Banknock – Departure …… Cambusbarron – Arrival
For the first week of the autumn term of 1949, my dad travelled from Banknock to start his new job as headteacher of Cambusbarron Primary School, Stirling, and my sister Elizabeth stayed temporarily with Grandma Henderson at 11 Abbotsford Place in the Riverside, Stirling to allow her to join the second year at the High School of Stirling as early as possible. I however had to spend this hiatus week before the flitting in the composite P6/7 class at Banknock Primary being taken by the new headmaster, Mr Peter Richardson.
Then it was fond farewell to our Bumpy Ibrox, our great house and ‘mony weil kent folks’ like those in the following pictures.
My Great Pal – Robin Profit
Still looking like 1949 in 2004
Great Friends – John and Mary McLean and Miss Main
(Here with us at Loch Lubnaig in 1948 snapped by Mum)
Dad’s Happy Children
At Castlecary Station for the trip ‘doon the waater’
i.e. The River Clyde
The removal to Cambusbarron took some time to prepare as my mum had refused to move there until the Schoolhouse had been totally gutted and then renovated to her satisfaction. For a home that had housed the great Dr John Grierson as a boy it was sad that the 'Cooncil' had allowed it to get into such a dreadful state by that summer of 1949.
When the redoubtable Mr Jimmy McKinlay the Education Committee Clerk of Works first met my parents on site they found …… the house and garden stinking of cats because Mrs Webster, dad’s predecessor’s wife and village Post Mistress, had been well known for her love of these creatures and for her collection of every such 'waif and stray' in the village - no kitchen, just a wee scullery - no ‘Raeburn’ to heat water and cook on - everywhere there was horribly antiquated oil wall papers - a definite need for complete electrical rewiring - dampness added its distinctive smell to the existing whiffs etc. etc.
Suffice to say Mr McKinlay had such a regard for mum and dad that within two months over the summer holidays he had moved 'mountains' in his manpower budgets to make the house much more comfortably habitable, including making a completely new very well equipped kitchen in what previously must have been a nursery for cats and kittens. It was a relief when we moved in during the last week of August 1949 that the pervading odour was not male cat 'pee' but the pungent aroma of new paint emanating from every nook and cranny! This 'palace' later proved to be a superb home in a great wee village for Elizabeth and I to spend our teenage years.
It was a village so conveniently located only a mile from the heart of historic Stirling itself - only a twenty minute walk away from the town; only a five minute bike ride to the tennis courts at the Kings Park or to Williamfield cricket ground or Annfield Football Park ... plus having a handy half hour bus service running alternately to the Riverside and Woodside Road in Stirling.
As you can judge from this sketch, the house was big and roomy, the school was just a fa' oot o' bed distance away, the church (and its blessed or accursed chimes every quarter of an hour) inescapably nearby, but most importantly, the chip shop (and snooker hall behind it!) a mere leap over the wall at the foot of the massive garden.
The snooker hall and of course the Pub became ‘no go’ areas for youngsters like us but otherwise we were free to roam anywhere we wished in the area, encouraged to get to know the village folks, and them us, but all of these things certainly dependent on our doing our chores around the house and garden and, …. no matter how reluctantly, always coming in at once when called for meals or bed-time.
There we soon met many adult characters, among others, ..... Dougie Scott, (who referred to all children as their parents' “wee chuckie stanes”), the legendary village slater and thus renowned as the local high roof Houdini; Wingate our milkman who delivered by horse and cart; his boss Taylor Robertson and his herd of cows; Davy Hughes, a fervent Stirling Albion fan who organised the supporters' bus out of the village every 'away' Saturday; Willie Thomson, the Polmaise Estate factor, whose fearsome demeanour belied a dry sense of humour and his great desire to serve the community with all the energy he possessed (as long as he was elected chairman and had JNK as his Hon. Secretary!), all the Johns(es) in the newsagents/ general store, the Fletcher’s running the grocer's, Davy Wood the butcher, Hamish Fergusson the coalman, Johnny McEwen and his sons, and 'straicht bool' Peter McDonald, the champion o’ the boolers, Mrs Atterson of the WRI and Women's Guild, Mrs 'tingel a leerie' Bell the school cleaner and our 'baby-sitter', Margaret Muir in the Church Choir and Sunday School; Mrs Stocksley our piano tutor; the dependable village ploughman 'Wull' Ferguson; Jim McLeod (of great fame latterly) in his early days of playing with his Band at our local Scottish Country Dances; and more and more as you will hear about in succeeding chapters.