Chapter Three: The Jelly Maker – Robert Scott
I have always loved Bridge of Allan, a bond that has remained with me from my earliest childhood when I visited my grandfather at Drumdruils farm. The following account then is dedicated to my grandfather Robert ‘Rab’ Scott. The narrative will have at its beating heart Bob Scott the grandfather of Rab. The story will further describe how the Scotts brought Jam to Scotland and will walk through their keen & innovative role as fruit growers.
Robert ‘Bob’ Scott (1856-1940) was an extraordinary man – this superlative can be used without fear of exaggeration. As recently as this last summer, I was blessed to read letters written to and from Bob Scott of Orchard. They show a man of enormous benevolence, deep kind heartedness and an exceptional entrepreneur who still managed to put his family first.
The Scott family characteristic has always been garnered by two principal traits – an innate kindliness and a spontaneous, genuine humour. Margaret Scott, dear Granny to Andrew and Rachel, my mother, and daughter of Rab, has that true kindliness of being. In spades the Orchard Scotts had it: a beautiful, selfless generosity of being.
Bob Scott (1856-1940) was a Nurseryman, retaining and developing the skills of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He developed these skills in a time of great Victorian advancement, and was instrumental in the success of the Carluke Preserve Factory. He was a man highly regarded and liked by all.
Bob Scott, the eldest child of Robert Scott and Agnes Tudhope, was born at Holmfoot, Carluke in October of 1856. He was to grow up at the helm of his five younger brothers and three younger sisters.
Sadly Bob’s mother, Agnes Tudhope, died when he was just 16 years old. He loved his mother dearly, and felt her loss ever so sorely. That grief was still palpable in the letters he wrote in much later life. Agnes, his mother, had succumbed quickly to death when her brain had swollen uncontrollably in the days after she had given birth to her last child Thomas. Shaken with his loss, dazed, and miserable, Bob left the family home of Totham Cottage, Uddingston and took sail for California. Poor Bob, he was adrift, his mother had died and within two years his father had remarried, taking as his bride the Housekeeper ‘Annie’ (Hamilton). Bob learned of his new stepmother on his first few days ashore in America. He was affected badly. He had had a terrible journey by sea, had no clothes and no money and his mental state was in a state of complete and utter unrest. This, in reflection now, was the breaking, and the making of the man.
Bob’s brother Alec was worried for Bob, and wrote with homesprung affection, offering to recall the good guidance of their dear mother:
“I am sure you will be wearying to see us all again, but I think it may be a while before you will manage that since you have no money. I’m sure you will be welcome home again. I hope that you will be kept from all toil while you are so far from home, remember your kind mother who is now in the happy Land. Oh Bob mind all her good advices. May God watch over you and protect you till you come home again.”
Within days of Alec’s letter, Bob received a letter from his father Robert. It betrays Bob’s dire circumstances:
“I received your welcome letter, and was glad to hear that you was well, although in poor circumstances. I heard from the Newspapers of your arrival out on the 24th of October, and it then knew of your long voyage. You speak of cold and hardship during the passage, I think it must have been enough for older hands than you were, and I am not in the least surprised at you getting enough of it, you say that you have run away from the ship, and you seem as you have got none of your Pay, and had left all your clothes, if that is the case you will find yourself very awkward amongst Strangers.”
The Scott family was of the ‘Auld Licht,’ presbyterian and strict. Bob’s father was guided in his faith to write and to offer such spiritual counsel:
“And Robert I am very glad to hear that you have taken my advice and never tasted Strong Drink, and I beseech you never do it, for there is always a curse attending the use of Strong Drink and my Prayer will always be that you may be kept from it and every other Sin and I am glad to hear that you wish an interest in all our Prayers, I think you will have had it every day since you left here, but you must also Pray for yourself, and I do hope you do it daily.”
These two letters, from Bob’s brother Alec, and his father Robert, are about all that survives to tell of Bob and his run-away venture. However a story has survived as told by John Gibson Scott, great-grandson of Bob. Whether there is truth in the story is another matter, yet it truly portrays the tortured nature of Bob in what were clearly most desperate of times. It was said that Bob had got involved in a ‘brawl’ with a ‘chineseman’ in a San Francisco bar after Bob had been upset with the way this man had used ‘the Lord’s name in vain.’ Worse still the brawl was to result in the death of the chineseman. Thereafter Bob took frantic and returned to Scotland, arriving back on Scotland’s shores in early 1874, after sailing & piloting himself around Cape Horn. How he undertook such a journey is hard to imagine, his mind must have been tortured and to survive physically he must have resorted upon every fibre of his athletic being. Perhaps not unsurprisingly Bob came ashore looking something like a pirate; bearded with a head-scarf and earring. His childhood sweetheart Margaret Marshall greeted him.
Less than a year later, in July of 1875, Bob Scott & Margaret Marshall were married. Bob was later to describe how Margaret tamed his wayward spirit. Fifty years later on the occasion of their Golden Wedding, Bob wrote a letter for his dear wife Margaret and left it under her pillow:
These last few days I have been looking back to that time fifty years ago, when in your glorious young womanhood you gave me your love and yourself. I have often thought it took a big courage on your part to plight your troth to such a harum scarum, unsettled chap as I then was, but perhaps, after all the confidence of your warm little heart was justified in some small measure, for have we not been loyal and true to one another through all those past years!
In the last decade of the century of his birth, Robert entered for Veterinary Medicine at Glasgow University. He was apparently a prize-winning graduate. His choice of study was not to change vocation, but to pursue in particular, his love for horses, and to share and develop, the ‘equestrian cause’ of his Uncle William.
In the early years of their marriage, Bob worked as a Market Gardener in Newton Dumbarton, and here, in a house called “Allan View” three of their children were born: John in 1878, Agnes in 1881 and Jessie ‘the blue-eyed Scott’ in 1883. Within a couple of years the family had returned to Carluke, living at first at Roseneath Cottage, and later a granite villa called Fairyknowe. Over a twenty-year period, from 1876 to 1896, Bob and Margaret had seven children, five boys and two girls (Robert, John, Moppie, Alec, Willie, James and Jessie). In 1905 the family moved to Auchenstueart in Station Road Carluke, a larger and more imposing sandstone villa.
Generations of Bob’s family had worked the land of the Orchard Estate near Crossford. His great-grandfather (Robert Scott of Gowanglen born 1761) was the first of his family to learn the craft of fruit-bud grafting. Alec MacCallum Scott, MP, has described Gowanglen’s early enterprise:
“At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, a certain Robert Scott had a nursery garden at Gowanglen. He did a considerable business in supplying the orchards of the Clyde with fruit trees, and his fame was established as a grafter and pruner. As far away as Seggieden, in Perthshire, his descendants have gathered fruit from trees which came from Gowan Glen.”
It is interesting that Bob’s return to Carluke coincided with the early days of Jelly Works of R. & W. Scott, which was certainly up and running by 1880. This venture was started by Bob’s father Robert and his Uncle William (of Marnoch Mill, later Gillfoot, and finally Thornholm). It appears that Bob Scott redirected the agitation of his early years into the most energetic development of his father’s business.
Before the Scott family, commercial strawberry growing was not known in Scotland, and had Robert Scott not ‘induced his brother’ in the spring of 1873 ‘to plant half-an-acre of ground with strawberry plants as an experiment’ this fruit may never have graced the Scottish pudding bowl. At Mashockmill, Orchard, the sheltered situation and the suitability of the soil was found to yield ‘very satisfactory results,’ and strawberry culture became one of the main industries of the Clydesdale neighbourhood.
“The success of the works was undoubtedly due to the splendid managing abilities of the partners. Both were men of integrity and uprightness in all business dealings, which gained for them the esteem and confidence of customers and employees alike, and has given the firm name of R. & W. Scott a reputation and character excelled by no firm in Scotland.”
So next time you enjoy a juicy Scottish berry think of Robert and his chance suggestion to his brother William. For without the shared spirit of adventure of these two brothers, our palate might indeed have been sadly deprived.
By 1900, Bob’s father, who had been ill through tuberculosis, was retired. By now the Jelly works were flourishing, and a business contract in 1905, valued the company at £60 000! At this time Bob Scott was the Company Secretary, and his Uncle William was the Chairman. The wealth of the family was literally growing daily, and Bob and his family had by now several homes.
Secure with the success of the Jam works, Bob, backed by considerable fortune, started his search for the right location for a new orchard. It was a search that took him outwith his familiar upper Clyde Valley and that ultimately brought him to Bridge of Allan.
Bob Scott took tenancy of Drumdruils Farm from Martinmas 1892, and just two years later he adapted the agreement to share the tenancy with his son John (who was then just 16 years old).
Bob Scott was keen to prove that he could be a successful fruit grower outside the vales of Clyde. Together, with his young son John, he set forth, grafting and stocking the farm. Detailed handwritten volumes describe the busy years of the late 19th century and contain thorough itineraries of the fruit trees planted by Bob and John. It was to be a successful venture. R & J Fruit Growers, Bridge of Allan was thus born, and John’s future secure.
During this time the family was hit by their first most sorrowful loss. Willie, aged just 11 years, died of Rheumatic fever at Drumdruils farm. He was buried in Carluke, where he spent most of his childhood.
Bob Scott was highly regarded in Carluke and respected for his strength in business and generosity of spirit. He was a deeply religious man, and raised his family in light of his beliefs. His children enjoyed a caring, warm family life and were to be well educated. Later this prosperity of youth was repaid with their own success: Robert became a doctor, surgeon and missionary; Alec, a doctor, advocate and politician; James, who was wounded in Gallipoli, succeeded his father’s role in the Jam Works; and Moppie married Dr George Prentice a pioneering African Missionary.
With his son settled at Drumdruills, Bob bought the Cornton Farmhouse and estate, which lay upon the vales of the river Forth. There he set about building a new home to retire to. During this time, the early 1900’s, there must have been much flitting between Carluke and Bridge of Allan.
Bob started work on his new Orchard House, and employed the architects James Salmon & John G. Gillespie to design a light and spacious family home into which he could embrace his family. Salmon was a close friend and contemporary of Charles Rennie McIntosh and introduced some lovely Arts and Crafts detail to the house. Early construction proved difficult. The first foundations were found to be unstable on the carse’s notorious shale banks, so the project had to be restarted using a new floating-foundation.
For Bob and Margaret the years at Bridge of Allan were to be largely happy ones, surrounded by children and grandchildren. It became a cherished haven for returning family from Africa. Peggy Moffat, daughter of Bob’s daughter Moppie, (pictured below with her sister Nancy) wrote some lovely memoirs of that time at Orchard House:
….”Robert was the owner of a jam factory which he had inherited from his father Robert and his uncle Willie, in Carluke – a little village set in the beautiful Clyde valley which was renowned for its fine fruit orchards. The jam factory of R & W Scott flourishes until today.
Bob’s mother Margaret (Marshall) was a handsome dark-haired woman with a beautiful complexion and the prettiest hands I think I have ever seen. She was a real personality in the village and had a good big family. Robert. Alec, John, James, Willie (who died when very young) Agnes and Jessie. Robert (or Bob) and Alec were both doctors, John had a large fruit farm called Drumdruills in Bridge-of-Allan, James was in the jam factory In Carluke. Agnes (or Nan) was having singing lessons in Glasgow and was quite exceptionally good-looking with a tall slim figure and her mother’s dark eyes, while Jessie who was my loved ‘Auntie’ was the youngest with fair hair and the Scott blue eyes. She never married. Later on she looked after my little sister Nancy and myself when her parents had moved to a super house which her father had specially built to retire to in Bridge-of-Allan in an orchard to grow apples, plums, pears and damsons on ‘good, heavy carse soil.’
Grannie was quite strict with us, but very fond of us we knew. Auntie Jessie who was ready for any game or ‘expeditions’- and Grandad who walked round all the hedgerows with us and through the orchards looking for bird’s nests and getting to know the various birds and their songs. Near the house there was an old orchard where we had a special apple tree with thick old gnarled branches where we sat, and which every spring we almost tiptoed past because the Blue Tits were back again in their special hole In the trunk. In the hall, at the Orchard, there was another of ‘our’ places. Under the stair there was an alcove with a fireplace, comfy chairs and tall narrow stained-glass windows on either side of the fireplace. Every spring Robins built their nest in one of these windowsills, which reached right through the thick walls of the house, and we could peep through the glass and watch the babies being fed.
Also in those days we had gorgeous place to go to, and that was Uncle John and Aunt Susie’s big fruit farm, Drumdruills. There we played with our cousins Susie, Madite, Rab and Mary; games like ‘kick the can’, out in the yard, hide-and-seek, or rounders. Often our other Scott cousins Bobby, Betty, Margaret and Marshall came for the school holidays to the Orchard – which definitely livened things up.”
In May 1910 Robert officially retired from the Preserve-making business and the new Orchard House was complete. It was to be a wonderful family home.
Bob and Margaret had lost their young son Willie to Rheumatic Fever in 1898. Tragically Drumdruils was to deal them another shock in the early summer of 1912, when John Scott, their second son took suddenly ill. He succumbed quickly to a burst gastric ulcer, the same condition that had taunted Bob himself. John was just 34 years and had a young family, his only son Rab (my grandfather) was just 7 years old. This was a dreadfully sad time for the family, and was the first event to lead to the family’s’ eventual departure from fruit growing and preserve making.
“Always at Christmas time there was a real family party with Grandad carving the turkey, and Robbie muttering about getting hungrier and hungrier and that it was horrid being the youngest and served last! Then after the meal we children settled ourselves round the fire in the hall while the oldest – Susie, read us stories from Chatterbox, Little Folks, Chum, and so on. Then tea and some games in the hall – and Christmas was bye for another year.
After one such Christmas. Nancy who was 9 or 10 told me that she thought she must have been a ‘gutsy hound’ at the dinner a day or two before, because she had a very sore tummy. Our doctor was away on holiday, and his locum came to see what was wrong.
He said it was a case of having overeaten, and perhaps too many sweets and things, but when it became apparent that Nancy was really ill she was hurried into Edinburgh to be operated on by Dr. Caird, – but by that time It was too late as the appendix had perforated and she died a few days later. She was a specially gifted little girl, and somehow it seemed such a dreadful waste; and I really knew what it was like to have my heart broken. One of the last things she said to me was ‘My little body is aweary of this great world.’
The Orchard, Bridge of Allan. December 27th
My Dearest Uncle Alec,
Thank you so much for the five shillings it was very good of you to send it to us.
Thank you so much for the lovely big box of chocolates that Aunt Rita and you sent it was very kind of you both. I had to get a prize for my war poem but it has never come so I don’t expect it at all now.
Auntie is coming home today she is to be in Stirling about eight I think she is bringing Bobby and Marshall with her. Betty and Margaret go to Carluke.
How are you keeping?
Give much love to Aunt Rita next time you see her.
Love from your wee
Fat pogling ‘Nancy’
Bob was to watch with horror the unfolding of the Great war. Two of his three surviving sons, Alec and James (‘Jimmy’) were conscripted. With the early loss of two sons, Bob and Margaret deserved no more heartache. Yet they didn’t have to seek their troubles, as their youngest son James was shot at Gallipoli. He received a bullet to the head and was lucky to survive, though by all accounts was never quite the same.
Alec Scott, doctor and barrister retained many of the letters sent by his father during the war and the years of depression thereafter. It presents an emotional account of a man at the helm of his family: and exemplifies the unconditional loving of a dad. Reading the letters I was so moved that I felt transported to Orchard beside old Bob at his writing desk. Yes akin to gentle Bob.
20th May 1915
My Dear Alex,
Man! I wish the war was over and Jimmy was back in the old place again. Isn’t it a most terrible struggle month after month? I rather think compulsion is now in sight. One cannot see 300,000 fresh men otherwise.
I have just had afternoon tea and the sun is breaking out. Re-reading this letter I see I have been a bit dampish. Don’t let me discourage you. Things will mend. We see a Captain Gibson killed in action. From the little notice given this seems to be Jack’s friend of other days. Poor fellow he was a right good sort I understand.
Yours ever Dad
30th June 1915
My Dear Alec,
I had your letter today and note how things go. I think you are doing quite right to nibble away at blackcurrants even if dear. The Dutch (Harlayen) currants may come in. I rather think that Carluke folks have bought some at 30/- They may be good or they may be indifferent. It will hardly do to depend too much on English. I fear they are just not there in quantity. If very scarce, I never saw the year when black jam could not be sold. Some folks seem determined to have it no matter what the price is.
You are right to arrange for definite lots per day. Otherwise you would get swamped. Keep in mind that we must have somewhere about 1000 tons of stock this year if we are to have any profit out of the business. It will be a little worrying for you for the next few weeks but just keep plugging away. It is a pity Tanyer Press and the sifter are giving trouble.
I am glad you saw Jimmy, isn’t he a hardy looking young fellow? It is going to be an anxious time if he goes to the front. We could wish to keep our laddie at home if we could. What a slaughter it has been already!
I am glad Bob is still this side.
Yours ever Dad
We saw MacCallum-Scott at Thornhome, we were together there over the weekend.
Now no narrative on the Scott family could pass by without dropping in on MacCallum-Scott. Alexander MacCallum Scott (1874-1928) was Secretary of the League of Liberals against Aggression and Militarism, and Secretary of the New Reform Club before becoming Liberal M.P. for the Bridgeton constituency of Glasgow in 1910. During the First World War MacCallum Scott was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Winston Churchill and remained M.P. for Bridgeton until 1922; two years later he left the Liberals to join the Labour Party.
The MacCallum Scott papers present a fascinating archive of an extraordinary man. The papers are lodged with Glasgow University Special Collections on the top floor of their library and include correspondence with constituents and contemporaries (including materials on the Suffragette movement), drafts of speeches, political diaries and journals of visits abroad (the latter containing his impressions of the Soviet Union and the Baltic States in the 1920s).
In 1905, MacCallum-Scott completed the very first biography of his friend Winston Churchill in which he predicted greatness based on his ‘will, courage, originality and magnetis’:
Discerning men, wrote Scott, predicted that “he will make history for the nation. The youth of thirty is confidently spoken of by his admirers as a future Prime Minister … he is of the race of Giants. In the tempestuous gambols and soaring ambitions of his youth, we read the promise of a mighty manhood”
Sometime before 1910, it has been recalled that Bob and his son John were introduced to Winston Churchill by MacCallum-Scott.
In more recent times, Winston Churchill was voted by several million as the Greatest Britain of all time. Yes truly one can state that MacCallum-Scott was ahead of the game!
McCallum-Scott was prolific and wrote a wonderful account of his family ‘A Clydesdale Man’ which he dedicated to his father. It traced the budding enterprise of Gowanglen and its orchard right through to the flourishing years of the Jelly Works.
To complete his manuscript MacCallum-Scott arranged to visit his family widely and record all sorts of anecdotes. He was a frequent and welcome visitor of Bob Scott at Orchard House Bridge of Allan as well as his son John at Drumdruils.
MacCallum-Scott had beautiful handwriting and his collected notes burst forth richly evocative of a Clydesdale that was once the fruit field of the world. With Bob at helm the jams of R. and W. became world famous. There were even Parisian adverts, with one design, made by young Jimmy of the Eifel Tower made out of Scots Jam jars!
On the last Sunday of August 1928 MacCallum-Scott and his wife Jessie were tragically killed in a plane crash over Puget Sound, British Colombia.
It was MacCallum-Scott who collected a lively collection of stories from Carluke which otherwise would be lost to time. When I was helping my Great-Aunt Sally write her memoirs I passed on some of his favourite MacCallum-Scott moments:
6th September 2005
Some years back I took a trip to Glasgow to visit the top floor of the University Library. It was here that the MacCallum-Scott papers were lodged. Alec was a prolific man and really very able. A true Victorian benefactor whose writings in a beautiful-hand’ paint the picture of someone special and genteel. Sad then that Alec and his wife were lost suddenly (in their prime) as the result of a tragic plane crash over Canada.
My trip to Glasgow was principally fuelled by my wish to find more about Dr Rankin – Carluke’s celebrated Doctor. You see I have collected stories relating to several 19th century doctors – Dr Rutherfoord of Bridge of Allan, Dr Rankin of Carluke and several from the North East of Scotland and Upper Deeside. It was one of my ideas to pull their stories together in some-sort of historical fabric. Yet another of my projects that never quite got going!
One visit to the collection could do no justice, however I did manage a search of one of MacCallum-Scott’s many boxes of handwritten notes. Between 1908 and 1925 he visited a number of our family, researching for his manuscript, which I know you have read, written in honour of his father “A Clydesdale Man.” It was amongst these notes that I found some wonderful family anecdotes and stories of a few of Carluke’s Worthies!
It has taken me till now to write up Alec MacCallum-Scott’s writings and still, they are but a snapshot! I cherry-picked the stories that appealed to me – mostly the humourous accounts! Lists of dry family names has never appealed – bringing them alive does – and that is why I love your style of writing so much.
More than that – to me the Scott family characteristic embodies two principal traits – an innate kindliness and a spontaneous, genuine humour. My grandfather Rab had these in spades which even years of drinking did not subvert!
During the early yrs of WWII my ‘Grumpa Rab’ had a favourite prank. He would wait until his visitors had enjoyed their dinner, slip out of the house and under early-nightfall wedge sand-bags under his visitors’ automobile. He would then sneak back into the house and bid his guests farewell – only to roar in laughter as they tried hopelessly to drive off!
As a youngster Rab used to visit the Dunblane Grocer and swap the ‘Lucky-dip penny-a-shot prizes’ with little wrapped presents of cow-dung!
Anyway enough of that. I thought you might like the story of Bob o’ Totham and his Latin! Also it looks as if your dad met with Alec MacCallum-Scott at Orchard House at the end of Nov 1913. Could that be right?
I thought you might like to see Punkie Willie! Quite a Carluke character! As a child I remember coming across his photograph in the old Drumdruills side-board – I had no idea it was Punkie – but he did make me wonder so!
Bob’s father, the founder of R. & W. was a robust figure and embodied the sense of humour so keen to the Scotts, though at times, it has been recorded he could ‘nip’ a bit hard with this.
Archie Reid got a little Latin at school. John Scott ‘a Clydesdale Man’ (father of MacCallum-Scott) once offered old Reid a job at Boathouse:
“Whit John Scott” was the indignant reply: “Wud ye ask a Latin Scholar to cairt dung tae Glasgow. Na! Na!”
That same season Archie was employed pulling fruit with Bob Scott o’ Totham & Rob Caldwell:
“What dae ye call this in Latin” asked Bob, pointing to a ladder?
“Ledderibus” said Archie.
“Weel” said Bob, “tak that Ledderibus, an gan’ tak that treeibus an pull the pearibusses!!”
Archie was dumfounded and gasped “when did you learn Latin Bob?”
Robert Scott one of the founders of the firm R. & W. Scott, Preserve Makers, Carluke, had once in his early days to consult Doctor Rankin about some affection of his skin. The Doctor took his hand and examined it carefully while his face assumed a look of anxious solicitude.
‘Man, Robert’, he said slowly, ‘D’ye know if there’s any place round about here where they send lepers?’
‘I got a start’, Robert used to say afterwards, in telling the story. ‘It sent a kind o’ cauld shiver through me. D’ye think its Leprosy, Doctor’, I said.’
‘I don’t like it’, said the Doctor shaking his head, ‘but give me a bit o’ paper and I’ll write ye out a prescription. There, get a pennyworth o’ that and I think it’ll cure ye!”
Dr Rankin was born in Carluke in 1805. He began a career in Law but changed to Medicine and studied at the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow. He chose to practice in Carluke despite other opportunities and became a much loved and well respected figure in the town. He never charged the poorer townspeople, who knew he could be relied upon for help and advice no matter what the problem. He was a lovable eccentric who took great pride in his long mane of hair and also boasted that his attire had come into fashion not once, not twice, but three times since he first graduated in sartorial splendour. It was one of Dr Rankin’s boasts that he never was on a train!
Mary Scott (grandmother of Bob Scott) once went to Dr Daniel Rankin of Carluke to get a bad tooth pulled. He climbed up on the back of the chair on which she was sitting and yelled in a fearsome voice “Open your mouth” She got such a fright she jumped up and the doctor fell all his length. As he expected, however, the fright put away the toothache!
Dr Rankin did not ride a horse, it was said that ‘on the only two occasions he rode it, it unsaddled him, and it was sent back to the giver Mr Hamilton of Braidwood House.’
My favourite story however recalls one of the Gilchrists of Gillfoot, (the house next to Hill of Orchard and later home of William Scott of R. & W.) who travelled to Canada or Russia from where he sent home a ham of Bear Figure 12: Dr Rankin of Carluke
“You ken a Bear has foot awfu’ like a human being” said Robert Scott of Totham. The foot was “cut aff the ham an flung oot on tae the midden where some aff the folk found it” . . . “it caused an awfu’ commotion in oor church: They thocht it was a human foot an someone had been murdered!!”
That has been a wee diversion into the lives of some of Carluke’s old worthies, but it is time now to return to the letters between Bob Scott and his son Alec. One letter addressed to Alec was not from his father, but from a friend, Ella Crum, it is worth recording as it conveys the tidal emotions of the unfolding war:
Garth, Trentham, 19th December 1915
I love my country, simply because it is my country, but the Hun has taught us the ghastliness of the super-nation and the super-man. With this chastened view I can’t even thank God I am Scots! But I shall thank Him if we are given the grace to do well among our brothers.
And don’t feel the times a bit bitter in losing your friends. It’s a good cause, and a life so much better than the old ante-bellum life that they have now.
On his retirement the Carluke Young Men’s Christian Association presented Bob a wonderful commemorative scroll:
“We take this opportunity of addressing you in prospect of your retiral from our Association owing to your removal from Carluke to reside at Bridge of Allan. We regret your departure from amongst us, but at the same time we desire to recall with gratitude the many services which you have rendered to our Association and to say how heartily we wish you God-speed in all your ways….”
Bob Scott invested wisely and owned a number of properties, including the Cornton & Forglen Farm; Orchard House; Kennetpans; 163 Gourlay Street, Glasgow; 26-32 Hotspur Street; 468-478 Dumbarton Road and 6 Trafalgar Street, Dalmuir
After Bob Scott’s retiral, his youngest brother John ran the Preserve Factory at Carluke. The company continued in its prosperity, and John and family moved into the Orchard Mansion House at Crossford. John’s sons opened preserve works further afield, at Hayes Middlesex and in Dublin Ireland.
I do hope that I am not losing the narrative, but I find that I cannot leave out the letters of Bob. He was a man underwritten by strength, a man who put the Jam Works on a worldwide stage, and a man who lived for his family.
10th June 1915
Mother is still in bed but feeling a bit better, although sickish at times. It is just possible she won’t venture down tomorrow, but we shall see. It is quite evident she cannot stand now what she was able to undertake in former years.
Man I am kind of sorry that you had that rumpus with Bob yesterday. It has worried me ever since I heard of it. Of course I know well you are anything but quarrelsome, but these quarrellings of relatives are so disagreeable and leave one so worried that they are best avoided if at all possible.
I hope to see you all tomorrow again. I am not lecturing you Sandy. I know you are a good sort and the last to treat anyone unjustly.
In July of 1928 Bob wrote to his son Alec telling him how his health had failed rapidly: he had no appetite and what he could eat was retched straight back up. Reading the letter below you can understand that Bob must have feared that he had cancer.
29th July 1928
I told you last week that I was going up with Dr Welsh to see Dr McLennan at Doune, well we went up on Tuesday last. Dr McL. examined me very thoroughly. He said he thought there had been an ulcer about the pyloric opening earlier in my life and that in healing up it had resulted in a thickening of the membrane and a consequent constricting of the opening into the bowel, with the further consequence that the contents of the stomach had a difficulty in passing out. Hence the vomiting and the eructations of gas so repeatedly. He said that it might be advisable to have a small operation performed, but first of all he wanted to have the contents of my stomach examined microscopically I suppose, before doing anything. Since a week past on Saturday there has not been any vomiting and no nausea. For the present I am taking my meals with some degree of appetite and relish. My stomach feels still a bit full and I have to take a dose of Rochelle salts every second day. On Tuesday morning – this is Sabbath – Dr Welsh is coming down to empty my stomach with the tube and to submit part of the contents to Dr McLennan. What the result may be I do not know. It was hinted that I might be put under the x-rays. You will understand better than I do. Dr McL. was surprised to learn of my age. He thought I was quite wonderful, but really I am a good bit thinner, the vomiting and loss of appetite two weeks ago pulled me down a bit.
Now, sonny mine, don’t think that I am whimpering as scared, I have had my three score years and ten and more, and that is all we are promised.
With fondest love,
Although Bob was officially retired, one gets the sense that he never really stopped. In one letter to Alec he remarked “I don’t mean to stick so close here now that Rab has taken over the tenancy of this place. I must have some leisure time in my old age.” Rab, his grandson, was in turn, as you must realize, my own grandfather. That is how I am cast into the world of my grandfather and in turn my grandfather’s grandfather. It was Bob and Rab who made me the ‘Garden Maker.’ That is a tradition of which I am rightfully proud. Yes rightfully proud.
Of all the pictures this one (to the right) is a clear favourite of mine. In it Bob is so wonderfully tall and straight backed, standing proudly next to his granddaughter Peggy Prentice who holds up his darling wee great-grandaughter. In the background is Kennetpans. This was a home that Bob gave to the Prentice family. It had its own Orchard and tomato houses and had a glorious outlook over the river Forth towards Airth. The Kennetpans house, after the time of the Scotts, was later destroyed by an accidental fire, but Bob’s Orchard survives to this day.
22nd April 1934
Wire worms were bad in tomato houses at Kennetpans this spring and a lot of plants were spoiled, but we are hoping that the worst is over. We tried Valproate, Arsenals of Lead, Paris Gree & also Nicotine. It is an endless struggle with pests of one kind or another in these days and I don’t quite feel so vigorous to go ahead and get them stamped out as once I was. I am fully 78½ years now. Mother was fully 80 when she, the best wee wifie in the world for me went home to be with her Redeemer. I think of her every day with a great longing in my heart. I shall ever thank God that he gave her to me. She was a grand wee chum to me in my life’s journey. I shall see her by & by when the morning breaks over the Everlasting Hills.
Rab is busy planting straws at Spittalton these days. He put in quite a few acres of rasps during this last winter. He has now some 30 acres rasps and about 12 acres straws – part of the last planted last back-end. He and his wife and wee boy are well.
We expected your brother Jimmy through this weekend, but he did not come. He may have gone elsewhere. Preserve making is a much leaner business these days. There is less demand & yet more competition. The foregoing is about all the news this time.
Yours ever Dad. (Kiss wee John for me.)
The past came kaleidoscoping back to me when I read of Bob’s trip north with Rob Moffat. Indeed, as Bob described, Rob was a ‘thoroughly good fellow.’ Rob Moffat retired from Africa and settled with his wife Margaret in Peebles. As a young child, I was taken to see Rob Moffat. He had an endearingly gentle affect and I felt safe and nurtured in his presence. He was a man of honour, intellect and post-colonial splendour. Looking back, I could just tell that he was blood and kin of the Great Missionary.
27th July 1935
You spoke of Rob Moffat, and of his lending you his car, as yours had petered out owing to some breakage or other. Rob is a thoroughly good fellow. I was awfully glad that a year ago we were able to take him with us for a tour right up through Crieff, Dunkeld and so on to Inverness the first day, and then on the second day, on through Beauly, Dingwall, Invergairn, Tain, Dornoch, Golspie, Helmsdale, Lybster, Wick, John o’Groats.
My wee mother’s prayer, I make my prayer. She prayed “this morning I would throw myself, my dear husband & dear children on the mercy of the one God in Jesus Christ.” I make this my own prayer (as far as I am able) every day.
Warmest love to Ming, wee John and you sonny o mine.
Time then to take a trip on the Tardis back to the present day. In May 2006 a book arrived in the post from Sally Scott, the daughter of Alec Scott (1885-1960) and Ming. It was entitled The Land of the Lost Content. Here was my response to Sally:
Wednesday 17th May 2006
You owe me an apology! I did not get to sleep till 2.15am, as I was of course reading your book. I then dreamt of Africa.
It is a singing, glowing, reaching and vitalizing account of your family – I could almost reach out and touch your Dad – so descriptive was the account skipping off your page. In the north-east, they would say he was a ‘man of many pairts’ and indeed he was. I have a touch of your father’s restlessness – it seems to be innate. I try to sit down and do something and then another idea comes into my head. It can be a very frustrating trait!
I think you were at your best when writing about your mother Ming. In a fair way you described the torrent of mixed-emotions that came with her ‘bolt.’ To me she floated around your book like an unseeing screen-idol.
I have said this before – but I do wish I had your descriptive flair, and ability to pull a situation into delightfully observed detail. I am quite envious! My writings are utterly plain in comparison! I am compiling an account of various family stories ‘This is not Yesterday’ – it is a borrowed phrase from Rachel when she was three. I don’t quite know what she meant but it did fit my purpose delightfully. I have collected Andrew and Rachel’s sayings in a little book: my favourite …. when Andrew offered to ‘buy me money’ after my wallet had been stolen!!
This is Not Yesterday is extraordinary tales of an ordinary family, but into it come Burke and Hare, Rabbie Burns, John Logie-Baird, the Madeleine Smith murder trial, the Lighthouse brothers, Florence Nightingale, Bonnie Prince Charlie and so forth….
As you have seen Bob Scott remained athletic into old age; in his seventies he challenged his grandson Robert to a race up orchard drive, and won!
On the 2nd July 1925, Bob and Margaret celebrated their Golden Wedding celebration. Bob wrote a touching note to his wife, which demonstrates both his true gentleness and also his deep faith:
My Dearest Margaret,
Congratulations to you, and I do congratulate myself. For it is not given to everyone to see the dawn of the ‘Golden Wedding’ year. But in God’s goodness and grace it has been gifted to you and me. Thanks be onto the Great Father of all, who has manifested his love so fully and freely onto us. He has been with us in our joys and sorrows, our cares and troubles; he has indeed been truly our friend. And thank you my sweetheart dear for your companionship through the long years. Your love and sympathy have cheered me and kept me going, when otherwise I might have lost heart.
These last few days I have been looking back to that time fifty years ago, when in your glorious young womanhood you gave me your love and yourself. I have often thought it took a big courage on your part to plight your troth to such a harum scarum, unsettled chap as I then was, but Perhaps, after all the confidence of your warm little heart was justified in some small measure, for have we not been loyal and true to one another through all those past years!
I thank you my dearest wife for all you have been to me, and for all your love and devotion. May God bless you and keep you all the days that may yet be left to us to go hand in hand down life’s journey. I feel it has been good to know and love each other and I often think, if by some strange throw back of the years to the time when you and I were young, as in 1875, we would just as fondly give ourselves again to each other for better and for worse as we did fifty years ago. Don’t you think so wifie dear? Back then I gave you a ring that was to be a pledge of love and union. It was a plain circlet of gold, but to you and me it meant much. I am now commissioning Bob, Chrissie and Jessie to get another ring for you in my name, which may be a further token, after half a century, of the love I bear to you, also as a mark of the deepest appreciation of that loving loyalty you have always given me. May you long be spared to wear the new ring.
Ever loving yours. Bob
Margaret in fact enjoyed seven more years of marriage before dying as the result of a stroke. The year was 1932, and she was in her 81st year. Bob was consoled by his daughter Jessy, who was unmarried and had never really left her father’s side.
Three years later Bob’s heart was broken once more. Poor gentle Bob for he lost his third and youngest son Jimmy, his dearest of boys. Jimmy succumbed to pneumonia which was indeed a nasty visitor upon the Scotts. The vividness of this loss is brought abruptly home to us by a letter sent to Alec from his sister Jessy.
Fairyknowe, Carluke. December 2nd 1935.
My dear old Alec,
I don’t know how to tell you and I wish I could soften the blow in some way. Jamie died on Sunday morning about six o’clock. We are all stunned & heartbroken. Dr McLean was called in on Wednesday after Jamie had had a bad rigor. He sounded him in the evening and found some rough sounds – not bad – but next morning pneumonia had developed definitely. Dr McLean brought down Robert Marshall to see Jamie and Robert phoned to us on Thursday evening. Father and I had just got home from the south the day before. We came through here on Friday morning and found Jamie much worse than we had been led to expect – Robert had tried not to alarm father. Jamie had a bad night on Friday, restless, vomiting frequently, and breathing quickly with difficulty. He couldn’t get rid of the mucus in his throat. About 6 o’clock he seemed rather better & seemed easier till the afternoon, asked to have his face and hands washed & looked at the pictures in the Bulletin. Later he wasn’t so well, and about 2 o’clock there was a decided change for the worse till about 6 o’clock he turned on his side and died. Bob and I were with him. Bob came up on Friday evening. Father went back to his own bed at the Orchard every night.
A specialist from Edinburgh Dr Hewitt saw him twice took a very gloomy view of him the first time but was more hopeful next day. All agree that it was a particularly vicious infection. The poor boy was felled by it. I can’t get his pathetic face out of my mind. He looked so boyish, eager to do anything that would make him better. He began to wander towards the end and about a few minutes before he died he begged me to get his shirt and socks. He was going to Bridge of Allan. I said it was much too early in the morning but he replied ‘no we’ll be there by half-past eight just a nice time and will go to our beds’ Poor boy he was tired to death. Will miss him terribly and it is painful to be in this house that he had made so comfortable and tasteful. He had had a few friends in on Tuesday evening for Bridge and as I write I can see the flowers which were put in for the party.
Father is terribly cut-up. Nan says she has never seen him so grieved at any time. Though Jamie was so ill Father thought he would pull through and he couldn’t believe his youngest had gone – always a loveable boy. It has meant something to us to find his friends in Carluke have loved him. He was very popular (how horrible to need to use the past tense.) He was tolerant and kind and enthusiastic in his interests, indeed a lovable boy.
And now our wee brother is being buried in the Carluke Churchyard on Wednesday, beside wee Willie & our grandfather. It is fitting that he should lie in Carluke where he belongs. He was just a visitor to Bridge of Allan. How we are going to go on without him I don’t know. He brought so much —- into our lives and we were so proud of him. He was so ornamental
These are dark days and now that death has got him I am sorry I didn’t do more for him. Will you excuse this scrawl, father wanted me to write. He will write himself when he has more heart for it.
Much love Jessy
By this time Bob must have lived for his faith and with this he had a resolute, yet inner strength, as this account has so demonstrated.
In June 1940 the Orchard came to an end. Bob Scott died on the 13th of that month while his daughter Jessy, prostrate with the same the same grim chest infection, slept in the next bedroom. Jessy took a turn for the worse and the decision was made not to tell her of her father’s passing. Sawdust was put down on the wooden floors of Orchard House, so that the hearse would not alert poor Jessy. Just nine days after the death of her father Jessy died. Sadness drifted through Orchard House like never before and Jessy, one can only imagine, must have felt the unrehearsed loss, and simply a broken-hearted spirit, gave up. Bob and daughter were buried together, alongside their family, at Logie cemetery. A plain stone was to mark the quiet resting place of this special family, a family under-pinned by the strength of Bob Scott.
Simplify Me When I’m Dead
Remember me when I am dead
and simplify me when I’m dead.
As the processes of earth
strip off the colour and the skin
take the brown hair and blue eye
and leave me simpler than at birth,
when hairless I came howling in
as the moon came in the cold sky.
Of my skeleton perhaps
so stripped, a learned man will say
‘He was of such a type and intelligence,’ no more.
Thus when in a year collapse
particular memories, you may
deduce, from the long pain I bore
the opinions I held, who was my foe
and what I left, even my appearance
but incidents will be no guide.
Time’s wrong-way telescope will show
a minute man ten years hence
and by distance simplified.
Through that lens see if I seem
substance or nothing: of the world
deserving mention or charitable oblivion
not by momentary spleen
or love into decision hurled
leisurely arrive at an opinion.
Remember me when I am dead
and simplify me when I’m dead.