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“Auld” Old Monkland
(Bob Cameron  c1986)

Old Monkland Memories
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An Appreciation of, and a return to
Auld Old Monkland,

as we who are left and scattered like to call it
(Written by Bob Cameron c1986)

Bob Today

Bob Age 7

In 1161, King Malcolm IV of Scotland granted to the Monks of Newbattle the land now called Monklands. The Monks soon established a farming grange at Drumpellier, cultivating the Western acres, which consisted of good, sandy soil e.g. Drumpark farm, and keeping the Eastern side for sheep grazing. Recently, pieces of medieval pottery and two stone spindle whorls found at Drumpellier have confirmed the area where the farming grange was situated.

In 1780, The Reverend John Bower, Minister of Old Monkland, received notice from "Sir John Sinclair," asking for details of his Parish, as did every Minister in Scotland. Collectively these were called "The Statistical Account of Scotland."

The Old Monkland Minister described Old Monkland as an immense garden with its fields and orchards, and the rivers abounding with salmon and trout.

The area around the Church, and stretching back to the Luggie Burn, had, at this time, few if any houses, only the Farms of Kirkwood, Kirkshaws and Bankhead, and the smaller Farms of Highcross, Woodhead and Kirkstyle. Most of these Farms were in Drumpellier Estate, with the others in Douglas Estate, which lay alongside the Calder Water.

After the Monks had cleared the land and started growing grain, they built two mills to grind the crop. These were at Shawhead, and the other on the bank of the Luggie at Langloan.

In the mid nineteenth century, coal was in great demand to supply the needs, of the various works in Coatbridge, and a pit was opened at Kirkwood by a Mr. Hendry in 1862. He had houses built to accommodate the colliers. In 1863 the railway from Glasgow to Airdrie was laid down over the viaduct built at Drumpark, up through the Luggie glen to a Station at Langloan. This enabled people to travel and find work in Glasgow, and soon there were tenements being built in Old Monkland which were let out for rent. The landlords lived in the properties, collected the rents and maintained them.

Woodside Iron Works were established in 1870 and provided work for local people. Many families came from Ireland to Old Monkland, the majority coming from County Down.

In time there was an industrial surge in areas around, and in the Monklands, iron works and pits were the main sources of employment. A school was built at the corner of Woodside Street and Old Monkland Road, but when the population grew enormously after the 1939 - 45 war, due to the influx of residents of old houses in Coatbridge, which had been condemned, it was too small and was demolished. Two new schools were built on Kirkwood Farm land. Here then in the early part of this century was a small close-knit community, where petrol fumes were unknown.

They had their Church, built in 1790, a successor to the first Church ever built in the Monklands, their school, works, churchyard, recreation club, football team and cycling club. The inhabitants of Kirkwood Miner's Row were all rehoused at Drumpark when the pits closed. Many of these closures were due to flooding.
The silent movies came to Coatbridge in the 20's. Prices were low, but even so one picture hall accepted jam jars as payment. People who could afford to go usually only went on a Saturday night. It was not unusual for people to walk from the "Theatre," which was at Jackson Street, even to the southern end of Old Monkland at the Church.

A few items of interest pointed out to me by local historian, "John White." There is a head stone in the churchyard erected to the memory of John Hamilton of Airdrie in "Apryle" 1616. He was the Laird of the Monklands. Early residents occupations were given as weavers, thatchers, gardeners, coachmen, a candlemaker, boatmen (presumably builders), shoemakers, and the large number farm workers and farmers. At one time they fired a gun or cannon in Glasgow 'to let people know the time. This shot could be heard in the Monklands.

So I hope I have laid foundations for an account of families, residences, incidents and life in general in Old Monkland in the 1920's and 30's.
Where does one start? Maybe I'd better describe what one would see starting at the top of the "Mill Brae," and walking down its one Street to "Old Monkland Church." After that, then "God" sparing, I will look at my old friends as I saw them as a boy.

At the top of the "Brae," on the left, lived the "Kirks". Several members of this family helped in the running of local burgh affairs. On the right, coming down the Brae, we had the "Beer Shop" house and three other houses belonging to the "Sloss" family.

Immediately after this stood the "McMillan" house. Mr. McMillan looked after the "Meal Mill," which stood on the same side of the road beside the Luggie Burn. The Mill was powered by the Burn, and traces of the old dam can still be seen. As boys we swam in the Burn further down the glen. Many a thrashing, or at least a warning, we received from our parents.

Mill Dam c1910

Mill Dam 1964

Through the railway bridge and on the left, we had the "Baker's Park". My father grazed horses here, and I think "Sanny Lane" kept cows in it before that. Across the road was the entrance into "Woodside Iron Work." This work and surrounding coal pits breathed life into the village.

Then who could forget the horn. It woke the workers, told them when it was time to start, and after a ten hour day, when to "lowse." Many a winter night my pals and I used to sit on the sleeper fence and watch the sparks flying when the molten iron was being pounded by the steam hammer. I really should tell more of the work and the men who sweated and toiled in its bowels. They and it deserve more.

After the "Bakers" park on the left, we had the Gatehouse, where the gardener to the Big House lived. This was a man called Currie, I think. His wife was very kind to me when I delivered her milk. The Big House was the family home of the Spencers. This house was a mystery to us, for in those days we never saw the residents, except maybe an occasional glimpse of them as they went out or in~ in their Rolls Royce. We knew as boys that they had a well stocked garden, but nothing was ever stolen, as we had visions of Botany Bay if we were ever caught. There was nothing more on the left until Cuparhead Avenue, except the stables and coach house belonging to Spencer which were opposite "Gunn Place wee Close."

It's been called many names since e.g. Wilkie's Building, but to us who were born in it; it was and always will be "Gunn Place" A happy place, and never a door locked at night. If one went out through the big close at the bottom of the building and turned sharp left, you were on the "Pit Road," and straight in front, backing on to the wash houses of the building, were the byres and outhouses, belonging to my father.

Allen Place - Gunn Place

Woodside Road - Christie Place

He was the last cow keeper in Coatbridge, and the family moved to Kirkwood Farm early 1930's. This was on Drumpellier Estate, and the farmsteading and houses were sited where now stands St. Monica's Church and Church House. More of the cows at Gunn Place later.
Adjoining "Gunn Place" was "Middle Christie" building, and adjoining that "Top Christie Building" These buildings all had different landlords, but the boys played together and stuck up for each other. The houses were peopled by miners, iron workers and associated trades, and in the hungry 20's and 30's a fair number went to the armed forces.

On the same side, i.e. right hand side, we now had cows grazing and up to three houses occupied in order by Inglis, McMath and Miss Maskery. Two of these houses still stand, and were later occupied by Mr. Whitton, Chemist, and Mr. Barton, Baptist Minister.
Right, now back down to Agnes Christie's shop at the corner of Top Christie Building. Across the road was Cuparhead Avenue, which had at the end on the left a cottage occupied by the Lees family. On the right was Melrose Terrace, and it is still there, but now has its quota of shops.



Going up the Avenue, which was a dirt track; on the left we had Paddy's Castle. This was a four storey building of good quality houses, in as much as they had inside toilets and maybe baths as well, whereas the buildings we have talked about had no baths and had outside toilets, one between three or four families. In those days we used to think it would be frightening to live on the top flat of the Castle on a windy night. Further up the Avenue were two dwelling houses amongst the trees. There were outhouses as well, so it probably was a small farm or Estate building at one time.

I used to carry milk up to them in the old fashioned tin can with the long handle. They must have been rich, for they got cream as well every day. Mr. Waddell who lived in one of them had an arm missing. He had most likely been in the 1914-18 war.

Next we had on the left, going south down our one street, Marshall Terrace. This was to the right of the present entrance to Marshall Street. This was a good substantial building, and it is a pity it could not have been saved. Latterly, Bob Ballantyne was Landlord, and his wife was the daughter of Mr. Grubb, who struck terror into our hearts when we were young, as he was the School Attendance Officer.

After Marshall Terrace the old new houses have been built, and I may be corrected on this, but I think they were built between the middle 20's and 1930. Maybe my old friend and I mean it kindly, Ina Barrie, who used to take me to Sunday school in the old Church, would remember. I'll ask her on Thursday, for we meet then, as she is now chief cashier at the Church thrift shop. These houses stretch on the left side right to the School, and for me yielded many good friends, and for my father many good customers for his farm produce.

I'd better do the School now, and that is the left side of the road finished. This is where I started my schooling along with boys and girls who are still my friends. Not all the pupils came from Old Monkland.

Almost half would come from Kirkwood miner's row, which was on the other side of the A8 road, opposite Marshall's Chunky Chicken Factory. The Landlord of the row was John James Bannen, who was a Solicitor in Coatbridge, and his son Ian Bannen is a well known actor, and played opposite e.g. Sean Connery. The last film I saw him in was "Ghandi."

The children from these miners' houses, with a few exceptions, were really poor, and my mother used to tell me of a family who came to School on their bare feet, summer and winter. In my own time, many in my class at School, on a wet morning, had their socks and "gutties" on the radiators to dry. This was usual with the teacher, Miss Wilkie, who had a kind heart. I've often seen her in tears.
Now back to the three houses on the right. After them came the long Avenue to "Kirkwood Farm" Next came a field which stretched past Highcross Avenue. After that came Stirrat's building. So called because of the number of Stirrats in it, or because a Stirrat owned it. One person who lived there, and I proudly claim him as a late friend, was "Sammy Reid" an unassuming fellow, a good Christian and what I did not know until after his death a "Military Medal" holder from the 14 - 18 war.
After that building we had Manse View. This extended to the cottage still standing at the end of Manse Avenue. This cottage, when I was a boy, was owned by the Jarvie family. I think I'm right in saying Mr. Jarvie was the Sheriff Officer. After the Jarvies in this house came the Misses Littlejohn. One was infant mistress in Old Monkland School after Miss Murray retired, and the other, who was a gem and as kindly a person as I've ever met, kept house. Many a, jar of honey she gave me from her own bees. At the writing of this, I know that the fence Jimmy Robertson the Joiner erected for her when she came there in 1930 is still standing. Not bad for a wooden fence!! 56 years old! (The current owners are jean & Gordon Nicholson).

The Littlejohn's neighbour was Bob Aitken the Blacksmith who shoed horses in his Smiddy next to St. Mary's Chapel in Hozier Street, Whifflet. He cycled to and from his work every day, and as we had six horses at one time, we met quite often. His niece Jessie, who kept house to him and his brother Jimmy, married Joe Dempsey the Butcher from Allan Street. Next door there was a family, also called Aitken, but I have better recollection of the MacGregors. Big Sam, affectionately known, was in Insurance, and had a lovely wife and two daughters.

Last building on the right on Manse Avenue. It was called Atholl Place. The houses were of good quality, and housed many fine families. "Minnie" Johnston lived here and she presented the painting of the church which hangs in the Session House at this moment of time. The horse and cart in the painting belonged to her father, who had a butchers round. The Bruces lived up the second stair, and their ancestors came from Hill Farm (now demolished), which stood on the road up through the glen to Viewpark. This building was followed by a field, owned by Mr. Blackwood, Bankhead Farm.

The produce from this field had to be carted, by horse, down past the Church and many a spill there was. The procedure was to stick a fence post through the spokes of the cart wheel at the cemetery gate, and this kept the wheel from turning, and so provided a brake. A tricky job with up to a ton on the cart. It took some holding back, especially as it was the old brae road then.

Let's go back to Manse Avenue. On the left was the recreation area and the "Rec" hut. This area had swings; a swing boat and I think a maypole. Also, in the corner, was an L shaped hut, where the retired men gathered to play dominoes. Three of these worthies who come to mind are "Geordie" Mclmoyle, George Chalmers and Jack Bryans. George McImoyle lost his leg in a pit accident. Many a good wee dance we had in this hut when we were teenagers.

Just before the gate into the Manse and glebe, stood a cottage occupied by the Blair family. The son and daughter at this moment are still alive and Isa, a friend of many years standing, lives at LangIoan. She and Ina Barrie were Sunday school teachers when I was a child. On a warm Sunday morning at Church, as children, we were greatly amused watching lsa's father Joe, and Bob Aitken the Blacksmith, nodding off as Scott Dickson preached his sermon.

A good introduction to the Manse and glebe. The glebe first. On one Saturday afternoon of the year all of Old MonkIand came to the glebe to hold the "Rec" sports. This was comparable with a modern highland gathering, although we did not have the pipes. We had all the usual athletic events, and others we invented. Mrs. Halliday from Manse View was in charge of the log of wood, where for a small amount you could try and knock in a six inch nail with the smallest number of blows. Davie Meikle, who had been a great athlete in his young days, and who worked the ball furnace in Woodside Iron Work usually won.

(NOTE: a glebe was an area of land belonging to a benefice - this was property (in addition to the parsonage house and grounds) which was assigned to support the minister/priest.)

My claim to fame was that I usually won the sack race, but then I had plenty of practice at it, as the sacks came from my father's farm. After all the events were completed, and we even had a race for married women, the prize giving took place. That was a great thing, especially if one had won a prize. We congregated below the trees in the glebe in front of the old Manse, and Mrs. Dickson, the Minister's wife, would do the presenting. She was a mystic figure to us young people. She was so gentle and kind and her long gold earrings came to be as much a part of her as her radiant smile. As the winners name was called out the person would go up to the table, take the prize in one hand, and shake her hand with the other. Not very valuable the prize I assure you, for in those days money was scarce, but the thrill lasted for months. The men went forward with cap in hand, and I think that was the ambition of every boy there.

The Manse itself was a very large home. It was like the Spencer house, in as much as nobody violated its privacy, except to go on business, or deliver goods. That was the category I was in. I took the Manse milk every day. One New Years morning someone must have been watching for me, for as I got to the door there was Mrs. Dickson and the maid. I had to shake hands, drink a glass of ginger wine, eat a piece of bun and was given a whole shilling which represented a fortune to someone who thought spending a half-penny on a lucky bag in Eddie and Abbie Burnsides shop, and served by Agnes Napier, was heaven itself. On top of all this luxury, the maid used to gather the fallen horse chestnuts in the back end of the year, and who do you think got them?

I think the lesson I learned from all this was that it is the good things one remembers and bad or ugly just fade away. Mrs. Dickson with her lovely smile and the kindness of the wee maid has lived with me all these years. Someday I hope to meet them again and wonder if they will recognize this decrepit old "joker," as the wee boy who brought their milk.

Back on the main road, and across from the school house garden in a cottage still there, lived the Starks. I've been told Mr. Anderson, who was a Chief Constable, lived there before that. Anyhow, Mrs. Stark was a tall lady in long, black clothes, which were the fashion in those days. One of her daughters was a school teacher, and the other was secretary to "George Sword" of Omnibus Fame. After that came Woodhead Row.

This was the stronghold of the Hailstone family, and one of its members brought glory to the Row by winning the D.C.M. during the 1914-18 War. This honour was next to the V.C. Frank's two daughters, Margaret and Nan are regular attendees at Church. The Row also lost two sons during the 1939 - 45 War. Bill Smith and John Cairns. Bill Smith's mother and granny both in their years, looked after Old Monkland school across the road, and Granny Gray was as much part of Old Monkland itself.

John Cairn's mother had the wee shop at the corner and many a half-penny the school pupils spent in it. Behind the Row, but before my time, stood Woodhead farm. It was here the Bairds of Gartsherrie spent some of their early years. From here the mother used to walk to Glasgow to sell her baking. At the cemetery gate the Stalker's house stood. It's still there. I remember being at a party in it, in honour of daughter Jessie's birthday.

Down the brae to Kirkstyle. These houses were originally built for Douglas Estate workers and included the Mission Hall and a house for a Missionary. Many a happy time we had watching lantern slides and singing Mission Hymns for Mrs. Mayhew and her son Jimmy. Usually we took a cup with us and received a cup of cocoa and a pun. I think this was the real attraction.
These houses still stand, but further down the brae they are demolished, and Mr Forsyths wholesale fruit business holds sway. What these houses looked like can be seen in the old painting of the Church hanging in the Session House. The original Old Monkland School stood just below the Church. That was before my time, but John White has a slide showing it. We hope John White will write the history of the Church for its 200th birthday.

The last gas lamp was in the middle of the brae, and many a heart pounding moment I had on a winters night running down with the milk to Mrs. George, who lived in the cottage right at the foot of the hill.

Reading this through so far, I now think I would have painted a clearer picture if I had said at the top of "Woodside Brae," that the only motor car one was likely to meet was Spencer's "Rolls Royce," and "Doddy" Clark's wee bus. One could not be sure of seeing these either. The street and house lighting was by gas mantle, and these were forever bursting and the gas jet came out the hole. Someone must have made a fortune making gas mantles.

Now I must try and recall some of the happenings, amusing and serious, that affected our lives in those far off years. Starting again at the top of the "Brae," the first major incident I remember was the day two bulls rampaged through the "Kirks" garden. Mr. John Davie of "Kirkshaws Farm" was sent for, and he soon had them rounded up. Young David thought his Granny had bought him a cow.

Woodside Work next! The day the work horse was put down was a tragedy for us young people. I think it must have been ill. Many times the work horn used to stick, and we would cheer when it was released and the noise would stop. It was blown at different times of the day to let each shift know when to start and stop. The work had a reservoir of water in a brick built sunken pit. One day they emptied it and cleaned it out. I remember all the young, and not so young, who could dive and swim, had a great time when it was filled again.

Almost every man in the work could merit mention; the puddlers who melted down the scrap, going home on a warm day stripped of every vestige of strength and sweat, their faces bleached by the awful heat they had to endure when the furnace was opened. Then we had "Old Jack Easton," who was still working when over seventy, and on top of that, still going on to the roofs of the buildings to sweep chimneys. It was a disaster when the brush and ball were put down the wrong vent. Who could forget big John McCormick? He filled wagons with the ash from the furnaces and used a shovel which held about a barrow-load. There were many better, honest, hard-working men, and I am proud to have known them.

A disaster befell "Gunn Place" on a dark winters night. The big brick built chimney of the work collapsed, some said because they had been blasting for a sewer for the new Allan Street. Initially it did not do any damage, and only a window in Jim Meikle's house was broken. Later a gas explosion killed Charlie Malcolm, and part of the building was destroyed. Charlie's daughter, Mrs. Stafford, lives at Shawhead.

Mrs. Smellie's beer shop stood at the corner of Allan Street and Woodside Street and was a stopping off place for men going home from work. That is, those who could spare the money. On Saturday night, at one time the Kirkwood "boys" (Miners Row), used to come up and drink there. When the pub shut at nine o'clock, very often there would be a fight in the field behind the work. Thank goodness none of the Old Monkland men got involved. Next door stood "Eddie and Abbie Burnsides" wee shop. They lost their baby at an early age. Everyone was heartbroken for them.

Please forgive me if I spend more time in "Gunn Place" than I should. I was born at 44k. My father and mother milked the cows which were kept in byres at the bottom of the building drying greens. The milk was carried up to 44k, and kept in the milk house, which was attached to the house. Here it was sold and people used to come at all times of the day with their jugs. No cartons or bottles in those days. The milk horse that pulled the high spring van to outlying districts was called "Sambo," and my father had a cow called "Moses," who was a favourite with the children. They used to ask for her milk. Sometimes on a Sunday, we had a busker singing and people would take pity on him and throw him a penny. As children, we had our hair cut by "Hughie Thomson," and I remember Mrs. Thomson giving me "Nessie" to hold, as I waited my turn for the chair.

We had a great assortment of games, many handed down through the years, and others we invented. During the summer it was great fun to go without shoes and in many cases a necessity. When they opened a deep shaft at the mouth of the "wee close," to let them tunnel for a sewer, the boys used to climb down the shoring wood and bring up lengths of strum used in blasting. A lump of wet paper was wrapped around it and a match applied. When it got to the paper we had a bang and thought the end result was worth the risk. Can you picture the congestion if that hole was opened today?

Before I leave "Gunn Place" I'll mention the families I remember. Barrie, Campbell, Lister, D. Meikle, Rankin, Napier, Martin, Robertson, Totten, Leishman, Nelson, Bailey, Young, Brown, Wilkie, Duffy, Cowie, McBride, Buttery, Thomson, Kinnin, Hill, Caldow, Gough, Kelly and J. Meikle. John Young and Peter Leishman, both now in Africa, were my best friends and many a great day we had in each others company.

On to "Middle Christie building. The landlady was the mother of "Big Bob," who is still at this moment hale and hearty. The building lost two sons in the 1939-45 war. Alec Christie and Tommy Rait who were seamen. Tommy's sister, Jean, was in my class. The first Catholic to live in Old Monkland lived in this, building. The family names were Christie, McFarlane, (Grandparents of Rev. Peter McFarlane,) McDonald, Rait, Totten, Foster, and half brothers George and Jimmy Mitchell (who was badly wounded in the war,) Kinnison, Millar, Harrison. Tommy Foster is in Australia. He is a retired school teacher.

"Top Christie Building" had such families as Gilmour, Main, McCafferty, Lambert, old Jack Easton and his daughter Maggie, Dick Easton, Pryde, Prentice, McCallum, Christie, McCormick and Mclmoyle. My thoughts as I write this turn to Jenny Pryde, who has been a friend since we went to school on the same day. Worthy of mention was the greyhound venture set up by Hugh Gilmour and Tom Main, my cousin. They kept two dogs called Oweny Moy and Slippery Joe". I'm afraid they did not make much money from them. Mrs. Christie had the corner shop and at a party I was at in honour of her daughter Nancy's birthday, someone put their foot through paintings and pictures which had been placed under the bed for safe keeping.

In Melrose Terrace we had the Poulton family and Kelly, Aitken, Baird, Norman (who used to get me to bring hen feathers for pipe cleaning,) Miss Hunter, Prentice (who lost a son John) and McDonald. Jay Poulton played the organ in the Church for many years, and husband Neil Thomson had a very long association as an Elder and Treasurer. Jay's brother, Sam, was in my year at school, as was Jimmy Cairley, who lived in Paddy's Castle. Jimmy's father worked with the "Co-op and along with Jackie Bell used to have the honour of working all the new horses, which came to the very large stable owned by the Co-op."
Other names which come to mind in the Castle were Gagliardi (the Barber.) Brownlie, Henry, Catter (son Johnny was a Minister,) Morgan (whose daughter was married to Sammy Baird.) Sammy was a great Scout in his young days and owned a donkey called "Airborne.

Marshall Terrace next. First house where Ina Barrie later lived, housed the Watson family. Mrs. Watson and two of her daughters, Annie and Agnes, had a fruit shop at Bank Street, Coatbridge. The son, Robert, finished schooling with me and went to train as a bricklayer. He and his sisters now live in Blairhill.

Next came Gamson (son Archie killed in the war,) Fleming, Ramage, Stirrat, Martin, Jay Poulton's Aunt, Mrs. Hogg, Bryans, Campbell, Richards, Johnny Weir, Hailstones, Brown, Barclay, Prentice (daughter Jean was my age.) I know I've missed some, but my memory is not so sharp now. On a winters night we used to slide down the brae in front of the building until the road was like a sheet of glass, right down to Melrose Terrace. Never a motor car did we see. We wore out some boot studs I assure you.

I'll just mention a few of the families in the new houses (between Dunbar Avenue and Mitchell Street?). Kerr, Brown, Owens, McLeod, Innes, Tinto, Vanstone, Ross, Main (my father's sister,) Clark (Doddy had the wee local bus,) Nelson (Agnes Christie was a daughter) MacCallum (son Stevie was killed on the new A8,) Cameron, Bradshaw (son Tommy played with the Wembley wizards, Hastie, Wilson, Boyd,) (daughter Reena in my class,) Pender, Stevenson (daughter Jean in my class,) Young, Dabbs, Riddel, Kidd, Fairbairn, Bush, Hardie, Gray, Bain, McLaren, Malcolm, McGowan, Mills, Marshall (son John in my class, father a Saddler at Sunnyside, Coatbridge,) Power and Guy Watson, whose house was the first bungalow to be built on the Kirkshaws Road, and where May Davie and brother Hugh now live.

Round to Woodside Street again. Better finish the new houses first. Mattie Rankin went to school on the same day as myself. Her mother was a gentle lady and was related to the "Lees" family of "Macaroon" fame. Then we had Woodrow, Dick, Panton, McKeon, Bert Gilmour, Paterson, Hogg, Davie Gilmour, Barr, Main, Bryden (Greta, the daughter, in my class,) Duffy, who drove Spencer's Rolls Royce, Richmond, Mutch, Paterson (son George joined London police), Madge Cook, Kerr and Kennedy.

Not far to go now! Stirrat's building. Durham, Webb, McDonald, Perrie, Stirrat (Anna in my class,) Bertram, Cook and Stirrat.
Manse View. Rutherford, McLean, Easton, the deaf and dumb family, Fraser, Halliday, Main, Goldie, Sam Kent, Blair, Londsdale, Shimmins, Miller, Bert Kent and Yardley. Blair was my friend Isa's aunt and uncle, and Bert Kent used to amuse the children going to school by showing them his magic tricks.

Atholl Place, and we had Johnston (daughter Minnie presented the painting to the Church,) Scobie, Reid, Milne (son George in my class,) Cruickshanks, Dick, Weir (parents of my aunt, married to Jim Meikle) and Bruce (son Donald our local piper much in demand.)

Woodhead Row notables were Hugh Dixon, Granny Gray, Smith, Gillespie, Jimmy Paterson (the gardener,) Hailstones families and Chalmers. Cairns kept the wee shop, and round the corner the Old Tram Road.
Middle Kirkstyle homes were occupied by Parker, Miss McQuistion, Mrs. Mayhew and son Jimmy who ran the Mission.

The bottom houses were occupied by Smith, Liddle, Watt, Craig and Buchanan. Mr. Buchanan was Church Officer for many years and his daughter, Lucy, married a Dempsey from Whifflet. The George family lived right at the bottom and Herbie Cook's family lived in the bottom gatehouse of the cemetery.

Many earliest memories were of horses, and one which would make eyes pop today would be the sight of a horse drawn hearse going to the cemetery. These horses were imported from Belgium, were black with long manes and tails. They were yoked in pairs, and had big black plumes fixed on their harness which stood up between their ears. The coachman sat up on a high seat. This was common with most horse drawn vehicles and in winter the driver used a box full of hay in which he put his feet. When I went to the Army, the Guards got their tea in a hay box. Coincidence!!

We had our loveable eccentrics. Two of these were Miss Sparrow and Johnny Cullen. Miss Sparrow, because she went to visit a grave every week dressed in long black clothes and white rubber shoes. Johnny was the most conscientious bill distributor that ever lived. He would walk a mile to deliver one bill.

I should have noted in my previous paragraph that there were no cremations in those days, and at many funerals, the mourners walked behind the hearse, even from Coatbridge. The open space in the cemetery, north of the Church, was where the cholera victims of the 1846 plague were buried in common graves, and I don't think this plot of land will ever be disturbed.

Before I finish, I should give credit to our school teachers, Miss Murray, Littlejohn, Wilkie, Crozier, McNaught, Mr. Gordon, Mr. Wilson and
Headmaster, Mr. Penny. The strap was used, but was never abused, and
when the teachers were going home, they were usually sur
rounded by their pupils. Pleasant, dreamy far off days!

There never was a Prime Minister taught in Old Monkland School, but most of the pupils attained high acclaim by setting an example to the world, at home and abroad, by being honest, God fearing, hard working men and women. For being al1owed to know, live among, work with and love them, I thank "GOD."

(Written by Bob Cameron c1986))

Letters to the editor:

Dear Sirs,,

Re. your 'Memories of Old Auld Monkland' by author unknown.  The writer refers to his close friend Jenny Pryde who started school the same day.  Jenny Pryde was my Aunt the youngest sister of my father Robert Pryde.  Jenny was born in 1917 so the writer would now be 92.  I guess they would have gone to Old Monkland Public school and it may be that records of classes around 1922 are still held by the education authorities.  Find Jenny Pryde and you may find your man.

I have only visited Old Monklands a handful of times so I found your website most interesting as it paints a picture of life in the area over the years.

Kind Regards

Bob Pryde  


Thanks for your response.  Good that you now have your man.  

I have lived in England all my life (apart from a short spell in Fort William) so Bob Cameron's description of the area was fascinating.  It reminded me of visits when I was young. Bob prompted me to remember the ironworks, derelict and rusting and Paddy's Castle in the middle of grassland.  I recall the churchyard of course as I have several relatives buried there.


Yes I am happy for you to include my email. Keep up the good work. 


Kind Regards,


Bob Pryde   

Hello John,


I'm afraid my memories of the area are too superficial  to be of use or interest.  Your mystery man, possibly Bob Cameron, said in his piece that he was born in 44K Gunn Place.  You may know someone of similar age who can confirm that Bob Cameron did indeed live there. (Of course if Bob is still around you can ask him).

Thanks for your interest.


Kind Regards

Bob Pryde

Many thanks Bob - as you can see I found Bob Cameron - I added his photo and a photo of the Old Monkland School pupils c1929  - this included your aunt Jenny.





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