs from one of the coops. Miss Stirling, as a child, was small enough to climb into the coop when she observed on an occasion their walking over in the direction of the park. Hidden within her spacious, gloomy wooden disguise, this mischievous little girl watched them approach the entry to the hen house and as they stretched in their arms to the opening of the coop and laid hands on the eggs, the “malum ovum” jumped on said hands and shrieked as loud as she could, sending the poor old ladies reeling back in terrified horror and immediately withdrawing to the house, whilst the perpetrator no doubt felt she had enjoyed “a good crack” at the old ladies expense. She refrained from explaining any further event resulting from this episode but I should imagine the culprit would have been carefully identified and duly examined in the course of time. More to follow! Yours, Gavin.

    1. What a wonderful story! I can imagine the glint in Mis Stirling’s eye as she recalled this bit of childhood mischief!

      aye peter

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