The War Years
I was eight years old when the war started. I don’t remember my dad getting his calling-up papers but I do remember going to the station the night he left. I thought the world had ended but he was only away for a couple of years, being discharged on medical grounds.
The Air Force had their station in a field in front of our house at Kenmuir, and I remember the fun we had when the “Barrage Balloon” was set up. We were warned not to touch the main cable but the tail one took about six of us to control it and when the wind brought it to the ground we leaped on and hung there like grim death. It would lift us quite high in the air. When the Air Force men were drafted, girls from the WAAFS came to take charge in controlling the balloon. We got very friendly with them and were sad when they left, in trucks, for new postings.
I got married on Christmas Eve 1937and my first child was born in July 1939. Two months later saw the beginning of the war years with rationing, gas masks, clothing coupons and identity cards. Some places were being bombed heavily and it seemed that Carmyle was escaping this, until one night Hitler sent his planes and they dropped a land mine over Carmyle. Luckily, it fell in the Clyde and although there was quite a bit of damage to some buildings, no lives were lost. The target may have been the Power Station which resembled a big ship at sea.
I remember when the Power Station had marines parading night and day, on guard - I think it was something to do with Sinn Fein. Even the powder houses in the fields around the “Big Pit” had these guards and they marched with guns on their shoulders.
I worked in the Clyde Iron Works and I’ll never forget an incident which happened during the war. A German plane swooped down and tried to shoot us as we were laying steel cable underground. After firing a few rounds, the plane disappeared, but it left us very shaken, as we were only saved by crawling under a large steel plate.
When air raid sirens sounded, our family went to a shelter in the back garden. It is still there to this day, now used as a hut. Not everyone had their own shelter. Those who didn’t would either go to a communal one, like the one at the entrance to Buckingham Drive, or stay in their own house with the lights out.
1939 was a year when everywhere was all a-go. War was declared in September. It brought Sam and I together, although we did not get married until November 1940. He was stationed in the Shetlands and the army gave him a three-day pass so we could be married. His sister and I made all the arrangements.
Normally you would put your banns in Church three weeks before the wedding and the minister would make an announcement each week after the Sunday service. But a war wedding was different. One of the elders of Carmyle Church, a Mr Fullerton, stood on the steps outside, and called our names three times. We were married in the Church Manse by the Rev. L. Rogers. In the middle of the service the air-raid sirens sounded. The minister asked if we wanted to postpone it and we said no, as Sam had to return to his unit next day for a posting abroad. Funnily enough, when our daughter was born, the sirens went off that night as well.
Early on during the war, we were told at school all about “Careless Talk “, Strangers” and “Spies “. My pal and I were playing down by the Bleachfield, at the Fountain, when we saw a man sitting sketching in a big folder. We, of course, being Guides and thinking of “spies”, raced to the Police Station,, in the London Road, to report it. We were told it was an artist, and to stop wasting the policeman’s time.
Much later, my brother-in-law told a story of drawings being found, in Germany, of Clyde’s Mill Power Station, Collvilles and all the places up the Clyde, from Glasgow. It seems that a couple were taken from a house in old Mansion/mouse Road in connection with this matter.
On V.E. day all the children around the village had gathered wood, and had their own chosen spot to build a bonfire. They were all over the place
- Inzievar, Cross Street, Mon trose, Gardenside and a huge one down at the farm. We “did” the fires like a pub-crawl. If there was no dancing or singing we moved on to the next one.
The best one was at the River Road farmway. The neighbours there had music coming from radios or gramophones they’d Put near an open window. They passed out tea and buns and when a piper arrived we sure did some jigging.
Sad to say, I witnessed a lad who had been a conscientious objector and when he offered to help he was refused and told to “get away home”.
The legend of the “Bloody Neuk” has, by numerous story-tellers, been attributed to several areas, hut the one I heard of was reputed to have happened in Carmyle.
It concerns the tale of two young men who lived in Kenmuir. They had been bosom friends since childhood, until a young maiden came to live in the village of Carmyle. They both fell in love with her and the friends became rivals. One day, they met by accident and angry words were exchanged. Swords were drawn and one fell mortally wounded. Filled with remorse, the other turned the sword on himself. They were found dead amid summer flowers which were stained with their blood.
A large stone found at the site of a field in line with Douglas Avenue, was supposed to mark the spot where they were buried together in one grave. This became known as the “Bloody Neuk”. Their resting place was said to be haunted, because red oxide, which at times seeped through the surface of the earth, resembled blood, and local people avoided this area when darkness fell.
The Marriage Well
The “Marriage Well”, situated at Kenmuir, got its name because of two curiously united trees, which rose out of the site of the well, flinging shadows over the spring of water.
Wedding parties came to the spot to drink the crystal-clear water, and pledge long life and happiness to the newly-weds.
Jessie Broon’s tae wed the day doon in the Auld Tin Kirk,
That sits doon by the water side twixt rowan tree an’ birch.
The minister on his grey mare will ride in fae the toon,
Tae tie the knot tween Tam McPike an’ bonnie Jessie Broon.
At noon the day the beadle will Pu’ hard upon the bell,
Tae let the bridal pairty ken awe’s ready an’ awe’s well,
An Jessie on her faither’s airm will walk doon fae the hoose,
While Tam waits at the alter, his tie chokin’ lik a noose.
Within an hoor, oot they will come as wedded man an’ wife,
Tae face the world the gither wae its trouble and its strife.
But first they have tae walk the banks tae loup the marriage well,
As awe new wedded folk must dae for guid luck for theirsel’.
An’ awe the waddin’ pairty must walk up the road tae see
The twa will loup the wee bit burn in perfect unity.
Then back doon tae the Burn Butts, tae hae a drink or twa,
Where awe bit Jessie an’ her Tam will dance the night awa.
The Harvey Dyke Case
Thomas Harvey began work as a carter at the Port Dundas Distillery in Glasgow. He left there and started selling whisky for himself. Soon he had changing houses or “Divans” as they were called, all over the city. He became very wealthy and bought the Port Dundas Distillery for £20,000, and the Western Mansion House for £10,000.
The Mansion House was situated behind the site now occupied by “Long John” Distillers, in the London Road. A public footpath ran along the banks of the Clyde from the City to Carmyle, which was in constant use. In 1822, Thomas Harvey blocked the footpath by building a thick stone wall across it, which the locals then demolished. Harvey re-built the wall and the people attempted to bring it down a second time, but were interrupted by a detachment of dragoons. Arrests were made and several were injured. The question of “right of way” was finally brought before the House of Lords, who ruled that the wall be taken down. It was known as the “Harvey Dyke Case”.
One particular part of River Road is always affected by extreme weather conditions, such as prolonged rain spells. When the River Clyde is in spate, property in the area is flooded. The stretch of road between the Boat Hoose and the Carmyle Bowling Green is usually the worst affected.
When the tenement building was there, the residents in the ground floor flats had to vacate their homes every other year.
Today, damage is limited to the Boat Hoose pub and the Bowling Club and thousands of pounds are spent in drying and cleaning the premises.
Flooding in River Road, before the tenement building was demolished
The Carmyle Bowling Green is underwater, once more, as the River Clyde burst its banks.
This photograph was taken in 1985 but flooding is becoming a regular, almost annual, occurence, the most recent being 1991.
There was practically no vandalism in the village and the village “Bobby” walked around, and, more or less, knew you by name. Older people watched over you, and praised or chased you as the case may be. Like one spring day, the snow had come down overnight and just covered the ground lightly. I couldn’t resist going into “Parks” place and walking down the Orchard Park drive towards the Bowling Green, making footprints and picking crocuses which had just come out. I nearly got hanged for that trick - I can tell you!
The stream that ran through Sandyhills Golf Course was the boundary line between Glasgow and Lanarkshire. If you stood at a bus stop in Hamilton Road at the top of Carmyle Avenue, you could get on an S.M.T. bus in Lanarkshire, and if you stepped over the boundary - the “County Line” - you could get a Corporation bus in Glasgow. Children had great fun jumping from Lanarkshire to Glasgow in one leap.
As you enter the village past Clydeford Road on the right hand side, at Buckingham Drive, there is a children’s swing park, which has been there for years.
Local schoolchildren are taken to the park regularly, for nature study - the trees are beautiful. Alas, the swings have been repeatedly vandalised, with a repair cost, to the Council, of thousand of pounds.
In 1988, the Scottish Development Agency, in partnership with Peel Investments (U.K.) lodged a planning application with Glasgow District Council, for the future development of Cambuslang Investment Park.
The land uses would cover industrial floor space, housing, indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, and a non-food retailing warehouse centre. It was hoped that the development proposal would create up to 2,500 new jobs.
The site of the old Welfare Hall in Gardenside Avenue lay vacant for years until a Medical Centre was built there in 1991.
It is presently in use as a General Practitioner’s Surgery and Baby Clinic, but future development plans hope to provide dental and chiropodist facilities.
Remember our village of yesterday
When folks were related in every way
You knew who lived at twenty-four
No need to look at the name on the door.
When someone was ill there was always advice
From friendly neighbours who didn’t think twice
About opening your door and bringing to you
Some soup, a remedy, or just a brew.
A trip to the shops was a lengthy affair
Swapping gossip with friends you met there.
A death or a birth, sorrow or joy,
The wedding of someone you knew as a boy.
Our village is growing day by day
Progress is good or so “they” say
Fields are replaced by roadways so vast
Beauty becomes a thing of the past.
Towns and fashions “they” rearrange,
Politics and people change.
Values of friendship and trust fade fast
When so much is lost only memories last.
NOTES: Updated for 1st March, 2010.
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