Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Discuss all aspects of the three towns in the Threetowners' Lounge.
Forum rules
Please familiarise yourself with our Board Rules and Guidelines
hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:48 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE
From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 17th May 1907


I have long cherished a desire to contribute to your columns something that might revive memories of days of long ago to friends at home and abroad, and ere the memory becomes impaired or the vision grows dim I claim a little space to place on record recollections of a past that can never again return. Fifty years seems a long period to look forward to, but in looking backward ‘tis only a hand’s breadth or a watch in the night. I cannot claim to carry my memory quite so far back; what I have to say will possibly come within the knowledge of readers of the A. & S. Herald who may be disposed to contribute something that has escaped or not come within the scope of my observation. In my treatment of the subject I will take the liberty of familiarities in describing characters, associates, and friends by what was familiarly known in my early days as nicknames, and hope that those alive or related to them will not take offence. My main object is to please and renew fellowships that long years have sent into the shadows.

Ardrossan in my early days wore a totally different aspect to what it presents at the present day. That fine block of buildings, erected by the late John Stewart, was then tenanted by small shopkeepers, prominent amongst whom was a Mrs Flannigan, greengrocer, where I earned my first reward as an errand boy. The houses or attached cottages were whitewashed and thatch-roofed. There were no houses then beyond the U. P. Church, nor were there any on the opposite side of the street beyond these buildings built of whinstone, and at that period rough-cast in front. The Free Church stood where it is to-day with a seawall in front to prevent the encroachment of the sea on the roadway. Paisley Street now is but a skeleton of what was better known as Wee Dublin, the occupants of the houses there, as in many of the Glasgow Street dwellings, being possessed of “porkies”, whose life and death were usually spent in meeting the laird’s rent at term times.

“Meiklelaught”, the property and residence of Mr James Mutter, represented the North Crescent, access to which was had by a private now the public road. “Seafield Tower”, then the property of the late Mr Barron, was a much less imposing building than it is to-day. Eglinton Street could only boast of the Free Kirk manse. Save Parkhouse Farm, fields of waving corn and other farm produce occupied the sites of the villas and cottages that now adorn Sorbie Road, Caledonia Road, and South Beach Road.

Johnnie Dunlop occupied the Physic Well, while Bailie Willock occupied the Home Farm, now tenanted by Mrs Duncan. There was no encroachment in those days on the Plantation, or Holm Wood, which at that period was under the vigilant eye of Robin Miller, Lord Eglinton’s Forrester, a holy terror to the boys when bird nesting.

South Beach Station was non-existent, neither were there any villas between Mr M’Call’s manse and the Stanley Burn. South Beach Green was a paradise compared to the dilapidated condition one finds it in to-day. Princes Street had no Union Bank, formerly the City Bank; nor was there any Bute Place Hall or tenements in the lane to the rear, except the slateyard and tinsmith’s shop of the late Provost Hogarth, and sail loft of the late Thomas Aitken. Harbour Lane, better known as the Fenian Row, and the buildings opposite had no existence. The present G. & S.W. Station occupied a very limited space, and was closed in with immense sliding doors. Adjoining the Railway Hotel (Jamieson’s in those days), were blocks of houses and shops, while dwellings of a humbler order extended up Cannon Hill Lane on the one side, Robert Muir, wright, and Hughie Reid, joiner and undertaker, occupying sites opposite them. Montgomerie Street dwellers were then of the aristocratic type, but the green and breakwater are now swallowed up in the Eglinton Dock and Caledonian Railway.

I have thus far attempted to outline Ardrossan of fully forty years ago, and in my next will try to interest your readers with matters of equal importance, particularly to those of “The Old Brigade”.

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:46 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE
From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 24th May1907

No. II

Looking back 40 years, and with a limited population, there was employment sufficient in those days to meet the necessities of the case; and long before co-operative societies had seized upon the public mind, shopkeepers of the humblest order could earn an honest livelihood. The principal industries were shipbuilding, housebuilding, sailmaking, and on a more limited scale, ironfounding and engineering. These were the days of the “wooden walls,” and many a smart craft left the ways of the big shipyard of Barr & Shearer and the wee shipyard of Peter Barclay—the glory of which, alas has departed, like the days of the “Royal George.”

"With click and clang and thud and bang,
The men at work went on and sang,
Until their work was done.”

A launch was a red-letter day in the town, and there was as much animation and excitement as one would witness to-day at the launch of an ocean liner. In addition to the customary christening festivities, the launch was followed by a dance or “Carpenters’ Ball,” at which the oldest apprentice had to play an important part. At these balls the carpenter lad appeared in full regalia—white pants, buff vest, and blue Eton jacket; while a portion of the blue ribbon to which the christening bottle was suspended, adorned the button hole of his jacket. The lasses were in pure white, with coloured sash, blue or pink, and the dance was kept up with great enthusiasm till an advanced hour the following morning. Wages were small, and “shanks-noddie” had often to suffice as a conveyance to and from the ball-room. One charming feature of the launch was the click of the mallets driving home the wedges that raised the craft from the stocks, accompanied to the strains of some well-known ditty, led by the most robust singer of the squad. But where is now the merry party I remember long ago? In addition to ship construction, ship repairing could also ensure employment, for seldom was the dry dock, slip, or floating dock without some vessel in need of repair.

Closely allied to this industry was that of sailmaking, under the firms of Goodwin & Hogarth, Aitken, and the Mackays, and to which might also be added, the ropework of the Macdonnells of Saltcoats. The foundry of James Goodwin & Co. and the engineering shop of the late Provost Young were then in their infancy, but gradually became important agencies of labour, with the growth and expansion of steam traffic by rail and sea. Mason work was pretty easily divided between the Boyds and the late Provost Barr, with Robin Fraser as foreman. The Boyds and Robin Fraser, succeeded by Tom Glen, were always reckoned upon for a sound and conscientious job—stone upon stone and line upon line. Though many of the buildings erected then are showing signs of decay, the defect is not due to the construction, but from the stone excavated from the quarries in Glasgow Street, which have long since disappeared. Joiner work gave active employment, for there was no machine planing or moulding in those days—a joiner’s tool chest being regarded as a thing of beauty, and a valuable asset of his personal estate. This industry was then in the hands of the late Provost Barr, with Thomas Wallace as foreman, and the late Robert Drape and Hugh Reid, succeeded by old Robin Barbour, Angus Hamilton, and the present Robin Barbour, familiarly known as young Robin. Slaters, plumbers, and gasfitters had able representatives in the persons of the late Provost Hogarth and his brother James, Archie Fraser, and of later date John Bain and John Jones. The only plasterer I can recollect was James Wilson, always conspicuous in frock coat and silk hat. In a humbler capacity there were Cook, the cooper, famous in those days for his harness casks, washing tubs, milk barrels and pails; and last but not least, the village blacksmith in the person of Davie Barclay, succeeded by the Walkers. Painters and paper-hangers found able exponents in Robin Hogarth, Johnnie Stevenson, and Tom Gilfillan. Hours of labour were longer and wages smaller then than now; but the people were content to live on humbler fare and in less commodious apartments than what the majority aspire to now; they verily believed that contentment was better than riches.

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:04 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 07th June 1907

No. III

As an employer of labour, skilled and unskilled, the harbour could always be relied upon. In the days I refer to it was a hive of industry, and afforded much employment, particularly to the labouring classes—the majority of whom resided in Saltcoats, where smaller rents and less taxation could be had than prevailed at Ardrossan. Then, too, the sailing fleet that plied regularly between Ardrossan and the lower reaches of the Clyde, Lancashire ports, Irish ports, Arran, France, Quebec, Montreal, United States, and West Indies gave employment to hundreds of seamen, many of whom rose to distinction, and to-day are reaping the fruit of their labours and enjoying a well-earned rest, while others have gone to their long home. The principle exports were coal and pig-iron, and the flotilla of wooden walls were, generally speaking, known as the Rothesay fleet with Ayrshire coal from the “wee and big” boat hurries stationed at the old dock; but old things have passed away and all things have become new.

Many of your readers will still remember the “Isabella and Jean”, (wee Johnnie White); the “Agnes Henderson”, “Hunters”, “Friends”, “Jeannie Blair”, “Mary Livingstone”, and others too numerous to mention. Next in order was the Dublin fleet, composed of the old “Clitus” (Capt. Betsy Miller), of good and noble repute; “Lady Lilford” (Capt. Black); the “Cygnet” (Capt. MacKenzie); the “Atwood” (Capt. Robertson); “Canadian Lass”, and a host of others, all of which fell victims to the Plimsoll Act, and a prey to the winds and waves, leaving their planks to bleach on a rugged shore. Third division was the Lancashire Lads with their loads of pig iron to Fleetwood, Morecambe, Runcorn, and Liverpool—an important industry, then, as now, in the hands of the Bairds and Merry & Cuninghame. Many a hard struggle had the rival squads under John Reid, the M’Intyres, M’Kies, M’Grattans, Scullions, Malloys, etc., boarding these vessels at sea in all weathers to secure the loading—the rule of the road being “first come first served”, and few indeed could outstrip these stalwarts at rowing. The short, quick, and powerful stroke of their oars was a familiar sound to all frequenting the harbour in those palmy days. The same industry gave employment to the Yankee fleet trading to Boston, Baltimore, and New York, and many a ditty was sung on the forecastle head when the captain was manned with a manly crew merrily singing—

“Oh, how do you know we’re a Yankee liner?
Blow, boys, blow;
We know by the Stars and Stripes behind yer,
Blow boys, Billy boys, blow.”

Last, but not least, was the Quebec Fleet, represented by the “Quebec” and ”Harvest Home”, manned by a gallant crew of Saltcoats lads chiefly, whose departure and arrival were always the signal for a big demonstration of wives and sweethearts to bid the boys God speed. It was truly a touching spectacle to witness the hearty send-off accorded by the onlookers to those venerable crafts as they set out, while the crew sang merrily to some such ditty as:-

“My love Nell was an Irish girl,
And the broth of a girl was she.
Oh! she weeped and she wailed,
When the big ship sailed
To the shores of Amerikee.”

The old paddle tugs “Northumberland” or “Terrier” with Bob Bannatyne at the tiller, Matthew Clasper, engineer, and M’Neill, stoker, rendered all the service necessary, plucking the ships to and from sea, while Alick Brodie was a familiar figure on the poop, as pilot, and Gerry Macgill to pass the heaving lines, not forgetting the blue ticket and its adornment.

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

User avatar
Max
Settling In
Settling In
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:57 pm

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by Max » Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:14 pm

Interesting article, I wasn’t aware of what the Plimsoll Act was but a quick Google search found this article. Explains why a lot of the older ships built in Saltcoats ended up being beached to become wrecks.

http://www.victorianweb.org/history/plimsoll.html

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Tue Jan 26, 2021 1:16 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 28th June 1907

No. IV

The coal exported 40 years ago and more was chiefly raised in Ayrshire, and conveyed to the harbour in three to four ton lots, and in the case of Fergushill in even smaller lots—the plant in this instance being the property of Archd. Finnie, the other contributors hailing from the Hurlford and Auchenharvie districts. One outstanding quality of coal was distinguished by a liberal coating of whiting, and was known as the whitewash coal, the property of the late John Galloway. The grease boxes of these primitive waggons were under the vigilance of old Willie Crawford, and the shunting operations were in the able hands of John Campbell and Willie Murray; while Charlie Adair gave due attention to their destiny at the docks. Campbell’s box, the property of the G. & S.W. Railway, was the weighing office, and many a hot discussion took place within its walls, the language used at times having no latitude, and not of the choicest order. It was, above all, the rendezvous for the office boys, and woe betide the halflin who gave wrong instructions or neglected his duties. Many a merry night was spent in Campbell’s waiting the arrival of trains in the winter evenings—not forgetting, too, a piping cup of coffee and a sailor’s biscuit from Charlie Adair in his boothy in the early winter mornings. Charlie was a big-hearted fellow, and could always be relied upon for a good quid or a pipeful of tobacco. I can remember one occasion, when Charlie having boasted to his friend Campbell of a parcel of tobacco he had deposited with his wife, Campbell presented himself at the house, and, by false representation, collared the booty, much to poor Charlie’s chagrin.

A terror to employers and employees was James Robertson; and his assistants, Bob Mathie and Jamie Quinn, were good runners-up. A funny story of old Bob went the rounds. On asking how many trimmers were in the hold of a certain vessel, and receiving the answer seven, in characteristic fashion he responded, “Come up here the half of yees.” Another amusing incident in the history of James Robertson relates to an occasion when the dock gates refused to close. Geordie Hunter volunteered to don the diver’s dress and discover the obstacle. Geordie was rather small in stature, and the dress consequently was by no means a good fit. Being the first experiment, it was considered essential that there should be a sufficient supply of air; and the air pumps were applied vigorously, too vigorously unhappily, for up he came, to the astonishment of the bewildered onlookers, like a floating balloon, and, true to his nature, he gave to his attendants anything but congratulations. Another little episode at the same dock gates was when Willie Ross and Jamie Mackie, stationed on a platform cementing some fissures in the walls, they gave the command to lower. The boy in attendance was a tricky little fellow, a grandson of James Robertson, and on the announcement to lower he did so with a vengeance, and landed the unfortunate masons in the water. It was a short struggle, but both were luckily extricated, little or none the worse of their ducking. The same dock gates were on another occasion in difficulties, and refused to close. A diver was summoned from Glasgow, but ere he arrived a pearl diver from an Italian ship in the dock arrived on the scene and removed the obstruction. He was duly rewarded by the harbour authorities, and immediately thereafter gave an exhibition of his diving abilities to a few astonished onlookers, who had never before witnessed such a magnificent aquatic display.

At this stage, but in an official capacity, were Alexander Hepburn, collector, and Alexander Anderson, book-keeper, for the Harbour Co., both Scots worthies of a type that would be hard to reproduce at the present day. Words fail me to give your readers a true idea of these patriarchs, respected by all with whom they came in contact. A bosom cronie to Sandy Hepburn was Archie Wilkie, a faithful friend to the pig-iron squads, and genuine servant to his employer, to one or the other of the trio the story of the “Jeanie Blair” is attributed. The captain of this vessel had occasion to bring a cargo of potatoes to the port, and during the process of discharge was heard to offer up this petition, “The tiger canna change its skin nor the leopard its spots, but, oh Lord, may the “Jeanie Blair” turn oot her hunner ton o’ potatoes.”

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Wed Jan 27, 2021 1:49 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 12th July 1907

No. V

A prominent but no less important official was Captain Peter MacFee, Harbour Master, succeeded by Captain Steel, of Good Templar fame. In connection with the former, a little incident happened to the writer that is still fresh in my memory. Like other school boys of that period, I had an earnest desire to acquire the art of fishing. Under parental control, with rod in hand, like many good anglers,

“I sallied forth, high hopes intent,
But home returned, sad, discontent:”

The scene of action was at the Pilot House steps. Scarcely, however, had I begun operations when a big retriever dog, the property of Mr D. J. Mack, banker, came bounding down the steps to take the water, and ere assistance came to my appeal for help, the hook on my line got entangled in the brute’s tail, and off it set with rod and tackle. Ere the dog returned to terra firma, I was subjected to one of the severest chastisements ever boy endured from old Peter and David Mack, and never will I forget the indifference and callousness of my parent when the hook was extracted from the shaggy hair of the dog’s tail.

“Hook and line got aff fair weel:-
The Pilots’ steps ne’er would I speal.”

Before passing from harbour reminiscences, I often wonder if such names prevail as the Kyltie Lye, Dyer’s Lye, Side Road, Chain Corner, Jerry’s Pier, and Hydraulic. From the latter, as often as not, loaded the Cognac, of the Harrison Line, and no steamer received more assiduous attention and care than was bestowed upon it by John Smith, whom I am delighted to learn is still in the flesh at his advanced years. The arrival, loading, and departure of this boat, under the command of Captain Craig, was always a notable event, engaging as it did the attention of pilots and dockmasters. The Jessie Brown was another of the old fossils carrying pig-iron to Lancashire ports. At the completion of the loading of the Jessie Brown, it was nothing extraordinary of an evening to hear our old friend Ned at the street corner singing—

“My name is Ned Mollokie,
And in Ardrossan I’ll remain;
But while all else is my hobbie,
Teetotalism I disdain.”

It was somewhere between ’70 and’72 when the Iberia first entered the precincts of Ardrossan Harbour in command of the late Capt. Walters; and oh! mercy me, what a fuss and bustle there was. No Admiralty steamer could have received more attention. Cranes and cranemen were under full pressure, and ere the steamer had her hatches off, swarms of workmen were aboard to effect discharge. Cullen, fine fellow, one of the best, was chief officer; and Anderson, always obliging, second officer. Both were in constant attendance, and no captain or officers could possibly have studied their owners’ interests better. Alas! the dust from the pyrites, or sulphur ore, was too much for the boys in the hold, and a squad had to be commandeered from Glasgow to teach them and give them an object lesson in the work of discharging sulphur ore. The art was acquired, the ore being well moistened with aqua pura from a hose pipe; while the thirst of the industrious labourers was quenched by beer from tin cans. This defect was remedied ere the following voyage, when other conditions prevailed that required neither aqua pura nor other beverage.

Outside of industrial pursuits there were others of a commercial character which it will be more convenient to deal with later.

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Thu Jan 28, 2021 11:57 am

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 26th July 1907

No. VI

There were two sub-officials at the harbour, but none the less important as guardians of the peace and a terror to evil-doers—namely, John Norris, a Crimean veteran, and “Bedad.” John was never without his medals and Wellington stock or collar, the latter of which he wore in all weathers, it mattered not what discomfort he had to endure. Many a derelict John saved from premature death that was never recorded, and many a dreary winter night he weathered the storms when none but he was there to tell the tale. John was an enthusiastic Orangeman, and nothing roused his indignation more than to relate the story that a certain official of the Lodge had been found guilty of a breach of the by-laws and was duly sentenced to expulsion for a period of 999 years. A long enough sentence in all conscience, even for Methuselah, but there it was recorded, and, for anything I know, may still appear in the minute book of the Lodge, to the detriment of the unfortunate victim. Beyond this, John’s record was as clean as when he left the army. “Bedad”, whose proper name I do not recollect, was of pure Irish extraction, pawky but humorous, as becomes the race from which he descended. On one occasion, when conveying a female prisoner to Ayr by steamer that plied between Glasgow and Ayr, at a Glasgow Fair time, “Bedad” Was badgered in a non-complimentary manner by Tom Harvey when crossing the gangway. Tom was a genial fellow, though rather quick-tempered at times, and “Bedad”, not to be outdone, but working on the principle of “Revenge is sweet, and I will have it,” had educated his unfortunate charge. No sooner were the ropes thrown off and the steamer fairly underway than “Bedad’s” prisoner shrieked at the pitch of her voice, “Fareweel, Tam Harvey, for I’m awa’.” The laugh naturally turned on Tom, and “Bedad’s” indiscretion was duly reported to headquarters, where apologies were tendered on both sides, and there the fracas ended.

It would take me a long time to give a list of all the worthies who flourished in the early seventies, and I am therefore obliged to confine myself to one or two. John Piper or Pepper was perhaps one of the most notable Orangemen in the district, and the “glorious Twelfth” would have been nothing had his voice not been heard in the early hours of the morning announcing the anniversary of “The Battle of the Boyne”. John Linn, with his sack trousers turned up to the knees, could always be heard when bunkering the Arran boat or Iberia. An early pioneer of the Good Templar movement, he headed the Saltcoats contingent at its first procession through Ardrossan to affiliate with its sister Lodge. By and by he acquired sufficient wealth to buy a property and spend the remainder of his days in ease. A well-known figure to all boys who frequented the Harbour was Hughie Malloy, a veritable type of the Ancient Mariner. Hughie owned a jolly-boat of rather large proportions, which reminded one of that exquisite passage in Napoleon’s address to the British sailor—

“Rash youth, that would yon channel pass
In such a craft so rudely fashioned,
Thy heart with some sweet English lass
Must be impassioned.”

With this rude craft Hughie fished up the coal that found its way into the water at the boat hurries, picked up stray bits of timber which he chopped into firewood, and at other times conveyed loads of wrack from the Horse Island to nourish the various kailyairds. Nothing pleased the boys of those days more than to steal Hughie’s boat for a voyage round the Harbour, but it required a sharp look-out, for the moment the old man hove in sight it needed all the ingenuity of a naval officer to evade the enemy and effect a landing, Hughie gesticulating all the while, and, when capture was impossible, ejaculating thus—“I’ll see you when you’ll no’ see me, an’ I’ll dip your nose in the watter.” But we did it ower again in the mornin’. I do not recollect the Firefly or the Glow-worm that plied between Ardrossan and Belfast, as my earliest connection was with that splendid line of boats named after the various Railway Companies, owned by the Messrs Henderson of Belfast and commanded, in my time, by Captains Agnew and Kinnear, both Wigtownshire men, if I mistake not. The Newry traffic was under the control of the Newry Steamship Co., and the old Amphion was the steamer. The Arran traffic had to depend on the Earl of Arran, under Captain Blakeley, succeeded by Captain Brown, and to meet the requirements of the case, the Earl had to retire in favour of the Lady Mary and afterwards the Heather Bell. Communication between the Broomielaw and Ayr, with calls at the intervening ports, fell to the lot of the Vale of Clwyd, under command of Captain Gillies (but subject to correction), and succeeded by the Bonnie Doon, in charge of Captain Downie. Many a stormy passage both steamers had during the season, but when tide and weather permitted, a short and dangerous course was resorted to between the north end of the Horse Island and the Longcraigs. There were no daylight sailings to Belfast, because people could not afford the outlay, neither was there any alliance with Portrush or the Isle of Man. Luxuries were not on such an extensive scale, and homely fare and hodden grey did more then to lay the foundation of Scotch character, morally and physically, than what prevails at the present day.

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 12:17 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 09th August 1907

No. VII

During the summer season, boat hiring was a calling profitably conducted by John Anderson and, on a smaller scale, by old John M’Callum. The former of these having the better type and greater variety of boats had the best of the trade, especially at the Glasgow Fair time, and the position he occupied at the steps leading from Montgomerie Pier was certainly to his advantage.

Fishing was a favourite pastime with a number of townsfolks and when the weather was suitable the catches of whiting, mackerel, cod, etc., were good. To those who had no boat, and could not afford to hire one, flounder and saithe fishing at the pier head, or from the deck of the old dredger, afforded profitable sport, but woebetide the “cloggy” or dog fish that swallowed the tempting bait. When the stormy winds did blow, havoc was occasionally wrought amongst the small craft breaking from their moorings, and excitement ruled high during the work of rescue. The most serious shipping disaster within my knowledge was that of the s.s. “Chusan” on a bleak October morning, thirty years ago or thereby, when six or seven lives were lost, including the captain and second officer. It so happened I was on duty that fatal morning when the unfortunate steamer in making for the port was carried by the force of the wind and mountainous seas broadside on to the Crinan Rock. The forepart, with a portion of the crew, was carried before the gale to the head of the old harbour, one of the hands losing his life in attempting to effect a landing while rounding the pier head, where the Belfast steamer berths are at the present day. The after-portion settled down abreast of the rock within a stone throw of the lighthouse, with the captain, wife and child, chief officer, and others of the crew clinging to the rigging and waiting to be rescued. The lifeboat was launched and manned by a gallant crew, but the elements prevailed against them, and after repeated attempts the work of rescue had to be abandoned till wind and waves had spent their force. A plucky effort was made by John Templeton, William Macdonald, and others, in one of the pig-iron squad’s boats, sand after a hard struggle they reached the scene of the disaster. To the disappointment of the weary sufferers and anxious onlookers they were obliged to beat a hasty retreat, after Macdonald had the man at the wheel within his grasp, but, poor fellow, he was lashed to his post, and shortly after was enveloped in a huge wave and disappeared. The noble band of rescuers driven before the wind effected a landing and were heartily congratulated. When the gale had somewhat abated the lifeboat was again manned and taken in tow by the old “Terrier” in charge of Bob Bannatyne. Getting to leeward of the wreck, and with the aid of a heaving line, the captain endeavoured to save his wife and himself by lashing themselves together, but for some unexplained cause, after committing themselves to the mercy of the deep, only she came to the surface; the gallant captain sacrificing his own life to save that of his beloved partner. In this manner the other survivors of the wreck were rescued, and amid the ringing cheers of an anxious crowd of excited onlookers were safely landed. Great credit was due the chief officer, he being the last man to leave the ill-fated “Chusan”. The bodies of the unfortunate victims which were washed ashore found a resting-place in the cemetery, where a monument was raised to commemorate a sad and painful event in the history of Ardrossan Harbour. ** There were many other deeds of daring well worthy of record and deserving of special mention, but as these come more within the scope of modern days, I will only refer to two events that may be outwith the knowledge of the younger section of your readers. The hero of the first of these deeds of daring was Jamie Hudson, an apprentice on board one of Provost Barr’s timber ships trading to America, and the scene of action lay at a port either in the south of England or some part of Ireland. Heavy weather necessitated Jamie’s ship to seek shelter, and while there a foreign-owned vessel was driven ashore. Neither lifeboat nor rocket brigade were of any service, as neither could prevail against the violence of the gale, when Jamie Hudson and a chum volunteered to convey the life-line to the unfortunate crew by swimming to the wreck. Jamie’s chum was unfortunately struck by a portion of the wreckage and obliged to return, but the heroic Jamie, God bless him, held on and succeeded in establishing communication with the shore. All hands were rescued alive save the captain, whose lifeless corpse he found on the deck and dispatched ashore, Jamie being the last to leave the derelict. Honours were heaped upon the plucky Ardrossan boy, who earned his repute as a swimmer and diver under the tuition, I think, of his old schoolmaster, Mr Lumsden.

The other event worthy of mention was when Capt. Sharp, of the “Annabella Clark”, and his mate, Jack MacIntosh, manned their boat and pulled through a sea of blazing petroleum to the rescue of a French crew, whose vessel had caught fire, and at great peril and personal injury were successful in saving the helpless crew. For this set of gallantry they were handsomely rewarded by the French Government and Royal Humane Society. “Honour the brave.”

BALDIE

* * The CHUSAN disaster at Ardrossan:
https://threetowners.net/forum/viewtopi ... =2&t=15923
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

Penny Tray
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 15460
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:46 pm

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by Penny Tray » Fri Jan 29, 2021 1:51 pm

Enjoying this read, and reminded of the following Citation in an 1867 London Gazette: -

"The Queen has been graciously pleased to confer the decoration of the Albert Medal of the Second Class on JAMES HUDSON, an Apprentice of the "MAID OF ORLEANS" of Ardrossan; and THEOPHILUS JONES, of Falmouth.

The following is an account of the services in respect of which the decorations have been made:-

The "MARMION" OF North Shields, on 17 March last (1866), drove from her anchors and was stranded on the Cornwall Coast near Pendennis Castle, Falmouth. The wind at the time was blowing strong with squalls, - the tide was first quarter of flood. At 10 a.m. the ship was in the midst of breakers, and often entirely covered with surf, and no communication with the shore appeared possible. The master and one of the crew died on board from exposure and exhaustion.

After an ineffectual attempt had been made to communicate with the shore by means of a line tied to a stool and thrown overboard from the ship, JAMES HUDSON, a youth of seventeen, an apprentice belonging to the "MAID OF ORLEANS" then lying at Falmouth, volunteered to swim off to the vessel. He was at first dissuaded from the attempt, for it was thought he would lose his life. But he persisted, and the Coast Guard attached to him their life lines and guided him afloat. He had neither jacket nor belt on. He was soon in the midst of a heavy sea, and in a short time got to the stern of the vessel, and after three attempts to reach the deck swung himself on board by the aid of a spar hanging over the side.

The line attached to Hudson effected a communication between the ship and the shore, and six of the crew were rescued by a hawser and running gear then set up.

Hudson was compelled by his want of clothing, to return when he had been about a quarter of an hour on board. His distress in returning was great. He was expecting to have been pulled on shore, but the running gear had fouled and he was obliged to pull himself hand over hand along the hawser to shore. He was very much exhausted, and without assistance would probably not have succeeded in landing himself upon the beach.

There still remained one man alive on board, but he was too weak to fasten around himself the cork jacket with which he had been supplied. In this emergency THEOPHILUS JONES, who had a line but no jacket or belt on, threw himself into the sea, and after two or three unsuccessful attempts, reached the vessel, and was lifted on board by the waves and by the aid of a spar which hung over the side.

He succeeded in fastening a cork jacket round the seaman and pushed him overboard and this man too was saved. Jones was some time in the surf; he was very much benumbed and exhausted when he arrived on shore.
Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Sat Jan 30, 2021 2:38 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 16th August 1907

No. VIII

The interests of Ardrossan Burgh in the early sixties were, as far as I remember, entrusted to Provost Barr, who held the position of chief magistrate for the period of forty years, and in recognition of his long and valuable services was presented with his portrait, which still adorns the walls of the Town Hall, where also are to be seen portraits of the thirteenth Earl of Eglinton, and Dr Macfadzean. To the last name was also raised the monument on Castle Hill to mark the gratitude and esteem of the citizens for the Doctor as a public benefactor. Supporting the provost about the time I have named were Bailies James Willock of the Holm; David Barrie, grocer; John Hogarth, ironmonger; Archd. Currie, clothier; and Thomas Gilfillan, painter. The duties of Town Clerk were ably discharged by James O. Mack, assisted and succeeded later by the present clerk Jas. Cook. The office of Fiscal was vested in John Emslie, and the protection of the lieges rested in the capable hands of Joe M’Culloch, who also acted as Sheriff Officer and town-crier. The registrar was Hugh Willock, ironmonger, while the declaration of marriages was entrusted to Dr Marshall, schoolmaster, Saltcoats. Prior to the gas and waterworks becoming the property of the burgh, Thomas Kirkhope acted as secretary and collector of rates, and the forces that prevailed then were as capable, if not more so, of serving and satisfying the interests of the ratepayers, with due regard to economy, as is exercised to-day under altered conditions. Ned Flynn discharged the duties of scavenger, and assisted Joe occasionally in conveying obstreperous drunks and incapables to the cells. Archie Nicol supervised the water works, followed by James Crawford, and the gas works had a good manager in Hugh Nicol, succeeded by the present William Galbraith. The professional element had able representatives in Drs Stevens, father of the present postmaster; R. Wallace, father of the energetic Dr Wallace, Saltcoats; and R. Beedie Robertson, the last-mentioned finding successors in the persons of Drs Allan and Macdonald. The principle medicinal properties and cures for all diseases were castor oil, salts and senna, seidlitz powders, sulphur and treacle, and the fail-me-never skelly or gruel for internal complaints, with mustard poultice, pepper and whisky, turpentine and fly-blisters for external use. The wearers of the broad-cloth and other kirk functionaries were:—Established, the Rev. John D. M’Call; John Boyd, precentor; and John M’Ewing, beadle, all of whom are now deceased. Free Church, Rev. John Stewart; Hugh Currie, precentor; and Peter White, beadle. U.P. Church, Rev. S. S. Stobbs, followed afterwards by Rev. W Rigby Murray; Tom Russell precentor; and Hugh Reid beadle. Evangelical Union Rev. Alexander Cross; and Tom Miller, precentor. The last-named body of worshippers was the first to introduce a “kist of whistles”, and the first to possess a pipe organ, constructed and operated upon by Andrew Leckie, an enthusiast in all things musical. The Bethel or Sailors’ Home was under the vigilant eye of that earnest evangelist, John Anderson, and the leader of praise, Tom Glen, and after him Jack Ballantine. All these institutions stand where they did 40 years ago and more, with the exception of structural additions, internal and external, and the introduction of instrumental music to assist in the service of praise; but after all is said and done nothing to my mind can excel the vocal organ; “sae bring tae me my guid auld harp, and sing me the guid auld songs my mither sang lang syne.”

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Sun Jan 31, 2021 3:54 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 30th August 1907

No. IX

Education, though not compulsory, in the early sixties was not by any means neglected. There were no fewer than five schools or class rooms, and the principle subjects taught were reading, writing, and arithmetic, with algebra, drawing, French, and Latin as extras in cases where parents could afford the fees. Miss Graham had a small room, with entrance from the lane and immediately above the shop occupied by Robert Hogarth, but a little later found it necessary to remove to more commodious premises in Glasgow Street. In the first of these I acquired the alphabet and primer, and in the latter gained my first prize for writing, a small purse presented by the late Mr Hugh Boyd. Gutta-percha soles on one’s boots were common property, and these not unfrequently came to grief when poking our toes at the fire in winter, but the damage was easily adjusted by the application of a red hot poker. Misses Wellwood had their class-room where the Good Templars’ Hall now is, and the Misses Cruikshanks occupied rooms in Arran Place. Mr Gemmill’s quarters were in Prince’s Lane, and many a lad was skilled in navigation under the tuition of this old dominie, who never was slow to administer a flogging with the birch rod, when breach of discipline or neglect of duty demanded it. The public school stood on the site now occupied by the Congregational Church, and within its walls my education was completed. There were two class-rooms, known as the big room and the wee room. The first named was then governed by Mr Lumsden, and the last named by his brother, wee Lumsden. The punishment meted out to delinquents was administered by the headmaster with an ordinary cane or the tawse in so many “palmies” according to the nature and extent of the offense. Closely associated with me at that time were Archie Boyd, Davie Crawford, and Dibbery Dan. None of us were by any means brilliant pupils, for I well remember getting up three places for discovering on the map where England was. Bare feet, to save shoe leather, was in the fashion from May till September, and our Sunday clothes got an airing at the Government Inspector’s examination and midsummer exhibition, when we had always to be on our best behaviour. The Lumsdens were well liked by their pupils. The elder of the two was a keen sportsman, and might be seen on a Saturday afternoon on Montgomerie Green engaged in cricket, football, and the rounders, or revelling in the briny, teaching his boys the art of diving and swimming. Holidays were usually confined to an afternoon at Saltcoats Fair, New Year’s Day, and four weeks in midsummer, and these as a rule were spent at home, money being too scarce to admit of a change to pastures new. There were many expressions of regret when the Lumsdens left; and the advent of their successor, Mr Cameron, was hailed with considerable dubiety and misgiving. It was early seen that he was a strict disciplinarian, determined to subdue insubordination at all cost, in order to gain full control of his forces. He was assisted by Miss Armstrong, who had charge of the juniors, and the supernumeraries were Bob Dunlop and Andrew McAusland. His method of instruction differed in many respects from that of his predecessor. After prayers came the roll-call. Absentees had to account for non-appearance, and deserters, or truants, were punished according to their deserts. After these preliminaries came reading and recitation, his favourite hobby being to take selections from the Glasgow Herald or Scotsman and make his readers assume the role of a politician or member of Parliament. To ensure proficiency and correct pronunciation, the reader had to place in his mouth, and keep wobbling round his tongue, a few nuts, the kernels of which went as a reward. I often think if this practice were resorted to nowadays we would have better speakers on public platforms, and better orators wagging their heads in the pulpits. He was very fond of music, and revelled most in the patriotic songs of his “ain countrie”, for he was a strong Jacobite. Friday afternoon he devoted to story-telling, introducing some dry wit or humour to make us feel happy and chase dull care away. It is exactly forty years ago, and during his mastership, that the first medal presented by Provost Barr to the best English scholar was gained by Tom Wallace after a keen contest with his formidable rival George Kirkhope. By way of solatium, however, Kirkhope received a similar reward from Dr Robertson. In commemoration of the event, I have good reason to know that Tom set himself the task, with an ordinary pen knife, of engraving his name on one of the pillars at the entrance to the playground and to-day that pillar may probably be a support of the Congregational Church. Other medallists in my time were Wm. Guthrie and Bob Boyd. Cameron was a martyr to rheumatism, and about 1888 89, accepted a call to London in the hope that the change of climate would prove a remedy, but after the lapse of a few years news came to Ardrossan of his death. Before leaving Ardrossan, where, by the bye, he found his wife, from his pupils and the general public he was presented with a tea service. He was a true type of the Cameron Clan and a genuine disciple of “Whatever man dare he must do.”

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

hahaya2004
Mega Heid Poster
Mega Heid Poster
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 12:22 pm
Location: Germany, formerly Saltcoats

Re: Reminiscences of Ardrossan

Post by hahaya2004 » Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:55 pm

Reminiscences of Ardrossan
By BALDIE

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 06th September1907

No. X
Schoolmasters and Sports

Mr Cameron was succeeded by Mr Hislop, a conscientious man in the discharge of his duties, but he failed to exercise his authority in the control of his pupils, many of whom became masters of the situation and refused to submit to his ruling. Some, however, prospered well, and to-day are reaping the benefits of his well-ordered instruction. When School Boards were established Mr Hislop retired from the profession and betook himself to commercial life, as more congenial and better adapted to a not too robust constitution. Prior to the erection of the Academy, which originated from a bequest by the late Miss Punton, to which were added handsome donations from the late John Moffat and others, the necessity for a higher grade school was recognised in the district, and the first move in this direction was the appointment of Mr Lavery, who conducted classes on a limited scale in a hall tenanted by the Neptune Kilwinning Lodge of Freemasons in Princes Lane. The late Captain Goodwin and others took an active interest in the movement, which ultimately gave birth to the present Academy, over whose destinies the late John Craig acted as secretary for many years, with Mr Duguid as headmaster. A strange feature of school life in my early days was that of nicknaming certain boys, the origin of which it would be difficult to define. Amongst others, many of your readers will still have a fresh recollection of Dibbery Dan, Cannie Rab, Crooban Steel, Dotall Wilson, Eck Shearer, Plout Montgomerie, Jolly Reid, Black Ned, Nile Hendry, and a host of others, some of whom, I have no doubt, still survive. I question if the same games prevail, or are indulged in to the same extent now as then. Marbles, or bools, was a favourite pastime, and assumed such forms as muggy, trintley, stotty, and hard-heeds, while the marbles themselves were classified as reddies, stonies, potters, Dublin dabbers, and glasses, in addition to this were leap the frog, foot and a half, hep the bonnets, budgey-dodgey, bonnetty, tooney, handball, rounders, and prison base. The two last-named were hot favourites, particularly the rounders, which was often resorted to after school hours and on Saturdays, varied, according to the season, by hounds and hares, I spy, cricket, and football. Besides these there was top-spinning, and a good “wunger” or hummer, was a treasure. Many a copper found its way to the shop tills of the Misses Steel, Cunningham, and Hillcoat for bools, tennis balls and peeries, and to Duncan the saddler for peerie string. For girls the favourite sports were skipping rope, pitchers, and chuckies. Iron hoops propelled with a cleuk or stout stick also found favour, and the village blacksmith had often to be appealed to when welding was required after some unsuccessful attempt at running the blockade. Shinty also met with a good deal of support, and many a stick was lopped from the trees on the Castle Hill, a sharp lookout being kept against the approach of Constable McCulloch. In the winter time snowballing afforded much innocent amusement, and many a battle took place within the playground or on top of the Cannon Hill, but nothing gave more pleasure than pelting the workmen passing to and fro, especially at the meal hours, when they were subjected to a perfect fusillade, and obliged to give their assailants a wide berth, by keeping, as far as practicable, out of range. Kite construction and flying was confined chiefly to those who could buy sufficient twine, and many a fine specimen came to grief battling with the elements. Model yachts were not very plentiful, and the principal builders were the Mackays, sailmakers. More common were the flat-bottomed skiffs with square sail (as often as not of paper), and a small piece of lead or small stone on deck at the stern to counteract the force of the wind. Being of very shallow drafts and easily constructed, these tiny craft were sailed in the “dibs” or pools formed by the receding tide on the sands at the north shore. Competitions were frequent, but there were no prizes. The water was seldom more than ankle deep, and the navigator’s anxieties were to steer a straight course, fly before the wind, and avoid rocks and shoals. The only rule of the road was ”A fair field and no favour.”

BALDIE
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot

Post Reply