Sam McGinn




In 1992 Sam McGinn senior (born Kilmacolm 1906) dictated 6 hours of audio tapes describing
his life activities and experience living and working in Kilmacolm.

These tapes have been transcribed and give a wonderful insight into
Kilmacolm in the early 20th century and onwards.

Introduction - 

Sam McGinn (senior) Audio Recollections Composite 8th July. 2020 These words have been transcribed from tape recordings made by Sam McGinn, born 1906, and made in 1992. We have tried to keep to the actual spoken word as much as possible, but it has been necessary to make slight changes in order to make the story readable. We are sure that there are some mistakes especially with names and places. If you are able to correct these please contact The Kilmacolm Civic Trust.

The Story is laid out in sections below, grouped in a number of topics per section. The green numbers in brackets refer to further information in the GLOSSARY. 

Tab 1-4- Early Days : School : Early Jobs : The Incident of the Soapbox

Tab 5-8 - Politics : Burns Night : The Co-Operative : Getting Married

Tab 9-12 - Losing my job : More about houses : The Railway Station : The Stables

Tab 13-16 - Smithy Brae : Doctors : The Hydro : Kilmacolm Golf Club

Tab 17-20 - Union Matters : Co-operative Guilds : Trades People : Cars

Tab 21-24 - Photography : Fire Station : The Greenock Blitz : Illness

Tab 25-26 - World War 2 Service : More Politics

Tab 27-30 - Pubs : The Reading Room : Football : Other Activities

Tab 31-34 - Bridge : The Institute : Shops : Leaving School 

Tab 35-37 - Kilmacolm School : Characters : Gardeners

Tab 38-43 - The Pipe Band : Jimmy McKee : The Cattle Show : Telephone Exchange : Last Class at School : Kilmacolm


  1. 1-4
  2. 5-8
  3. 9-12
  4. 13-16
  5. 17-20
  6. 21-24
  7. 25-26
  8. 27-30
  9. 31-34
  10. 35-37
  11. 38-43
  12. Glossary


Early Days
My mother came to Kilmacolm at the beginning of the century to do domestic service at a house called Catalans, on the Bridge of Weir road, just opposite the Saint Columba Church, the original St Columba Church.

She was actually born in Lugton the same place as my father was born. My father, he followed her to Kilmacolm, and he became what they called the "Badge Porter" at the station. The "Badge Porter" had the supply of a horse and a lorry to deliver all the goods that came to Kilmacolm by the railway. This was a tremendous support because here was no other way of getting to Kilmacolm other than by horse and cab. There were no cars or busses or lorries or motorised vehicles in those days. So, he worked with the railway in Kilmacolm. He stayed where the present-day palatial flats on Gilburn Road, the luxury flats are. It consisted of 16 houses. Eight on the bottom with stairs at the back to those on the top. At either end there were two houses at the bottom. And then there was two closes with two houses in each close. On their back there was four stairs up, and at the end of the stairs there was a WC or a water closet. Now that was used by four families, each of those water closets. My mother, my sister Ellen, older sister to me was born in Burnside Terrace. My father then moved down to Meadowbank, down the Smithy Brae as he was now the "badge porter" at the station, which meant you had to supply a horse and lorry to deliver all the goods that came by passenger train, round the various houses and shops. So, his stable was just over 100 yards from where we stayed, right down against the railway, near the signal box. And for reasons of suitability we moved out there from Meadowbank. The next thing I remember was moving from there to Burnside Place, which is just the opposite the post office, there, up the close there. There were four houses upstairs and two in the sub flat. We were upstairs. The reason for moving there was my granny and grandfather, my mother's father and mother, moved to Kilmacolm and they had a house in Burnside Place, and I think to be be beside them, the parents of my mother, we had this house in Burnside Place. Now, we were in the top flat and the WC was down in bottom part, which meant that each time you wanted to go there it was a case of going down three stairs to the toilets.

And it was from Burnside Place I went to school. I went to school, just when I was only four and a half years of age. However, my mother had more of a family now and she was very glad to get rid to me. My grandfather died and my granny was left on her own. The next move was across the road to Octavia Buildings. A four-room apartment with an inside toilet. Now this was wonderful, and this was something we could never have dreamed of to have such a wonderful move into accommodation like that. However, it did not last long. My father took TB and was moved to a sanitorium in Johnson. This meant that we could no longer afford to live in a house of that description, so we moved from there to the Low Shells. Now, surely, that was a tremendous drop in our way of living because it was a terrace up there at the foot of West Glen road, and now demolished. I don't know it had eight, two, four six, eight houses and two attics. The toilets were away round the back for those in the attic. Goodness gracious, it would have taken them at least five minutes to come down three lots of stairs and away along the back to use the toilets. We were there when war broke out and we had a very hard time. We seemed to be lucky with the house we got because in the bedroom they had what we call "set in beds" There were two of those in the bedroom and one in the kitchen. The girls could be in one and the boys in the other and my granny had a single bed and the middle of the bedroom floor and my mother had that the use of the kitchen set in bed. Now she lived there a long, long time. And she had one wash house between all those families, meaning a great deal of discussion, and that, on how each would use the wash house. My mother, who worked most of the days, used to arrange with some of our neighbours that when they finished in the wash house they would leave the fire on and she would get around at night and do her washing. I lived there until I was 16 years of age. My mother remarried and went away to stay in Port Glasgow.
I started work as an apprentice painter before I was 14 years of age with a firm of "Richie" the Painters. And then working with Richie was a lad who took quite a liking to me and he was a proper gentleman He was Jock Andrew. When my mother decided to leave for Port Glasgow I was completely lost. However, Jock asked if I’d like to come and stay with them. I jumped at that, to go down and stay with them, in Church Place which was back down the Smithy Brae.

Jock was great socialist and, that's where I learnt what socialism was all about living with Jock Andrews. Now Church Place was there, it contained one, two, --- 6 houses. there. There was three up the stair, two in the close, and one in the gable end and It was the gable end that Jock stayed in. With one wash house, there. Facing the Church Place was what they called the Public Washing Room. And it had the burn through the middle of it. I don't know how many clothes places there were for hanging up clothes. It was a Public Washing Green because Church Place had no washing green and Meadowbank had no washing green. Other places around about had no washing green, it was used as the public washing green.
We had the first Labour government elected and John Wheatley, [1] who was the Minister for housing decided it was time something was done about the housing of the working class, and under his Bill we had municipal housing and Kilmacolm got two blocks, there, with four in each each block. One in Finlaystone Road now, and one in Old Hall Drive. At that time, it was called Townhead Place. Jock Andrews was fortunate that it was only ex-service men that got those houses, for eight ex-servicemen or their wives. This was meant for the houses on Townhead Place and Jock Andrews had one of them. Now we moved up there to a three apartment with a bathroom. Now that was something new for the working class to have bathrooms.

When I got married my wife and I went and stayed in my room at Townhead Place. Everything was lovely and everything was going well. Then one day Jock Andrews went to phone the Factor for something wrong in the house. And he wanted to find out what could be done about it. The factor was a man called Stevenson, in Johnston, and he said, "Have you got McGinn and his wife staying with you?" Jock says, "McGinn is more or less and adopted son of mine". He says "You, re not allowed to have any people staying with you other than you and your own family". So, he got a week to get me out! So that was a blow then. However, a great pal of mine Charlie Galbraith had been married for quite a while and had a baby and had a house in Gilburn Road. So, they had an empty room and I went to stay with Charlie down there in Gilburn Road. We were quite happy in Gilburn Road and had a happy time because Charlie's wife was a very lovely person and we had no trouble at all. Everything seemed to be going well until my wife and me chose to have a baby. Now she went away to have a baby and went to Paisley, to Barshaw House or something, in Paisley maternity. And stayed there to have the baby. While she was away Charlie's child was taken to the doctor and discovered she had chicken pox. So, my wife couldn't go back there! The result was we landed back with Jock Andrews up in Townhead Place. And we were there for quite a while. We had a long time to look around for another house. So, by this time I found an attic there. Just in the main area, just off a marketplace on the the High Street, there. It was an attic and underneath was a two-room apartment, and you went up the stair to a little house. There were three apartments. You went up a wooden stair to this attic house. This attic was at the very top. There was no water, which meant anytime you wanted water you had to go down to the wash house. However, I spent a long, long time getting the house put into order. It was pretty well overrun with mice. I had an old cat who kept catching the mice and the place was eventually clear. Being a painter, of course, it wasn't long until I got the thing all decorated and papered, and we seemed quite happy there. Our Elizabeths pram was kept down in the wash house and everything seemed to be going quite well. All of a sudden, a person phoned the house and gave us so long to get out, a week or something to get out! Because she wanted to come up there and use it as a sort of a holiday house. She stayed in Greenock and that was an order then to get out. We moved from there down to Rosebank Terrace. To a room down in Rosebank Terrace.

Many council houses were now being built in Kilmacolm. There were three blocks of two apartments that would make four in each block and three blocks of three apartments being built. There was one particular one down on the foot of West Glen Road. The rest were built on what's now called Old Hall Drive. I had my name down for a house, but when then the names started to come out, I wasn’t included. So, this rather annoyed me. Here was I’ married with a child and my wife expecting our second child. So, there was a Mr. Bailey, who was a local counsellor and something to do with our housing. So on a Saturday night I went round to see Mr. Bailey to ask the reason why I hadn’t been included among those who were getting a house, as I had been born and spent all my days in Kilmacolm. However, when I got there at the door there was a notice up saying, " Those who wish to inquire about a house are not to ring the bell". And coming away I met an old highland chap. He was a gardener in the village working in a private house and lived in the lodge there too, but I knew that he was leaving that job. And he said, "What's wrong?" "Oh" I said, "Are you applying?" and he said, "I have an appointment with him at eight o'clock". So however, he went and had his appointment with him, and I saw him go into the house. I went home then and wrote some letter to Mr. Bailey telling him the position that I was in, and here was a complete stranger to the village who could have an appointment with him. I received a rather nasty letter back from him and I was very busy at the time and always meant to reply to him and and just let him know what I thought of his position, and how he was treating the people of Kilmacolm. However, before I got time to do that, I got an application form to fill in for a house, and I filled it in and got a house there. It was a two apartment at the foot of West Glen Road and that was really something to have a house of our own with a bathroom. It had a large garden too, of course, which I had to look after. It was virgin ground, and I spent a lot of time getting that garden put into order.

I told you how I first attended school. I think it would be April. My birthday was not till November, so I was just a few months over four years of age. However, I seemed to be quite successful and passed through school very easily and as a matter of fact I finished up in the last class by myself, because other ones had left school. I had put in for exemption to get away earlier and it didn’t come through until after I’d been back for a fortnight or so after the summer holiday.

Early Jobs
I tried to look back on different jobs I had, trying to earn some money for my mother and I just don't remember where my first job was. However, I remember my mother working on the railway and talking to a lot to the farmers and through them I had different jobs. I remember carrying milk for Willy Brewster, at Bridgepark Farm. We used to go out there to the mill bridge and meet him there and deliver the milk mostly around the Manor Park, you know, around the park way, and Knockbuckle Road, Castlehill Road and Whitelee Road and then up into the village. I remember even our school master, I used to take milk into him. And it wasn't bottles in those days. It was cans. You took the can in and standing outside the door was a jug with a saucer or cover over it. You poured the milk into that and sometimes, the scullery door was open in quite a few of the houses and a milk jug was in there, and you went in and poured out the milk. That was the first job I remember, being with Willy Brewster. And, as a matter of fact, when the summer holidays came, that first summer holidays. I don't know what age I was, somewhere about ten or eleven year old at that time. I spent quite a while out at his farm, there, on turnips and such like. It was a great thing. That was something just to build you up. Really, it wasn't for money or anything like that, because the farmers were not well known for parting with their money. However, you would go out there and get a real good feed, and I did enjoy that. I remember that very well. After Mr. Bruster left and went away down to Ayrshire somewhere to a farm there. A Mr. Blair of Pacemuir took over the run. Now Pacemuir farm was just in where the new School is in that estate down there. and that was his farm there. Then we used to meet him and do that same run again. And then we went from there straight into school. I also had a night milk run at Townhead Farm. Now Townhead Farm was just opposite the stables down there, the place now occupied by the garage there, on the Port Glasgow Road, up on the hill there. I knew my run better, and I used to go right to the very last house on the Port Glasgow Road, you know, started there somewhere back of three o’clock, half past three and went out there to Port Glasgow Road and then I went up The Hydro Hill or West Glen Road, as they call it now. I remember doing that and the coming down through the Hydro and doing a couple of houses in Barclaven Road. I did that and I could tell you what my wages were at that time. For the carrying milk in the morning it was one and sixpence you got, that’s fifteen pence in the money nowadays. At night I got fifteen pence, and a can of nearly a pint of what we call skimmed milk. That was milk after the cream had been taken off it. And that was very handy because that did our porridge each morning. One of my school pals, Jimmy McKee told me one time about carrying messages, doing messages, and I said "Oh, no I’m too young". He said," Come on your tall and that". I said "You, re supposed to be 12". He said "It doesn't matter, come on. " They, re looking for a messenger up at Pattersons, the grocer, which was up in Schaw Buildings and he says, "Yes. Come on", he says, and he spoke for me, and he and I got a job with Patterson the grocer, which was three shillings a week. So, my sister took over my milk run at night, at the farm, and I took the job with Patterson the grocer carrying messages. I went there straight from school and I worked till after six o'clock at night, and then on a Saturday you worked the whole day from eight in the morning till eight at night. The first week I was there he suggested that I come in and do a little run at dinner time. Now our dinner at school only was three quarters of an hour and he said, "Oh you should manage to do that". I said, " I need to get something to eat. " He said "Oh no don't worry about that. I'll give you something". So I went up and did my run and he handed me something to eat which consisted of four water biscuits with butter in between it and I said, "Now what will I do with this" and I went home and told my mother. She said, "No more working at lunchtime, you'll come home and get your soup as usual". So that was the last of me working at the lunchtime.
In between the different messages jobs I used to always walk to the golf course for caddies, and then sometimes you can make more as a caddy that you could with the messages. However, I did get a job with Andrew Fergusson the grocer, on a Saturday, and for that day alone I got two shillings and that was something to take home to my mother.

My next main job was with Ferguson the baker, working in the bake house, That was was one job that I really did enjoy, because I used to come straight from school and go into the bake house and my job was to scrape the pans and grease them all ready for flour, and sweep out the floor and keep the place tidy. It was nice and warm in the bake house and of course the war was on I remember, at that time. And that was during the week and then on a Saturday I would be carrying messages at the grocer’s shop. I was very, very happy in the bake house and I remember a Mr Ewing, who was a retired baker and one time had a business of his own in the village. I’ll tell you about later. He used to come down and do the fancy baking, you know, do the icing and do a wedding cake or all the other fancy goods that were made up there. He used to come down and do that. He always used to call me over "Come son and do it". We used to make up a combination of various coloured ices. You had to do that at a certain heat and this was a great thing, tasting that the heat or the icing was correct, and they used to give me a little shot at doing the writing and things like that. It was very, very Interesting. He was a very fine old gentleman, Mr Ewing. However, he was not very strong and sometimes wouldn't be able to turn up. Mrs Ferguson herself would come up and she would do the fancy baking. Of course, I would always be called over to assist her and do the making up of the icings. It was quite a busy place there because everything in the village, you know, was baked in the village here, all the different breads. It was a busy, busy place and of course Ferguson then was famous for their mince pies and he had a shop there in Marketplace, now a hairdresser’s shop. That was the top shop there and it used to be opened on a Friday and on a Saturday for selling nothing but the pies, there. And we had an oven there, a gas oven the pies were kept warm and it was a great thing at your lunch on a Saturday to go in there and get a pie, and the gravy was poured onto the pies, and it was a delicious thing, the pies from Ferguson the baker.

However, I was there, as I said before I put in for an exemption from school but didn't come through. The old foreman had to retire, and a new foreman came through. He was a Mr Henderson who had been there way back years ago before that. And he came back to be the foreman, and he had a grown-up family. He had a son older than me, in fact, two sons older than me, but the the son Leslie, a tall chap Leslie, a fine big lad. Leslie, he started on the bake house and the result was when my exemption came through there was no job for me. Leslie had taken over the job and, however, Mr Ferguson gave me other work to do. I used to have a little pony and van and go round the with the bakeries, round various houses and deliver messages during the week and then on a Saturday, of course, back into the grocery shop. It was always a busy time then. By the time November came round I was doing that, but there was little to do and I think he was keeping me just because he felt it was something he should do the likes of that, you know, me having no father. However, he came to me one Saturday and he said to me "Are you looking for other work?" I had looked for other work and I remember one of two places I had applied for, but there was no chance of getting a a job. He said, "Do you not know anybody?" I said, "Yes the only thing is Mr. Ritchie, the painter, and as an apprentice". And he said, "He has no apprentice there now". The apprentice at that time was Bentley Henderson the older brother of Leslie and he had left the painting to go to bricklaying so that was a vacancy there. He says, "I’ll go and see Mr Ritchie". And I’ d be mucking about in the back shop when he came over and said "There you are I’ve seen Ritchie, now you can start anytime. When do you want to start?" I said, "I’ll start on Monday, but There’s stuff here to do". No, he said "Away with you" in the nicest way. I started the week before my 14th birthday with Ritchie the painter to serve my six-year apprenticeship. During my time at the bake house there was another lad that worked with me for quite a while, Ted Stuart. Ted and I were mates, in fact Ted was working full time for a wee while, but he left there and Ted and went to become a blacksmith and went to work with a Mr Gilmour, a blacksmith. And Ted served his apprenticeship there. He went with Mr Gilmour to become a blacksmith.

Now whilst working with Richie I used to listen to the men discussing politics and I felt this was wonderful and I look back at the politics, and I remember the 1918 the election, and I was only 13 years of age. On this particular night it was a nice frosty night and we were playing down just at the post office there. Opposite the post office, which is now the Cross Cafe there was a sort of candy shop there. It was Hendry that had it from Greenock and that was a great place for us to be and play around, all different games. However Kilmacolm was lit by gaslight which didn’t penetrate very far, but the school halls, or as we called it then the Public Halls had electricity in by this time and outside it had a light to show the way to the various entrances. There were one or two entrances to the hall, and we saw this light up, and people going up there and we wondered what it was. So, a few of us went up there and we slipped in the side entrance and up the back of the Hall. It was s sort of "T" shaped hall, you know. The main hall and then the offshoot. It was the domestic part, so it was up the offshoot that we went. We sat up there. It was a socialist that was coming. This wonderful man was to come here, this "bolshie". It wasn’t a socialist then they were "bolshies". They were to become socialists. And for the rest of meeting, we were sat there in anticipation and then all of a sudden, a door opened and in came two or three men and they sat down and they made an apology that the speaker wasn’t here yet, but would come, and they would start the meeting. And the Chairman was a proper cockney.

We thought this was marvellous to hear a cockney talk. I’d never heard this in my life before. He addressed the meeting for quite a time, and time passed on and then we sat there entranced listening to this cockney. At the finish up, he said "No I’m afraid we have to postpone the meeting the candidate hasn't come at all. Mr Murray hasn't come and has been delayed somewhere or other, but we will arrange another meeting before the election". So, they left I think it was to get a train to something in Greenock. They had come up from there. This particular man I know did work in a torpedo factory, being a cockney and had come up from a factory down the Arsenal, down in Woolwich to the torpedo factory here. He acted as the chairman. Anyway, he left, and we came out. We were standing at the gate and I'll remember with Boss Kerr and quite a few others round there. Maybe half a dozen or more discussing all about this wild bolshie who was to come when suddenly this horse and cart drew up. This was the candidate Mr Murray. Mr Murray stepped out the thing-a me and he said, "Oh what's happened" and we told him. Mr Murray was a very small type of man and a heavy coat on, and a soft hat and somebody said, "Come on let us see what you’ve got to say". So, he went into the hall and he stood up on the platform and he had dark curly hair, lovely curly hair and he had glasses on. He spoke for about 10 minutes and said he apologized again and said what had happened was that he had been at Langbank and he was to come from Langbank by this horse and a trap and started for Kilmacolm and then took the wrong road and they landed right down in the middle of Port Glasgow. So, it meant they had been delayed and they came up by the Clune Brae to Kilmacolm. He apologised again but said that he would come back again to Kilmacolm. That was my first political meeting and listening to this Mr Murray addressing the meeting at Kilmacolm. You must remember that Mr Murray stayed in Barhead and he left us somewhere possibly a quarter past, half past nine and he had to travel right to Barhead. To his home there in Barhead. So, it was some bit of electioneering that time! The next time he came, of course, I think he came by train and that was a much easier time. You could come by train to Kilmacolm and get the last train which was at twenty past ten to Paisley and then get a cab out to Barhead. So that was much better arrangement then. However, that was my first political meeting in Kilmacolm.

The incident of the soap box.
The next I remember about a political meeting was in 1920. We had the Labour Government then and Tom Johnson [2] had tried to bring out a bill to try and make Scotland more dry, and do away with all the pubs and he reckoned that drink was a terrible thing and bringing the nation down. And the bill went forward to Parliament to vote on whether we,d have to go dry or not, but in 1920 the first meeting was held in Kilmacolm. It was held by a communist, Alec Geddis. [3] Now Alec Geddis has stood as a communist candidate down in Greenock. And the sitting member was Sir Godfrey Collins [4] of the Collins publishing people and he ran him very, very close and fact it was unbelievable the amount of votes he got. Now he could speak. Now he had walked up from Port Glasgow, you know, the usual way to travel in Blackston corner. He walked up there with another lad who had something with them to the stand on. And they took a stand. They had a permit to do this. They had written to the Chief constable of Renfrewshire and had a permit to do this, and they took a stand up just two shops up from the Marketplace there on the Bridge of Weir Road, which happened to be John Ritchies showroom. They addressed the meeting and he could talk, and with him was another man who was there and quite a crowd gathered in no time. A tremendous crowd gathered around there, and he could talk, and everybody found it was great to listen to. I was standing on the edge of the crowd and I was listening to him too with plenty of other youngsters, and then all of a sudden Tom Morra come up, and he,d been down at Greenock and had a dram. And he come up and he says," Is this one of those pussy foot meetings?" You know this was a controversy at the time whether Scotland and Kilmacolm particularly should go and do away with the pubs. Then somebody says "Aye it is. Come and knock him down Tom". Tom went to interfere, and this lad stepped in between them. This lad was a long way away, yet he stepped in between. And somebody shouted. "Arrest them". So, the police were in. They were standing on the edge of the thing, the sergeant and the constable. And they went in and arrested this man, not Tom Morra. And Jock Andrews shouted "Bloody shame. That’s the wrong man. Come on do the--play the game". So, they could do nothing else but arrest Tom Morra. And the two of them were taken away up to the police office. That was the finish of the meeting.

Now Jock Andrews was working on a job on the Bridge of Weir Road. It was a new house, it was being built, and we were doing it all up, and working along with Jock was a young lad from Gourock. The young lad Ferguson, a fine young chap, nice tradesman too, but very asthmatic and at lunch time they were talking, and he went on about this meeting and Jock said, "I was at it". He says, "Were you"? and he says "and they arrested so and so." And Jock says "He need not have been arrested. He never interfered with anything at all" and he says "Do you swear this?" and Jock says "Aye I’ve no doubt I saw the whole thing" and he says "It was Tom Morra said it was at a pussy foot meeting". It was a meeting about pubs and that sort of thing, and he believed that, and he went in to interfere, of course. He says "Are you sure? Jock says, "Aye that’s what happened" and went over the whole thing. The result was when it comes to Wednesday Jock got a summons to attend the court on the Thursday.

So, Jock got this summons and the police sergeant actually came down with it and handed it in to Jock at Church Place. And Jock says "Oh I’ve got to get down there in the morning and the court says such and such a time, " say 11 o, clock or something like that, and Jock says "Oh I’ll just need to take a day off my work" Oh no he says you don't need to do that and Jock says "listen I’ll get fined and have to pay 5 pounds. It says that if you fail to attend". The policeman says, "I wouldn't worry about that". And Jock says "I would worry about it! Five pounds is a hell of a lot to me that". So, a lot more than a week's wages. The policeman says, "A weeks wages oh no that can’t be that". And the policemen said "No I wouldn’t worry about it" he says. "Everything’s alright" and then Jock says, "Is somebody going to pay for me not to go"? He says "Well, I suppose you could---- and Jock says, "I’ll be there". With this Jock decided he would go to the court on that day. Now he went down to get the train at 20 minutes to 10 and down there to get his ticket and then over to the platform. And who was walking up and down there, but the two policemen along with my boss, John Ritchie. And he says "What have you been doing Jock? Jock says, "I've been called down as a witness" "Well" he says, "you know" he says that my mate attacked Borra and Jock says "that’s a gang lie, that’s impossible. How could he?" he says. "The man had the speakers coat and hat on one arm and in the other arm he was trying to sell that communist paper "The Daily Worker" he says "That’s a dam lie". So things got heated and the train came in and the policeman pulled Jock into one carriage and the other man and the boss went into the other carriage, and on the way Jock explained everything to the private policeman, you know, and he said "Listen, you saw the thing the thing the same as me. This is a dam lie. This is that set up" he says. Jock preached socialism to him all the way down to Greenock. They appeared at court anyway. Jock gave his testimony and Ritchie gave his. The couple of policemen sat there and the Policeman gave his evidence and he said he sided with Jock. The result was the case was dismissed. That was Jocks first turn with the law so far as politics was concerned.


After that Jock was pretty well a marked man. Known as a wild man, a Bolshie. However Jock then started a branch of the of the ILP, The Independent Labour Party[35] in the winter of 1921- 22 and I joined it, and then became quite an active worker and we had a branch membership of around about 20 and we met in a small room of what we still called the Public halls, or the School halls and had many good meetings there. We also held open air meetings and they were addressed by various well-known speakers. I remember one-time George Buchanan, [5] The MP for Gorbals coming down. George was then a minister for pensions, and he thought nothing of taking a box there and standing at the cross and preaching socialism. Of course, I moved then to stay with Jock Andrews, and my mother had married and moved down to Port Glasgow and Jock he took a great liking to me, and I took a great liking to Jock Andrews. He asked if I’d like to come and I said "Like to! I’d be delighted to come and stay with you Jock". So I went and stayed with Jock down at Church Place and I became pretty well read on socialism, because I remember one night Jock had gone to a dance or something down in Port Glasgow, and they left me this book to read. It was Tom Johnson’s [2] history of the working classes in Scotland. And if that doesn't make people sit up and wonder what it's all about then I don’t know what book would. That was me converted to become, I think, pretty much a left wing socialist. After my upbringing. I don't think anybody could blame me, because I had a rough upbringing, and a pretty hard time of it. Whilst in the ILP I attended various meetings in different places. I remember going down to Port Glasgow, to the Town Hall, and being a young ILP representative. The back door I went into, you know, the stage door, and I went to the meeting. And it was Jimmy Maxon [6] was speaking and there I shook hands and met Jimmy Maxon. Another time I went to a rally that was on in Johnston and I met Davy Kirkwood [7] and Neil McLean [8] and various other well-known speakers and then another great man I met was Philip Snowden. [9] That’s something to have met him.

I went to a meeting in the Paisley Town Hall. Of course, they're always packed out and I went round to the stage door again. I said I was Kilmacolm ILP young member, so I was allowed in, and I sat on the platform there and heard Philip Snowden speaking. That was something you see, what a poor soul he was. He had been in a very bad accident, you know, in fact, I read all about in his life story "Philip Snowden" and he walked with two sticks. Very, very lame but what a wonderful speaker he was. He turned away with Ramsey McDonald later on.Now things got pretty hot in Kilmacolm, so we decided to close down the branch.

Burns Night
Oh, dear I was in the I LP, that’s 70 years ago, I’m more mellow now and we had a Burns Night. It was the best Burns night I ever attended. It was a good Burns night. It was completely Burns till later on when it went into a harmony night. And Jock Andrews, the chap I stayed with, he gave the goalkeepers boast, and the funny thing years after that, I got pally with Dick Paul and Dick was a great entertainer and Dick could keep a company going all night.

The Co-operative
Now in1924 the Co-operative came to Kilmacolm and opened a branch there in Schaw Buildings. It certainly was a busy shop, and the result was we started Cooperative Guilds there. A mens guild and a womans guild. So, Jock then got the men's guild going and there was quite a big membership. For years and years, we had a good membership. The Womans Guild there had the biggest membership in Scotland. They had well over 200 members in their Guild and they held their branch meetings and dances and such like. Now although I said they had the biggest Guild, the biggest branch in Kilmacolm, you see. In Glasgow there were three womens guilds. Numbers one, two, and three, and their combined lot would be much more than the numbers in Kilmacolm. But as far as the position of the womans guild of Scotland was concerned, in Kilmacolm we had the largest guild in Scotland.

We held a lot of dances too. It was a great thing holding a dance and we could hold them very cheaply. Mr Deacon who was the manager of the Cooperative, at the time, played the violin and Mrs Climar there and would play the piano. We’d have a dance and we could run a dance there from eight o'clock to 12 o'clock and we’d have a tea interval in between. The tea usually consisted of a saucer and you queued along for your tea and there was a sandwich and a cake and a bun or something like that, and all that for one and sixpence. There were wonderful dances in the village then. Jock became a member of the board of management of the cooperative and he was there until he left in 1928.

Getting Married
What I did tell you earlier was how I’d got married and had gone to stay with Jock Andrews and I was very happy about it. When we got married, the usual thing was you got married on a Friday night, and you went back to work on the Monday. My wife and I went Glasgow, to the Theatre Royal to a play by Bernard Shaw called "Man and Superman". [10] We saw it all in its entirety. Now that play started at five o'clock and went on to 11 o'clock at night with two intervals, one of 20 minutes and one of 10 minutes. It’s a night we’ll never forget. It was a most wonderful play. S. P Percy was the main character in it and the scene in hell was something that we’d never, never forget. He continued speaking, I,m sure, for up to 10 or15 minutes. It was a tremendous play and oh, dear oh dear, it was something to remember. We stayed the night, there in a house, with friends of Jock Andrews in Town Head and we came back on the Sunday by bus. Later my wife says "What are you looking for? I says," My things for my work tomorrow" She says" You’re not going to your work tomorrow.


Losing My Job
At the house he youngest of the family,at the head of the stairs she says "What are you hoping for?" I says "We’re hoping to work. We were starting tomorrow". "Oh" she says "You are not going to your work tomorrow because my daddy and you have got to get your books and you won’t be working on Monday". Now that was the beginning of married life with my wife then, and that was me at the employment exchange the day after I was married. They hadn’t even the decency, on Friday, when I got my pay, to give me my books and let me know my position. However, I’m glad they didn’t because we enjoyed our night in Glasgow at The Theatre Royal, as I told you earlier.

More about houses
I’ll tell you more about the different houses I’d been staying in up to when we got settled in a council house. My mother had started off with her first house in Burnside Terrace. From there to Burnside Place. And then the joys of getting a decent flat, there, in Octavia Buildings with an inside toilet, and then a drop in everything, we went to the Low Shells which was just as low as ever because as I’ve already stated, a pretty over crowded place. And we seem to have got one of the better houses because, as we call it, two set in beds in the bedroom and one in the kitchen and there was eight of us altogether, six of our family and my mother, and granny moved in there. Bad as that might be, I never mentioned what it was like around the houses and that, and what we called "the back toon" on the High Street.

Down near the stables, next to Weirs stables was an old old building there, now replaced by Antwerp buildings. That place there had an outside stair up to a middle landing, but underneath and under the stair there were two houses there. And I remember as kids, we thought this was marvellous. It was so low; the ceiling must have been about seven feet high I because we could jump up and catch the ceiling. The out stair went up to two houses on the landing, there, and quite a character stayed in there, Jock McCall. He carted with Laird and was married to a bit of a tramp of a person called Mary Lerman, and I always remember, we we're going to school this day and there was quite a commotion there. Jock wouldn’t get out of his bed and she put a match to the straw mattress and there was a great commotion, smoke coming out the window and we were ushered away to school. I don't know what age I’d be, possibly less than 10 years of age anyway but there was a little boy there, a bit older than me, but in the same class at school and his name Josie Docherty, and this chap I never seen him with any socks, just an old pair of shoes and a jersey and old jacket. Quite a bit of a tramp but a nice boy. A good boy.

I remember one time, he said to me" I’ve got to go a message for my mother, will you come with me?". So, we went away up this stair and up this wooden stair inside, to an attic and he come down and he says, "Come on, I’m going down there". It was down to the Fat Man pub and he got two gill of whisky to give to his mother. He said, "Come on up the stairs" I said “Why not". So I went up with him, and the smell up that stair, this wooden stair! We went into this house and there was a fire on, and this women was sitting with a shawl round her on an orange box, and on the floor was a whole gathering of clothes. This was the bed actually that he slept in. He wasn't there very long. Josie disappeared from the village all together. That was my one experience of that building. Further down, we had what they call Guys land. It stood underneath what now is Glenburn buildings. It was something the same only half the size of Burnside Terrace. Two outside stairs and two closes underneath, you know. But, at the end one, an extra room had been added on with a door outside. And I always remember that and a Mr. Dunton stayed in there. And then you went farther down to Lairds land. There were two buildings there. One you went in a close and there was two single ends on the right hand side and two rooms with kitchens on the other. And then behind that was another building which I never had much to do with, I mind Jean Lairs lived there before they moved up to her other house.

Then down the main high street again was what they called Scots Land. It was four houses, two underneath and then around to the stair at the back and to two houses up the stair. There was no water in the houses, so outside they came round the back, and upstairs to their porch outside. They had the sink there and that's where they drew their water. The next close was Hope Street. And I think once you went in there you had little hope of trying to get out of it. It was a five houses, there, and in the corner where there might have been a house was a shop. And then the close had the five houses, a close with four houses and then one above the shop. And at the end their toilet. With my longest memory I can make out there was as youngster growing up there, and there was a public urinal at the very top. And I remember there being a tremendous smell and it consisted of a place where you could urinate just into a drain and then beside that there was two of those drainpipes, you know, the clay drainpipes that were sticking up and you used to sit and then do your needs into this burn.

We had a store there. It had been houses at one time and Ritchie the painters was in there and and behind his store he had a carpet beater in there, but that was knocked down later on, while I was with Richie. Before I leave the housing I think I should mention that for a year or two Johnny Ritchie was my school pal. Johnny lived in Burnside Place and we went to school, the same day, and we were great chums, and when we moved over to Octavia Buildings, he a few years after that moved up to Stuart Place. When we were in the Lower Shells he said, "Oh we've got a bathroom up here, you should come up". So, I was invited up, one time, for a bath. He had a bathroom right enough. He had a toilet in it and a bath, but it was a wooden bath with cold water, no hot water. There was a roof window, no light in the place, you know, and to have a bath, of course, it meant boiling water. So anyway, the mother had two pans of water on the fire and one on the gas ring and that was put into the bath and Johnny and I went down on our knees and had a right good wash. They were considered doing pretty well, having something that they never had in life before, to have a bathroom with a bath in it. Not just the ideal thing at a time.

The Railway Station
I’d like now to go down to what was considered to be the hub of the business in Kilmacolm which was the railway station. As I told you my father came up there to work at the beginning of the century as "The badge porter". He worked all hours and I don't remember seeing my father very much at all. However, it was a busy, busy place. The trains ran very regularly and were very busy. And I remember, as far back as I can remember, there was an iron bridge over the railway, from the one platform to the other right near the end of the part of the the station towards the Greenock direction. That was before the one covered in was erected at the Glasgow end of the station.

The bookstall was a very, very busy place and always employed at least two. Two normally worked there. Then they had a goods yard. That's the part that is still there just now, the part there, and it had a crane there and a line came in on either side, one into the goods yard and into the covered part and it was unloaded and shunted away the next day and may be a new fresh one brought in. But on the other side, there, quite a lot of stuff was brought in for the farms, there, and it had a crane there and goods used to leave Kilmacolm. This was long before the motorized stuff, and down to England. The bran would come in and put it on to a lorry to take it. It would then be loaded with stuff and then brought back. Then it was lifted by this crane on to a truck to be dispatched elsewhere. Then above that, again, you had a gate going into the "coal reeves", what we called the "coal reeves" and there were little offices there. In my time it was Whiteford had one, Laird had one and Geordie Hend had one, and that's where their coal was shunted in, in that part there.It was closed at night, the same as the one to the goods, with a great big wooden gate, double wooden gate, opening on both sides. Then opened in the morning again.

Then above that again there was a weighing box, there, where all the stuff was weighed. When coal was going out, they called up my mother who then was the one that used to do the weighing of the coal. Because we were short they would shout for my mother to come up and she would weigh the coal and give them their sheet, with the weight on it. Then above that again was another double gate that lead down, and this was where the cattle were. Any cattle coming into Kilmacolm came there because there was a largish platform, there, and the cattle coming for the butchers arrived. Another time when two or three beasts came, they were taken and put in a field away up near the golf course and brought down as they were needed, you see.

Of course, when the fair came to Kilmacolm that was a great excitement. We used to go down there. A steam engine would bring so much of the fair out to the public park and so much would come by rail. The steam engine would go down there and take it off the trucks and take out to the to the public park to the Fair out there.
When the school came out at half past three it was quite a common thing for some of the bigger lads to go down to the station to catch the ten to four train from Glasgow because they were looking for a "CP".A" carry parcel" and sometimes the ladies came pretty well loaded up with stuff they'd been buying in Glasgow, you know, and the lads used to maybe carry their parcel out to their house and maybe get tuppence and if you were lucky maybe get three pence. That was quite a common thing for lads to hang about the station for that purpose, alone just to make a penny or two carrying parcels. There being no busses and not many cars on the road in those days, the railway was a very, very busy place and the first train from Glasgow arrived in somewhere around about seven o'clock. But the busy trains in the morning were the five to eight, the twenty past eight, and then the twenty to nine express, all going to Glasgow. Now the express leaving Kilmacolm started at Kilmacolm and picked up passengers here and then the next stop Bridge of Weir and then from there right to Paisley and then from Paisley to Glasgow. So, it was a very fast way of getting to Glasgow. You were there just for the turn of 9 o’ clock in the morning. Half an hour took them up to Glasgow. Then at night we used to be able to tell the time when we were working. The expresses going by at 25 minutes to five were going either way and the surest way you could guess within 10 or15 yards where the two would pass each other. One coming from Greenock and one coming from Glasgow. The timing was absolutely unbelievable, how these steam trains could pass almost on the same patch each evening at 25 to 5. The last train from Glasgow was the 11. 03 or 11, 05 or something like that. Anyway, however it was in here at a quarter to 12. And that was always a busy train because of people going to the theatres and the pictures in Glasgow. That was the train that got them home. Coming from Greenock the last train was 10:20 to Glasgow. So, if you wanted to go to Glasgow the last train you could get was 10. 20.

It was a busy, busy place and especially going to the football, I was a a great Morton supporter and we often went down to Cappielow. And the way we went to Cappielow was a train to Lynedoch Street Station. [11] And then walk from there down to Cappielow and the same coming back at night, maybe going into the town and and maybe have a walk round the town and then up into Lynedoch Street station, or walk to Princes Pier and get the train up to Kilmacolm . Oh no the station was very, very busy in those days.My wife came to Kilmacolm in the summer of 1926. she was staying at Gourock and was coming to Kilmacolm for an interview for a job. She travelled by train from Greenock Princes Pier and arrived in Kilmacolm in that lovely summer, and she thought this was the loveliest station ever she saw. And it really was. The Kilmacolm station was always among the prize winners for the best kept station. The flower beds on either side of the platforms were well looked after but over and above that there were so many hanging baskets with flowers in them, and barrels there or tubs with flowers. And it was quite a common thing for the gardeners from the big houses to contribute each year to the flowers. My mother, after my father left the station, was the cleaner down there and she kept the waiting rooms. There was a first-class waiting room, there was quite a lot of that then on the train, a first class and third class.

The first-class waiting room was washed out nearly every morning. The other one would maybe mopped out. So that was her job for quite a while until she became a full-time employee as a goods porter on the station. My mother handled heavy bags of stuff there because the old porter that was with her, his name was Porter too, that was amazing. Old Willy Porter was an old man with a grey beard. My mother, she handled all the heavy bags and it was a very, very busy time she had there. In fact, when she finished there, she suffered a strained heart. However, that was I think as much as I could say about Kilmacolm station.

The Stables
The next busy place in Kilmacolm would I think be Lairds stables and I moved up to the Low Shells, there, when I was possibly an eight year old or something like that and , of course, the stables were so near the Low Shells. That’s where I spent an awful lot of my time. Now they had the two rows of stalls there with horses in them and they had possibly around about a dozen horses. There was two kept specially for the Hydro bus. And they were looked after by the man who drove the Hydro bus. For a long time, Jimmy Grandison looked after them and his horses were there meeting the various trains to go up to the Hydro. He’d take them in the morning and there in the evening catch them at night take them to the Hydro. There were so many people who were resident in the Hydro. That was a home for them. Then we had the horses kept for the "scavenging" and they were stabled in Lairds stable.

Then of course we had the heavy horses for the carting of the coal and such like and, by Jove, there was plenty of that done and there, d be four or five horses kept for that. And then we had the light horses kept for the cabs and we'd always had black horses there, real dark coloured horses because they were there for funerals. Now I used to hang about there at the foot of the Hydro Hill on holidays and the coal would be brought up and there was a horse waiting there to trace them up. And we used to go up with the trace horse. Now just about where the gates are now for the play park was where we waited with the trace horse. He was yoked in there and then they were pulled up to the second house there, Crook Hill, it was called then. They got a rest there and then the hard pull was up round the corner and right up to Brae Head where they unyoked. The horse was then sent down. Now we used to take him over to the wall and get up on to his back and he would come straight down and right into the stable, have a drink and walk into his stall, where we would slide off his back.

We had great fun with the horses then. The carters there were carting the coal up and down. There were ever so many, and Stuart McClure was the most famous, and a great lad was Stuart. Everybody in the village knew Stuart McClure, as honest as the day was long, Stuart, you know, and he had a crack with everybody. And I remember ever so many of them. I remember David Cummings. I remember ever so many other different ones. I just can’t think for a minute. They worked in Lairds and then Jimmy Laird worked in there for a long time with the coal. Then they had what they called a spring van and they kept a horse for that. Now that spring van used to take the stuff from the station round to the farms and things like that. It was a busy, busy, place. Then in the wintertime, we used to come out from school and there was a great smell outside. In the courtyard was a boiler where they boiled up the mash, turnips and all the other stuff there, you see, and that was for the horses during the cold weather.

Now the carters, although they finished at night and brought in their horses and watered them. They didn’t get away right away, the horse came first. The horse had to be fed and then rubbed down and put in really good order for the night. The same even for the men who would go out at night with their cabs and the last train as I told you was at a quarter to 12 and they, d be down meeting that train. If they had a customer and took them to their home and then came back to the stable it wasn’t just a case of of putting in the horse, The horse had to be rubbed down and put right for the night. I was always fond of the horses. The horses nearly all had names. I remember the big horse that did a bit of tracing and pulled a cart, and they called it Tipperary. It was a great horse and Tipperary even knew our voices because we had so much to do with Tipperary.

The office for the stables was upstairs, up a wooden stair and they had wooden window that could look out and talk to the men as they came in. As they finished at night, Agnes Roberson who was the clerkess there, used to come down with her slate and "What were you doing today?" and each man told her they had taken so much coal to the hydro, so much down to the gas oven. The various jobs that they did that day were all put down on the slate. That was before the men went to attend to the horses. Laird also had a stretch of the meadow down the Whitelea Road and it produced a tremendous lot of hay. Now that meadow was a huge expanse down there, and there was a burn through the middle of it and Laird had the Lochwinnoch Road end of that down to the burn. Beyond that again there’s a bridge coming through there and Planetreeyetts had that part so far down there, and the far away end towards the marshy wood, Knockbuckle had that. Now that produced at least two crops a year of hay, and Lairds was stacked at the end nearest the Lochwinnoch Road and it was a great thing when they we're bringing in the hay. Willy Kelly was my great pal at the time. Willy was never away from the stables too, even more so than me. and when they we're bringing in the hay we used to go down with the hay truck, you know, and get a run down with it and then come back with it too up to the stable where it was put up into the hay loft there in the stable, above the stalls.

Now talking about getting the hay off the meadow, that hay was all scythed. There was no other way. The ground was so swampy there was no machine could go into it at all. So, it was all done with the scythe and the men used to go down there, even at night-time, and scythe the hay and then it was racked down there before being brought into the stable. The burn that went through the meadow, we called it the "shitty burn" because, I believe, before the sewerage line was made, that's where all the sewerage went down to that burn and down into the Gryffe, and that was the way, at one time, before my time anyway, that’s the way sewerage was disposed of in Kilmacolm. Because before the time of the water closet, of course, it was dry closets and of course most of the dry closet was dug into the ground.

One of the young men who worked with Laird was called Dan Weir. We had a great liking for Dan. He was a great chap, but not terribly strong Dan, and he was the one that went mostly with the spring van and did the light work in the stables. Poor Dan died, I suppose Dan would be 17 or 18 years of age. So always remember his funeral. Kelly and I were at school, but however, we had to go Dans funeral. And we went to Dans funeral and who was at Dans funeral also, was our school master, Mr. Walker, and we went back to Dans house on the High Street and had a cup of tea and Mr. Walker was there. However, the next day we were called up to his room and he said it was nice of us to go to the funeral, but we should have asked permission first of all to get away. However, that was all that was said about it. Now, the funerals in those days, of course, it was all horse drawn. The hearse was horse drawn and there might be one cab there with the nearest relatives, but most of us, the mourners, walked out to the cemetery. That was the usual procedure in those days. So, I was at quite a few funerals there walking out to the cemetery behind the hearse.


Smithy Brae
The next busy place in the village, I suppose would be down the Smithy Brae. Down the Smithy Brae, of course, the first thing you had was the smithy there an then past this smithy were the two slaughter houses and, as kids, we used to slip down there when they were doing a bit of killing there and watch them killing the sheep, and the pigs, and of course the bulls too. It was rather a gory thing to do but that was the way of life at the time. Patterson the butcher had a slaughterhouse and Shillingham the butcher had a slaughterhouse there. Blackwood, he had a slaughterhouse, but it was down off Whitelea Road up near the station there. I never was in it, but many a time went down to a slaughterhouse. Now the gas works past there produced the gas for Kilmacolm and it was a busy place because they were always carting coal down. Then what we called the cinders were taken away, and then the ashes had to be taken away. That was quite a busy place there. Then further down we had Whites stables, there. White the coalman he had his stables there near where my father’s stables were, down there. So, Smithy Brae was a busy place, horses going up and down there.

And then under where the centre is just now is a garage. A farmer had that there and he had a couple of horses in there and a lorry that used to deliver coal, and also another horse and he had one cab. He used to take the cab out too if he got orders for taking customers to the to the station and such like. So that made the Smithy Brae a very, very, busy place. As well as the Kilmacolm gas works you had the Kilmacolm electricity works. Now it was entered from the main village, there, at the end of St James’s Terrace, down that way and very, very few youngsters went down near the electrical works. Now I don’t know when electricity was being put into the houses but the Kilmacolm streets, during my childhood were lit by gas and two men used to meet and go out a certain time of the evening, say four o'clock, depending on when darkness came and they started and lit all the lamps. One would start and go out the Port Glasgow Road, up the Hydro Hill, through the Hydro, down Barclaven Road, up round by the golf course and down, and then the Bridge of Weir Road. The other, he would start out by the park, up Lochwinnoch Road, round by the park, Knockbuckle Road, Castlehill Road, Whitelea Road and then he would go out the Langside, Gryffe Road out there, you see, to the end of that. He’d come along a bit of the Bridge of Weir Road and then down and along and then Duchal Street and it was amazing.

A great friend of mine Tommy McKee, he was the last one I knew, to be employed there before it was turned into electric light and Tommy, he used to do that job. He had a main job, he laboured with the homes at a time and in the dark nights could get away early and maybe start lighting at four o'clock in the evening. But it was always the last train before they put the lights out and they could run round in just under the hour. They could run down with this pole, you know, putting them on with the flame on the end of the pole, turning them on, and then late at night just running around and turning them off. The only one that was kept lit all night was the one at the Cross there. It seemed to be a permanent one lit there all the time, and maybe one at the doctors.

The first doctors. I remember, as a youngster, were Dr Syme in The Lea, Dr. Parker up in Clovelly and Dr. Laird in Dorema. They were the three doctors at that time. Now Dr. Syme in The Lea, he had a handy man and I always remember it was a Mr. Cox when I was a youngster, because he had a daughter the same age as me in the same class at school-Agnes. And after doctor Syme retired, I don’t know what happened to him, anyway it was a Dr. Naismith that came. But Dr. Syme was a a character, a great wee Irishman, you know, and I always tell the story that Mr Stir at Westmarch had invited him out one night out for dinner, and he told the story himself. They had a meal and whilst they were sitting at the table having their dinner he mentioned something about some kind of wee illness he had at a time, you see, and he got the shock of his life when he got his account in for the visit. And he said, "You asked me, and I gave you medical advice and you've got to pay for that”. Now Dr. Parker he stayed in that huge house, Clovelly. Now three good big houses it is, Clovelly now. He stayed there because his wife was at Coats and they had the house there, and that model farm out there. Now I did know the model farm, because as a message boy, I used to take up messages to the couple that looked after it. They had a daughter; Rickets was their name. And they had, Oh, it was a beautiful place. I remember even seeing into the byre. The byre was all tiled and it was a beautiful place and then they their ducks and their hens and, of course, I don't know all that they had up there but they made the butter and that sort of thing for Clovelly.

It was a beautiful place and I carried messages when I was a lad with Ferguson the grocer, up to the cookhouse so that’s how I know so much about this house. I worked there with Ritchie at a later date and I remember when a chap who is in it now, and he married a McGiechy and he went up there and stayed in the place. He’s still there yet. My mother had, when I was a youngster, Dr. Parker as her doctor and Dr. Parker was a great gentleman and he was really good because he would very seldom send in an account and that's what suited my mother because poor old mother didn’t have much money to pay doctors accounts. Then after he retired or passed away a Dr. Stevenson came to Kilmacolm and he was our doctor and I remember he also was my doctor and, of course, when we got married he was our doctor, Dr. Stevenson, a fine big man, great chap. Dr. Stevenson, he retired early too, and then during the war, he was a doctor over at Killearn[12], in charge of Killearn and I think he he got a medal or something for his work over at Killearn hospital. 

Doctor Laird was the real Kilmacolmite. And he practiced for a long number years in Kilmacolm. I remember, as a youngster, I had a toothache. Oh, and I couldn't get to sleep. I was at my work too; I’d be about 15 years of age at the time. Well this big tooth was giving me jip and I could never get to sleep. My mother said, "You better go and get it out then". Doctor Laird will take it out and I said, "Oh dear will I need to get it out then?" And so, I finished up seeing Dr. Laird possibly after midnight. Anyway, I went down and rung the bell and the window on top opened and he said, "What is it?" and I said "Doctor You need to attend to me here. I’m going mad with the toothache". So, he comes down and he says, "Listen now". he says, "The family's all asleep". he says," and I don’t want any harassment, and I want no noise". and I said, "No. doctor if you take this out" He says "Come in here now and be quiet". I said, "Oh I’ll be quiet doctor". He put me down on the floor under the light, and he got this thing to pull my tooth, "now" he says," which one is it?" and I guided the thing in. And with three or four tugs he pulled it out. There was no giving you any painkiller or anything else and he pulled it out anyway, and I went over to the basin and spat out and he says "Spit out and drink some of that water and clean your mouth out". I cleaned my mouth out. My mother gave me two shillings and six pence, and I gave him the two and six pence and he gave me the sixpence back. "Because I was a good boy" he says," and never made any noise" and I said "Oh doctor, I could never make a noise for that. It was great to get that out". I went home and got a dam good sleep after that. And the next time I went to a doctor it would be Dr Stevenson who was my doctor.

I was working in the Hydro and I had a bit of a carry on up there. And I got my head opened. What happened was we we're doing the corridors up there, painting the corridors and one of the wee girls, I knew most of the maids up there, and this wee lassie had a boyfriend through in Coatbridge, and he gave her a pair of gloves and a photo. Well the maids there, the housemaids, all slept down in the bottom flat and they were big enough rooms, right enough, but there were three possibly in each room, three of them in each room and one of the girls that got the photo and the gloves sent them back to the boy. And there was a letter that he had sent back, and she was reading the thing and this other girl she grabbed it out of her hand and ran along the corridor and around the corner. She said, "Sam get that". So, I went after her and she cut down the corridor and into a bathroom. And next to the bathroom was a service room with a sink in it and above that there with frosted glass windows leading into the to the bathroom and one was open and I went to go up there to climb in and she shut it on my head! Of course, I got a great big split. It was a case of going down to the doctors now, and I went down to the doctor. Our excuse was that there was steam going into the bathroom and I went up to close the window and this girl saw the steam coming in and closed the window in my face. That was the excuse. Anyway, I went down to get my doctor. Dr. Stevenson was away.

So, I went up to Dr. Lairds and it was going out the gate and she called me back. "Where are you going?". "I’m going up to Dr. Naismith". She said, "He’s not there, the only one who is on duty today is Dr. Laird". She says, "Come away in". So, I went back in and, of course, by this time the blood was coming through the bandage and she sent me down to Greenock to the chemist and he poured something into it anyway. And back there to Dr. Lairds at Dorema and then he come in and he looked at it. He says, "Get down on the floor again under the light" and he put four stitches in my head. There was no pain reliever or anything there. That’s how it was done. However, I went about with a bandage on my head for three or four days and then got the stitches out by the same doctor. Dr. Syme, of course, with his handyman, he had a horse and a trap, you see, when he went round any of the distant houses. He went out with the horse and trap. And Mr Cox would often go with him. Now, I suppose, when the doctor Laird got a call that was any distance out, he would need to hire a cab. So, it was always a possibility of him getting a cab out to the different far out houses or maybe out to the farms or things like that. So that was always another bit of work for the cabbies taking the doctor around. After Dr. Syme left he was followed Dr. Naismith. And then there was Dr. Ferguson.

When Dr. Parker left Dr. Stevenson arrived in the village. He stayed down in Inglewood in Lochwinnoch Road. I remember working on his house there. Then he moved round to Gryffe Road to a house in the Gryffe Road and we had a big job there doing that house and there were joiners and plumbers which was the usual thing whenever a house became empty, all the tradesmen seemed to come into it. I remember Geordie Howat the joiner. He was a working one day, and it was a common thing, in the morning, for Dr. Stevenson, maybe after a surgery or something, to walk round and see how things we're going. He came round this morning and Geordie, he was a screwing off a front door half of the front door anyway and doctor says to Geordie "What are you doing?" He says, "I'm taking away this front door". "What are you going to do? Are you going to make a new one? It does not need a new one. It could be patched at the bottom". "No, my boss" he says, "I’m to take it off and I’ll have to mark a new one" "But" he says "It doesn't need it because it can be patched". He says, "I’m only doing what my boss tells me". and Dr. Stevenson says, "He may say that but I’m paying a piper I should be able to call the tune". "Oh, if you’re paying a lot to a piper you can afford what we’re doing". And Dr. Stevenson went away bursting his sides laughing. We’ve always been very fortunate in Kilmacolm having doctors in the village who give first class attention that still exists the day. There's nobody that can complain about getting no attention from the doctors here. 

I think it is a lot more wonderful when we look round and see what other villages and towns are like. My son can tell you in Johnston, how he can phone in to get an appointment and they ask him what’s wrong and the comment you get "We’ll leave something for you!" Well we’ve been very fortunate as far as the doctors are concerned. One of the doctors we had, of course, was Dr. Kyle and of course,after that our doctor was Dr. Peebles Brown. We got on very well with Dr. Peebles Brown because he was a Yorkshireman and, of course, my wife comes from Yorkshire and there was many a crack about Yorkshire. And I remember one election. I was doing my agents job and Dr Ferguson came in taking a lady by the arm. I said to Dr. Ferguson "You’ve been in here before". and he said, "I’m taking the old ladies in to vote". I said, "You’ve no dam right to be in here after all, so you better get out!" I said, "There are plenty of agents out there, the tory agents, they’ll bring her in!". So anyway that was what happened with Dr. Ferguson and years after we were working up at his house and Sammy Percy and I were there in this big room on a Wednesday and Mrs Ferguson said "I'm going away to Glasgow but Dr. Ferguson will see you get tea at three 'clock". So, at the back of two o, clock he come in and says "Mrs. Ferguson says I’ve to make tea for you". "Aye" I says" That’s correct We’d like tea". "You’ll not take a dram instead". I says "Oh, no, no I never take a dram while I’m working. " "You don't take a dram?". "Oh" I said "I’ll take a dram after our working hours". So anyway we had our tea and a bit of cake, you see, and then at half past four when we were finishing up he brought in a tray with two glasses of whisky on it and two glasses of beer. And he says. "It’s very hard to get whisky. "It’s stuff I brought for a friend". 

At that time after the war it was very, very difficult to get whisky. You were out trying to buy all kinds of whisky. So I put the whisky up to drink and who was it I wonder who was thinking about carping on, it was Churchill, and I don't know, Oh my god I’ve blown the head off it. Aye, just like that old bugger" I says "It’s hard to see his". Dr. Ferguson burst out laughing, he did it intensely. Another doctor who was quite a number of years in Kilmacolm was Dr. Robinson. He was a doctor who was here for quite a long time. And as I’ve said already, we've been very, very fortunate with our doctors. Another doctor, of course, was Dr. Harper and that’s not all, but there we are. There were others there.

The Hydro
I’d like now to talk about the Hydro in Kilmacolm. Talk about West Glen Road. There was no West Glen Road when we were young. It was all Hydro Hill. That was, I would say, that was the the jewel in the crown of Kilmacolm, The Hydropathic. People arrived at the station coming from, particularly coming from Greenock and big sign was there "Kilmacolm". Underneath there was "Kilmacolm Hydropathic". I think it was 564 feet above sea level. It was a demanding site overlooking in the village, and I can talk plenty about it because of my long connection with them. I was plying right up there with the cabs and the horses and going into the engine room. One of the lads, John Collier who I stayed beside, worked up there. And I had a long connection working there, and also had a girlfriend there. There were plenty of those in the Hydro. But mostly it gave a tremendous lot of work to the village. First of all, in the gardens. In my time, there were two gardeners and two assistants, that was 4. Four gardeners looking after the gardens. These were tremendous. They had a Bowling Green and a tennis court and a huge vegetable garden at the side. Then in-doors they had the engineer and his assistant. There was another two men, and then three "boots". They had two day "boots" a junior and a senior and a night "boots". When I was working there a man came down the fire escape stairs, you know, and this man came out and he looked round and he said" My god" he says "Did you ever see anything as beautiful as that, looking over all rhododendrons in full bloom". And okay, I went at least twice, to work on the outside, but I was always working there with Ritchie the painter.

We had tremendous work there. And at least every second year we went up to the kitchen. It was all washed down and have a new coat of paint. That would be done on the night shift. And then we would come down from there, and that would be at five o'clock or half past five in the morning and be deafened by the whistling of the birds and it was a lovely, lovely walk. And, of course, we hired a bus and it went up from the stable. It went up West Glen Road as you know it. We called it Hydro Hill. And then it came down the other road. So, it was continuous, the movement about the Hydro there. There was a few entrances to the Hydro. The coal going up the West Glen Road and in at the main gate, went into the laundry side of the Hydro. Anybody walking there would go up Barrs Brae and that was the quickest way up Barrs Brae, and there was an entrance just through what we call "the sleepers" at the top of Barrs Brae. Because Barrs Brae was a private road, and I always remember it being a private road they had to close it once a year, and whoever was coming from the Hydro, some of the business men going down for their train, and there was a field at the side, now built on and they used to cut through that field back onto Barrs Brae.

Then of course the main entrance was Barclaven Road. That was the main entrance to the Hydro. I said I had a long connection with the Hydro. I remember a near neighbour of ours was the assistant engineer up there, John Collie. John would be a lad maybe 8 or 10 years older than I was and I remember going up there with his lunch on a Sunday. That was quite a great thing to go up there with John and see through the place. Now it had a marine boiler there that John had to look after, and they were pumping water. The pump was going all the time. They also made their own electricity, and I would be shown around the whole place, and the turbine was there running while we were there, and it was absolutely spotless. Pipes cleaned and everything. There really was no dust about the place at all, although round where the boiler was, it was pretty dusty there. Later on, they had a second boiler put in, what they call a "Dunky" boiler. I'm not an engineer and don't know much about those things, but it was put in because, if one was off and getting done, you see, they switched on to the other one. Now the laundry was just beside that. It was quite a size. They employed three or four women all the time in that laundry too. So, it was a busy place.

Now I’d like to describe something like the Hydro was inside. It had a lovely vestibule entrance. That was built at a later date after the original Hydro was built. Rather a majestic entrance. You went into the main hall and then you’d walk straight and there was quite a little place there for sitting out in the hallway. Then you enter straight into what was the ballroom. And then from the ballroom, you could go to the left into the big dining room. And turn to the right and you went into the lounge, and at one time, I remember it was one huge big room, but they partitioned it off, and I was there at the painting of the partition. That was quite a novelty, that, getting this huge partition painted. It took us days at that. Then there was the office, of course, as you went in the door, and then there was a smoke room at the far away end, and a billiard room there. There was a billiard table there too. Then there were steps down to the Turkish Bath, that was something to see. I worked on it once or twice. It was all tiled up to a cupola. Now that cupola was painted, and we used to go up there and wash the whole place down and paint that cupola. Also, a swimming pool of very cold water. A little bit further you came into the heat there, the hot room and the arches between that was kept painted too. So that was once or twice I was up working at a particular time. And that was a lovely place. They reckon that the tiles and the floor that could never be replaced.

I remember one time there was a fire there and they thought it might be destroyed but it wasn’t destroyed. Had it been destroyed it could never have been replaced again. That was the main floor and, of course, up above that you had the main bedrooms. There was a large corridor, there, you know, with offshoots to various bedrooms. I don't know, I sometimes wonder how many there was, well over 150 bedrooms in the Hydro, but I don't know just exactly, the exact number. I remember, as I say, working there with John Ritchie. They had a tremendous work at the Hydro. And we used to go up there and sometimes work late at night. I remember we we're doing the main corridor and there was a huge carpet, and it was rolled up, you see, but there was still a margin there. We had varnished the margin and I was going along there directly writing on the floor. "Black Paint-- Wappant" all along the corridor, so that those going for their dinner that night wouldn’t walk on the margin. And we all remember watching them going there and then the men giving the ladies a dunt and pointing down to this spelling of the black paint. It seemed to amuse them very much, but it was done with intention. That was to draw their attention, really, that margin was wet paint. In the basement, there, that's where the kitchen was, and the still room was there, and the boot hall was there.

They also had a dining room for the staff down in the bottom and then it was all taken up with the maids quarters. Some of them we did paint some of the rooms too, but they were really large rooms because some of the rooms contained three beds for the the staff down there. I worked at least three times at the outside work there, painting the outside and there was a tower at the Hydro. At one time it was covered in, but then it was opened up and it had a flag pole on it and I remember painting the flagpole, and what a wonderful view you got from that tower. It was out of this world. I believe, on a clear day, and I never saw it, but you could see Edinburgh Castle because there was a valley somewhere or other that on a good day with a good pair of glasses, you could see, with really strong glasses you could make out Edinburgh Castle, but we could certainly see for miles around from the tower and there. The windows there of the dining room were a tremendous height from the main floor, and it meant, when we were painting them, you were about three times moving the ladder to take in the whole window. It was such large windows that were there.

There was also fire escapes, of course, at either end and that was the open iron grating and remember painting it, and painting it in the very, very cold weather and by jove it was a cold, cold job because you couldn't put your hand on the iron or do anything like that to keep yourself warm and it was a case of having some of the maids sort you out a cup of tea, and keep yourself warm whilst painting that fire escape. Miss Cordon was the manageress as far back as I can remember it, and she knew the Hydro like a cup, a ship. She knew everything that was going on, and at night the maids that had finished their work were allowed out somewhere maybe half past eight, a quarter to nine or that sort of thing but they had to be in before 11, and you could bet from a quarter to 11 to 11 o'clock. After that if you entered the front door, the only door that was open, Miss Cordon was hanging about watching every move, and seeing all her staff had returned safely. Among the many famous people who stayed in the Hydro, I remember the excitement when Charles L------- stayed there. Along with his valet he could be seen doing exercises running around the roads with sand shoes on and keeping fit. He was appearing at The Alhambra in Glasgow in a play.

Then there was, I remember, on the wireless listening Iain Wallace, [13] the singer, telling how he used to spend his holidays at Kilmacolm Hydro with granny and grandpa and his auntie Peggy. I knew them all because I did at one time caddy for his auntie Peggy on the golf course. We used to hold a concert each year, the football club, in the Kidston Hall and it was usual to try and get some kind of well-known person to act as Chairman and I remember, this time, Archie McDougal, who was the postman, suggested should and try and get Mr. Temple from the Hydro to come. He was a great character, well known for his jokey way of putting things. So, we're very fortunate in getting Mr. Temple. He acted as chairman. On that particular night and I was at the door at the side of the Club, taking the tickets and seeing all were well looked after and it finished. Anyway, we had a marvellous night and at the finish, he himself, Mr. Temple gave a reading from Macbeth and he brought the house down. He was a great character. I think he was the year 1930 when they opened the 9-hole golf course. It was only a few minutes’ walk from the Hydro. It was a lovely little course, very interesting holes and I joined as a member for a number years and spent many a happy hour on the Hydro golf course. Unfortunately, when war broke out that finished all that and, of course, the Hydro was taken over as a Naval Hospital and was a very, very busy place.

After the war a company took it over again but it didn't seem to take the same interest as it did previous to the war, and I think they were struggling pretty much to make it pay. They even started taking and bus and coach parties, which was an unusual thing there, but however they struggled along and then Stakis bought it over and took it over and made it pay for quite a while because he had a gaming place there too, and everything seemed to go quite well until he lost that license. The license was taken away from all the places except Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. He never had a full license. He only had what they call a table license and he applied it to have a hotel license, but it was refused. The second time, he tried it again and it was refused a second time. I don't know why, because I think that would kept the Hydro going as a proper hotel, and the result was he said "enough”, and they decided to have it pulled down. So that was the end of the Kilmacolm Hydro.

The Kilmacolm Golf Club
Last year The Kilmacolm Golf Club celebrated its centenary year. Now I caddied there as a youngster as I told you. I’d lost my father and I remember my father and my mother was struggling to bring up six of our family and I was the second oldest, just a sister older than me. So, it was a case of trying to get as much pennies for my mother as I possibly could. I went to the golf course as a junior, which meant you had to be under 12 years of age. I think I was about 9 or 10 when I went up first to the golf club and it was a busy club and we always managed to get to caddie. As a junior I got nine pence a round and a penny had to go to the professional and the usual was three penny tip. This would be 11 pence for your caddying. Now the seniors they had a shilling, a penny to the professional. Which gave them 11 pence, but they used to get the usual six pence of a tip. If you went two rounds with the same player, then you got six pence for your lunch and the usual thing to get a lunch was to go into the kitchen and get a piece there, a piece of bread, there. You’d pay tuppence for that and that gave you fourpence for your pocket and the usual piece, the cheapest was jam, it was always plum jam you got on your piece. At the beginning, when I went up there, it was a Mr. Thorburn who was the professional, and he had a junior or rather an apprentice called Charlie Duffy. That was during the First World War and I remember, as a junior, being up there one day and it was raining. It was a Saturday too and we had a caddie house on the hill between, off the 18th green and the caddies there were all playing cards, gambling too. I’d never seen this in my life before and they had a candle lit there and there they were playing, I think it was nap or some game like that, for pennies and and I stood on the seat there watching entranced. I’d never seen this in my life before.

When Charlie Duffy come out and wanted a caddie, he wanted a senior caddie. Now they told him where to go! It was too wet, away you go out of here, you know, and he went away and then he come back again he says "I want a caddie. I'll take a Junior. I want a junior now come on". Now I was the only junior there so I said "No, it’s too wet" So he says "You, re going down the road if you don't take it "So rather than going down the road, I agreed to take the caddie. It was for gentleman in the Hydro. He didn’t usually take a caddie, but he had two friends there to take out. It was one of those slung bags which made life pretty easy to carry that. So, we went out and we played the first hole and the rain still kept coming down. We played the second hole and it was still raining and he turned to these two visitors and he said "Now what do you think? "Well we don't see it lightning up, so we’ll just go up the 18th". So, we come up the 18th hole and coming off the green and he said "Will you dry the clubs caddie and give them a little clean? and he slipped me two shillings. Goodness gracious! When I went in and told the caddies I said "I got two shillings" And I thought they were going to gup me "Come on and put a shilling in" I said "Not on your life that’s going down the road from my mother. " That was a wonderful thing to get there for three holes caddying at Kilmacolm Golf Club.

I remember one summer, during the war, I had a pal called Walter Russell. His father was a plumber with MacIlroys and right at the beginning of the holidays, on this particular Saturday, he and I got out as a caddie with a couple. One of them was a naval officer. He stayed in Tweesdale down Lochwinnoch Road and the other chap was married to the girl Miller who had owned the fish shop in Kilmacolm, and he seemed to be down about the torpedo factory. Whether this had to do with his navel experience. I don't know. However, he was there for the summer and for the two months of the holidays, every Saturday morning Walty and I had to be up there for a quarter to nine. And we went out and they were very fast players. The course was just as long as it is today and we used to go round there, just maybe not much over the two hours, so it was You’d be out there at a quarter to nine. You’d be back in the back of 12 o'clock, and they would go in and have their lunch and come out again and away out for a second round before one o'clock, and we would go in maybe some time around three o'clock. And that was a great thing and we could get a third caddie sometimes if the course was busy, which it pretty often was. And I remember one time I came in a third time and the caddies we're all finished and away and somebody wanted a caddie again and I said, "Oh I’ve had enough".

However, I agreed to go out and I can honestly say that we went 14 holes and was I glad to get home. I was completely nackered. However, that was getting money for my mother, and that was my main concern to get as much money as possible. During the 30s, when there was so much unemployment, it was quite a common thing for the unemployed to go up there and try and get a little extra by getting a caddie up there. Now you weren’t allowed to do those things. You were supposed to be available for work all the time and the result was that a little extra there that they were earning on the quiet and I remember Mr. Goodrick then was the professional at the course and it was a common thing for the clerks down in the employment exchange to have maybe two or three outings of golf during the summer and at least once a year, they came to Kilmacolm. And the caddies would go up there as usual waiting to see if they could pick up a caddie, when Mr. Goodrick come up and said "Now listen you know who, s coming to play golf up here today. They, re the clerks from the employment exchange. The result was the caddies, they made down the road, up through the Moss and away! And the players from the employment exchange would arrive and there were no caddies. I remember there was one of the head ones there, a Mr. Mckay, a nasty piece of goods. He was the government representative and he had to find all the faults and sort them all out in the employment exchange. And he would say to Mr Goodrick "A place like Kilmacolm, such a lovely golf course and such a standard and no caddies I just can never understand that". However, Mr. Goodrick told him the reason why there was no caddies there. He would know them and, of course, that would be a taken away from their unemployment benefit.

The golf club had an artisans section attached to the club and then, before the war, it was mostly used by those who worked on the golf course and chauffeurs, quite a few chauffeurs and gardeners like. Their employers mostly bought them introduction to the artisan section of the golf club. After the war a few of the lads decided they would join it. We were allowed up to 30 members. So, in 1946 I joined as an artisan member and we had a wonderful time there. Now we paid exactly half of the fees that the full members paid but we were not allowed into their club house. We had the caddie house that we used as our headquarters. That was rather small little place, however we had a great time and there was a wonderful spirit among the lads. We always had round about pretty near the 30 mark there and we ran our own competitions. I remember one Sunday golf game, we were always, now listen, we would go up there first thing to get out so as not to interfere with the ordinary members and that’s what we did. We run a competition, mostly every Sunday. And what we did we would pay maybe two shillings into the kitty and we would play for half of that, the winner would get half of that, the other half went to a fund to have outings and we decided we'd have two outings, one in the spring and one in the autumn to various other courses. And we had a very harmonious artisans section and this went on, and quite a few of the lads come up there and joined the artisan section and improved their game, and built up a nice set of clubs and then decided they would like to join as a full member of the club, which they did and quite a lot of them did that and became very active members of the club. However, I kept going all the time and I think I was about 10 or 12 years captain of the artisan section and we have some wonderful outings. And then as I mentioned previously about the Hydro. Here we discovered that one of the lads was a member and he played in a dance band up in the Hydro and he always asked now why, why don't we walk to the Hydro and have a do up there.

So anyway Mr. Murdoch, who was the manager in the Hydro then was invited to one of our outings and he came. The band always came on the outings with us and we used to go maybe down to Mauchline and maybe down to Largs and Rookenburn or Kelburn and the various other courses we went to. They would bring some of their accordion players and some others would bring their instruments and we would have a great time after the game, you know, and quite a bit of fun. And it finished anyway, Mr Murdoch would like to come to one of our outings and he came with us down to Mauchline and he enjoyed that and he said "Why don’t you come up to the Hydro and have a dance during the week. It will cost you nothing at all" he says. And of course, we did that. And it was quite wonderful. It was always a Wednesday because he says, "Listen I’m doing nothing". It was a quiet time and the bar would be fairly busy and so it was. And we had some some wonderful dances up in the Hydro and the shame was when Mr. Murdoch left, and went away to another job that was the finish. And then our great friend in the dance band was Alan Coombes and poor Alan died suddenly and, of course, that sort of finished the visits to the Hydro.

However, that’s something to look back on the wonderful time we had up there and a great fun we had at the dances in the Hydro. The ladies of the members in our section had done quite a lot of baking, you see, and that was taken up to the Hydro but there was always another board of goods supplied by the Hydro itself, and we had a really enjoyable time. I remember one time we had played and there was a well-known band staying in the Hydro at the time and and they arrived home early from one of their days in Glasgow and Mr. Murdoch said "Come on, you take over" So they took over and we had a wonderful time. It lasted till two o'clock in the morning. A wonderful night in The Hydro. So that was last of I remember of being in the hydro. The artisan section went on for a long number years. It lasted, I joined in 1946 and then gradually our membership decreased because most of the lads they would like to get into the big club, you know, and get into the tournament's there and such like, so they joined as full members. And one time we decided that we were getting pretty small. And I remember I was asked to call up and see about the closing down of the section, and it was 1976 and I attended there with Bill McLaughlan, and we had a talk over what would happen. And we came to a very nice agreement, an amicable agreement, that we would close down the section and that the pensioners would come in there was a few of us left as pensioners, you see, and we would come into the club and just pay half the fees to the golf club. And they accepted us as full members although we were not allowed to play in the competitions, but by that time, I think, at our age the few of us that were left didn’t desire that.

Now, the other ones were allowed to come in and join the golf club without paying an entry fee, which was quite a good thing. I enjoyed myself in the golf club and was lucky when I reached the age of 75 to be made an honorary member of the golf club. I enjoyed so much my connection with the golf club that I decided to have a few friends up there to celebrate our diamond wedding, which we did and had rather a nice night in the golf club. The last time I’ve been up there was at my grandsons wedding and that was the first time a wedding had been held in the golf club. And it was a magnificent place to hold a wedding and it was most enjoyed by everyone that was there. In fact, it’s been talked about by all those that were there and such a great night we had. So that's my connections with the golf club and its finished up in a very harmonious way.


Union Matters
I had started my apprenticeship in November 1919. Earlier on in the year Jock Andrews had started a branch of the trade union. A branch of the painters, called "The Scottish Painters Society". Working in the shop were ever so many men. I know the first year I was there there was over 30 men working with Ritchie and that year they had a big, large number of men working there, and they come from all over the district, there, from Glasgow, right to Gourock. And they had various agreements and one would say "Oh no we get more than that, we get such and such". So, Jock thinks the best thing to do is get a branch of the union formed and we’ll get union conditions for everybody. So, Jock then got the branch formed and he became secretary of the branch in 1919 and he was very active. At the same time, there was a district formed, what they call a district committee. And that was branches from Greenock, Gourock, Port Glasgow, Kilmacolm, Paisley, Johnston, Barhead and Renfrew. And Jock also was the elected secretary of this district committee too, which meant they met once a month in Paisley or Greenock. They discussed the various conditions or complaints and so in our union. He was a very active member, Jock Andrews. But anyway, things got so tight for Jock, nevertheless, so he decided he’d had enough.

Jock had a sister out there in Canada and he’d been in touch with her and she suggested why not come out there. Jock then decided, Yes, I'll go out. So, Jock went away out there to Canada. Before he went in 1928, he called me up and then he says "There you are. You're now the secretary of the Kilmacolm branch". I said "Oh, no. "He says "Yes, you’ll need to be. Who else can take it?" Now we'd over 20 members at the time. So, he said "I’ve arranged a meeting, come up with me to Paisley to the district committee. I went up to the Renfrewshire district committee along with Jock to the meeting in Paisley and was elected secretary of the district committee too. That was me, head over heels into trade union activity then. I’ve checked and I was the secretary of the branch for exactly 50 years. I gave it up in 1978 which was 50 years continuous secretary of the Kilmacolm branch of the trade union. By this time, of course, the branch had depleted quite a bit, and there wasn't a great deal of members left, and most of them were resident in Port Glasgow. So, I agreed then, and got the members transferred down to the Port Glasgow branch of the Painters Society. By this time, of course, we’d amalgamated with the painters in England and became the Amalgamated Society of Painters and Decorators. And then we went into another union and brought in other members in the construction business and became UCAT. The Union of Construction and Civil Engineering and so on, and so on. I am now a member of UCAT, and I am an honorary member of that trade union.

After the union with the painters and England and Wales and we became the Amalgamated Society of Painters and Decorators the whole set up changed. The district committees became bigger districts, we had The West of Scotland, The East of Scotland and The Northern District committees and over and above that we formed The Scottish Regional Committee. Now I had lost my job, of course, as the district secretary so a great friend of mine who stood for the executive, and became an executive member suggested that I should stand for the two of them just to see what would happen. So, I stood for both the district and the region, and the to my amazement, I was elected on to both the committee's and that was a three-year commitment you were elected for. So, I served on the two committees and we met in our head office in Glasgow, for the district and also for the regional committee. Now the Regional Committee members came from all over Scotland and we met in the head office too.

So, I made great friends. My great friend was from Aberdeen. We had Aberdeen coming down. We had Fifeshire. We had Edinburgh and we had Glasgow and so on. And we met on a Saturday there too. However, I stopped the district committee and I thought that was rather selfish being on both committees. So, when it came round, after the three years, to be elected again I dropped the district committee and stood for the region and became a member of the regional committee. Now I completed a third year there and stood a second time. That was nine years I was a member of regional committee and I finished the last three years as the chairman of the regional committee and we used to try and share it out, but we knew there was a new amalgamation coming with UCAT and we didn’t know which year so the year that I was chairman and possibly next year. And so, I was elected to carry on for another year and the same happened a third time. So, I was elected chairman and I was chairman of this Regional Committee and made a great many friends. I attended ever so many national meetings of the various unions. The painters, The Scottish Painters Society held what they called a triennial meeting.

Every three years we held a meeting. All the branches elected their members to go to various parts of Scotland, and I attended eleven of those, that was a record so far as The Scottish Painters Society attendance. So, I had eleven Scottish committee triennial meetings in various parts of Scotland, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow. Ayr, I remember being at that one held there. Then when we became the Regional Committee, there was national organizations, national meetings held in various parts of the United Kingdom. I attended meetings, the first one was down in Eastbourne and then I was in Dunoon twice at Dunoon. I was over in Ireland at Dunlochaire and there were meetings there. I was at Great Yarmouth. I was at oh ever so many, I can’t just remember them all the now, but Scarborough was another one. So, I went around and made ever so many friends in the trade union movement.

So, I attended meetings of The Labour Party, the national meetings of the Labour Party, mostly in Blackpool. Because we had to be in on our own, my wife and I’ were invited as visitors down there a few times to Blackpool and we met ever so many MPs. there at Blackpool. I remember one of the times I. d always been telling Danny Rigley, an executive member, how I’d met Wedgwood Ben’s father I think he thought it was something I was telling that wasn't really true. However, this particular night we were having a cocktail party, the trade union, out in the big hotel out there and I was invited along, of course, with my wife, you see. And he said, "Your friend Wedgy Bens coming". I said, "I told you I’d met his father". But Danny still thought there was a wee bit of bull about this. However when Wedgewood Ben[14] came in he called me over an introduced me and he says "This is Sam McGinn, a great friend of mine "he says "from Kilmacolm" "Oh Kilmacolm" he says "Goodness gracious" he says "I should know something about Kilmacolm. My mother stayed in Kilmacolm before she got married. My mother belonged to Paisley and she had lost her mother. So, she and her father went down and stayed a short time in Kilmacolm before she got married. My father, of course, was born in Ayr". I says "Aye, but just a minute" I says " I’ve just been telling Danny I heard your father was a prospective candidate". I was running a branch of the friends guild at the cooperative" "Yes" he says," My father was a candidate" he says" and he stood there as labour and the cooperative candidate". I says, "I had met him at a rally in Kilmacolm". He says, "That would be correct" he says. And I says, "He never stood here". "No" he says "He got called away to fight a seat in Aberdeen, one of the Aberdeen seats which he won and became a member of parliament for that particular seat in Aberdeen".

Co-operative Guilds
So, the Cooperative Guilds were very active in Kilmacolm right up to the outbreak of war. We had many happy nights and wonderful nights down in the local halls as we called it, the school halls there. We used to meet in the men. s number four room there, and we always drew up a syllabus each season, for the summer and for the winter season. And we had various things. I always remember, we used to have a "tattie and hares" night. Now that was a great thing that we used to have there. Put the hare in and cook the hare and dish out the hare and what we call suet butter milk, that was one of the functions. We’d also Burn, s nights, various other things, and brought various speakers, there. We had debates and such like, Parliamentary debates I always remember. We had wonderful nights. there. Also visits to the Port Glasgow guild. They had similar down there. I remember we formed a little concert party. We had great fun at the concert party. Jimmy Taggart was certainly the leading instigator of that, and we got together a party that could entertain for maybe an hour. We had no Labour Party in the village there. We had closed it down, and I remember there was likely to be an election and they had nominated a new member to stand for this constituency, Jean Mann [15], who later became MP for Coatbridge. And I kept in touch with the Labour Party in Renfrewshire. The Party this time they said they were having a public meeting in Kilmacolm, and I suggested they don't have a public meeting because nobody would turn up to it. That proved right and Jean Mann appeared one Friday night, and there was nobody. Just one or two turned up to the meeting, with a result I got her round and she addressed the mens guild, and we had a very good night with Jean Mann who later became the MP for Coatbridge.

We then received notice that the school halls were to be taken over for school functions only, and there was to be no more letting for other functions other than those connected with the school. Well that was a blow for both the woman, s and the men, s guilds. The cooperative had a bakery at the back of the Schaw Buildings, quite a large building there and it had closed down and all the baking had been transferred down to the bakery in Port Glasgow. The workers that were there, one or two from Kilmacolm. Well I could name Willy Galbraith and Davey Webster. Two of the workers that were transferred down to Port Glasgow. So, we had a deputation among the men. There was Hughie Tanner, Tom Walker and Tom McKee and I and we went down to meet that board to plead with them to turn it into a hall, and it would accommodate quite a gathering. 

It was quite a size of a building, big enough to even be used as a badminton court. We pleaded with them. But no, no, it was going to cost too much money to turn it into a hall. The sum of 400 pounds was mentioned, but no, no, they couldn't afford that at a time. We suggested, and I suggested too, that among ourselves we would do the caretaking of the building too if they would give us this as a hall for use. But no! that was that them dead against any spending of money to turn it into a hall in Kilmacolm. That was the beginning of the end so far as the cooperative men's guild and the woman's guild was concerned, and I think it was also beginning of the end of the cooperative in Kilmacolm, which was rather a blow.

Trades People
I started my apprenticeship in 1919 with John Ritchie. John Ritchie had a tremendous amount of painters working, particularly during the busy summertime. And there was a firm Mackintosh, there, in the village too. He’d taken over from a chap called Hatry and he employed maybe up to 10 or 12 men in a busy time too. And then maybe another individual would start out on his own and maybe employ another man. That was the painting and painters in Kilmacolm. Joiners! We had ever so many joiners in Kilmacolm. I remember I could start there at Woodrows. They are still there yet, the Woodrows. It’s a long-established firm that Woodrow. And just further down opposite the stables in what is now a car park, in there was Cauldrow, the joiner. He had his workshop there in that part. He had a workshop up the stair and all the wood down the stair. And down there he did quite a bit with his nephew who worked with him all the time there, and sometimes another man employed there. Then further down into Church Lane there was Lyons, Jim Lyons who had the fruit shop for a while, He worked with his father and the two of them had the workshop in Church Lane. And then up at the scout hut you had Clark Douglas with a joinery shop up there. He employed maybe a man and an apprentice there, and then down the Smithy Brae was Spears, and Spears always employed three or four joiners in his workshop down there, now part of the chapel, down there. And that’s Spears the joiner.

Then we had also, out in the country, was Harry Walker. So, you see, and then down the Whitelea Road we had Darroch there, the joiner there and he had a man and always an apprentice down there. So, you see the amount work that was done by, the local firms in those days. And then we had builders there, of course. Woodrow had the building there and then further down where the car park is, at the Kidston Hall, we had Holmes, the builders down there, and then, next to Glenburn we had Gordon, slaters and builders. He had a workshop there, just in front of Glenburn. And then, of course, Fleming came to Kilmacolm and he had his workshop down the Smithy Brae. So that was all looking after the works in the buildings in Kilmacolm. A tremendous amount of workmen in the building trade. 

And then, of course, the most well-known joiner of them all, of course, was a James Austen Laird whose premises were between West Glen and Glenburn Place. It’s still there as a joiners shop there, and when I started work in 1919 my pals became apprentice joiners the following year with James Austin Laird. They had up to 20 joiners. He did a tremendous lot of building in Kilmacolm. I remember one of the first big jobs that I attended as an apprentice for Ritchie was when they built the Corrie up next to the Knapps House. He built ever so many houses in Kilmacolm. A great bit of building went on then by local builders. Davie Ewing was in charge of the brickies there and a number of those brickies were employed by James Austin Laird, and James Austin Laird was very, very clever man. Now we have what they call breeze blocks used in buildings. That’s the slag thing from usually where there’s been mining, and they’re put together with cement and such like, but long before that he had a breeze block.

Now down at the gas works there, there was ashes always just carted away. There was no use for them. And he decided then that many of his builders there could do nothing in the wintertime. So, in up there at West Glen Road there was a big shed built there. And he got the ashes up there. They were all chopped and ground down and mixed with cement. And he made what we call a breeze block. Now there’s two houses in Kilmacolm built by that breeze block. I could tell you the one was called Shan Valley on the Bridge of Weir Road and the last house before you come to Gryffe Road. It was built with a breeze block. I worked with those houses too, when they were new for Ritchie, the painter. That was the type of work that was going on in the village. And then, of course, gardeners. Goodness Gracious! There were so many gardeners in the village there. Most of the big houses, maybe had their own gardener, and then were jobbing gardeners going around the various houses. So that was Kilmacolm. The busy Kilmacolm. And, of course, other ones travelled down to Port Glasgow and Greenock and they served their apprenticeships in the shipyards.

I remember when the first motor cars came to Kilmacolm. I think there were some full-time chauffeurs there. I remember, I think, one of the first was a Mr. Andrew who was chauffeur to Douglas Langervart. That’s the big house that Burnett took over after that. And actually, before him Berger, they called it Eriskay. Berger. That was the paint people. They had that house. And then Prime Burnett had that house there that stands in Glencairn Road. Then of course there was Westmarch had their own chauffeur, the tenant of Westmarch. Quite a few! This was the beginning of cars in the village. Birkmyre had a car and it was kept up at the the stables, there. I remember the chauffeur used to come up there and do work at his car there. That was during the beginning of the first world war. That was another beginning I saw in Kilmacolm, the beginning of the cars in the village but they were always driven by chauffeurs.


My boss John Ritchie was a very active person in Kilmacolm. He was a member of this Fifth District Council for long number years. He was a special constable. He was an active member of what was then the St. James's Church, now the St. Columbus Church. He was a Methodist himself, but he was very active in the St. James's Church. He was the Sunday school superintendent and he was a great, great man in the photographing line. He was a keen photographer. And at that time, of course, the photographing was much different from today. He had the old tripod with a cover over your head. Underneath that he would take pictures and I attended quite a few weddings at Kilmacolm carrying out his stuff, you know, for the photograph, because it was too much for the one to carry. And he would be on his bicycle and we’d go up to the church and take photos at the church and then out to where the reception was and take photographs there. And that sometimes was used as a present, giving a present to some of his customers.

I remember to tell the story that he was taking a photo of the new window, the stained-glass window put in the St. James, s Church. It's a lovely big window and he had the tripod set up inside, just to see how the sun was exactly hitting the window. He came outside round to see how things were and next door to the church was Ashfield, and a Mr. Auld stayed in Ashfield and he was out cutting his lawn and he was sitting on the deck there having a smoke at his pipe. And Mr. Ritchie was looking up at the widow and he told them, he says, "I'm trying to take a nice photograph and I want to just get the sun hitting the window nicely" he says. "So, I can get a photo of this lovely window". "Aye" he says," It’s a braw window" he says "It was given by a Mr. Barr, you know". And Barr, his line of business was Barr and Lowries whisky. And Mr. Auld he says "Aye, it’s a braw window" he says. "What’s the subject?" he says "Is it turning the water into wine?"

Fire Station
There was a little tin hut there, in Market Place, up near the church wall, there, painted red and written above it was" Fire Station". And inside it was a barrow, there, containing a hose and different equipment. If there was a fire near at hand, of course, You’d run out the barrow, you see, and attend to the fire. But however, there were one or two, what we called, auxiliary fire men there, and Tommy McKee was my great pal and he was one. Brian Webster, the plumber, was another and they kept the barrow in condition and looked after it, you see, and if ever there was a fire in the village they could go out to the fire and then help to put out the fires in the village.

The result was that just before the war, they decided to form a proper auxiliary fire service and look for recruitment. I agreed with Tommy to go over there with him and train for the fire service. There was quite a few of us from Kilmacolm went over. And Neil Sharkey was one, Tommy McGlauchlin was another. Davie Miller and quite a few of us used to go over there twice a week and train over at the fire station in Johnston there. The result was, that when war broke out, of course, we were all called up, you see, the night war broke out and we made quarters in the Kidston Hall, there, that would be our headquarters. But the Kidston Hall had no telephone. The result was we had to be on duty. We had to be rigged out with all our uniforms and firemen properly trained. So, the result was that, although the beds there were put down for so many of us, there was to be a 24-hour duty. There was no telephone there. So, the first two or three nights of the war I along with Davie Miller volunteered and we were down at the police station there, to be beside the telephone there. Now, we would take over maybe at 10 or 11 o'clock at night and there supposed to be on all night however I used to say to Davie "It’s a time you were away home" and I would stay here and I would lay down in the cell there beside the telephone there, until they got one erected in the Kidston Hall and that became our headquarters There in the Kidston Hall.

The first full time fireman in the Kidston Halls was Jimmy Kean who was the head of our section of Davie Miller, myself, Tom McKee and Johnny Irvine. Johnny was the driver for our section, you see. Of course, we had no engine at the time. However, we negotiated to buy a big Humber car, there from a Mr. Kerr up on Rowentree Hill. That was bought there, and we took it down into the garage, what is now the station garage there, where Johnny worked, and he took the body off and built it up as a fire tender. Oh, it was the best turned out thing outside the real fire tenders of the whole of Renfrewshire. It was a wonderful turn out we had. Very good all painted up. That was my job painting it up and getting the initials on it, you know. AFS Johnston and such like. And we had a wonderful turn out and of course, with a driver like Johnny it was no bother getting to any calls at all. We had a few calls during the time, before the real thing came, The Blitz at Greenock. and we attended to quite a few different small fires in the village. Oh, it went on for quite a while. However, I got rather tired, it was a pretty monotonous job there, hanging about there, 24 hours a day, with a day off in the week and such like.

Word came through that some of us could volunteer to leave the service and just have one or two in it. So, I volunteered. Ritchie was rather busy and most of his men had left to either the forces or different other jobs down the shipyards and such like. So, as he was rather stuck, I agreed to go back to my work with Ritchie. And I went back to my work. But every time the siren went, we had to report down at the Kidston Hall at our headquarters. And that happened very frequently. And I of course, stayed the furthest away from the fire station. I stayed up in Finlaystone Crescent, but every time the siren went, we turned up, I was always the first in the Kidston Hall although I was the furthest away. They used to say that I went to bed with a uniform on. However beside the bed was your wellingtons, your trousers and your tunic and you run through the mud down the road, and being on call there.

The Greenock Blitz [16]
One call came that I'll never forget that was the night of the Greenock Blitz. The siren went and we reported, and we were told to make for Greenock right away. As being the nearest station, fire station to Greenock, of course, we were first down there. We were down there very early in the Blitz and it was something you’ll never forget. All hell let loose. And the bombing was landing all around us and we arrived down there and reported to the Greenock fire station, and before we got there Johnny Murray, a chap who lived in Kilmacolm. He had a little shop there. I’ll maybe tell you about that later. Johnny was manning a pump there just at The Victoria Harbour, there. This building had completely blown out and there was fire there. Johnny was working the pump there and I thought "Well Johnny if you can be brave, so can I". The few of us that was on the fire tender, we went along there to the head of Burma Street on the Lion Quay there, and he says "Listen There’s an incendiary bomb there in Blacks, the sail makers. Get your pump and get that out". So, we got the stand pump out and he showed us how to get on and we pumped through in the window. Of course, the whole thing came up in a blaze. We put down the standpipe on to the hydrant, but no water would come. The water pipes had been hit. So, we went down Burma Street and the Jimmy McKeen says, "I'll go along to the fire station". So, Jimmy went along to the fire station to see what use he could make of our pump.

We were sent back to the Victoria Harbour, there, and got the pump in there, and we had to get into the Victoria Harbour as the building opposite had been hit by a bomb and, of course, there was rubble lying all over, and we had to get down on our hands and knees and clear the bricks to get the pump in, so that we could pump water from the river and relay it up to another pump that was working at a fire at Spots Foundry up there. And that was where we did our job there, connected up with the pump going relaying the water up to this other pump, you see, that was trying to put out the fire in the foundry. The thing was there, next to there, the Victoria Harbour was a petrol station. Of course, it was all closed up, just a petrol station. And the next thing was fireman coming looking for petrol. Their pumps were beginning to run dry. I said, "There’s a petrol station". "Aye but its locked up". There was a padlock on it, and I said, "Well that’s an easy thing". I always remember how silly it was and I did the right thing. I just undid my hatchet and hit the padlock and burst the padlock. And of course, they all came there and got their petrol, there, from the pumps there, to keep the water pumps going, trying to put out the fires.

It was a tremendous thing and we were there up till daybreak, anyway early in the morning there, relaying, of course, because we could do no more. Everything else was being done that could be done and our job became redundant and they decided, then that we could go away home and I remember coming out of the fire tender and Johnny Irvine said "I was in there disconnecting the pumps and he said "No mistake I was down there clearing away those legs and arms, legs and arms and such like lying about there". This had been a building there opposite that had been hit by a bomb. 

However, I’ll always remember coming up the Clune Brae and looking back and the smoke that was still rising but sitting above it all was the Victoria Town Hall there. And coming back to Kilmacolm where everything was peaceful and quiet, we went into the fire station. We’d left two of the older men in charge there Donald McPherson and John Webster, there, and they said, "Oh you had a quiet night!" I said, "A quiet night!" They, d been sitting in a room in the Kidson Hall when a land mine landed there, down near the exchange, there, down the Smithy Brae. It didn’t do a lot of damage but the suction of that had effected the chimney, there of the Kidston Hall and, of course, all the soot came down and the two of them, sitting by the fire had got covered in soot. They had to go away home and get cleaned up and have a bath. That was my last big experience of the fire service, because not long after that I took an illness, there.

And I remember, we'd friends up from Greenock There staying with us. And I had been working in the garden, and they said, "Come on, we’re going up to have a walk onto Hydro Golf Course". You get a wonderful view from the hill up there right over the whole Clyde valley, you see, and we marched away up there. While I was up there, I had a tremendous pain in my tummy, there. Oh, it was tremendous. Now I landed down, and I was climbing up the walls. So, we sent for the doctor. My doctor at the time, I forgot to mention, was Dr. Peebles Brown. He was on holiday but there was a locum there, and he came, and I remember we had a lot of friends in that night. However, he came, this young locum and he said, "You're going up to hospital". He sent for an ambulance and always remember my great pal Jimmy McKee come up with me to the Western Infirmary in Glasgow. I was operated on that night for a duodenal ulcer and that was me so far as the fire service was concerned. It was finished. I was in the hospital, I think, for 17 days before I was discharged from it, and that was me so far as the service. It was finished. I had a good time out of that.


World War 2 Service
I remember it was getting near my age time for being called up for the services. Now when I registered, down in Port Glasgow, which we all had to do, at a certain time, when our ages were called out. You had to report for whatever you’d be called up for. And I registered for the navy. Most of the lads had been taken to Paisley, there, for the army, but I wanted the navy. I knew the clerk in the employment exchange very well, a chap Lang and I said "Listen I don't want the army. I want the navy" He says "Right Sam. "So, he put me down for the navy. I went away up to the St. Mungo Halls in Glasgow and I remember, I’ll never forget it. It was very cold weather, and I went up the stairs to this naval chap. And this old fellow was there behind a counter, and he had two or three golden bands on his arm, and it was very, very cold and it was cold in that place. And in the place was a gas cooker, and they had the oven door open and the oven lit, there, and that’s where he was heating his hands. Of course, when he came to my form he says "House painter! Oh" he says "I’ve no use for a house painter". "But" I said "listen I worked on yachts" I said. So, I did, it was Sandy Blackwoods yacht that I’d worked for. I said, "I’d worked on yachts" and I says, "I’d rather go into the navy". So, he filled in the form. He says "You’ve been accepted now for his majesty's Royal Navy.

Now when the call up papers came, it was back to the fire service and, of course, that was a blow. However, I got the call up for the fire service. So now, I had no eye for the army and such like. I was pretty low. And I was used to going to the fire station at night and have a blether with the boys. But things began to get rather worse. And then I saw it advertised for people with yachting experience to a volunteer for servicing the fleet and such like, so I applied for that. I stated that I had yachting experience. The only yachting experience I had was with Sandy Blackwoods yacht down in the Clyde there! And I had painted it. And, of course, I got called up to go down and I went down to Portsmouth and got into the volunteer service there. And I volunteered, as a cook/deck hand, because I had to watch it as I was rather much on a diet and had to watch exactly what I was able to eat. So, by doing that, then I could watch my diet. Now, I was placed on a fishing smack, there, and across to the Isle of Wight, there at Ryde and we were stationed there. And the crew, there were six of us in the crew, two engineers and so on, and a deck hand. The skipper, in fact, the first skipper he had been on ocean liners and, goodness gracious! we went near the fleet. 

The pier at Ryde was about three quarters of a mile long and we were out there. The signals light, you see, and there’s different boats come into The Solent, there, and you’d see the signal of who they were. We used to take out the mail to the various ships that dropped anchor in The Solent, there. The Solent was divided into divisions and there was division so and so. You were to proceed to the various ships, there, and deliver their mail. It was a very, very interesting job. The first skipper we had, I said, had been in deep sea and by jove! your life wasn’t very safe with him. He would rattle along the side of these ships far too fast, you see, and then drop everything as quickly as possible. However, he left, and another lad came and took over as captain of the boat. I had quite happy time there and it was the month of September when I went down there, first of all, to that first ship, you see. When I’d seen the "natives" down there you thought they were foreigners. They were all burnt brown. This was the wonderful weather they had down there. They're we were getting paid for a lovely holiday. It was a holiday although I had a lot of work to do but, the rest of the crew did help, and we were well fed. When you think, at home there they were under rationing and down there you could go to the different ships there and draw your rations there and the men always had a three-course lunch.

And in the morning when I went there from this ship there was about fourteen pounds of oatmeal, a thing you couldn't buy here. And I said to the lads "By Jove, you're lucky, you're going to get your porridge in the morning" "Oh No!". I told them they were going to get porridge in the morning. And I used steep the oat meal at night, you see , and first thing, when you’ve got the galley fire going I’d put the porridge on there and let it boil away for nearly an hour. By Jove did they enjoy that because it was very cold in the mornings and they used to have the porridge there. And it was a condensed milk you watered down; you see. That was what they had, but they used put this syrup on the top of their porridge. I thought it was a terrible thing. But that's the way they enjoyed it and they thought it was a wonderful thing to get first thing in the morning. Then we’d have bacon and eggs, and I say you’d have a three-course lunch and I was pretty good at making puddings and such like, and we had a wonderful time there. The next ship I was transferred to lay in Portsmouth right in No. 1 Basin right under "The Victory. "[36] Right beside "The Victory", and we used to go out there and take different messages round to the various ships lying out in The Solent. We would go out and the convoys used to come in there, you see, and they were split up after crossing over The Atlantic. Some would come there, and some carry on to the Clyde and to Liverpool and such like. And we used to go out there and meet the Commodore with his signallers and maybe four or five of the lads there with him, you know, who had taken the part of the convoy into Portsmouth and we used to go there and bring them ashore. I always had a coffee pot boiling whenever they came aboard, of course.

We were all there a long time, and I was quite surprised that none of them had been taken away from the ship. The skipper, he was an ex harbour boy and he was full of himself. The mate, he had been in the Royal Navy. Young but he'd been discharged with deafness and such like. I don’t know what was wrong. A bit shell shocked possibly anyway. And then the deck hand was Ted. He was a real Londoner. A lovely chap Ted and he had two nippers he talked about. Two kiddies who were evacuated down to Devon. And his wife something I don’t know, possibly staying with her mother, anyway away from home. Anyway, Ted and had been in a factory there, and of course, if he’d waited much longer he’d would have been called up to the army and Ted had a friend in The Admiralty and he managed to fix him up aboard this ship. He had been altogether five months on board this ship. Anyway, I was there till Christmas and decided that was enough! and I came back home. It was a long winter and Ted wrote me and asked me, would I not come down to Plymouth, and he and I get a ship down there. This would have been for the Admiralty. However, I felt I'd had enough of my turn in the services.

At Portsmouth our ship was a fishing smack, there, a fishing ship there that had never been used. It was a complete new ship, you know, and they commandeered it, of course, for The Navy and I think the idea about having it there was in case of an evacuation again from France because the middle of the ship was all gutted out there and there was plenty of accommodation there to bring people back from France if it had to be used for evacuation. However, that’s where the crew slept. The four of them slept in there, and Ted and I in the galley, there. There were bunks in the galley and we slept there. And we were on it quite a long time and I’ll tell you about some of the fun we had there. The first meal we had there, the first real meal, the first one I cooked we had, I made this scotch broth and then we had roast beef and potatoes and a pudding and then I always had a cup of tea. A mug of tea it was really. So anyway Ted and I were doing the cooking, dishing out the stuff and Ted was taking it into mid ships, there, where they had a table, and they were sitting round there, the rest of them, you, see. When they came to the tea the skipper shouted "Ted. bring a saucer" I said " Ted you sit where you are". He come through and I says "Listen, where the hell do you think you are? you think you’re in The Savoy Hotel. So, when you boarded this ship you were dished out with a tin plate and a mug" I says "and a knife, fork and spoon. Luckily" I says" on board ship was all these things. There’s nothing in these surroundings that we could afford to sit in luxury here" I says. And I says, "Who the hell does the washing up?" He says, "Oh well we’ll take our turn". I says, "You’ll take your turn!" "Oh yes" "Well" I says "Right. You can have your saucer. After the way it is, I've been five months here and you’ve never washed a dish yet. Well "I said "you’ll wash this dishes next, don’t you worry, he’ll take his turn with the dishes". And so, he did. And this was great for us to see, the likes of us, I don't know.

I think he thought that Scottish people were people who was cause a fight even if things didn’t happen. And we had many, many a set to with the skipper, you know. And then this Jim, the mate, he put up a rota, there, you see. We worked so many hours, in fact one time we were 24 hours on call, and then we're off the next day and so on. Every fourth day you were off. And this rota went up and it was stuck above the galley. I looked up and I said "Look" I says "Jim the skippers names not on it!" "Oh, he doesn’t go on it". I said, "Does he No" So I just took the thing an threw it in the fire. So later on, Jim came, and he said "Ted, Ted where’s the rota? "He said "Ask Jock, it’s in the fire. "What did you put it there for?" I said, "The skippers name is not on it". "Oh well, I’m the mate and I made it up" And I said "Well I’m just the same as you. We’re all volunteers here "I said. "I'm on the same footing as the skipper and He’s on the same footing as you and I "I said" So He’s got to take his duties the same" So he came in the skipper and he says "What’s wrong? "So, I told him. "Oh well "he says" I’ll take my turn". Well I says "You’ll take your turn! "However the skipper had a fancy woman staying at Southsea and that’s where he used to go when he got any opportunity. At night he used to slip away down to Southsea. However, Ted thought this was marvellous we all being on equal footing. I says "Well that’s what We’re here for. We’re all volunteers here". 

The job there was to go out to, as I told you, to meet the commander of the convoys and things like that, you know. The commodores of the convoy meet them and bringing them in, with their crew, you know. And take messages out to the various ships. And I remember, one night, in the dark, we went down to pick up and give a message to somebody. We found the ship, there, and got up a line and it was dark, of course, it being blackout. And on deck all you could see was the cigarettes. The lads there, the army boys were out having a smoke. And I shouted, "Is this such and such a ship?" "Oh, Jock where do you come from? Is that Glasgow?" And there was a whole lot of Glasgow boys there and they started singing. So, we drew up there and we started singing "Sailing up the Clyde" and "I belong to Glasgow" and the skipper thought this is something great. They said, "What are you here for?" And I said, "You'll know that in the morning". We knew what it was. It was instructions for the ship to sail for a certain part or something, to France or something. That was some of the fun we had. I enjoyed it. My time down at Portsmouth.

More Politics
To come back to politics. The set up in the old days was the County Council met in Paisley. Kilmacolm had two county councillors. We had two main wards, there. The east ward, and the north and south ward. The east ward was all this side of the main road. The road from Port Glasgow. Coming from Port Glasgow on the left-hand side. The housing scheme took that part and the rest was farms and out by the public park and such like and we’d two county councillors assigned. A Mr. Ross and Sir Alexander Taylor. They were the county councillors. Now we had a local council, called the fifth district council they met in the Parish Council Chambers down here at the foot of Woodrow Avenue, there. And they met there, and I heard there was a vacancy there. I was great friend of Donald Galbraith. He was a member of the Council. And we had had an election a few years previously and there was quite a furore in Kilmacolm because the Cricket Club were taking over too much of the Public Park and squeezing the football club out so Donald stood there on that promise that, that should never happen. We have a football pitch and we should be fair about it; you see. And anyway, he stood against a Mr. Brown there. And he won his seat there. There was a vacancy on it. I don’t know who had passed away. But anyway, there was a vacancy. He came to me and he said, "Will you go onto the fifth district council?" and I said "Aye. Certainly". So, he proposed me, and it was agreed that I become a member of the District Council.

I went to my first meeting of the District Council, and just before that, poor Donald Galbraith had passed away. Anyway, I entered the council chambers. It's a huge table and at the top sat Mr. Austin the Chairman and at his right-hand side was the council clerk, Mr. Gormely, at the time. And up there at either side of the table are the various other members, there. Mr. Turner, Sir Alexander Tate. Mr Taylor, Johnny Caldwell, Mr. Ferguson the banker, Max Donald. I won’t go through the lot, I can’t remember. Anyway, there was no room for me at the side, I had to sit at the bottom of the table. Now honestly, I was looking round, and I think they believed that Queen Anne was still on the throne, they were so much out of date so far, I was concerned. And some of the business, there was nothing really in it at all and the time they spent at it! And I began questioning each item, you see, and I remember this particular night I think it was the second meeting I’d been there and I started questioning all the minutes and such like. And old Mr. Collier, he got rather fidgety, he says "Look what the time is. Its nine o, clock. Were usually away from here by half past eight". I says "Mr. Collier, sit down. We’ll go through this correctly "I says" You couldn’t have been doing it correctly before. And I had quite a bit of fun there, in the Council chambers.

The first meeting I went to was the Annual General Meeting and I always remember Mr. Austin saying "Well gentlemen this is the Annual General Meeting" he says "I'll need to elect a New Chairman. " So, he said "Mr. Caldwell. You take the chair". So Mr. Caldwell stood beside the chair and he moved that Mr. Austin re-occupy the chair. And that was it finished! The next time it come round, the next year, the same thing happened, and I says "I move that Mr. Austin don't reoccupy the chair. "Oh" he says, "I’m the only one who can take it" "Is that because you’re a county councillor?" "Yes" he says. I says to the clerk "Could you please give me a rule on that? Who is is legible for the chair?". He says, "Everyone here is legible for the chair". Well I move that Mr. Austins had a long time in the chair and somebody else become chairman" and of course, that started them paying tribute to all these years, he’d been 20 years, I think in the chair and I said well he’d done great work and I don't think it was fair and I made quite a speech. And then I started to move. And I said "Mr. Austin, will you please come round to the side and take Mr. Caldwells seat?" "Mr Caldwell would you please sit down". I think Mr. Caldwell thought he would burn a hole in his pants if he sat down in the chairman’s seat. And he stood at the side and he said, "Who are you moving?" and I started going round the whole table. Sir Alexander Tate said "Oh no I’m pretty well taken up by County Council work. I haven’t the time to really give it proper attention". I went round them all and I remembered Max Donald telling me how active he had been on the council, so I moved Max Donald. Poor Max said "No. I’m sorry". I said, of course, you’re a businessman too. "Yes" he said "My business keeps me too busy". So, at the finish I said "Well Mr. Austin. Nobody's moved Sam McGinn because Sam McGinn wouldn’t take it. So Mr. Austin You’d better sit down again". Well that caused quite a furore on the council. I used to come home after the meetings and tell my wife what had happened and we used to sit and have quite a laugh. The war finished and we decided then that this would be the last meeting of fifth District Council for this session. And there was to be an election. Mr. Austin said, "No no I’m quite sure we’ll see you all back here again". But I had my mind made up. I wasn’t going back. But we’ll have an election anyway. 

So, by this time Tommy McKee was back from the services and he and I and Tom Watt got together a lot together we decided to come on and let us get together and have a local election. It had happened too often that people had just been elected without a local election. Let’s have people standing for election. So, it was decided that I would stand for the east ward, which took in the housing scheme. And Tom would stand for north and east, the other part of the park. And then we started to look through, I got the register, and discovered up in the horse ward, I think they called it, up at Port Glasgow there, there was 5 voters up there. Now Mr. Caldwell, there had been elected as representative there for goodness knows, well over 30 years, I suppose he’d been the local council representing this horse place. I suppose at one time it would consist of quite a lot of little crofts, up there. Maybe a number of voters, but that’s what they had written with it down to " five. " So, Johnny Little crofts up there, with maybe a certain number of voters because that’s what they we're down to, five.

So, Johnny Mclain who stayed at the railway cottages. I said to John "Do you know any up there?" "Aye" he says" I know that man. He and his daughter stay up there in a certain cottage up the back of Port Glasgow and he says "That man and his daughter go down into Port Glasgow each day and he works in the cooperative. "I said" Could you get their nomination?" He says "I’m sure I could. How do I get there? "I says, "You’ll get your car" I says" Yes. You’ll get petrol" Well at that time there was no petrol other than the Services, and private cars had no petrol at all. So, this was a great thing, John had a little two-seater with a dickie on it and Jock thought this was great. So, Jock got his petrol. Jock went away up to this house and got the signature, the proposer and seconder, this man and his daughter, you see. So, the day of the election came anyway, and it was quite an exciting day. We held a meeting in the Kidston Hall, and it was packed out. A great crowd turned out at the meeting and, of course, Tom Laughty took a collection at the meeting. And it paid our expenses for the election. And Tommy McKee, he became my sort of agent and Tommy, on the day of the election took his day off his work and was at the polling booth.

So anyway, John McCain went and brought the two voters down to the polling booth and to finish up, when getting the numbers, we discovered only two had voted. If three had voted in this particular and ward I said to John McCane, I said "Well John we’ve got one in for the District Council anyway". "You’ll be in too". I says "I haven’t got a hope in hell" I says "of getting in there. " It was the biggest local election turnout I think I’ve ever seen, maybe in Scotland, for that matter, there was well over 70% of the electorate voted. It was a tremendous news in the village at the time and anyway, I said "Oh no John". and I gave him a figure and I thought I’d be 5000 and the other man would be about 7000. No!500 and 700, you know. And I turned out to be right. Anyway, when they counted Johnny’s vote, Johnny got beat two/one. The District Committee, their activities were rather restricted. They had to deal with the scavenging in the village. They had to do the Public Park there at the village and, of course, there was houses there along down at the chalets. They had to do the letting of those houses. And, of course, the cemetery that was another of their activities, there, looking after the cemetery. I remember there was a vacancy, there, at the cemetery, and we interviewed one or two people who put forward for the job. One lad there, a chap Colin Faighney, he had been discharged from the army and he had a lot of foot trouble. The rest of them seemed to be rather against him and, of course, that just turned me for him, and the finish up was he got the job. And I'm afraid Mr. Lawson and my mother were great friends. He used the come and say he wanted all the laurel bushes at the entrance to be taken away. He says and put it into a decent garden with flowers in it. So, he says "He’s not a grave digger, He’s a horticulturalist. However Mr. Lawson, despite all these peculiar ways, did a lot of good and when he made his mind up that a certain thing needed done, he made sure it was done. I remember a person came to me, her husband had worked with the council and went to the army. Well, while he was in the army, she got a little make up each month towards his army pay. And then, all of a sudden, he had been raised to a Sergeant, and this payment had continued. She got a letter from the County Council stating that she had been overpaid quite a sum of money and that was to be paid back at once.

The woman was rather upset. She had a family and she come to me and she said, "What can I do?" I says "Leave it with me. I’ll take it over" and I went down to see Mr. Lawson at his house. He was delighted to have me there to discuss this and see that I had somebody that we could really help. And he said, "I'll see about that". So I explained the position, you see, and I says "That woman got this shock being told she had to pay this sum of money that she had been overpaid between the difference of his salary, his wages rather, as a private and that of a sergeant". So anyway, he came back and said "I saw Mr. Roy explained it to me, you see, that he had been promoted. "I said" I know that. I told you that" I says" The woman can’t pay that in a lump sum and that’s the way its demanded in that letter she got from them". "Why can’t we come to some agreement that she would pay so much each month, or each week. Whatever you like" I said. "It’s such a large sum of money. It’s ridiculous". And I says "Any man with sense at all or anybody with sense at all, would leave that until her husband came home and she could discuss it with her husband. That’s the thing that should happen. He went down again to Mr. Roy and he said "Mr. Roy agreed to do what you suggested Mr. McGinn". So that was one of the things that was settled. 

I did stand for the Council, for the District Council on other occasions and I could tell quite a story about them too, but I never worried about it. It was something just to create something in the village, there. Let them know that politics was still alive in the population. And it was The Labour Party I stood for. And I remember we had different activities then. One more time, I stood there. We had a public meeting again. Oh, we had a great turnout. I stood against a Mr. Wilson. And quite a few things happened there that if I started to tell you it might shake you, there. And I remember one in particular. I didn’t know it was a new presiding officer that was there at the polling booth, there. I told them when it comes 9 o, clock that's the thing finished, you see. And a certain lady came in. She had been at a dinner. Anyway, when she came in and wanted her vote, you see. Mr. Wilson was running about. The woman didn’t even know what part of Kilmacolm she stayed in. And at the finish I told her where her house was. Anyway, we went through then to see the boxes all sealed up along with the presiding officer, who had come from Paisley. And I said "That’s our duty now" seeing the boxes all sealed up. This lady come to me and told me "McGinn" she says" I hate your guts!" So however, I told her a few things that I didn’t bother myself with any of her kind and I was standing there on my principles. And I believe in my principles. It was quite a furore at the time. These are things you don't forget.

The next thing that came along was the 45 election. That’s an election that I took a very active part in. I was brought up to the constituency Labour Party. We met in Johnston, you see, and I was elected as the agent for Kilmacolm to represent the Labour Party. While I was up there, it was John Murphy, who was our agent, a full-time agent at the time for the party. He told me, he says "There’s a Mr. Stead who stays out in Drumadoon, he's a member or Labour Party. "I says "Your kidding, Drumadoons a huge house on The Bridge of Weir Road". He says, "I’m telling you Mr. Stead is a member of the labour party". He says "You better get in touch with him. " So, this particular Sunday, I got dressed up and went away out to to see Mr. Stead. Now that 45 election was a rather peculiar one. It was held on a certain date, but there were holiday times on, at that time, and it was wake weeks in England. The result was that the election was held say, on a particular date but it delayed for a fortnight because of the holidays being on. So that the election was held, and meetings held in the particular places that were not on holiday. Greenock was one of the places that was on holiday, so the result was we had a later election. The result was we got some wonderful speakers from around the Scottish meetings and speaking there. I went out then to see Mr. Stead this particular Sunday. I was met at the gate by Mrs. Stead. I introduced myself as Chairman of the Kilmacolm Labour Party. "Oh", she says" Come away in. Mr. Stead is away down to Greenock with Mr. Herbert Morrison". [17] She says "I wish I’d known. You could have been out here and had lunch here today". I said "No. That wouldn’t have suited me" "Oh" she says "We had Ellen Wilkinson [18] here and Mr. and Mrs. Hector McNeil". [19] I said "No. That wouldn’t have suited me". I says "Its Mr. Stead I want to see" "Well come away in and wait".

And while I was here there was two army officers there. They were stationed in Glasgow and one of them was a labour councillor for Kingston on Thames. We had quite a talk then when Mr. Herbert Morrison arrived with Mr. Stead in his car. I was taken in and introduced to Mr. Morrison and we sat there and had quite a talk in the house with afternoon tea. Although it was summertime, we had certainly very large meetings and I had one or two in The Kidston Hall. Our candidate was Tom Scollan. [20] Tom Scollan was a trade union official and he was a good speaker. Quite a capable little man. And I mind one meeting we had when Melvin, Stanley Baldwins son was standing as a labour candidate in Paisley. Viscount Coverdale. [21] He came down to address the meeting. Now I always remember, it was a most beautiful night and, of course, I was down there, and he arrived at about four o'clock before the crowd started to come for the meeting. And he looked all around and said "What a lovely village really this is. There’ll be few communists in this village when you see how they live here" he says. "The conditions in some parts of Glasgow I’ve been in" he says "I don’t know. The only communist here would be Sam McGinn. I says "No. I’m not a communist". However, we had a wonderful meeting and we never expected labour ever to become the government in 1945, because whoever was going to be running the government at the time had a tremendous job in front of them.

The war was past and all those people who were working in munitions and war work had to be placed in other jobs. And whoever was getting that was going to have a tremendous job in front of them. However, we got the shock of our lives when we discovered Tom Scollan got in, and we had a Labour government under Mr. Attlee. [22] Now during the election time, my wife had been down at Greenock. She was helping down there at Greenock and she met Mr. Attlee herself and shook hands with Mr. Attlee. So, she can say that she has met him. I got the branch of the Labour Party established and we had quite a fair membership and some very good meetings. I always remember we we're holding a meeting for our candidate, this particular time , and he never turned up and I remember we had a Provost in Johnston, Mr. Briggs and I went along and I said "Will you take the meeting for a short time?" I discovered when we phoned up to our candidate, our MP rather, at that time, he was out on the "polling" and I said "Get him down to Kilmacolm at once" So anyway, Briggs took the meeting for quite a while and then I took over the meeting. And I got quite wound up on local politics and Tom Scollan arrived and took over the meeting. But Tom Scollan's was getting into a retirement age, and I don't think Tom was terribly desperate whether he got back to parliament or not. However, that next election I remember I went out to see Mr. Stead again. He had been in the party and been a member for a year or two but coming near the election time he had ceased coming to the party. And I wondered what had happened.

So, when it come to the election again, I thought I’d go out and see Mr. Stead. By that time, I was working just over not far away from him. I was working in Mr. McGeorges in Barnsford, you see. So anyhow I went round to the front door. I had done some work for Stead too. I knew the Spanish maids that were there. So anyway, a maid came to the door. I said," I want to see Mr. Stead". So Mr. Stead came to the door and I said, "I’ve called out to see what you, re going to do to help in the election". "Oh" he says "I’m not doing anything at the election". I said "Why. What’s the reason for that?" He says, "Well I've discovered" he says "the workers are not pulling their weight". "Well", I said, "I couldn’t agree more with you" I says "Aye. Some workers are not pulling their weight. "I says "I’m working over there at that house just now. "I says. "And in that house is one man". I says, "He’s got three maids and there’s a full-time gardener living off him", I says "that’s 5 of them not pulling their weight". I says, "Don’t you start talking about me not pulling my weight "I says "With the work I’ve been working on. I don’t know when I wasn’t working" I says, "Carrying milk as a nine year old person" I says "Ten year old in the village" I says "and caddying" I says" I’ve done nothing but work" "Oh" he says we're not going to fall out". I says "You can fall out anytime" I says "but I’ll show you the workers who are not pulling their weight. "You come along there, to the 20 minutes to 10 train in the morning" I says "and you’ll find the "workers" coming down there with their bowler hats on and they, re all blethering away. So that’s the workers going to their work. And" I says "Come down to the ten minutes to four train and that’s them coming back again! These are the workers who are not pulling their weight. "However that was the finish of Mr. Stead in the labour party. I often wish I had kept a diary, because it's so difficult to look back and know the various years and the various opponents that stood against labour and so on.

But I know, I think the next candidate we had was from Port Glasgow. He was Charlie Milligan. Charlie had been Provost of Port Glasgow and I was in touch with Charlie for quite a long while. Charlie was a great lad in Port Glasgow and had done tremendous work in Port Glasgow there. And, however, Charlie never got the seat. And then we had other one's coming on. The next election on we had Dick Mabon [23] as one of our candidates. And I made great friends with Dick Mabon and, in fact, he stayed with us quite a bit and we got very friendly. Previous to that had Bruce Millan, [24] and Bruce Millan was a great candidate. I always remember I was attending Dr. Peebles-Brown for something and he got on about Dr. Mabon and he said "What a clever lad he was" he says "He will be an MP some of these days. Don't you worry". And of course, I went on about Bruce Millan and I said, "Bruce Millan is a wonderful speaker too" and Bruce Millan--- well we all know where Bruce Millan finished up. He went and won his seat in Glasgow and then, now he is Secretary of State for Scotland and a European Commissioner in Brussels now. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful chap. But I always kept friendly with Dr Mabon and, however, a vacancy came at Greenock. Hector McNeil had died suddenly and there was a vacancy down at Greenock. And one evening he landed down to visit me along with Mr. Duncan who was a man in the cooperative movement, and he said his name was going forward for the Greenock constituency. Could I do anything to help? And I said I certainly could because I was the assistant secretary of the Painters. And the Painters down in the Greenock branch were very, very active in the Labour Movement and they had moved to new headquarters, and the painters had spent a long time doing them up, and they were very active indeed in the labour party. So I went down and I spoke to them and I told them what such an able chap he was and I says "He’ll be along to the meeting, the adoption meeting" And they had delegates at adoption meeting. I said "I'm quite sure you’ll be carried away with Dr. Mabons great ability and a wonderful speaker.

The result was, when the election come along, my wifey went down there and helped in Greenock, there. And the usual stuff was sent out round the constituency and Dr. Mabon became elected for Greenock. The MP for Greenock. And he’s still active. We had times when we couldn’t get places for meetings. I remember one time we landed down in the school, the public school sitting at desks. It was uncomfortable, a most uncomfortable place, but we couldn’t find any other accommodation. However, the school hall was closed down and kept for just kept school functions, for school activities alone. Then I discovered that the tory party were holding committee meetings in, what was then the institute. I went to the general meeting of the institute and I created hell. Why should they be allowed there as the Labour Party were not allowed in there? So, after a great deal of argument getting together with the committee of the institute, we agreed then that the labour party could hold their meetings in the institute. So that's where we moved to the next time into a quiet room there, and we held our monthly meetings in the institute. We had a great triumph that came in the 1964 election when our MP was elected and that was something to get Labour MP back in West Renfrewshire. Now West Renfrewshire had been played about quite a bit. At one time, Port Glasgow was part of Johnston and so on as part of the constituency. When Norman Buchan [25] became our MP, Norman Buchan was a gentleman, one of the finest men I’ve met in the labour party and the very active MP too, admired even by his opponents, There was never a thing to find against him. Norman won various elections up to when the constituency was being altered again. We were being torn apart and we were then taken out again and Port Glasgow left and went along with Greenock. And we then were to take in Erskine which had grown such a large place, and so on. But they decided then that Johnston was in it at one time and part of Renfrew was in at one time. So, they decided to make two seats in Paisley, Paisley north and south. And Norman Buchan found it, any candidate finds West Renfrewshire very difficult. It’s a scattered place. Langbank, right the way out to where we have to Howwood and so on, Erskine. A very scattered place. Norman Buchan, by this time found it hard. 

We got together with Danny Blackwood who was the provost of Johnston, at the time. He used to give us a visit nearly every week down here, and we got talking then about the new set up of the constituencies, and Johnston was now going into a Paisley seat and Renfrew was going into another Paisley seat. Well anyway we got on talking and he says "what about Norman Buchan?" and I says "Do you not think Norman would be better getting into the likes of your Johnston and Paisley". I says "I think Norman deserves a bit of a rest from West Renfrewshire". So anyway, we were holding our adoption meeting. The Johnston and Paisley crowd were holding theirs a week or two before us in West Renfrewshire. So anyway, Danny put forward the suggestion and he was adopted, which meant then we had lost him from West Renfrewshire, and he stood and of course was successful. Now we lost the seat and it went back to the Tories again. I'm quite sure that if Norman had stood in West Renfrewshire his personal vote would have taken him in again. 

However, that was the changes that happened here so far as West Renfrewshire was concerned. Ann McCurley [26] then became the MP for a while too, and then we got Tommy Graham [27] to go forward. Now by this time I was sort of a little tired of travelling away for the constituency party and all the rest of it. I was taking more or less a backseat. However, when Tommy Graham was adopted then I became active again for his adoption and for his candidature. And Tommy Graham got into parliament and he did get the last election too. So that’s our MP. I think I’ve covered pretty well the story of the Labour Party in Kilmacolm. 

And I should have said, Dick Mabon, he had the audacity to come and stand in Kilmacolm. And he stood in West Renfrewshire as a candidate and a scab for the Liberal Party. Then fell out with the Liberal party and formed this party with one or two of them. Oh, and Shirley Williams anyway, David Owen and a few more. Anyway, he stood here as a candidate. I never forget the first time I met him. And he was walking by. He says" Hello". I says "Don’t talk to me about meeting. I don’t need that". I says "Sam McGinn did a hell of a lot to get you as MP for Greenock. " I says, "You forgot all your friends" I says "You couldn’t even come and discuss with me". I said "About your leaving the party. I met him on a second occasion, and he was out canvassing in the next street. I met him and he had walked by and without any turn, you see, "Oh that’s classy" I says" I used to have a high opinion of you. I’m afraid my opinion of yourself, now, is pretty small". "Well I was reading the life story of Jimmy Clooney"I says". Jimmy Clooney was a house painter". I says "and worked in Dunfermline and was brought up in Dunfermline and became the MP for Dunfermline. And I rather knew him very well, and he was active in the trade union movement and I met him at the various trade union meetings" I says "and he had a wonderful life Jimmy Clooney. "Oh" he says" I knew Jimmy Clooney; I knew him very well". I said "The one difference between you and Jimmy Clooney" I says. " Jimmy Clooney never forgot his working class, and never forgot his friends". I says, "The way you have".

Tommy Graham of course became our MP. And won a second election. He beat McCurley, the previous MP and then he won the last election. I took a little active part, but not a great deal, I think I’m past that after my long, long connection with the Labour party. And I have no regrets when I look back. I did what I could for so far as the Labour Party was concerned and I always remained a socialist. I met many socialists and I like to think of my friend, Danny Crawford, who visits me pretty often from Glasgow, our old executive member and Danny, he's very much the right wing, and of course, we have great arguments. And what amazes me is that Kilmacolm, now, has ever so many people that have moved up from Port Glasgow to stay in Kilmacolm. Now there must have been some, I’m sure, I’ve heard that some of them were members of the Labour party in Port Glasgow. How they can't manage to form a party now in Kilmacolm beats me. Because there must be among them people who could be active and who have capabilities of getting the Labour party going again. However, I’m past that! And I have no regrets about it at all. I think the highlights too, of my connection with the Labour party was my wife and I had been able to attend meetings of the party, in particular when it was held in Blackpool.

We attended quite a number of them there, three or four we must have attended there. And as a visitor, of course, there was no other way other than as a visitor to get there. And it was arranged that Danny Crawford, who was our Executive Officer, at that time, Danny could always arrange to get us tickets for the various functions down there. And we had a wonderful time there and we always used to meet our friends there and I mind one person who never forgot to come and see us was Bruce Millan. Bruce always found out where we were. And, of course, our MP at the time, Bruce Clark and Norman Buchan. Normally we attended the various functions. We met ever so many of the well-known people in the Labour movement. Oh, there was so many. It would take quite a time. I met Wilson [28] who was Prime Minister and Ross Kilmarnock, [29] when he was the Scottish Secretary. and Ross attended all the functions, there. It’s something I look back on with great enjoyment. Another time we met Callaghan, [30] and were introduced to him and his wife, but Dennis Healey [31] and his wife were beside them and we were introduced and shook hands with Dennis Healey and his wife. And I think that was one of the greatest chaps in the Labour movement who never became Prime Minister. And his wife was a delightful person to meet and we talked with her. I think the one sad thing of our connection with the labour party was the death of Norman Buchan. Norman was a gentleman throughout.

What a wonderful chap he was. And we became great friends and the only thing was I could never attend his funeral or his cremation. However, Jenny, who we are still friendly with sent us a whole resume of what had taken place at the cremation. Of what had happened there, and that’s something we’ll keep to remember Norman by. He can never be replaced. He was so genuine. He had dark days with illness, there, and he was recuperating. His first run in the car was down to Kilmacolm to see Sam McGinn and my wife. I remember that so well. I was out bowling and when I came in Norman was sitting in the corner having a coffee and I says "Goodness gracious me! I can’t go out and leave my wife when a fancy man has to come and visit. " Norman did appreciate these jokes. He was such a personal friend. However, I don't know what the future holds as far as the labour party is concerned. I'm not greatly enamoured with the Labour party as it is today. As a socialist I don’t think much of the makeup of it. Private enterprise and what not! I still believe in the old socialist principles and hopes to stand by, and I don't know what's in front of the party so far as the future is concerned but I would hope that things soon improve.


As a youngster staying in Burnside Place, I was surrounded by the three pubs. The one, just nearly opposite the church gates, a little nearer the village from the church gates, there, was "The Old Inn". It's too well out into the road, the middle of the road, than it is now, there, nearly as far out as that, because they had a Rachel Place there. There was the entrance to the yard was and it consisted of two great wooden gates, and I remember as a kid we used to play football up in that part with a tennis ball. And I remember looking in and seeing into The Old Inn. There was very, very low ceilings. Sure, they couldn’t have been much over 7 feet 6 because they looked so very low. And then of course we had Buchanan Arms Hotel which is now a sort of Centre there. After it went dry, of course, it was the Institute. That was run by a man, at that time, called Gibson, who lived in Gibson Lane. And I always remember we used to call him" silver top" because he had always a nice silver head, you know, silver hair. And at the end of Gibson Lane he had that feu. And he kept Shetland Ponies and there was nothing unusual in him having a day off, a lovely day in the summer, he’d would take four of those ponies and put them into a little trap and have a run round the village. It was a wonderful sight to see Mr. Gibson there, with his four Shetland ponies having a run round the village. We had a pub in Market Place. I know exactly its name, but it was always known as The Fat Mans. A peculiar name to give it. The Fat Mans, because I remember the last proprietor, there, or whoever was looking after it, was just somebody that looked after the place. It was a woman. A Mrs. Laney and she stayed up in Overton Terrace.

Now the men used to gather when the pubs were open. They didn’t open until 11 o'clock and you would see them, quite a few of the "sort of down and outers" that slept down at the gas works. And they would collect up at what we knew "Locks Corner". That’s that corner just at The Cross Cafe, there. Of course, that rail wasn’t there. In the summer they, d be sitting there just waiting for the pubs opening at 11 o, clock. They opened from 11 until 2. And then they closed from 2 and then they opened from 5 till 9. That was the sort of hours of the pubs then. And at that cross at the other side at the Marketplace corner there, that was called McNabs corner because, at one time, in my time, actually, McNab had his shoe shop there. And then it was turned into The Commercial Bank. Before the Commercial Bank took it over, at the back, there was a single end. And in Octavia buildings you entered there was a single end there. And I even remember the people that stayed there. Mr. Brusland stayed there. Mr. and Mrs. Brusland before they moved up to the old schoolhouse.The old schoolhouse was a building in behind The Old Inn there. It stood back there. It had two houses. Two-bedroom houses upstairs and downstairs was just the one house. I remember Boss Kerr stayed there. Now that I believe, according to history was the schoolhouse at one time and the school master would stay in there, and one or two of the rooms would be his classrooms. Just at the right-hand side of the new postal box that’s built there at the Village Centre, if you look up there, you'll see a cornice. Well that was the entrance into the bar of The Buchanan Arms, there. I remember it as well as can be. It was a double glass swing door into to the bar. Of course, the main entrance was still in the one you entered to go into the lounge. It was a very busy hotel I believe, at one time. I remember I had an aunt of mine, that worked there, at one time. The kitchen, of course, was downstairs and I used to go around and see my aunt in the kitchen. I always got something slipped out to me.

The Reading Room
The Buchanan Arms, after the place went dry, it became an institute. The only other meeting place for the men was the reading room which stood now just at the Port Glasgow side of the Rosemount building there. You can still see the foundation of it there. You entered this large, it was a large room. And at the far away end was a stove that sat out from the books for maybe six feet from the wall and there was a form drop either side of it. There was two large tables with forms at each side of those tables. That was the furniture of the place. But at the far away wall there was two semi-circle stained glass windows. They were beautiful windows. One had a portrait of Sir Walter Scott and the other was Rabby Burns. Now when that was knocked down, I don't know what happened to those. They just suddenly disappeared! And also, I remember Mr. Robert Laird presenting the reading room with small miniatures of what I felt was well known paintings, I don't know. They disappeared too, after the place was knocked down. It was a great meeting place in the wintertime and in the 20s and the 30s when I was around, many a time I landed in there. Now the only thing there was papers, there, morning and evening papers put in there. And dominoes was the great game there and draughts. That was really all that was played in the place and they had quite a bit of fun in there.

And I remember Mr, Orton. First of all, I remember Mr. Grandison, after he retired from the Hydro Bus, being the caretaker, there. And in the 19, I think the 1920s this play park was built at the foot of West Glen Road and the person who looked after the reading room also used to look after the play park there. He would go up there and sit there on a good summer night and then maybe lock the gates at nine o'clock or something like that, when the kiddies should be all a way out to go to bed. And in wintertime, of course, it was closed very early in darkness, but the play park was a lovely place. It had a lovely shed in there and if it happened to be showery all the kiddies could go in and play in the shed and drink in the fountain. And a maypole, swings and things. It was a lovely place and the pond was always kept spotless and the water always seemed to run into it which doesn't happen now when it dries up. And then again, you see, at the top of Oldhall Drive they built houses up there. They built houses over the springs and that fed that dam down there. And now the springs appear in different parts now. I remember it further up Finlaytsone Road there. The chap was digging looking for a leak. And I said "What are you looking for? He says, "A leak!" He says "This is the third time It’s broken! "I said "You’ll never find a leak there. There, a spring coming out! These hills are full of springs". And this is exactly what it was. So, what he did then, he just led the spring into the sewerage and he just covered it that way. Well after Mr Grandson there was an old highland man, Donald Campbell took it over and Donald was a character.

Donald had retired from the railway. He was a head surface man on the railway. And he took over the reading room and looked after the reading room. And he used to sit up a nights up in the wee play park and, by that time, I was married and had a house, there, just straight across from the gates of the play park. And many a night we had with the kiddies out there playing. I would go out there and have a talk with old Donald. Donald had a great kind of liking for me because he knew my mother ever so well when my mother worked on the railway. He’d always have a talk with me. Oh dear, oh dear he could go on for ages telling some of the stories. I always remember one he told, and the war was on. That was the First World War. And the men down at Lynedoch Street Station, [11] the porters down there. They had little plots there between the little top station and the Lynedoch Street Station, he says. They had plots, there, and some kept hens, he says. "Now" he says "I know the story of one man who kept hens "he says" he had 40 hens. Now" he says "I went up one morning and 20 of them were stolen "he said. Somebody stole 20 of his hens. "What I would like to know. How did the one who stole them know the ones that were laying. I would like to know that!" That was one of the other stories.

Another awfully good one was, he told me, on the island where he stayed he said "there was one of the men, of course an awful lot of them are away to sea on boats", he says, "this local man went away on a big boat", he says, " and , he says, " the boat was wrecked. But, " he says, "he clung on to timber or something. And he kept floating about, and floating about, until he landed on an island. Well he landed on land anyway. And he was very exhausted and very tired. And he walked along the cliffs until he came to a cave. And he went into that cave and there was a bed in it. And he was exhausted and tired, and he went into the bed and he fell sound asleep. And when he woke up there was a huge man with a big bear standing over him with a gun. He was a big guy. Now, he says, that man from my island", he says, "look what that big bear did. Go on you’ve lived with him for years and when he came back to our island", he says, "Nothing was the same after”. In the afternoon Jimmy Cameron, who was a postman. Jimmy would finish his round and he would come in and he would see me and give me the wink and he’d say "Listen" he’d say "Sam. I was out there and I was speaking to Mrs. Russell at and she would like to give prizes if we could arrange something for it, he says, you know all the grocers and things like that. I said" Well we could have a whist drive in here. How many tables do you think we should have?" We started working all this out, you see, how many tables, and whenever old Donald heard about cards you see, he used to stand up at the end and would go on for quite a while and I said "We’ve known this all along, and I'll see the clerk of the council, Mr. McCallum and get his permit", I says. "And we could arrange to have a little whist drive in here. " Then Hughie Tanner who stayed down beside Donald Campbell says, "Listen you are breaking the rules, you know, there’s no cards in here". "Oh no" I says "Actually what they mean when there are no cards in here, is the gambling element in having cards, but we're not gambling. We're just playing for prize that’s being given a kind lady in Kilmacolm". And then old Donald would say "There’s no cards to come into this reading room" I says "Mr. Campbell There’s to be no gambling. It's the gambling that they don't like about the cards". "There's no cards here and I’ll tell you why!". And then he would stand up on one of the stools, or the forms, and up on to the table and bring down this frame of the rules and regulations. He would take a sleeve of his coat and wipe it, and then he would put his glasses on the point of his nose, and he would start raving. And this is what we were waiting for. Donald reading out rules and regulations and the place would be in stitches. And he took it all so seriously. And that went on, and funny enough he would never have tumbled to it, for two or three weeks that went on with Jimmy Cameron, you see.

And then, of course, we used to have an old lady there, Dr. Campbell. She stayed down in Malvern down by the park there and she always used to talk about her boys up in the reading room. And they called her "Toffee Kate" at one time because she used to make toffees and bring them up and give them to old Donald, you see. And old Donald had a place there where he used to lock them up, there. And they never ever seemed to get shared out. One of the lads had a master key and we went in and, as soon as old Donald went out for his lunch, out came the toffee and we would divide it up. Half of it was divided among us and the other half was left for old Donald. Oh, we’d many, many a carry on up in that reading room. It did pass the time, and these old tramp lads that had nowhere else to go. It was always a place for them to come up and get a heat, because this stove stood at the far away end and about six feet out from the wall, as I have said, you know. It was always kept well stoked up, so it got red hot at times, you know, on the cold days. But the amazing thing was that, when the pubs disappeared from Kilmacolm most of these, as you say, tramp labour people all disappeared too.

Our main sport the village, of course, was football and I was connected with football for years and years and years. After we left school, we got a team together, you know, with the younger lads. We used to call them "The Cadgers" at one time. That was the messages boys. Well we formed a team, there, and we used to go playing different places around about. What we call the side pitch on the park we played on, and we had some really good players. There’s no doubt about that. And I was a member of the committee. And I remember when we called it the Carlton United and why we called it Carlton United. Andrew Carson stayed in Carlton and I think Andrew presented the team with a ball. And Tommy Houston that was the three on the committee. Tommy Houston, Sam McGinn and Andrew Carson. They picked us to be committee members because they knew we had such local knowledge. We went over to Langbank and playing Langbank and we beat them 6 or7 nothing. I remember going down to Port Glasgow and out to Parklea and we played teams down there. Then they, of course, they all came to the park. I remember a football pitch that was just near "The Fever Hospital" in Johnston there. And we got a bus to the end of the road and we walked along, and we played there. Then we gradually went from that into a proper juvenile team. And we entered the district juvenile league. And oh, we had a great team and quite a lot of good footballers passed through the Kilmacolm Carlton United and went on to become well known players. I remember big Peter McArthur [32] played for Motherwell and Morton. Peter was our goalkeeper for a number of years. Another chap, Johnny Olson, he went to play with Aberdeen. And, of course, Jackie McDoudal, [33] he played with another big team. I remember Jackie had a younger brother Jim [34] and he played down in Port Glasgow for another juvenile team. And we were playing in that sort of smaller league and he came up, Jim, and played with us. And Jim, of course, played for a long, long number years. He went to Partick Thistle and then he went from there to Liverpool.

Kilmacolm was all football, football, football. And the other team, the big team, of course, they had separate accommodation at the park, there, round where the houses are now, at what we called the stone pavilion. But the other four places were occupied as houses. And people stayed in them, the park keeper and his assistant. They stayed in the houses round there. So, we had no accommodation and they decided then that they would give us a hut. So, they did give us a hut and it was built down just next to the toilets there, the mens toilet, there. And we got a basin put in there with cold water, you know, but we had no light in it. So the result was we used to hold our meetings out there on a Monday night and have a candle, a couple of candles stuck in a beer bottle on the table, and we had a table there and there was forms right round the sides. There were four or five of those forms without any backs on. If you sat on the end, of course, you went up in the air! I remember a team we used to take them into a tearoom, to Fergusons Tea Room. The visitors too, of course, two dozen players and go in there and have their high tea. It became rather expensive and we began to find that we just couldn't afford to do that. So, we suggested, then that we should get cups and saucers and plates, you know, find out the price of them. And we took a little room up there in the public hall, there. The School Hall but always called it a public hall. A number four room and, of course, there was plenty of places for eating pies and things like that, there in the hall itself, where they held their domestic science. So, it was decided then, and I’ll never forget it, that Charlie Galbraith.

Charlie was our treasurer and Charlies two sisters, they we're great followers of our team. And of course, they stayed at the chalet, down there. And they did all the washing of the strips and then we used to go out there on a Monday, have our meeting and get all the boots, we were supplied boots and everything, you see, the boots were all cleaned up, dried up and greased up and all the rest of it. And I spent quite a time there. But we always held our meeting on a Monday night. And I remember, Charlie said, at one of the meetings, and he was a great lad for taking the minutes and everything was minuted, you know, and it was moved then that Charlies sister find out the cost of the cups and saucers, you see. 24 of them, a couple of dozen of them, and that would be the start, you see. And they were to find out the cost of that. We met, as I say, in this little wooden hut, with the candles stuck on the table. Charlie was sitting at one side across from me. And Jimmy McKee, you’ll remember, next to him. Jim Anderson sat beside me at the end of the form, and I was at the other end of the form. I remember Peter Mole and Willie Anders that were those that were sitting round the table. Now Charlie was always going through his minutes and Jimmy would get up, and Jimmy had a stutter. He would stand up and say "Ehhhh what about them ehhhh cups and saucers", "We’ll come to them in due course". So, he got up a second time and Charlie said "Just a minute. We’ll come to them in due course. We’re discussing other things. You’ll see it in the minute". And then I got up to have a drink of water when Jimmy stood up this time and Charlie said "Now we come to the item of the dell. I don’t want to know about the dell. Tell about the cups, cu-cups and saucers and Jimmy sat down at the end of the form and, of course it turned up and he landed on the floor and his feet hit the table. And, of course, the candles went out, and everything was out, and we were looking for the matches. Jimmy lying on the floor. "Why won’t you bloody well tell, you and your bloody fancy dishes". That’s a night I’ll never forget.

I remember, one summer, we ran what we call a summer league in Kilmacolm. We divided the village into four places plus the country. And we had five teams. And the Smithy Brae was one, and of course, there was plenty of players down there in Rosebank Terrace. And then we had the Central, that took in St. James, s Terrace and so on. And then we had The High Street, that’s where I stayed. And then we had the West End. Oh yes, that’s where Jim Conway and all them stayed out there, around by the park. Charlie Galbraith and Wilkinson. And then there was the Bellevue, that was Buffy Carson, out in the country there. And I actually worked out there at Gateside Farm there. They had goal posts up in one of the fields there and they used to, in the summer, the farmer lads that were round about there would meet there and play football. Oh, it was a great thing and the crowds that used to turn out there to spectate. Of course, it had to be played on the back pitch because the front pitch was taken over by cricket. But the crowds used to turn out and we always took a collection there. And I remember there was a wee bit of a dispute with a referee. It was Tam Widder who was refereeing, and Tam had a time to talk to his son who was playing. And, of course, there was bit of a huff about that. So anyway, we decided we’d get a proper referee. And we got a first-class referee from Port Glasgow. A chap called Dan Riley. And Dan, he came up and refereed the games.

It was great excitement. We had a great summer there, and then we finished up, there, with presentation of prizes. And we held a meeting and a cup of tea and sandwiches. I always remember, when we got the sandwiches, they were nearly all banana sandwiches. Anyway, it was something, a cup of tea and sandwiches in the school hall again there. And I remember my boss Mr. Ritchie was a member of the district council, and he came along and presented the prizes. Now there was quite a lot of the lads were good footballers. The Smithy Brae, they won it anyway. They had a run of good results for the one or two years that we ran it. And they got little medals that you could put on your watch chain. The Centre were runners up. It was great excitement. Football was everything in the village. I remember, as a youngster before the first world war, landing out there as just a very small youngster and they had two well-known teams. There was always The Kilmacolm Amateurs. And they were founders of the Scottish Amateur League. And then there was the Birkmyre United, that was the sort of younger ones. Well after the war, of course, it had closed down mostly during the war. But after the war another team formed up, Kilmacolm United they called themselves and they were in the Glasgow and District Amateur League. Although the big team were still running there then too, of course. And they were the Kilmacolm Amateurs. So there was always football every Saturday out at that park, and during the time of the football the village was completely quiet and then once it was finished, there was anything up to a hundred or two lads out there to watch the football. Then, of course, things got on well.

I remember Kilmacolm United, there, Jackie MacDougal who played and won a Scottish Cup medal with Airdrie and then went to Sunderland. Jackie played for the Kilmacolm United. It was great fun and great excitement. And I remember for a while I was hamper boy with United. If you were hamper boy, you got away with the team. Whenever they went away to fixtures, there. Kilmacolm was football daft at the time. There were some damn good players in the village. And then, of course, things changed again, and we decided to become all united into the one Kilmacolm football team and I became the treasurer of that. Charlie Galbraith was secretary of the Kilmacolm football team then. We ran various functions in the village. I remember for a winter or two, we ran the Saturday night dancing. I took the responsibility of that, the Saturday night dancing. It was David Peebles and Tommy McKee that had run it before that, but Tommy had run it for a year or two and got a little tired of being tied so much. They gave up and I took it over for the Kilmacolm Football Club, and the Kidston Hall was the place where we had the dancing. And that made the funds and kept us going in funds, because there was an awful lot of idleness in these days, you know, and the lads that we got certainly, there were a number of locals in it with maybe five or six coming from Greenock and Port Glasgow, you see and most of the lads were idle then. And we used to always slip them a couple of bob and things like that. And that was their fares. We had a great time at our football. We were football daft at Kilmacolm.

Other Activities
At a similar time, of course, we had cricket. We had always a good cricket team in Kilmacolm. And quite a number of people. It was quite a common thing to see quite a number of people out there sitting watching the cricket and that on a Saturday afternoon in the good weather, and it was wonderful. I remember we had a professional, one time, a chap called Johnson. Of course, they had their practice night and he was there on practice night. This benefit match they had one Wednesday out there. They brought down some well-known cricketers. John Kell, the great cricketer from Greenock was there and they brought them down to play a Kilmacolm side one Wednesday afternoon and evening. And I remember my old boss was a great photographer and he went out to take the photographs for them and the result was I had to go out with him and carry his plates and stuff. It was rather heavy, and I sat the whole afternoon watching that cricket match. Kilmacolm was great for sport and there wasn’t any need to go away and see other games. There was plenty of good games at the park. And of course, in the summertime, in good weather the youngsters were swimming, me amongst them, right down to what we called the Swanney. This was down at the Gryffe, there, down by Pacemuir Farm. I used to cut down into this bit where it all gushed up. A fair depth it was too. And we used to have a fire going there, collect wood from the Duchal wood there. Loose wood and we’d have a fire going and we’d go down there and then swim and spend the afternoon down there.

Sunday afternoon down there at the swimming and that’s where most of the boys of Kilmacolm learnt to swim was down at the Swanney. It was another place we spent a lot of time there. The seagulls used to come in there and lay eggs, you know. And their nests were there and it was quite a way to go up there and try to find the seagulls eggs, you know, and get them. We used to have a fire in the wood, there, and boil up the seagulls eggs and have them. And I remember, old Mr. Keecher, who was a great naturalist who stayed in Burndale. He used to reckon that there would be anywhere up to 8, 000 to 10, 000 seagulls nesting there each summer. That went on for years and years. And, of course, he didn’t like it that we used to go after seagulls eggs. And the amazing thing was they, d come on one night and go up to the golf course and next day you’d go up there and the screeching the seagulls, that is them arrived. And the same happened. They all seemed to go away on the one night too. The golfers used to curse them quite a bit because at the eighth hole, there, that was the the part nearest the Moss and You’d play your ball up the fairway, there, and you couldn’t see it for feathers and stuff from the seagulls. They were a bit of a nuisance there. They were there for years and years at The Moss, and then all of a sudden, they seemed to disappear. And that’s a mystery. Nobody seems to know the reason why the seagulls left The Moss.

And then, of course, in the wintertime, there was a sluice there at The Moss, that’s been up and never been put down again. When it came near winter the sluice used to be put down there, and and The Moss flooded pretty well. And then there was a great lot of skating, we used to skate on The Moss up there. Round all the islands. It was great and the curling, there was a house there, the curling stones were kept in at night. You can see the ruins of that up there. And of course, they used to curl up there, when the ice was bearable for that. And, of course, the skating went on up there. And I always remember a winter time, and we had quite a spell of frost, and we had skating up there, they would sort of close The Moss more or less, and there, d be a man collecting money. You’d pay threepence or sixpence or that to get on The Moss and that was for The Kilmacolm Nursing Association. I remember that happening there. The Moss was a place, I remember, one time, Willy Kelly and I went up there and we were going along, and we thought we saw a canoe. It had been sunk there with stones in it. At the far away end of The Moss, a part that not many of the locals here went near. But this had been lads up the Hydro Hill in Bellmont and these houses and they had this canvas canoe built. So Kelly and I stripped off and took the stones out of it and we went into the canoe and we went round to parts that we couldn’t get to before, although I had swum in certain parts to bring in a seagulls egg, you know. We’d take one in each hand and swim back on to the main island, back to there. And I always remember we come across this nest and it was covered up. And here was four eggs in it and we took one and it were a blue one, blue perfectly. And we took it to the school master, Mr. Walker and showed him it. "Where did you get that?" "The Moss Sir?" He says, "Now how many was in the nest?" "Four Sir" "And we took one, sure yes Sir". It was a golden crested grebe. Now Mr. Walker had a great collection of eggs, but he hadn’t one of those. You know, he nearly would have gave us the school because of this egg we gave him. This great crested grebe was added to his collection.

There was a wooden and stone pavilion there, at the public park, there, where you sat, there, round on bench things. They had lids on and when you lifted up the lids, one time, there was quoits in there. There used to be quite a lot of quoiting there in the public park. And I remember, as a youth, I played quite a bit. Originally, I believe, the first quoiting pitch was where the flagpole is in that part of the public park, just now, the Birkmyre Park. That’s where it was first, but then it moved down when I used to play it where the tennis court is down there. And they had three or four rinks there and you could throw the quoits. It was big metal things you threw into clay. And there was a stand cemented in, in the centre and you played it on to that wooden, metal staff that was there. And you tried to ring it. It was a great game. I was fairly passable at it. Not that I’d say good, but I took it up again when the Hendersons came back to Kilmacolm. That was them, I told you earlier, that became the head baker for Ferguson. One of his family, Bertie, well he was a keen player and he came from Douglas Water. And he got the thing revived again and quite a few of us went out there and took up the quoiting. I remember my pal Charlie got brave. Charlie knew were there was a clay place where you see clay down at what we called the riding school. That part down there where the houses are. And I was one of the few that was let into the secret. We went down there, and we used to renew the clay and you finished up, you put wet bags over it, you see, so it was all soft. Many a time we spent out there. It wasn’t a very clean game, but it was a very keen game among the minors. And we did enjoy it. You’d always something to do. That was the thing. Nowadays they seem to hang about the corner. We had no time to hang about the corner. We’d go out to the public park in certain kind of weathers and so on, and if it wasn’t a very good night, then we’d probably end up at the reading room and have a bit of fun up there.


Then of course, when the place went dry, and the Institute became an active place, I joined the Institute and became an active member of the bridge club. In fact, I’m the only one left that sat on the original bridge club. Now we had a good team there, and we performed in this a, I don’t know what they called it. It was The West of Scotland League, or what it was. Anyway, it must have been because we played at Greenock and at Johnston and, of course most of the games we're in Glasgow. And of course, there wasn’t so much of the cars in those days. It was the train and we used to get this 20 minutes to six train to Glasgow and go to the various places. And, of course, the first place we made was for the pub there and just have a pint or something before we went out to play our bridge. And we played in all different parts of Glasgow. We got the last train the 11. 07 train home. Since then I have never played bridge because I lost my partner. When Tommy died, I stopped playing bridge. But I've been away from bridge for years and years and never watched a game. My sons have been there and watched the bridge and it annoys me to see the time they take to play a bridge hand now. Normally, there’s no need to tell me, it doesn’t take all that time to play bridge. They sit there and they, d wait and look at their hands and take a long time. The hands were spread out we were playing the hand in no time. You studied exactly what you wanted to do. Sometimes it doesn't work that way and you stood a minute or two. We played 24 hands and I always got that last train home. And from the different parts of Glasgow. And not only that, coming back on the train there was four sat there and we’d play another two hands. Tommy McKee and I for a long, long time played at number one table. We we're also number three table, for some time and, you know, because I remember, we had 24 hands.

We went into such and such. And the result was one of the years we won the league. There was two leagues and we won our section of the league. And it was decided that we were to play the final, against the other league, and it was to be in the St. Enoch Hotel. Now our usual thing when we landed in Glasgow was to go down to the Queen Anne for a drink. But I remember Willie said to us "Oh no, let us be sensible and have no drink". We’ll had no drink that night. I could tell you who that the team was really. The team was McGinn and McKee, Blackwood and Conway, Charlie Goodrich and Stella, and MacKintosh and McKenzie. Farquar Mackenzie, the hairdresser. That was the team. So, anyway we went up to the game that night without having a drink at all. We went into the St. Enochs Hotel and upstairs. And I’ve never put in a more miserable night, everyone was the same. It was a most miserable night. And the result was we got beat. And we were very disappointed coming down in that last game. We had hoped to win the league for Kilmacolm, the two leagues put together. We hoped to win the final with Kilmacolm.

However, we didn’t. I look back on so many, many happy times together at the various clubs and always enjoyed it. Mr MacIntosh, of course he was the caretaker at the Institute there and a very keen bridge player. He was a character, and everything was arranged. He could arrange anything. He was a first-class organizer. He arranged the various outings, you know, how we’d get there and where we would meet and the rest of it. We had a wonderful time. I remember, one time, we were playing away out Shawfield way. I’ll never forget that. And we come out to get a bus. It was a double decker bus, at the time, and we got on and upstairs and coming towards a bridge, the bus stopped. And then it went on and then it stopped again. And it started to go backwards! I’ll never forget that. And the conductress was all smiling and I said "Listen. We’ve got to get a train at 11. 07 from St Enochs". "Oh. You’ll be on time" she says. She says," That was great fun, what happened there". "What was it?" She says" Well every night we come along with this bus, this particular bus, and one of these late lamp lighters, he stands there, and we stop, and he jumps on. And he stands out on the and a platform. The same thing happened this particular night and the bus was going along, and a policeman held up his hand. So the bus slowed down to let the policeman on, and the policeman got on, and instead of catching that thing that you hold on to that was on the bus, dividing the upstairs and downstairs, he caught the chap with the pole and pulled him off. So, this was the bus going away back to pick the lad up, that had been on the platform of the bus. Another night we were playing at a club in a sort of strange part. It was away out by The Royal Infirmary somewhere. We we're playing a club way out there. Anyway, we finished, and we come down to. "We’ll get a tram" old Mac says," Right I know where to go". So, we went down, and we stand at this standard here. This sort of big standard, there. And we're standing there talking quite a thing and then Tommy burst out laughing. All of a sudden, he says to Old Mac "Are we going to get a tram here?" "Oh yes, yes" he says "I know where we are". Tommy says, "You see, it will be a bloody miracle" he says "It's obvious there are no tram lines down here!" That caused quite a laugh, standing waiting for a tram where there was no tramlines. I was lucky enough there, to be invited to the golden meeting of the bridge club. They held a night over in Hotel in Bridge of Weir there.

I was invited and I was the last of the survivors of the original beginning of the bridge club in the Institute. Now you see, since that time bridge has become such a popular game. Goodness gracious at one time we had quite a job getting four to five tables at the bridge. Now, goodness gracious, they have bridge in every place. They have it at both centres in the village, there. Now we’ve started it at the bowling green and, of course, they have it at the Golf Club. It’s become such a popular game. But I think it’s become far too technical. We never had all that serious a time. Tommy McKee and I played a, you had to have, a convention and we played the one club convention and that made the opening with two and a half tricks and raise with one and a half. There were four or five more terms for raises and such like. And, in no time we’d settled down and got our hands fixed up and played in no time at all. I think they’ve taken a little of the enjoyment away and they are taking life a wee bit too seriously. It’s nice to be less serious when sitting and playing a hand at the bridge. 

The Institute
The Institute always had two billiard tables down underneath there. One was kept for snooker and the other for billiards. And they were kept in immaculate condition by old Mac. Of course, the whole place was. It was always shining there. And just now, where they have the kitchen. The kitchen was always there, but that gents room next to that was a tearoom place, you could go in there and get a cup of tea, and she sold chocolates and things in that part. And what is now the library was the main lounge down there, the mens lounge. Of course, the woman's lounge was upstairs. They had the big lounge and then what they called the number five room. That was the ladies little room that they met there. And most of the big houses, here, their maids came, and they had a membership. It only cost 10 shillings a year. So, there was a membership for the maids. And my wife, when she came to the village, of course, the house she was in bought her a membership and she would go up there and into the villagers room. And there was a desk there and there was writing paper and envelopes left there, and ink and that. You could sit there and write your letters in the Institute, there. There was ever so many of the houses in Kilmacolm I’ve already described in my first tape, there. Very few of the houses in the centre of the village had baths. The result was that three nights a week you could go down there a have a bath. Now downstairs was the mens and they had a plunge bath and they had two showers down there. You could go down there, free, and take your own soap and towel and have your bath there. And that was used by a tremendous lot if people.

Upstairs in ladies part they had two plunge baths there. They could go in and have the ladies bath. They were well used. Up in the top room we had the table tennis. And many a good game we had of table tennis up there. There was always something to do there. But the main thing was the lounges there and, of course, that’s where sat and played bridge. But those that didn’t play bridge or couldn't play bridge, they would sit and play dominoes, you know, and they weren’t supposed to gamble but they used to put a penny on the game and such like, you know. Old Mac, he’d be about there. He knew what was happening, but when it comes to paying out the pennies, he’d go and take a walk by himself. It was a great place down in the Institute. I can always look back with great joy of that time I spent as a member of the Institute and a member of the bridge club.

You look round now and see the the shops in Kilmacolm, and you just begin to wonder what changes are there in the shops. All the shopping was done in the village. Nowadays, of course, they want to know where the Safeway and all the different stores are. The cars take them all away but there was none of that in those days. And we we're well served in the village. I remember starting right up the High Street there was a wee sweetie shop, there. Johnny Murray had that. Sweets and cigarettes, there. That’s just where car park is at the Kidston Hall. And then you went down and, of course, Crawfords Dairy was there. There's now a sort of office place or something. I don't know what that is at all. Anyway, that was Crawfords Dairy. And Crawfords Dairy then, of course, in the dairy then there was milk, cream, suet milk, as we called it, you know, butter milk and butter. Of course, eggs and , of course, they did their own baking of oat cakes and scones and pancakes. And, of course, lemonade. They always kept mineral waters there. I remember, when the summer came, I had a great drink in there, many a time, with particularly my pal John Ritchie. He was tremendously fond of this ginger beer and "suet dupe" as we called it. Oh, what a great drink. It was wonderful! And then across there and going up Gilburn Road we had Bogey, Jimmy Bogey, the saddler. That's where Molly Carson took over after. And next to that was the little shoe shop of Geordie Ing. That’s Kilmacolm as I knew it as a youngster, there. And then I go up to McKee, the grocer, that’s the shop now occupied with Mackies fruit shop. Next to that was a paper shop, a Mrs. Ship, there. She had the paper shop. It’s still a papers shop, a newsagents shop. and next to that was the dairy. It’s still a dairy, so that hasn't changed a great deal. That was Millers dairy. It was in Miller family for a long, long number of years. Then next to that we had Ferguson the baker. He had that shop and when I knew it, first of all, that was the shop we opened on a Friday and a Saturday for selling pies. 

The hall behind that, when I was a youngster and an apprentice in there, we used to bake all their bread. And of course, twice a year, no twice a week, we used the hall oven. And it was taken from there down into that hall and put on a huge table there, to steam. It would be taken down to the main shop. In the pie shop, she had a gas oven in there and it was a great lunch on a Saturday to go in there and get pies, you know, and Mrs. Ferguson used to do the dishing out of the pies. And she had a nice gravy to be taken along with that. Then after that, of course, was the painter and decorator. That's the shop I started my apprenticeship in with Richie. Richie bought that shop away back, I think, near the end of the last century from Gibb Stuart. That’s the grandfather of the present-day Gibb Stuart. And he was a very active man in the village because, I remember I was working there with Gibb Stuart when the Mr. Gibb Stuart himself, Willie, he came, one time, and he had a silver trowel in his hand. And he said "Look at that McGinn. You won’t believe that. " Well this was the trowel used to lay the foundation stone of the public school, and it was his father, who is the man that laid that foundation stone. He seemed to be the chairman of the Education Committee, which was the local Kilmacolm education committee, at a time. And you see there it’s the Kilmacolm Public School.

So that was where Ritchie purchased all that. And Gibb Stuart went away from the village and went to Glasgow. And the then the next thing he landed back in Bridge of Weir and opened up a business in Bridge of Weir. Now the corner shop there at Market Place and Bridge of Weir Road, there, that was McNab, the bootshop. And then next to that again was another newsagents shop. McNabs was the people who had it and they had cousins who had a shop in another part of the village. So that was three newsagents shops and, of course, the bookstall at the station. The next shop, there was White, the grocer. And Mr. Stillers worked in there with White. And when White retired, Mr Stillers took over that shop. Then after the close, there was a barbershop run by a great friend of mine and a keen member of the bridge club was Farquar MacKenzie. Farquar had that for years. I remember when the first world war broke out, there was a man called Elliot had that. And they said he was a German. And there was a great bit of commotion one night when somebody put a brick through the window. And Elliot was taken away and put into camp of some kind. Anyway, that was the last we heard of him. And after that there was a fish shop there. And then it was Geordie Guy, the jeweller and watchmaker in the shop there. Any then you had a close and then you had Harry tailor there, mens tailor, there. Which is now next to the chemists shop. In the chemists shop was an old Mrs. Gibb who sold fruit and sweeties in that shop, there. And she used to live behind the shop, there. And then, of course, there was Forsyth, the ironmonger.

That completed the shops on the Bridge of Weir side. You know, Mrs. Gibb, there, it was quite a common thing for me to be sent by my mother for threepence worth of mixed vegetables and you got a leek and a carrot and a piece of turnip, and so on only. And that was for making the soup. So that was quite a common thing for her to fish out threepence for mixed vegetables. Old Mrs. Gibb, she was a great old character. Now down the Lochwinnoch Road, there, we had, of course, the pub there. And then it was, a Miss Fairly who had a sweetie shop. Next to Miss Fairly, of course, was Ferguson the grocer. And after Ferguson the grocer, was Patterson the butcher shop, there. And then there was Jim Conway. Oh no sorry, it was what became The Maypole Dairy. I’ve just been reading about The Maypole Dairy. I believe at one time; it was a fish shop before it moved across the road to Stuart Place. And then of course there was Jim Conway, the upholsters. Then there was Ferguson the bakers. It was a double fronted shop, there, and it had a tearoom at the back. And you went in and on one side, the left-hand side, there was a small counter with chocolates, and it was all very expensive chocolates. It was a quite a shop that. Fergusons, of course, I should know that, because I used to take the stuff down from the bake house down to the bakers shop down there and for a while, I did a morning run of rolls. Now the rolls, we brought down from the bake house hot. And we took them out in a basket, covered over with a sack, there. So that the people in the houses could get their rolls delivered hot in the morning, before eight o, clock. Then after Ferguson the bakers, was Greenleas, the shoe shop, there.They, themselves, apparently stayed in Kilmacolm. Out the Knockbuckle Road in a big house they called St. Vincent at the time. Its changed names quite a few times, but that big house still stands there in Knockbuckle Road. And then after that we had ----------the iron monger. Following that we had a Miss Sinclair, there, had a blouse shop and ladies shop. Followed by the next one was a Miss McQuarry who had a ladies shop next to Miss Sinclairs. That was the two ladies shops together.

And then after that we had Clark and Patterson the grocer and fruit shop, there. When they finished there, Lenny took that over, there. Then after that we had Charlie Crishardy, the ice cream shop. Now it was quite place, that ice cream shop. Behind it, we had a billiard hall with two billiard tables in it there. It was rather a busy shop. Then after that, in my time, it was Blackwood, the butcher had a shop there. And then beyond that, again there was a bakers shop. It was a Mr. Ewing that had that shop. It changed hands quite a few times during my lifetime because I could tell you how the Caldwells came to Kilmacolm. They came in 1924 to a little shop over the station bridge, there. At present a video shop. And then, when Ewing retired, they moved up to Ewings shop there. now Mays, the travel agent people, and after, they were there for a while, they finished up moving up into marketplace. So that was the Caldwells in Kilmacolm in the baking line. 

On the other side of the street, there starting up next to the school was Sheredin the butchers shop, there. And then it was followed by Bob Adamson that was now a shoe shop too, and Mr. Adamson, himself, he was a shoe repairer. He repaired the boots and shoes in his shop too. And after that was Rogers, the grocers. which is now Galbraiths Stores. Now Rogers before the place voted itself dry, he was a licenced grocers, Rogers there. And then after Rogers a there was a fish shop, there. I remember working there with a Miller. Miller that was there in the fish shop. I was a message boy, and then of course the end shop was another McNaughton. He had a papers shop there. That was before they moved across to St. James Terrace. But that was a paper shop before it became MacArthur, the chemist. And seemingly before that, I’ve been told, not in my time, but always remember being told, that a fruiters had that. Fruit and fish. And the window facing Duchal Street, there. There was a window at the side there. Knocked and now done away with. That window there was the fish window, but that was before my time.

McNaughton, I remember, McNaughton had it as a paper shop before they moved across the road and sold it to a Miss McBain and it became McArthur, the chemist shop, which gave us two chemists shops. What I did forget to mention in the Main Street, there was Derek McClean the chemist. Now let’s see where that was. It’s now a sports shop because I think the lamp is still there, the chemists lamp, a kind of lamp, there. I’m sorry I missed that part out. Then over the station bridge, of course, it was Doig that had the fruit shop and Caldwell had that bakers shop, that was on my side. And that was the sort of shopping. But again, where the Cross Cafe was, up the very end of that building next to the The Old Inn there, just before you come to it. What is now a house, that was Davison the shoemaker had that. And he was a bootmaker, so he did make boots particularly for the farmers. Boots that must have lasted for nearly a lifetime. Old Mr. Davison there, he lived in the house at the back there, and had the shop in the front. And, I remember, even being in that shop. Quite a number of the shops had a horse and van, you know, for deliveries. And I always remember Ferguson there, he had two vans. A large van and a smaller van. And I must say just after I left school, there, when my old job in the bakers had been filled, I got a job with Ferguson there, and I took the little van with Polly. Polly was a well-known little horse there. And then there was a big van and it was a chap called Sandy Gibson. He went away to Canada. He was the driver of that big van.

And then, of course, Rogers. Rogers, the grocer, they had their van. I always remember a Mr. McCall. He stayed in Polmont, there. And he had that one. And Lenny, of course, after Patterson and Clark went away, Lenny took over and they had a man named Davy Ally. He was the van man there. And then Hughie Stuart, when he left school, he was the assistant van man and then he finished up taking the motor, when it was motorized. Lenny got a motor, of course. And then, of course, he went to work with Stillers, and he took over Stillers with the motor. But then there was Forsythe. They had a little a cart, and they had a horse and a little cart. So you see, there were some great activity with horses and that, and I remember when I did the job with Ferguson, and looked after Polly, at the weekends we used to take them, in the summer, up into The Moss, there. We took them up there on a Saturday after we’d finished. We usually finished pretty early with the horse on a Saturday. You took it up there and let it go loose in The Moss up there. And there was quite a lot of ground there, grassy ground there and there was a place for picnics and all that, up on The Moss. The horses were put up there and then brought down and the Monday morning. That was quite common, and Forsythe did the same with his horse up there on The Moss, there. They had a bit of open-air feeding and grass feeding up on The Moss.

And of course, up in that shop, that's where the cooperative was up there in The Schaw Buildings. And they had a bakehouse behind that. Now as far back in my memory I can go it was a bakers shop. Now as a very little boy, because of my pal Johnny Ritchie, his older sister worked there, and she married a man in Greenock. So, I don't just remember. It was a great firm anyway and we had that as a bakers shop. And then, of course, when it closed down Patterson the grocer, who had been down there, along with Clark in St. James Terrace. He took it over as a grocers shop. And I’ve told you already I worked there as a message boy for a short time too. So that was, and then when the Cooperative took it over in 1924 and the bake house, at the back, was in use there as a bake house until they closed it down and all that. There were ever so many places that there was bakehouses in Kilmacolm. There was down there at over the station bridge, there. Is it Carmichael Place you call that, down there. There was a bakehouse underneath there. Mr. Alexander took it over, there, for his photography place there. He used it for a darkroom underneath. And that was the bakehouse there. And then, round the back of where Mays, the travel agent is, there was a bakehouse round there. And then, of course, we had the main big bakehouse up there in Gilburn Road, there, just behind the entrance to the gospel hall. That was the bakery I worked in. It had three ovens there. It was quite a busy place, of course. All their baking was done in Kilmacolm. Now, of course, there was the one at Schaw Buildings. So that was quite a number of bakery places there had been at one time in Kilmacolm.

Things have changed now. All the stuff now is brought into the village, there. No baking is being done at all. And I remember, one time, there, Barnshake Dairy used to do quite a bit of baking and had a little place there just up Duchal Street, there. They had their premises there where they did their bit of baking there. There wasn't an oven there, but it was hot plate stuff. It was a great place for homemade stuff all made in the village. Now everything is imported into the village. Now look around and what have we got? Four estate agents shops! Goodness Gracious! What a come down from the types of shop we had in the old days. No stuff made in the village here, you know, no dairy where all the milk is in the village, brought in from the farms, the eggs and the butter and such like. Now it’s all down to the supermarkets to do their shopping.

Leaving School
On leaving from school, I worked with Ferguson, in the bakers shop. I had a little van I used to take out there with Polly, the pony. I’d go in on a Saturday. I’d go into the grocers shop and take deliveries from the shop. I was there for quite a while, a month or two. Then Mr. Ferguson told me. He says" I’m afraid There’s not much work for you here. You see, I have to fill up that vacancy in the bakehouse. Oh, do you know anybody that’s looking for a worker? Somewhere you could get a job" I says "The only thing is Mr. Ritchie. the painter. He had an apprentice, who has left and gone to the different type of the building trade and he may have a vacancy". Now Mr. Ritchie was a great friend of Ferguson the baker, so he went over that Saturday and he come back, and he says "There you are. You can start with Mr. Ritchie. You, re fixed up now as an apprentice with Mr. Ritchie. When can you start?" I said, "I can start on Monday morning". "Oh" he says "You, re anxious to get away!" I says "No Sir. I’m not anxious to get away, but as you do not seem to need me then I’ll be delighted to go to Mr. Ritchie. I started with Mr. Ritchie one week before my fourteenth birthday.


Kilmacolm School
I’d like now to go back to the Kilmacolm School. Now I went there in 1910. I can remember my teachers. Miss Herban was the infant mistress. And we had a Miss Curthy, Miss Forest, Miss Silver, Miss Gun and Miss Kinloch and Mr. McCree, we called him "daddy" McCree. He wouldn’t have qualified. Then of course, was Mr. Walker. You know, we had great respect for the teachers and being youngsters, we used to, if we met them in the street, we’d always give them a little salute. Tremendous respect. And one in particular was Miss Forest. She was a very excitable person, but a most beautiful pianist and would run over those little consoles or cantatas or whatever they call them. She’d run it and You’d practice this singing with Miss Forest. And I remember, Oh I’d be 19 or 20 years of age and I was arranging a concert, there, in the Kidston Hall and I had been at a party and there was the most beautiful singer I’d ever heard, this young girl. What a beautiful singer! So, I asked her if she would come down and do a concert in Kilmacolm that was being run by the Football Club and she said she’d be delighted to come down. So, she did come down and it was a friend, Jock Andrews who had the party you see, and anyway she came down and I met her at the 3. 50 train and before I took her up to Jock Andrews, I said Miss Forest has agreed to be the pianist at the concert. When I told her about this young singer, she said "I’d like to meet her and maybe have a wee run over before a concert". So, I told her I was meeting her at 3. 50 from her train and we’d go into the Kidston Hall. So, we went into the Kidston Hall and she ran through a few songs with Miss Forest. And I remember Hector Galbraith. Hector was well known. He is the same Galbraith as the Kilmacolm Galbraiths. He stayed here in Old Hall Drive. Duggie was his uncle. He was well known as an amateur singer. He’d been often in Kilmacolm. He was at the concert too. I always remember thanking Miss Forest for her being so kind for accompanying. "Sam" she says, "I want to thank you" she says "It was most enjoyable. What a beautiful singer". Well I'd heard at the party that she was turning pro and was going down to London as a professional singer. Now she changed her name. I don’t know what her name was and, of course, in these days we had a wireless that was boosting out the various singers. But definitely she was the most beautiful singer I think I ever heard. Now who she was after that, I don't know. But that was Miss Forest.

Then, of course, Mr. Walker. He was a character himself. And he taught, during the war, of course, when there was a shortage of teachers. And he took the last class with Mr. McCree or Daddy McCree as we called him. He had retired when I reached this class or died or something and anyway, he disappeared from the school. Now Miss Gun took over that class and I went into Mr Walker's class. And Mr. Walker was a character, right enough, and he was in everything in Kilmacolm. He was an elder of the Kirk, of course. The time I put in the Banns for my wedding, he was acting session clerk, and by that time, he was staying up Barrs Brae direction and I went up to see him one night to put in the Banns for the wedding, and I went up there. I was going to football meeting that night too. So, I went up there at 7 o, clock thinking I’d be out by 7. 30. or 8 o, clock at the latest. It was dark when I left his house. We had a great talk and we talked about all my school days and all the other things about it. And he went on about old Kilmacolm. The result was I was chairman of the cooperative mens guild at the time. And I told him we had a syllabus and, would he come along and give us a talk about old Kilmacolm. Which he did. And we had one of the most interesting talks on old Kilmacolm from Mr. Walker, telling of the time he came to Kilmacolm. Over and above that, of course, he was a special constable. He was, I think he was, secretary of the Burns Club, at that time. Because I did tell you when we had a Burns meeting how we were meeting in number four room and the Burns Club was in the big hall and Mr. Walker was there then. Another thing, on a Friday, when you come to the last class, and that, we used to have, what call woodwork. Mr. Walker, he had quite a large garden there. Now the house there, the schoolhouse is knocked down, but it was quite a large garden. On a good day he would come and say "Well lads. What is it today? Is it woodwork or not?" "No Sir. What about the gardening? You see, so that’s the job. He’d take us down to his garden and each one would get a little job to do. and I always remember, one time, I was doing a job of digging, turning over something and he stood and looked at me and he said "You, re digging the same as your grandfether". I says, "Did you know my grandfather?" "Oh. Aye" he says, "Your grandfather, Brown" he says, "He worked on the contractors" "Oh" I says "I don’t remember him, Sir. I was very young when he died". "Aye" he says "I ken him" he says. "You, re saying I dig the same as my grandfather! What do you mean?" He says "You, re digging with the wrang foot!" "Oh" I says "What’s the wrang foot?" "Your left foot" He says. Well that’s what I always dig with my left foot. The same as standing over a golf club the wrong way.

However, that was Mr. Walker. And I remember, it must have been 1917 and there was a great shortage of farm workers for gathering the potatoes, so they came to the school and those in the last class, and that, got out for a fortnight to lift potatoes. Now that was a great thing for me to get out and, of course, I was chosen, I think there was six of us went out to Castlehill Farm. That’s on the the way past the white post on the way to Port Glasgow, there. There was an Irene Murdoch who was there. So, we went out there for about 9 o, clock in the morning and we worked till about 5 o, clock at night gathering potatoes. And each night we went to the pit and got a bag of potatoes and brought them home. I was there for a fortnight, and every night I brought home potatoes. The result was that the bath that we used for having our bath was filled up with potatoes. So, it was quite a while before we got using our bath. It was a case of a basin up to the sink and washing yourself down there as best you could, until the potatoes were used up. And those potatoes did us for a long, long months at a time. Now it was a fortnight we were allowed, but I always remember Mr Walker said one of the lads had been out at the building, there, for a fortnight too, and he was a bad boy and after a week he was not allowed to go back again. So, they were one short. So, he come, and he took me into his room, and he says "Now" He says" You’ve done a fortnight. Would you like to do another week?" I said "Yes, Sir. It’s always money for my mother". So, I get sent out to the buildings. It’s just showing you how much Mr. Walker did take an interest in me, at that time. I always remember that in particular. And then again, when I’d passed my examinations and was into the last class, he went down to the station and met my mother and talked to my mother. He says "I make that boy of yours. He’s always been in the highest pool. " He passed through the Kilmacolm School pretty well. And you’re not married. "No" My mother said. Now I always remember that night when I was coming in, and he says "I went down to see your mother", he says "I would like to have pushed you on, you know. I can see you couldn’t afford that. And that was the type of teacher that we had. We paid great respect to them. And, as I said, sometimes you met your teacher in the street and you just gave her a little salute, that how it was. And I mind Miss Kinloch, she was real local Kilmacolmite, A local family. She stayed up at Ellenbank and her sister stayed with her there. Then there was two brothers of hers who stayed in the village at the same time. So, she had a long connection with Kilmacolm.

Now Miss Forest, she stayed in Gryffe Drive there, with the Browns down there. We knew them all ever so well. I was ever so intimate with them. And Mr. Milburn who stayed in Sunnyside, was the janitor and he had an assistant, Bobby Crawford. Bobby wasn’t a very strong man and a bit of an epileptic. But we still showed great respect for them. Mr. Milburn, by jove, he was a man who could put the fear of death into a boy in trouble. Bobby, Bobby Crawford on a Friday, used to have to walk away out to the West Side School. We had a school out there, of course, for the country lads. And they went there till they were about 12 year old, and then they came in finished the last two years in the Kilmacolm School here. Well Bobby used to have to go out there and, of course, it was dry closets they had out there. Bobby, s job was to go out there and tidy up that and see things right out there. And it was a long walk for Bobby because he wasn’t a chap who was very capable of walking very far. However, we still respected Bobby. Bobby kept his dignity while working as the assistant janitor in the Kilmacolm School. 

We had a lot of characters about Kilmacolm. And I remember there was an old chap came, we called him Vinegar Will. We used to say" Vinegar Will from vinegar hill. Never worked and never will". Poor old Vinegar, he had bad feet, there. He was supposed to have lost his toes. Supposed to have lost his toes looking for work! But actually, I think he’d been lying out drunk and got frostbite. However, he lost his toes and he used to appear there in the spring of the year and go to particularly West Glen Farm and worked there turning turnips and tatties and such like. And then, of course, when the winter came, he disappeared. I remember, one time going down to the ten to four train looking for a "C P" I’ve talked about that , when Vinegar came off that train and somebody says "Where have you been. Vinegar?" "Ah" He says" staying up at Gleneagles". Gleneagles Hotel had just opened that particular year. He was quite a character old Vinegar Wall; he was one. And then, of course, there was wee Bobby Ferguson. Tatty Bobby we called him. Now Bobby stayed, at the finish, up at Margarets Mill. He had a bit of a shack down there. I always remember being once down at it. It had a tin roof on it, and of course, with a chimney and one of those drainpipes. But Bobby, you never saw much in the village, but when he did come, he was usually going away after the pubs closed.

I remember one time I was painting the rails at the original Saint Columbus Church along there. I recognized Homer Henry Russell and here Bogie come off the bus instead of getting off at The Cross he got off at the stop up there before the church. And he come down and came right along and he’d been drinking. And he said "Ah. Painting I see. Look at that!" And he took his cap off his head, and he maybe shrugged his head into Harry, and he said "Look at that! No hair. No head of hair. No head of hair!" And poor old Harry he didn’t know what he was talking about. However, he went away, and Harry says, "What is he talking about there?" I says, "He's trying to tell you he was a painter too". Before he used to go about whitewashing the farms and little things like that, you know. And doing odd jobs about the farms. And, of course, working in the fields and things like that. That’s the way he used his time. But he was trying to tell Harry. " Look at that head of hair! He’d had all his hair out" He said. That’s what he was trying to say. He had no head of hair because a lot of hair came out of his head, He was trying to tell us it was due to the painting. Harry thought that was very funny. I remember, next to where he stayed, of course, at Margarets Mill, they had the Green Water just down a few yards down from that where he stayed.

And Mr McKeever, a great old friend of mine in Kilmacolm. I got very friendly with him. He retired up here to Braehead. And he took up fishing. And he was very fond of the fishing. And he told me he used to fish and he used to meet Bobby Ferguson and he says "unbelievable!". He says "what Bobby used to do. You could always tell when a spate was coming" He says "It was really unbelievable what he used to do". He used to put a string out of hooks out along The Green Water, you know. And he says, "You could bet your life that night there would be a spate, and he would go down there and collect the trout off the hooks". He says. "It would happen every so often" he says "It was uncanny how Bobby could tell the weather, you know". But to finish with Bobby. I'll never forget. Norrie Henderson, my workmate was working out at the Milton, painting outside there, when two lads on their bicycles came rushing in and said "There’s a man along there been gored by a bull! There’s a man along there been gored by a bull". So, Laurie McKlatchie would be on that shift at that time, he jumped in and he came back and said" There’s nay nothing there. I couldn’t see anybody there!". And Laurie says, "These boys are right" He says "they wouldn’t be telling a lie". So, him and Maggie walked away out there and here was Bobby lying on the ground, there. He had crawled. There was a bull in that particular field, there. There was a hill in the field, there, and that bull used to, when anybody came by, used to come running down as if it was going to go for everybody, you see. And Bobby, with a good drink in him this time, decided he would have a go at the bull, and he climbed over or under the briar. The bull went for Bobby and tore him and luckily it tore his coat and jacket off him. It was trying to shake the stuff off its horns when Bobby crawled under the wire and into the briar. And that was Bobby. So, of course, they had to get back to the farm and get on the phone and get an ambulance. Bobby went away to hospital and had broken ribs and lord knows what. He didn't last long after that. That was the finish of Bobby Ferguson.

When the village went dry, of course, there was an old chap there called Paddy Machon and Paddy used to go about collecting all the empty beer bottles, you see. There was no way of returning them in Kilmacolm. And old Paddy used to collect them and take them over to Bridge of Weir and get the pennies on the beer bottles. So, paddy was called "The Crystal King", for collecting the beer bottles. He was a character and I would chat with him. We’d follow him, in fact, when he had a few beer bottles after new year, you got him up and we took them away and we always slipped him a tanner. Another lad I knew better than any was Buffy Carson. Now they called him Buffy Carson because he was a saddler with leather. And one of the cleverest saddler's ever known was Buffy Carson and what a beautiful man for working with leather. I remember he had a relation down there near Hull where I used to go down to visit my daughter. He had promised to make his nephew who was a banker, down there, an attaché case and oh dear, oh dear. When I was going down, every other night, I was round to Buffy. "Oh Aye. I’ve just about finished it" "Come on Buffy" and I would sit down knowing fine that as soon as I left Buffy would drop it down, However I kept at Buffy, and Buffy sewed up this attaché case and I took it down. You wouldn't believe that it was hand done! It was like it was done with a machine. He was such a wonderful tradesman. Everybody who knew Buffy and knew that he was a wonderful tradesmen.

Well, he took over Jimmy Bogies shop there at Gilburn Road. The shop next to the Gospel Hall. But Buffy, half the time the shop wasn’t open! Somebody would come and say to Buffy "Do you fancy a day’s fishing out at The Knapps? Buffy just closed the shop on the way out to The Knapps. Another thing would be shooting rabbits or something and that would be Buffy away out there shooting rabbits. When people put in for certain thing to be done by Buffy you never knew when you were getting it. You were in day after day and I always remember telling the story about those in the scavey, there, had an hour for their dinner and they used to congregate in Buffy’s shop, there and have a game of the cards, you know. Oh, half an hour at least to go by the time their dinner finished. Their lunch finished they had half an hour or so. Buffy used to play cards through the back. And, at this time, a lady came in during the mealtime and asked for this. "Well" Buffy says," Listen I’ve got men starting work, and you can hear them through the back, there" He says. Your work will be ready for tomorrow. This was them playing cards and bit of argument at the back. However, what he did do. He made sure the woman got her job finished. And the next day when she came in, she collected thinking what those men that were working in the back had done, you see. But he was an awful man, you could never depend on Buffy. I got to know him better, mainly when we moved up to Finlayston Crescent. Because Buffy became my next-door neighbour, and a good neighbour he was, because after my illness I had to be on a diet, you see, on diet and all the rest of it. And Buffy was a great lad with the rabbits. Especially good with a gun and that sort of thing. However, at the beginning of the war there food was short and other things short and Buffy had the catching of the rabbits out at Knapps and I used to go.(S. McGinn junior thinks this should be Jackie Telfer,Priestside Farm]) A couple of winters I went out with Buffy. And what would happen, Buffy would go out there on a Saturday afternoon take the gun with him, maybe have a pot at something, you see, and he would set snares.

And on a Sunday, we would go out there on a Sunday and first thing we’d do would be to go round the various snares that he had set, you see. We’d always start with maybe ten or a dozen rabbits. Then we’d have two ferrets. He had a ferret in his pocket and I had a ferret and, of course, the nets, I think we started netting and putting the ferrets in and Oh dear we used to catch, I’m telling no lies when I say we’d have at least forty every Sunday. And Buffy was supposed to take half of them back to Jackie, for doing that. And many a time we would lose a ferret. It would get jammed in. But what Buffy did then, he jammed up all the holes except one and put some straw in that, you see, and put a marker there. And he would tell Jackie, there’s such and such burrow and there, d be all these burrows in the various sites. And we’d go back out the next Sunday and the ferret would be there. Jackie would go out maybe Monday or Tuesday and open up the hole and the ferret would be sitting in the area and Buffet had left a bit of gut or something from a rabbit. He was a wonderful man to be with and he knew so much about nature and some of the stories he used to tell, were unbelievable. One time he went out to The Knapps. He had a friend there. He was a Brown, Joe. Joe used to the come and stay with Buffy every second or third year for a holiday, for shooting of the pigeons, and that.

And they used to mark how many pigeons Joe shot during the season while he was here and things like that. Always he had something to do, Buffy. But at this particular time Joe had brought him a six-piece rod or a four-piece rod or something, you know. Buffy had it down his trouser leg. He was going down to The Knapps to a bit of poaching. And old Tom Stuart was Gamers, at the time, and he and Tom saw each other, and he waved him. He says "Buffy, Buffy come here at once" He says," There’s a big heron up there" He says" And it’s on this particular thing up the hill, there. And he says," Give him the gun" And he put the two shots in the gun, you see. And Buffy went up and just as he walked up this big heron rose, and he banged it. With the bang, another one rose and he hit the two of them. "Oh" Tom says "By jove, you can be the next gamekeeper. That’s as good a shooting as I’ve seen for a long time. So, what they did then the club gave him 10 shillings for each heron. And those are the shots that Buffy got his 10 shillings for, for the shooting of the herons.

During the war, of course, we had rationing, so Buffy got a runner for the top of the garden there and he had hens up there. He started off with just a few. From a few eggs he’d got from Jackie and a clucking hen he built up quite a lot of hens up there and by this time, of course, his shop was closed and he was working with a firm in Paisley before he went over to the factory over there at Bishopton. And he and his friend knew a baker there, and he used to get all the starch from the bakehouse, for feeding the hens. Buffy was always getting something, you know. And, of course, Jackie would give him corn and things like that. So, he had hens and I mind Jackie gave him eggs of a guinea fowl and they hatched out. These guinea fowl were a dam nuisance, because, at night-time, in the summertime, they wouldn’t come down. They were away roosting up in the trees. And we’d try and get them down in the dark and they, d be clucking away in the morning, early in the morning, when day was breaking. Old Buffy was a character and I remember one time he was out with the ferrets and we brought in quite a lot of rabbits. But I remember there was two jet black rabbits. We brought them in and laid them on the scullery floor. And his son Fergie came in and he says "You shouldn’t have killed these two black ones. "I says, "No. your daddy killed one "No" he says "He didn’t kill one". "He says you killed the two of them". And then it stopped me. I remember right enough quite a few bolted, at one time, and I got one and Buffy sat still smoking his pipe. There’s another one! I says "Come on. You get one". "No, you are getting them". And right enough I did. I killed the two of them right enough. I pulled the neck of the two. I said "Come on. Tell me why did you not kill them? He says, "Sam away back a number of years ago "He says," my daddy was out for a bit of shooting" He says, "In a field out there by Dennison" He says. "And he hadn’t, I don't think he shot anything much at all, but he hadn’t uncocked his gun, and they decided to go out for a drink. And I was playing with it over the fence there and holding the gun by the end" He says" And the dam thing went off and blew his finger off! And previous to that he’d just shot a black rabbit. " "So" he says "that’s how my dad will never shoot another black rabbit".

Another character was Jimmy the Mince or Jimmy Laird. Well I knew plenty about Jimmy because of the time I stayed in The Lower Shells. That’s where Jimmy lived up in the Lower Shells. Now how they called him Jimmy the Mince, Jimmy had his schooling and then went as a message boy to Patterson the butcher. On one Saturday night, last thing, that must be somewhere near nine o'clock or eight o'clock he was told to go out to somewhere with mince for their dinner the next day or something. So anyway, Jimmy went out and turned the gate, and here the dogs start barking, and they kind of made a run at Jimmy. And Jimmy was frightened so he threw the mince at the dogs and, of course, the dogs just stopped and swallowed the mince. Of course, the next time that Jimmy returned to the shop there was a row about the mince not arriving and Jimmy tried to tell them what had happened. And the dogs had taken it and eaten it and all the rest of it, you see. They swore Jimmy ate the mince! Now that’s how he got "Jimmy the Mince. " Now poor old Jimmy he had a bit of a stutter, you know. When he started with the coal, up there with Laird and the coal, he worked there. And, of course, Jimmy could never wash his face. He just washed the side of the face, not like the rest of us. Oh, he looked terrible and as sure as fate Jimmy you know got quite a name, you know, for his blackface and his hair full of dust and all the rest of it. And the next job he got was in the bin lot, and the scavenging and sweeping the streets.

And you could bet your life that Jimmy would be sweeping the street, and somebody would come out of a bus and ask Jimmy "Where’s so and so? And he would cuff his lug up, you know, against their face and wouldn’t say a thing. Now him and Jean, his mother lived up in the Lower Shells and then they got a house up the Finlaystone Road, there. And Jimmy lived there with his mother. And then she died, and Jimmy lived alone, but at the finish up, he was kind of neglecting himself. He was living on lemonade and small pieces. So, they got him into Paisley, into the home there, in Paisley, you know. And, by jove, everything changed for Jimmy. Jimmy got into the bath and got cleaned up. And oh, Jimmy became well known in Paisley on Crowler Road. He was out on the Crowler Road and Jimmy would come in about the town there, and everybody knew Jimmy with his stutter. He was something a bit deaf too. He used to shout pretty loud. And I remember one night, I had been at a meeting at my painters and I was cutting across Cotton Street to get there along with a wee chap from Paisley and others from Glasgow and Greenock. And I hear this shouting and I said to John of the painters "That’s Jimmy the Mince". He says "aye". "He comes from Kilmacolm. " "Not at all. No Sam you’ve got him wrong. He’s Paisley". I said "Not at all. "I said," Jimmy the Mince" I said "Jimmy knows me and I know Jimmy. Jimmy is from Kilmacolm. "We walked on, and my pal says "Jimmy doesn’t half know you. You spent a few years beside him in the Lower Shells. "And I slipped him a coin and I said "You go away and get a fish supper, Jimmy, and get home. I slipped him a couple of bob. "I’ll away" he said, "I’m away" And Jimmy, you know, the way he lived, and all that, he lived until he was 85 years of age. It was unbelievable. 

There was ever so many characters in Kilmacolm. I could go on talking about them for long enough. I remember Stuart McClure. I told you about Stuart who worked with Laird. I remember one time I was working at a house, "Denniston" on The Bridge of Weir Road and a couple, a Mr. and Mrs. McVicar, had come up from London and taken it over with his work, you see. And further along at the corner, Mrs. Johnson had a guest house there. So, they were staying there while their house was being painted and got ready, you see. And I of course, was in the house and I was still working and doing up the house. And in the kitchen, they had one of those all-night burners, you know. An Aga or something of those kind of cookers, you see. And it was the month of February and very, very mild weather. Not a puff of wind or anything. Frosty weather and the result was Mr. McVicar would come along at night, you see, and stoke up the fire. But as sure as death, in the morning, when I went back in again the fire was out. It didn’t seem to keep in all night, you see. Stuart McClure had brought the stuff, anthracite. And they thought that if they got a heavier one. Mrs Johnson suggested if you get a heavier one the Aga would let the air through and keep in longer. So, I'll never forget the morning she had warned us he was coming. We used to treat him as a joke as Stuart was a bit of a character. So, this particular morning she was in there, in the morning room, doing a bit of sewing and getting curtains ready and such like, you see. And Stuart arrived and I brought him in, and he says, "What the hell, s up here?" I says "It’s the fire. It’s going out. It’s not keeping in all night". "Oh, to hell. " I said "just a minute till I get the lady of the house". So Mrs. McVicar came and I says "Here, s Stuart McClure. He'll tell you what's wrong. He says "It’s the bloody one. " "What?" she says. "It’s the bloody one, I’m telling you. That bugger across the road has the same thing "He says" and I took her the stuff over. Its nay dam different. You, re only wasting your time, It’s the bloody one". She’s staring at me and I says, "What he means it’s the lack of W. I. N. D". And Mrs McVicar burst out laughing. She says, "I’ve heard many a laugh but that’s the best ever I’ve heard".

So that was Stuart McClure there. And many a time I'd be in house and she’d be coming down the stair and she’d say "Sam, It’s the bloody one" she would say. She thought it was a great joke. He was a straight as a dye, Stuart. He was well liked in the village and well respected. Another time I remember. It was a true story too. It was the month of June or July, very, very warm weather and Stuart was delivering coal, you know. And at that time everything was so dry and dusty. And this particular lady said to Stuart McClure, she said "Would you try and keep the dust down and make as little dust as possible". He says, "I’ll roll the bloody stuff in cellophane paper and put it through the letter box". he said. Well after that day there was quite a wee stink about that. That was McClure. He just blurted everything out.

Another character I used to enjoy having a crack with was big Andy Currie. Andy was a huge big man. He was over six feet tall and 14 or 15 stone. And he was in the Royal Marines during The First World War and must have been a right smart Royal Marine. Andy lived with his mother in Antwerp Buildings and he worked about the gardens, but previous to that he had been a coachman. And many a time I would be on a job, and Andy would be there. And Andy would start cracking about some of the things that happened when he was a youngster in Kilmacolm. When he was a coachman. One time he was a coachman at Duchal, and he told the story, there, that this night he’d been going up in the dark, up the avenue, and here was a hell of a startle in the bushes amongst the rhododendrons. Now he went in and hauled out this man. It was Johnny Holmes from Formaken, and he says hanging on to his finger was one of these little parcels with the cakes in it, you know. It was hanging on a string. And he was going down to dinner, down to Duchal. Well he says the Wallaces were at Duchal, at the time, that was before the McLays went there". So" he says" I just put him under my arm, and I helped him down. And "he says" I just put him agin the front door and I stood back, and I pulled the bell". He says. And the door was opened by the housekeeper and he just took one header right into the middle of the hall. He said. And that was how Johnny Holmes arrived from Formakin for his dinner!

Another one Sandy Holmes used to tell. He was doing a job down at this particular house. It was a bay window and the things were all in position and that. And they had the usual scaffold up, which was over those trestles with plants all on them, you see. And it was their drawing room and he said that big Andy and his labourers, they were sitting inside it. The furniture there was covered up in sheets and they were sitting there on the sofa and they were smoking their pipes. And poor old Sandy, he was out on the above the plants there, you see. He just looked down and said, "I'm the possum, I'm doing all the work!". They were sitting there and having a good crack and a smoke of the pipes. "So" He says to them "Hand me up that nail there". "Ah" they said "You, re always wanting some bloody thing you see". So, Sandy didn’t get it. He bent down to get it and his back went out and he couldn’t straighten up. He said it finished up they carried me up on a door, he says, and got me on a train, and away back to Biggar, where he stayed. He said that’s how I finished up with a few weeks and bed.

Another character in the village when I was young was "Partick". Partick Jock, they called him, Jock Learman. How he got the name of Partick Jock, they say his father, in the old days, when he lived about Kilmacolm and he hadn’t a job, would say "It’s alright, I’m going up to Partick. I can get a job anytime in Partick". Then his son, Partick Jock, he inherited the name, of course, and he used to work about the farms and Jock was a bit of a character. He used to play the "mouthie" and a tin whistle. And the amusing thing was I made friends down at Maughline. I had a friend down there who had a pub. And we used to go down many weekends down to Maughline. And who would arrive at this pub but Partick Jock. "What you doing down here instead of Kilmacolm?". "Ah" he says "You see. We come down here for the music and they pay better than they do in Kilmacolm. Jock worked about the farms in Kilmacolm. I’ll tell you the story of one time in the month of November, I think it was. He’d been up in Glasgow, there, having a drink. And they get on talking, and they come on talking about Nairndie. Near a year above me was Nairn. What was he doing and where would he be, and all the rest of it. So, Jock landed back on the 11. 45 train and he thought it was Hogmanay. So, he went away out to where he always got a bed out there at any time. And they looked after Jock pretty well out there. Anyway, Jock, on the way, he decided he would go and bring in the new year with one of the farms. I think it was Duchal Mains. And he went down there and got them all drunk and left at midnight. As he left, he wished them "A Happy New Year" in the month of November! That’s the kind of character you had in Kilmacolm.Everybody knew him and never bothered anything about Jock. But I noticed one thing when he was down in Maughline, there, Jock would come in on a Saturday night, and he’d made a few bob. And he always had one or two hangers on and Jock kept plying them all with drink and whisky, and Jock would just spend every penny he got in the pub. That was the way. Each day looked after itself, so far as he was concerned.

Larry Todd, he was another sort of character about the village. He lived out in the country. And, I remember, when I went to school, The Todd farm, I think they had a number of them. They stayed at Stipends and one of the Todd lads was in my class at school. He was a very clever lad too. And I believe he finished up down in the shipyards as a foreman, of some description. Because they moved from Stipends to a little farm up Barrs Brae, up somewhere there. But he stayed out in the country, in a shack out there with his wife, Sally. She were a big handsome woman. I think she’d been a barmaid at some time. The best story I heard of them was after the pubs went and the place went dry and there were no pubs in Kilmacolm. It was a common thing for the wives to go down to Greenock and do a bit of shopping and bring home some of the rations for their men folk, you see. And there was a couple from Kilmacolm who were going away over to Ireland, to see their granny over there. Saddie O, Donnel, and John at the time. And here! At that time, the Irish boat went from The Custom House Quay. Which was straight down from the Central station there in Greenock. It used to sail overnight, and they we're sitting there waiting until their time for the boat to sail. When here, s Sally arrived with a message bag over her arm. And a couple of these herdsmen had been over here with cattle to the market in Greenock. And they, d all come down into the cabin place, the steerage place where they all sat there, and would try to sleep during the night. But they, re not about to sleep because after the ship sails Sally had them all singing.

Oh, they had a great night singing. A singsong and carry on and all that! And then when it turned after midnight Sally fell sound asleep, you know. And they all kind of dozed off, and then she woke up and looked all round and then she saw Sadie, She says to Sadie. "Listen Sadie. When I get to Kilmacolm, you take me down and I’ll find my way home. She said, "Where do you think you are?" She says "Lynedoch Street Station in the waiting room. Am I no there?". "No" she says "You, re sailing up the river Foil for Derry!" "Good God" she says "Christ" she says "And I’ve Harry, s breakfast here" she says. "There’ll be a riot if he doesn’t get it". However, it was treated as a great joke, I believe, and she had relations over there in Ireland too, and she saw them and came back on the Monday. And that was the kind of characters you had in the village then. Kilmacolm was full of them!

And then latterly Stevie Miller came there to a farm near Aughenbothie Mains. And if ever there was a character, Stevie was a character, you know. There’s ever so many stories told about Stevie and he and Jackie Telfer were great pals and when some of the cows were called and things like that. They used to set out together for a dram and a blether. He was a great character and he was a very, very stout man, he was, oh dear, he must have been 15 stone I’m sure. Stevie he just waffled along and anyway, the police were always try to catch Stevie doing something wrong, particularly during the war. During the war, of course, petrol was rationed. And the farmers got an allowance for farm work only, you see. And Stevie used to shove a cob in a sack and put it into the little lorry thing he had. He and Jack would get into that and go over away to Houston. Houston was where Dan Cook was the Commanding Officer over there. He was the main policeman, of course. His house was right at the roundabout there at Houston. That’s where he was and, of course, when he was there, he would see Stevie, you know. "What you doing here?" "Aye" he says "I’m just taking that cob out there to my brothers farm out there, near Kilbarchan way, you know. And Cook tried every way to catch Stevie and he never could catch Stevie. And then, of course, he would even follow him on a bike back by Bridge of Weir and when he got to Bridge of Weir instead of turning towards Kilbarchan he’d turn back to Kilmacolm! Nothing ever happened.

However, when he came to Kilmacolm and, of course, Stevie was here then. and Cook became the Sergeant in Kilmacolm, you see. And he tried every way to catch Stevie. I remember he had cattle out in the road and the dyke had been knocked down and had to be repaired and Stevie reckoned that some boys had wrecked the dyke and Stevie said he would repair it just when it suited him. But however, Dan tried to get him there, but Oh no he maintained that some boys had knocked down the wall. He could never catch Stevie, but the best story was, a pal of his, Jock Crawford. Jock was out there for a number years and he married, and it was rumoured that her father had a small coal mine round Airdrie way or somewhere or other. But Jock packed in the farm and would stay through that way and he had one of those mobile shops, or something like that. And anyway, he met Stevie at the market one day and he got on about coal. Stevie says "Coal. we can’t get coal. We’re rationed with coal" "Agh" he says "I’ll send you over a load of coal". So, one day This lorry of coal arrived right down at Aughenbothie Mains and Stevie says, "How did you get here?" and he says "I asked a Policeman. " "Oh god almighty" he says "you should never have done that! Come on" He says, "Back in here" So just at the far end of the farm was a midden. So, he backed the coal into the midden and humped it there and shoved some stuff over it and covered it up a bit, you see. And then he sent the driver, instead of the way he came, up round by Balrossie, you see, round that way and then he would get straight on to the main road, past The Milton. And, of course, it was big Bob Fotheringham that he had asked, and Bob went away up to get Dan and told Dan what had happened. And Dan said, "I’ve got him now!" And anyway, Dan had to get his uniform on. So, he got the uniform on and the two of them got on their bikes and they landed out there.

And by this time, of course, Stevie is back in about the steading and they say to Stevie "You’ve got a load of coal". "My god" he says "I could deal with a load of coal. Where do I get a load of coal?" He said "Come on. A lad he stopped me and asked me where your farm was, and I told him". "Oh" Stevie says, "They were kidding you on "He says, "Come on" he says, "There’s nay coal here" So they looked around all the different steading and couldn’t find any coal in all the different places. No coal about! So, they just got on their bikes and went away back on the same road as they came. Now if they gone down the other way and a wee bit no doubt, they could have noticed the tracks into the midden there. But they never. They went back the same road. So that was Stevie again. A great many of the lads on Kilmacolm liked their bet on the horses and such like and we never had a proper bookies place, but we always had, what we called a "bookies runner" here. And I remember a man Scott, there. He was the bookies runner for a long, long time. Oh, a number of years. And he was a character himself. You could never find exactly where he was. He was up the Bridge of Weir Road and the policeman was coming down the Port Glasgow Road. It was most unbelievable the way he could go around the village and collect his line and take them to, I suppose it was a bookie down in Greenock or somewhere, anyway, a proper bookie. He was the bookies runner, anyway. and he did it for a long, long time in Kilmacolm. And of course, quite a few of the police were always trying to catch the bookie. And I remember, one time, when sergeant Reed came to the village and he said to some of the lads "You’ve not got a bookie here at all". "Ah you’ll be able to catch him!". "I don’t want to catch him. I want to get a bet on". The police themselves, right, had a bet on the horses. That was the way it worked in the village. There was a bookies runner. And I remember one time he was ill and Angus Lassens said "Come on I’ll be a bookie". Angus was a character in the village. Angus worked about gardens and was married and stayed in digs in the village. He was quite a character and always had plenty to talk about when you're alone with Angus, you see. He said "I’ll take over the bookies. And one old gentleman came and said "Will you take threepenny doubles" "Aye" he says "I’ll take jars and lemonade bottles" Well he put on one of these lines with trebles or some dam thing, you know. And it came up! So, Angus says, "There you are" and he gave him thirty bob. He says, "That’s enough" he says "That’s me finished with the bookies".

We had great fun with these lads down at the corner, you know, in these days, where they met. The gardeners, you see, in those days, in the summertime would go out at 7 o, clock in the morning, and work to nine and then come for their breakfast from nine o'clock to 10. And they used to have half an hour for their breakfast, and they used to meet at what we called McNabs corner. And they had some great yarns to tell of all the different things that were happening. I remember one gardener, Gatons, there at the beginning of the motor mower coming out. This was the very beginning of the motor mower. And, of course, this wee lad he didn't know how to work the thing, but he couldn’t get it started but he would cut the lawn, you see. Then the man of the house would come and stop the motor. And they tell the story that, at one time, Gatons was working up at the Blairs of Greystones, and they had a huge lawn there. And Mr. Blair came out in the morning and got the machine going and handed it over to Gatons and he started cutting the lawn, and he goes up and down cutting. After the big lawn was finished, he shouted for Mr. Blair and Mr. Blair was away to Glasgow! He didn’t know how to stop the machine! So, he kept going up and down, and up and down till about two o'clock in afternoon until the the fuel ran down and the machine stopped. I think he had cut the lawn about three times! That caused quite a laugh in the village, you know, a thing like that happening. One of the great gardens in the village was Burnetts, a house they called Enterkin. A huge house with a huge, huge garden and I remember working quite a lot up at that house. He had greenhouses, there. I remember one greenhouse he had, Mr Ross, the gardener, a first-class gardener, he had always an assistant with him. And this particular greenhouse had nothing but carnations in it. It was something to see! It was unbelievable. Miles and miles of string and each individual carnation growing up between the strings, and he won prizes. Every year he won the main prize at the Kelvin Hall Show for his carnations. It was a wonderful thing to see that, when we were up painting the greenhouses and see all that. And then he had another one with roses. And then, all of a sudden, he decided that he had won the prize, the cup outright at the Kelvin Hall and he decided then and cleared the whole lot out and went in for vegetables instead.

Then at one side of the garden. He started on to roses. And they had partitions there and places where roses could grow and my goodness there were thousands and thousands of roses.Tremendously keen, he was, on his garden. Well that house, when I was a youngster, it was called Douglaslangivart. And that's where one of the first cars in Kilmacolm was. Dan Andrews father was a chauffeur then. He got taught to drive a car and he was one of the first chauffeurs in the village at that house. That was Douglas of Langivart. Then I remember it changed names. It became Bergers Zelisky. Now Bergers, that was Bergers the paint people. We knew plenty of that because we stocked a lot of Bergers paints and that, in our shop at the time. And then when Frank went into it. It was changed now to Enterkin. He was there for a long time and then moved and built a house further along the road there. There was ever so many lovely gardens. Crookhill was another lovely garden. Sandy Thompson was the gardener there. And Sandy Thompson, he was famous for his sweet peas. He used to win prizes for the growing of sweet peas at the Kelvin Hall. And then, of course another lovely garden was Inverlard there. John McGovan was the gardener there for years and years and it was a beautifully kept house and gardens. And I always remember the house next, they had a lovely big gates, there, and we used to have the painting of those gates and goodness gracious it took you a day to paint the gates. There was tremendous bar work in those things, you see. Quite a lot of them were made locally by Gilmore the blacksmith. That was his speciality making gates. I’d often like to know the number of gardeners, full time gardeners, in the village. And then ever so many jobbing gardeners. But you don’t see much of that now. But that was the village in those days, beautiful gardens throughout the whole village.


The Pipe Band
Another thing we miss in the village, now, is a pipe band. We had a pipe band formed in the village way back before the war. My great pal Jimmy McKee, Jimmy was the big drummer and Jimmy was a character. Oh, he was a character. And the pipe band appeared at ever so many occasions in the village. They thought nothing, in the busy times, they'd go up to the Hydro, and playing outside the Hydro, there and entertaining the guests up at the Hydro. But the main day, of course, in the village, was the Sunday School trip. That’s the day that stood out all the calendar year. The third Wednesday in June all the shops closed, and all the tradesmen, except painters, went away the Sunday school trip. The painters stayed because most of them had been idle during the winter and this was a great for painting the outside of the shops, you know, and that's what we did. Most of our men were working on the shop fronts, there, that particular day, the day of the Sunday School trip. And the pipe band, all the members seemed to get that one day off, and they went with them. And it was usually a special train that the village took, the particular parish church, and they went down to Princes Pier and they got a steamer there. And sometimes St. Columbas Church would go with them. St. James, s they always seemed to be on their own and go different places from the rest. But, however, we would go over to Rothesay, you see, and then out to Port Bannatyne where they had their picnic at Port Bannet, and the pipe band would march off the boat. Some would march out there and others would be out on the tram to Port Bannetyne. And it was a great day out and a great bit of fun. St. Columba might stay on the same steamer and they would carry on to Tighnabruaich and have a picnic there at Tighnabruaich. And then they,d all come back together, and they, d be back here home at Kilmacolm by 7 o, clock at night. That was a day from 9. 30 in the morning. It was the one day, that Sunday School trip day, that I would miss about most things now.

The pipe band used to compete at Cowal, the Cowal Games, there. I don’t know what grade; two or three or something. And I always remember I was there the year they won their section. It was great to see them marching down there and somebody walking in front holding the cup that they had won. I remember coming back over to Gourock and a few of us went up there to have a drink up in this McKinnons pub, there, you see. And, of course, I was along with my pal Jimmy and when it comes to closing time; at that time it was nine o'clock at night, so we were put out of the pub and we were standing outside and Jimmy says "Good god! I haven’t got my drum!" Well we went and rattled the door. "Oh, we’re finished. You, re not getting in here!" It was my job to try and explain that the drum was there. They couldn’t see the drum because there was two entrances to that particular pub. One round the side street and that’s where the drum was. This time with Jimmy, my god, it was some bit of fun if we had landed home in Kilmacolm without the big drum from the pipe band. Ah, it was a great day out. we had wonderful times. And, of course, out at the park, there, they used to be out there quite a lot. For some of the football matches they, d be out there marching And, of course, we used to have a sports day out there and of course the pipe band was out there too.

Jimmy McKee
And my pal Jimmy, he was a character. He kept things going, There’s no doubt about it. He worked for the Clyde Valley, Jimmy, you could tell many a story of Jimmy with the Clyde Valley. He was what they call a jointers mate. But Harry White was the manager in charge, you see, and Harry didn’t used to start work until 9 O, clock and the result was Jimmy would be down at 8 and he would be down the office, you know, for the post coming and such like. And I always tell a good story about this particular time there was a circular came. It was open, you see, and Jimmy had a read of it. This was the first holiday that they,d get, paid holiday, a weeks holiday at the fair and there was to be a rise of a penny an hour or something like this, you know. The rise back dated a week or something. And so, Jimmy read this and, of course Harry arrived, and his mate and he went up to where they were working up Barclaven Road, putting the electric light in to one of the houses up there. And it was an empty house and Jimmy went in and looked at the house and here was a telephone. So, Jimmy he lifted the telephone and phoned up the work and Harry White answered, and he said "This is the head office St. Vincents Place in Glasgow. Re that circular number so and so" He said "Ah yes". He said," I want to change this" He says "That one weeks holiday to read two weeks". He said, "and that back date of the pay rise instead of backdated a week to back dated a month".

You know, little did Jimmy know the district manager had landed from Johnson and Harry White turned round to the District Manager "Who the hell did that? That’s that circular I’ve received already". He says, "What’s the development?" He says "The back pay is to go back a month instead of a week and the holiday is to be a fortnight instead of a week. He said, "I’ve just left the head office" He says "That’s a lot of nonsense!" So, they went away up in a car and there’s Jimmy standing over the hole and his mates down there doing the joint, you see, and he’s handing the stuff down. And this District Manager says, "You want a fortnights holiday" he says" Jimmy. " he says "Any more of that dam nonsense you’ll get a long holiday!" That was Jimmy.

Jimmy always saw the fun in things, you know. Everything was fun with Jimmy and how he could make people laugh. I remember, one time, when The Kilmacolm Football Club were doing awfully well in one of the cups and had been away. We played at home and drew with this team, they were quite a rough team, and then we went away and drew there too. So, on a neutral ground over a Yoker, and Jimmy on that particular day was working at Yoker. So, his brother Tommy and I decided we’d go over with the team, you know. And we went over with quite a bus load from Kilmacolm. And, of course, there was a bus load there from the other team. And they were gathered round the field. And we had two wingers playing and they were about 5 feet nothing. Wee Boss Kerr and Norrie Whittet were the wingers, you know. And here Jimmy arrived, and this other teams crowd were shouting pretty loud, you know. Things they shouldn’t have been shouting. Like "Get that wee fellow and throw him out of here, " you know. And Jimmy just walked by Tommy and I and walked right up among them and said "Listen. There’s to be no throwing about here! Any throwing about you’ll be out of here" he says "Get that cut out". And he silenced the lot of them, you know. And Tommy looked at me and he says, "What do you think of that?" "That would be you and I involved when any trouble started but they just look at Jimmy and that’s it”. Jimmy’s sudden death was a great shock to me and a thing I’ll never forget.

It was a Saturday morning, and I was going to work, and I passed by Jimmy's gate. That was the amazing thing. When we got married we got a house just past where Jimmy stayed up in West Glen Road and then I moved up to Finlaystone Crescent and Jimmy got a house up in Finlaystone Road just down from the corner from me. So, it was just a case of whistling up to one another and we were great pals and all the rest of it. Well on this particular Saturday they, d gone on to a five-day week. We were still on our five and a half day week and I’d been by and heard nothing. And I was working away beyond a house down Florence Drive and coming by was Archie Stuart, the park keeper, and he said "What do you think of that? The shock of Jimmy McKee". Well there was two Jimmy McKees, the other one we used to call Miffy. And I said, "That’s sad". He says, "You know who it is?" I says "Aye Miffy". "No" he says" Jimmy McKee, your pal". Well I had the shock of my life. Jimmy had just---Billy stayed beside me up there and Billy was usually late and was a quarter of an hour late going down to his work. There was a knock at the window and Billy was called up and that was his brother had got up to make a cup of tea and dropped on the floor. A tremendous tragedy for me the loss of Jimmy. I’d worked with him as a message boy, as I told you, and he got me the job with Patterson the grocer. I wasn’t near the correct age, but Jimmy coaxed him up there and I got that job at Patterson the grocer. And then, of course, sweethearts, at the time, both worked in the same house and Jimmy and I had sweet hearted together. Agh. Whenever anything was happening, Jimmy was always there, you know. We had a great time together.

One Saturday night I was over at Bridge of Weir with Jimmy McKee to have a beer and we thought we’d go into the room there, where they play dominoes and sit there for a while. And as we arrived in the room there was a fight on. And Jimmy walked straight in the middle of it and separated everything. He said, "What the hell’s this?" he said "We’re all here for a wee bit of enjoyment". And this particular lad, he gave him a dressing down. "Geordie" he says, "You of all people" he says" Come on give us a bit of peace when we come in for a drink". He says, "Come on" he says, "Get yourself together" he says" and give us a song". And truthfully, within five minutes, that’s this Geordie, and Geordie was a dam good singer, Geordie was singing. And that was the way Jimmy used to sort things out. Everything was a joke with Jimmy but, by Jove, he could settle things out. That was one of the instances. There are many instances I could tell you about Jimmy.

The Cattle Show
Another great day in the village was the cattle show day. And way back it used to be held in, what we called, the Station Park, just down over the bridge, there behind where the police houses are now. That was the Station Park field and it was a cattle show. On the bill it was Kilmacolm and Port Glasgow Agricultural Society cattle, horses, sheep and dogs. And that’s what it was all about. And our great joy at the cattle show was to see the horses, the dressed horses. There was some great turnouts. And the men who had those horses, they spent nights after nights down in their stables polishing up all the harness and grooming the horse. And they come up there with all the different colours on the plumes. It was a sight to see. Pollock from Port Glasgow used to be very good with his horses and then the station, down in Port Glasgow. Kilmacolm, some of the farmers in Kilmacolm, had their horses. And it was a turnout that had to be seen. Now of course, it’s held out at the Knapps and its not really a cattle show. It’s a horse jumping show. Most of time is taken up with the ponies jumping, and that sort of thing. We had none of that and yet we appreciated ever so much to see those lads coming in with their horses all spick and span and shining. And then, of course, the great thing was the fair at the park. Now, as I told you already, how the fair used to come here. And it used to come, Oh, maybe a week before the cattle and stay for days after the cattle show. It was the beginning of May and it was a big, big fair that came here. Tremendous little side shows. And, of course, the hobby horses, and such like. And it was taken down to what we called the "back pitch" out at the public park and it covered quite a bit of that. But I was working as an apprentice with Ritchie when the fair would come to Kilmacolm. We knew the fair was there because the men were in there, looking for bright colours, bright yellows and bright reds. It was the beginning of the season and they had been maybe spent all winter all cooked up there in what they called Vinegar Hall in Glasgow. And this was them coming out of the winter to get the stuff all brightly painted up.

There was a tremendous lot of painting was done out there on the back pitch. And, of course, as I say, some of them were there for a fortnight. I remember, one time, they began to show films there and they had a tent there ‘showing, of course, it was silent films in those days, black and white. And then there was one of them that continued each week varied every night. Every night it was a change and all this sort of thing. Agh. It was a great time spending all your time out at the park. And not only that the show men themselves used to take on the local football team and many a good game we had of football there on what we called the side pitch. And there was a great harmony between us. It was Willmot who had the show then, Mr. Willmot. And, by Jove, he seen that all the men that worked with him and hired their various stalls, that they kept really good conditions and behaved themselves. There was no great trouble out there at the show at all. I mind there was shooting ranges there. That was a great thing getting shooting at the targets. There, d be a prize at the end of maybe the end of the night or the end of the week for who had the highest score there. There was a great bit of shooting there to get this prize. 

The Telephone Exchange
Another thing I forgot to mention was the telephone exchange. When I was a youngster, there, at school, the telephone exchange was in St. James, s Terrace. A Mr. Gibson had it there and he had two sons. Alistair, the oldest, was exactly my age, and they were there for a number years and then they moved down The Smithy Brae to a house down there and it was there for years and years. Of course, I moved down to there. Mr. Gibson, he used to travel to Greenock, and he worked on The Telegraph. I think he was a reporter on The Telegraph, down there in Greenock. And then, of course, after that, Mr. Whiteford took over the exchange, there, down The Smithy Brae. To start with it was nearly all telegraph poles. There was ever so many telegraph poles about Kilmacolm. I remember at election time, that was the first time you saw the posters to put your "Vote for so and so" up on the telegraph poles. And that was banned and then after putting them up, we used to have to go and take them down. That's mostly allowed around now, till it comes to certain junctions, on the telegraph poles. But that was the size of the telephone exchange to start with. It was a room up in St. James's Terrace. Opposite St. James’s Terrace a Miss McCrindle, whose father had the smithy, she had a dress making place there that she made dresses in. She had assistants there, I remember two different ones, a Miss Alfon and a Miss Andrew that worked with Miss McCrindle at the dress making.

Last Class at School
Another day we used to look forward to was when you were in your last class at school. It would be, maybe in the spring of the year, in May or the beginning of June. Mr. Walker would say "Come on now. Bring a piece in the afternoon. We’re going out to the waterworks". And he would take the class a walk out to the waterworks, which was quite a walk too. You brought a piece with you. But walking along there we had to stop and describe all the different kinds of wildflowers. It was a real education, you know, and, of course, other ones would be looking for bird's nests and bring an egg out and describe what the bird was that laid that egg. And then you went up into the waterworks and you were shown how the waterworks worked. How they come through the different beds, the water, you know. Kilmacolm water, at that time, was the most beautiful water ever you could drink. I remember, when they we're putting in this other water here, a few years ago, the lad was joining up the pipes and I got on talking to him. And we were talking about how we were down there. We used to be in the local. We were on our own. But I suppose know with the size of the village it wouldn’t be sufficient too. And he says, "What kind of water was it?" "Oh" I said "It comes through beds. It was very peaty. It come through those different beds". He said," That's the finest water ever you could drink" I said "Well we always thought that Kilmacolm water was the finest water you could drink" When we’d ended up at the waterworks then there was Mr. Blackwood who was to do with the waterworks. He would be there and boiling the water and we all had tea. We went in and we all sat down and had our mugs, there, a mug of tea. sugar, there, to put in and milk. And it was a great day, that walk out to the waterworks. These are things that I think that the pupils in school miss now days. Mr. Walker was a great one on nature, you see. Bird life and wildflower life. That was things they do miss now days.

As Kilmacolmers we all seemed to know everything that was going on in the village I remember during the war, my namesake Uncle came from Canada and he was in the forces and he came home on leave, and he come home with a kilt on. And uncle Sam was a man of about 5ft 3-- no 6ft 3 and man about 14 stones. And I always remember coming into the class this day "Oh, who was the kilted soldier I saw in the village yesterday? That big man!" "My Uncle Sam". Ah that’s your mother's side, you see. Mothers a big woman. "I ken that" he says. That was me proving that is was my uncle there in the kilt. Now I’ve seen the village grow from a lovely little village and quiet little village. Now it’s a "you don’t know" I don’t know very few of the people in the street at all. As I've got older anyway. Even then the village family shouldn’t have died out, there. The village, to me, has got far too big. And of course, we had that carry on with that crowd wanting to build down Duchal Avenue, there, and bring in over a hundred houses. Goodness gracious me. That’s more cars! Cars, cars, cars. The people won't walk very far now! You see that when the school is going out there. They, re flying down with their cars. We did all that walking and thought nothing about it. But, you see, now they’ve got to be in their car and be home quickly and the rest of it. Now the village is not to me the same village at all as it was when I was young. And I think We’re missing an awfully lot because everybody knew everybody else in the village. 

And we knew where all the trouble was in the village and things like that. And great neighbourliness that’s all stopped now. I gave evidence at the enquiry into this building of the hundred and five houses down what we called the station farm. The entrance was out just at the entrance to Duchal, there. Into a congested area where there was tremendous traffic, there at certain times of the day, particularly when the schools were going in and going out. Because you have the local school down there, what we called The Kilmacolm Public School and then there was a private school down there. This was to a tremendous size of a place. There was so many pupils. It was cars, cars all the time. When I gave evidence, I said "I’ve no objection to building a hundred and five houses down there. As long as they put in a helicopter pad and they get in by helicopter! Because there’s all hell let loose at certain times of the day. Cars, cars all the time! Oh, they don’t know how much they, re missing.

And then doing away with the railway too. The railway would have been a great thing now to have in the village. And not only that in Port Glasgow, there, they put all the houses up the hill away from down in the town. Up the hill and round Bogglestone. Bogglestone was built and the house itself was supposed to be an hotel for the railway, but there never was a right proper stop there. There was a place where they used to shunt in stuff for the farms, at one time, up there. And then that could have been opened up as a station and that could have been a halt of the line. With no need to carry on to Princes Pier because they already had the other line coming in. It would have been a great thing. Now the people of Port Glasgow who need a train have to take a bus down to the town to get their train. It would have been a great thing using the train without any bother. And taken a lot of this congestion off the roads.


• 1 John Wheatley 1869-1930MP for Glasgow Shettleston. Prominent figure in the red Clydeside era best remembered for the 1924 Housing Act. In fact, he was Minister of Health.
• 2 Tom Johnston 1881-1965 MP for Stirling. A red Clydesider. Secretary of State for Scotland 1941-1945. Notable in The Scottish Friendly Society.
• 3 Alec Geddis 1878 Scottish Comunist activist. Founder member of the Scottish Comunist Party. Good showing in the elections of 1922, 1923 and 1924.
• 4 Sir Godfrey Collins 1875-1936 Liberal MP for Greenock 1910-1936. Secretary of State for Scotland 1932-1936.
• 5 George Buchanan 1890-1955. MP for Glasgow Gorbals 1922-48. Minister of Pensions 1947-48. Under Secretary of State for Scotland 1945-47.
• 6 James Maxon 1885-1946. MP for Glasgow Bridgeton 1922-46. Opponent of WW1. Chairman of the Independent Labour Party 1926-31. President of the Scottish Home Rule Association. Wrote a Biography of Lenin 1932.
• 7 Davy Kirkwood-1st Baron Kirkwood 1872-1955. MP for Dumbarton 1922-51. Prominent figure in the red Clydeside Movement and in the Independent Labour Party.
• 8 Neil Mclean 1875-1953 MP for Glasgow Govan 1918-50. Part of Red Clydeside Movement and the Independent Labour Party.
• 9 Philip Snowden 1st Viscount Snowden 1864-1937. MP for Blackburn 1906 and for Colne Valley 1922-31. Labours first ever Chancellor of the Exchequer 1924 and from1929-1934.
• 10 Man, and Superman by George Bernard Shaw 1903. A 4-act drama based on the Don Juan theme. The third act with Don Juan in hell is often left out.
• 11 Lynedoch Street Station. Opened 1869. A 2 platformed station above Greenock with access to Princes Pier. Stopping services from Kilmacolm ceased in 1959 and it closed in 1965
• 12 Killearn Hospital. Stirling Council Area. One of 7 Emergency Hospitals for military casualties in 1940. Received casualties from The Greenock Blitz in 1941 and at other times. Post war it joined The NHS but because of its remote location it was closed in1972.
• 13 Ian Bryce Wallace OBE 1919 -2009. A bass-baritone opera and concert singer. From 1967 to 1994 was a panellist on the BBC radio program "My Music".
• 14 Anthony Wedgewood Benn 1925-2014. MP for Bristol and later Chesterfield 1950-2001. When he inherited his father’s peerage he fought to remain in the Commons. He held ministerial posts under Wilson and Callaghan. His father William 1877=1960 was originally a liberal MP but he later stood as a labour candidate for Aberdeen. He was appointed Viscount Stansgate in 1942.
• 15 Jean Mann 1889-1964 MP for Coatbridge 1945-1959. The 3rd female MP for Scotland. Campaigner for better housing and planning.
• 16 The Greenock Blitz. The nights of 6th and 7th May 1941. Intensive bombing by some 350 German planes killed 271 and injured 10, 200. Over 5, 000 houses were destroyed outright and 25, 000 were damaged. The shipyards received minimal damage.
• 17 Herbert Morrison 1888-1965 Labour MP who held many posts. Home secretary in the wartime coalition. Deputy leader in the Attlee government. Oversaw labours nationalisation programme. In 1859 he became Baron Morrison of Lambeth.
• 18 Ellen Cicely Wilkinson 1891-1947 MP for Middlesbrough and later Jarrow 1924-47. Served as junior minister in WW2 under Herbert Morrison. Minister of Education 1945-47.
• 19 Hector McNeil 1907-1955 MP for Greenock 1941-55. Deputy Foreign Secretary to Ernest Bevin 1946-50. Secretary of State for Scotland 1950-51.
• 20 Thomas Scollan 1884-1974. President of Scottish TUC 1934. MP for West Renfrewshire 1945-50.
• 21 Oliver Risdale Baldwin 1898-1958 Labour MP 1929-1947. Eldest son of Stanley Baldwin [Prime Minister 1923-24, 1924-29 and 1935-37]. Succeeded to his father’s title of Earl Baldwin of Bewdley and Viscount Coverdale. He was somewhat controversial as he sat opposite his father in parliament.
• 22 Clement Attlee 1883-1967. Mayor of Stepney 1919 then MP for Limehouse. Leader of the Labour Party 1935-55. Deputy Prime Minister during WW2. Prime Minister 1945-51. 1st Earl Attlee 1955.
• 23 Dickson Mabon 1927-2008. Studied medicine in Glasgow. MP for Greenock 1955-74 and for Greenock and Port Glasgow 1974-83. Minister of State for Scotland 1967-70. Defected to the SDP in 1981 and later re-joined the Labour Party in 1991.
• 24 Bruce Millan 1927-2013. Not elected for West Renfrewshire in 1951. MP for Glasgow Craigton 1957-83 and Glasgow Govan 1983-88. Secretary of State for Scotland 1976-79. European Commissioner for Regional Policy 1989-95.
• 25 Norman Findlay Buchan 1922-90 MP for West Renfrewshire 1964-83 and Paisley South 1983-90. Minister of State for Agriculture 1974-79.
• 26 Anna McCurley b1943. Conservative MP for Renfrewshire West and Inverclyde 1983-87
• 27 Tommy Graham 1943-2015. Labour MP for Renfrewshire West and Inverclyde 1987-97 and for Renfrewshire West 1997-2001. Expelled from the Labour Party in 1998 and quietly retired in 2001
• 28 Harold Wilson 1916-1995. Labour MP for Ormskirk/Huyton 1945-83. Leader of the Labour Party 1963-76. Prime Minister 1964-70 and 1974-76. Resigned unexpectedly in 1976 later to become Baron Wilson of Rievaulx.
• 29 Willie Ross 1911-1988. Labour MP for kilmarnock 1946-79. The longest serving Secretary of State for Scotland 1964-70 and 1974-76. He was created Baron Ross of Marnock.
• 30 James Callaghan 1912-2005. Labour MP for Cardiff South 1943-83 Has held all four great Offices of State. Leader of the Labour Party 1976-80. Prime Minister 1976-79. Then a Life Peer-Baron Callaghan of Cardiff.
31 Dennis Healey 1917-2015. Labour MP for Leeds 1952-92. Chancellor of the Exchequer 1974-79. Deputy Leader of the Labour Party 1980-83. Became Baron Healey in 1992.
32 Peter McArthur. A goalkeeper who played for Greenock Morton 1919-1934 Then Motherwell 1934-38 and then Clyde 1938-39.
• 33 Jackie McDougal. A centre half who signed for Airdrieonians in 1921. He went to Sunderland in 1929 for £4500 and then to Leeds in 1934 for £6000. His first cap for Scotland was in 1926 and he retired in 1837
• 34 Jimmy McDougal 1904-1984. An inside left who played for Partick Thistle 1926-28 and then Liverpool from 1928-1938. His first Scotland cap was in 1931.
• 35 The Independent Labour Party. Established in 1893 with Kier Hardy as its first Chairman. Later the relationship between the ILP and the Labour Party was characterised by conflict. ILP members viewing the Labour Party as being too timid.
• 36 HMS Victory Launched in 1765. Best known as Nelsons flagship during the battle of Trafalgar on 21st of October 1805. She was moved to dry dock in Portsmouth in 1922 and remains the world’s oldest naval ship still in commission.