Contributions to the Vale Website
This is a list of contributed articles and stories that people have been kind enough to offer us. We are of course grateful for any such material so if you have anything of interest or you would like to become a contributor please get in touch with us.
"Bridging the Leven". This was contributed by Gordon Burns - a history of the River Leven's Bridges.
Mosaics Aerial Pictures of the Vale of Leven Taken in 1947 - a contribution by Harry Summers. Towards the end of World War 2 the RAF aerial photographic people turned its attention to capturing photographic images of Great Britain itself, which it did between 1944 – 1950 in an undertaking called Project Review. The photographic survey took on the short-hand name of the “Mosaics photographs” since together they built up a mosaic image of the countryside. The Mosaic photographs on this page have been in the possession of Dumbarton Library for some time and we are grateful to Graham Hopner for allowing them to be made available on the web-site. All of the 14 photographs were taken in a few minutes on 16th June 1947. The track of the plane that day was from south to north on the west side of the Leven with a few minor course adjustments on the way - the banking for which shows up on one of the photos.
Films From the Scottish Screen Archive - On a tip from John O'Hare of Bonhill we found some interesting material here including footage of Bonhill Blacksmith Arthur Millar at work in his Burn Street Smiddy.
Vale People in Babcock and Wilcox - The links between the Vale of Leven and Babcock and Wilcox in Dumbarton.
The Vale Empire - For about 20 years in the first part of the 20th century the Vale had its very own variety theatre, famed and much loved throughout the area – The Vale Empire.
Chartism in the Vale of Leven - From Wikipedia: "Chartism was a movement for political and social reform in the United Kingdom during the mid-19th century, between 1838 and 1850. It takes its name from the People's Charter of 1838. Chartism was possibly the first mass working class labour movement in the world. Its leaders have often been described as either "physical force" or "moral force" leaders, depending upon their attitudes to violent protest. Chartists were largely unsuccessful at convincing Parliament to reform the voting system of the mid-19th century; however, this movement caught the interest of the working class. The working class interest in politics from that point on aided later suffrage movements."
Professor A. Graham Lappin carefully researched and wrote this excellent contribution, which is available for download as a PDF.
This was originally written by James Barr as a recollection of his life as a child and young man spent in Balloch before moving to Glasgow. The memoirs were collected by his brother and passed to the Dumbarton and Lennox Herald offices in High Street Dumbarton. The newspaper published the memoirs in serial form around the time of Barr's death.
Graham Hopner and A. Graham Lappin collaborated in an excellent edited and fully annotated reprint of Barr's memoirs, which was published by Dalmadan Press (ISBN: 9l8-0-615-37918-0) in 2010. This edition was complemented by a listing of some of the contemporary poems of William Harriston, who was featured in the memoirs.
Saints of the High Road is an interesting circular tour round Loch Lomond side written by Malcolm Lobban. This discusses the derivation of the place names on the bonnie banks.
William Wallace in the Parish of Bonhill is an article written by Billy Scobie about the probability that "Braveheart", William Wallace spent some time in Bonhill.
Textile Trade Tickets: This is another interesting contribution from Graham Lappin about the pictorial “tickets” that were added to each length of cloth produced by the Turkey Red industry in Alexandria in the late nineteenth century. (Note that this file is about 17Mb so it may take a few seconds to download.)
The 9th Argylls and Dumbarton Volunteers by Michael Taylor: A brief history of the local fighting units in Dunbartonshire in the past 2 centuries and the men who served in them.
Wildlife Spotted around the Vale: Lots of interesting wildlife can be found in and around the Vale of Leven. some contributions from Benjy Boyle and others are featured on this page.
History of Bonhill Parish Church: An article by Billy Scobie. Billy's contribution mentions the Rev. Gregor of Bonhill Church. Local writer James Barr published an account of his recollections of the Disruption of 1843 including some memories of the Rev. Gregor. Graham Lappin provided a copy of this account.
Vale Tales: Some of you will know Bobby Simpson M.B.E. who has been the the driving force behind the "RockVale Rebound" (the talking newspaper for the blind) for many years. Bobby also writes his own essays and poems about the local area. He has contributed some articles and a poem to the website.
The History of the Russell Cup: Most of the men and many of the women in the Vale above the age of about 30 will probably remember this schools football tournament. This is a downloadable book by Benjy (Bernard) Boyle and Ronnie James detailing its history.
Carman Hill Fort
Billy Scobie has contributed an article on the hill-fort on Carman Muir, which was discovered by aerial photography in 1954. The database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland describes it as, “Citadel Fort of Dark Age type C measuring 150 yards in diameter, with stone ramparts, ditches, and sunken approach roads.”
Trams in the Vale of Leven
The origins of the trams in the Vale owe much to their success in Glasgow and the expansion of the system to smaller towns in the Clyde valley. This is an article about these trams submitted by A. Graham Lappin.
Vale of Leven Photographers
Graham Lappin has written an interesting little article about commercial photographers in the Vale of Leven.
Stories of 1950s Vale of Leven
We received some interesting and entertaining articles from Eleanor Thomson, an ex-pat who now lives in France. These articles paint a delightfully nostalgic picture of the Vale back in the 1950s. Read and Enjoy
Was Robin Hood one of our own?
Billy Scobie speculates that Robin Hood may have been from this area.
The Visit of Prince Albert to Balloch in 1849
This is a very interesting account of the Royal visit to Loch Lomond in August 1849. Bad weather stopped Queen Victoria from disembarking the Royal Yacht at Arrochar but Prince Albert made it, as this contribution by Harry Summers explains.
Churches and Tartans
Churches are not the first institution that you think of when the subject of tartan comes up and yet an article written in 2010 by author, local historian and expert on tartans, Billy Scobie, shows that there is an ancient association between tartan and churches of many faiths. Billy has been a member of the Scottish Tartans Authority (the “STA”) for many years.
Clyde Canoe Club
Balloch Heritage Group worked with Roger Hancock and Harry Summers to bring this this fascinating history to a wider audience through the Vale website.
Colouring the Nation
"I attended a seminar some 2 years ago in Edinburgh at the National Museums of Scotland when it was announced that the Colouring the Nation project had just received funding to complete a task of photographing pattern books produced in the 19th Century by Scotland's textile printing and dyeing companies. Naturally the Vale companies featured high on their priorities. Some 500 high res images are now available to view on the web shown below. There are obviously many thousands more patterns out there somewhere but I don't know if funding has run out.
These images are a potent reminder of just how good the Vale companies were not just at printing and dyeing but also at creating outstanding visual art. They provide ample proof of the claim that the William Stirlings and the Orr Ewings were indeed world leaders in Turkey Red dyeing. Well worth a look.
Jamestown Amateurs FC
We are fortunate to have received an account of the founding of Jamestown Amateurs FC from one of the founders, James Porter and also a photograph and information about the Jamestown team which won the McTaggart Trophy in 1972 from Benjy Boyle. We are grateful to both of them for making the material available to the web-site.
This page includes some images from a 1953 coronation party in Govan Drive. We hope to build on this if people can let us have more images of the coronation celebrations in the Vale.
Tourists through the Vale
This is another excellent article from Graham Lappin about the early tourist industry and transport links from Glasgow to Balloch and Loch Lomond.
Renton FC Photos 1880’s - The Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup
Some interesting old images and the story of how we came by them.
The Spirit of the Tartan
Another great wee article written by regular contributor Billy Scobie.
Schooldays in Scotland
Malcolm Lobban recalls his Scottish childhood in 1940. Malcolm has contributed interesting material in the past. He now lives in Australia where he produces "McFarlane's Lantern", a wee PDF magazine for members of the Clan McFarlane (and anyone else who wants to read it ;o). In his latest issue he reminisces about his childhood in Levenvale. This great wee article is on Page 6.
Malcolm Lobban wrote a book called “A Close Community, Life in an Alexandria Tenement".Someof yuo may have been reading this in its current serialised version in the Lennox Herald. Malcolm wrote a wee update on this in 2011, which you can read here.
Billy Scobie has written what for now at least can be described as the definitive account of the Hill Fort which sits at the top of Carman. Using some of the most outstanding academic sources available to-day as the basis of his work, Billy has added a speculative question - could this have been the base of King Arthur, King of the Britons?
Conditioned as we are to think of Arthur as a fairy-tale figure surrounded Guinevere, Lancelot, the Round Table knights etc we've accepted the modern southern English writers' version and the Hollywood's twist about a man who did exist, but whose real story has been lost in the fog of the Dark Ages, so your first reaction to Billy's question might be "no chance". But in fact it is the fairy-tale tellers and film makers who are peddling nonsense. Although we shall probably never have a complete answer to the question, there is far more supporting Billy's speculation than you may think before you read Billy's article. Read, enjoy and make up your own mind.
The Beggar Earl
A short account of the links of the "Beggar Earl" to the Vale (by Billy Scobie). This also includes Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham's (Don Roberto) short story about the Earl as reproduced from his book of short stories "A Hatchment".
Span of Life
This is a nice little article - a nostalgic recollection by Billy Scobie of happy childhood days spent playing in the Haldane Burn.
Carman as Camelot
Further speculation from Billy Scobie about the Carman Hill Fort and its possible association with King Arthur and early Christianity in Britain.
The McOran-Campbells: a document written by Malky Lobban, which investigates the link between the McOran-Campbells and Tullichewan.
Moon Tartan in the Vale
A fascinating story from Billy Scobie about how a piece of tartan, which has been on the moon ended up in the Vale of Leven.
The Loch Lomond Bell
A story of the “Loch Lomond Bell”, made of bronze and fashioned around 900 AD, it is an especially fine and well preserved example of its kind. By Billy Scobie.
The History and Opening of Balloch Park
The story behind the purchase of Balloch Park by Glasgow corporation and its opening in 1916. By Harry Summers.
King James and Jamestown
Speculation about the origins of the name Jamestown from Billy Scobie.
The Bonhill Royalist
Story of the Bonhill Minister who fell foul of the Covenanters by Billy Scobie.
Vale of Leven Photos with Commentary
Some Vale of Leven photos from over 100 years ago with commentary by Harry Summers. Some of these were supplied by Pat Millar. Thank you Pat.