Discussion Pages from 2009

On these pages we will post comments and information that we receive from you about the Vale or anything included in the website. Links to previous year's discussions are at the bottom of the page.

Please note that this is not a forum and it is not intended to be updated on a daily basis but if you have any points to make, anecdotes or stories about the Vale we would very much welcome your contributions. EMAIL them to us and we will publish them here.

(Most recent first)

30 December 2009

'Congratulations to the authors of this book.
I have only read the parts available on line on this web site but I'm really impressed.

I didn't move from London to the Renton until I was 10 years old. My father had walked to London from Renton (The Vale) in the socialists march for the right to work in the late '30s so I am a Londoner, now a Canadian but in my heart I am a Rentonian.

I grew to love that wee village. My Maiden name is Carole O'Neill. I was married in 1961 by Rev Currie; my Minister and my friend.
On visits back I have bought the books available at the community center.

I also wrote a wee book, it was printed here in Canada and they sold within a Christmas season. Looking back it was not a good book but it was certainly entertaining for many ex-pats. A couple of months ago the Sunday Post reprinted a letter I'd written to - oh, what's that man's name that writes about people helping people every week?

Anyway, he reprinted the letter I'd sent to him in 1959 when I'd enclosed 2 Pounds for the Poor People. Money my friends and I on King Street/ Back Street had earned by holding a wee concert in O'Hara's Pub's garage. As he reminded me and his readers, we didn't know we were "the poor people".

My Auntie had the Sweetie shop next to the Roxy (as you mentioned) and my Dad sparred? in boxing at St. Martins, with Scotty McGrandle who was later to win a Canadian Boxing Championship and lived close to me in Edmonton.

I think the only things I would have added to the article was:
1. The Kiproch walk to the water
Which I believe has been closed to the public because the local Council did not walk it themselves to keep it open - that being a "rule" to maintain the public passage.

Thank you again for good reading memories.
Carole Eastaugh
nee O'Neill
Alberta, Canada
I know I went to the Renton Public School with members of the Drain family but can't remember the first name.

carole_eastaugh at hotmail dot com


24 December 2009

Christmas greetings from the warm south.
Your website is one of the best I have seen anywhere on the history of a locality.

The only William Harriston I know from Dalvait, (or Damhead as recorded for the baptism of his children), is my great, great, great-grandfather. Seeing his poetry blew me away.

Three of his sons' families ended up in Australia after moving south to London. One, James Harrison, is a world-famous inventor and former newspaper owner, editor and journalist in general, political and science topics. He invented the first commercially successful ice-making machine.

One of his grandsons is still alive. I am descended from another brother, Daniel.

It would be a great privilege to know more about William Harriston and his poetry. Would you please put me in touch with someone who can suggest how to do this?

Chris Schuetz
Brisbane, Australia

candt dot schuetz at bigpond dot com

-------------------------------- -------------------------------------

Dear Chris.

My introduction to William Harriston came through a catalogue from an antiquarian bookseller who was advertising a book “The City Mirror” published in 1824, from the library of those great collectors of Scottish songs and folk music, Norman and Janey Buchan. The description contained a few lines from a poem that had a reference to Smollett and so I figured it must have a connection to the Vale of Leven. I bought the book (I think it cost £100 which was more than I’d ever paid for anything like that) and realized that there was a strong Vale connection. I then began to look for other works.

As far as I can gather, Harriston was born in Glasgow around 1777. As a child he was well schooled and was an avid reader but his father became ill and in the reduced family circumstances, aged nine, he was apprenticed to a weaver who grudged even the day off to attend his father’s funeral. At fourteen, he became a journeyman and moved to Strathblane where he met and married Margaret M‘Gregor.

About this time, war was declared on France and he joined the local standing defense force, the fencibles. I’ve tried to locate his military record but have no luck so far. With the fencibles, he served a total of eight years in Ireland, being gone, in the first instance for six years with no home leave. After the peace of Amiens in 1802, he was released to resume his work as a weaver, but the reductions in trade with the Continent during Napoleon’s campaigns and the resultant slump in wages in the weaving trade around 1808 forced him to seek employment as a salmon fisherman on the Leven.

During the cold, wet nights on the river, he developed his Muse and became a poet with a considerable local appeal. His earliest works were published in Glasgow in 1816 and Greenock in 1817 and contain most of the material on the Vale of Leven. He then published in 1818 and 1819 many poems on the steamboats on the Clyde. I suspect that he made his living peddling his poems on penny sheets to the steamboat passengers. Certainly he was well known to many of the Captains and crews of the steamers. They appear frequently in the lists of subscribers to the volumes of his poems. I’ve written a little article on this for the magazine Clyde Steamers.

As his subscription list grew, Harriston returned to his native city, to 11 Great Dove Hill, and continued to enjoy modest success and to publish on the events of his day. He published Poems on Various Subjects in Glasgow in 1821 and celebrated the visit of the King to Edinburgh with The King’s Arrival in 1823. His autobiographical poems in The City Mirror and his best known work The Steam-Boat Traveller’s Remembrancer both came out the following year. After that, the works dwindle with The Wreck about the sinking of the Comet and published in Largs in 1826 and A retrospective of the past 51 years published for him in 1828 by his son.

Of his family, I can only recount what Mr. Hopner, librarian at Dumbarton, unearthed from the parish records. There were five children, Robert (b. 6 Sept1805), John (b. 21st July, 1807), Janet (b. at Damhead in Bonhill on 10th May, 1910 and baptized on the 27th), William (b. 30th March, 1812 and baptized on 26th April) and Jean (b. 31st May, 1814 and baptized on 3rd July). Jean died on June 5th, 1815. Harriston is mentioned (as Harrison) in Balloch and Around by James Barr, living at Dalvait which is where the fishermen on the Leven generally lived.

Graham Lappin


9 December 2009

Dear Sirs,

I have read with fascination and great enjoyment the web pages about Renton.  I am researching the lives of my grandparents Rev Timothy W. Stirling and his wife Mary Miller.

Mary grew up in Renton with her Miller family.  Alexander Miller spent all his working life at Dalquhurn Dye Works working his way up to be a head cashier.  Most of his family, over the years, worked at these Works in some capacity or another.  In 1861 the family lived at 51 Main Street and then from 1871 to 1881 at Dalquhurn cottage which I believe lies close to the Works.  Finally in 1891 the family is shown as living at Woodlee or Woodlea, 78 Carmen Road.

I would very much like to know if  Dalquhurn Cottage or Woodlea still exist.  Would you be able to put me in touch with someone who might know the answer ?

Your help in this matter would be very much appreciated,

Yours faithfully,
John Stirling (SRinRowanbrae at aol dot com)

9 December 1009


Mr Stirling
Re Renton
I have been passed your query about the properties in Renton. I made some enquiries on your behalf and unfortunately neither property still exists, although the sites of both are easily identifiable.
Dalquhurn Cottage sat on the south side of the road leading into Dalquhurn Works.  The property would have been demolished about the early seventies and 5 bungalows were built on the site.
Woodlea was on the south side of Carman Road with its entrance just before the railway bridge.  The property would also have been demolished in the early seventies and 3 houses were built on the site.  Part of the grounds would have at one time been part of what is now Renton Bowling Green.
51 Main Street was probably demolished in the sixties and would have been near the corner of Main Street and Station Street.
I hope this is of interest to you.
Fergus McLellan


25 November 2009

Dear Vale,

I have just discovered Hugh and Jessie Caldwell's pictures and Hugh's poems on the Vale site.

Hugh and Jessie were my great grandparents, Hugh had died by the time I was born but I knew Jessie.  My grandfather, Robert and my father often recited Hugh's poems. It is so wonderful that you have printed them, for now many more people will enjoy them.

I couldn't  chose a favourite, would it be the football poems, the Jonny Blue set, Nan's New Goon? My grandfather would recite, To a Child Playing on Cardross Shore, and many more.

Hugh's son, my great uncle Harry also wrote verse, apparently there was one about the trial of having piles but he wouldn't recite it in front of the women of the house.

Jessie was also quite a character, she delivered many of the children in the Vale and most of her grandchildren for "she helped the doctor" working as a midwife. She even walked over the ice on Loch Lomond to get to a delivery on one of the islands.

Sorry this is so long!  Thanks again and best wishes,
Christine Hein-Hartmann nee Caldwell

christinehein-hartmann at hotmail dot co dot uk


24 November 2009

Dumbarton Cine Video and Digital Club is in the process of collecting and converting cine and video film of West Dunbartonshire.  We have recently started an internet TV channel to make items from the archive available to a wider range of people with an interest and/or roots in the area.

We are adding to the archive regularly so it's worth looking in from time to time.

If any reader has film which they wish to have converted and added to the archive please get in touch. To have a look at the channel, go to http://www.livestream.com/footagedumbarton

click on ON DEMAND near bottom of wee screen,

click on VALE OF LEVEN

click on film of your choice.

You can enlarge the screen if desired and increase volume where film has sound.

Best wishes
Tommy Crocket


Added 17 November 2009

While I was clearing out one of my cupboards the other day Icame across a medal that my Dad had won for football in 1917-1918. It was for winning the A.A.Allan cup while he played for the Jamestown Thistle. The details on the back state A.A.Allen Cup. Winners, Jamestown Thistle. W.Miller. The front has the Dumbarton Town Crest.

I would be interested if anybody can expand on this. Perhaps it may have historic importance. It is great to have this site, keep up the great work.

Andy Miller
Barrie, Ontario,

dusty dot legs at rogers dot com


Added 4 November 2009

We received some interesting images of Dillichip, Lennoxbank, Place of Bonhill and other locations such as Turnbull's pyroligneous works from Craig Jump. These were found in an old album in a loft some years ago.

Have a look and let us know if you have any information on these.

old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image

old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image old vale image

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7 November 2009
We got an email from Graham Lappin in the USA who has offered the following key to the images. If anyone has any additional information feel free to get in touch.

Have had a little time to look at this new addition.  Here is my best idea about these photographs from Craig Jump.

Line 1 L to R
1.   Dillichip works and bridge – an easy one
2.   Renton Station for the Balloch bound direction
3.   Greenhouses at Place of Bonhill – another easy one
4.   Pretty sure this is Lennoxbank House.
5.   Lennoxbank again
6.   Place of Bonhill, Turnbull’s Pyroligneous acid works.
7.   Place of Bonhill, Turnbull’s Pyroligneous acid works.
8.   Another of Turnbull’s works with the narrow gauge lines.
9.   Turnbull’s works from the other side of the main railway line.
10. Turnbull’s works.
11. A great view of Turnbull’s works.

Line 2 L to R
1.   Another of Turnbull’s works
2.   Turnbull’s works again
3.   Turnbull’s works with the burn inflow(?) and St. Matthew’s (?) school in the background.
4.   Another great view of Turnbull’s works.
5.   Yard of Turnbull’s works.  I had no idea it was so extensive.
6.   Place of Bonhill house?
7.   Place of Bonhill house?
8.   Interior of Place of Bonhill?
9.   Interior of Place of Bonhill?
10. Dillichip works.
11. Dillichip works from the driveway to Place of Bonhill.

Line 3 L to R
1.   Dillichip works.  The bell tower with the weathervane appears in the photograph of the fire at the works.
2.   From the stepped gable, I would say it is Place of Bonhill again.  Same house as the earlier photos anyway.
3.   Place of Bonhill.
4.   Balloch boatyard.
5.   Lennoxbank again.

Some great and valuable photographs with a real insight into the pyroligneous acid woks.  It would be well worthwhile to get these scanned in high resolution for preservation.  It is the sort of find I’d give my eye teeth for!

11 November 2009

Hi all seen your article in this weeks Lennox Herald regarding photographs of Place of Bonhill, I can confirm these are indeed Place of Bonhill - the picture row three picture two of the rear of the house brought back memories of going to Harry Flowers to climb the monkey puzzle tree and play in the woods to buy!!!!!!!!!!!! apples and pears - you can see the orchard in the foreground also a friend of mine Colin Smith and his family were the last tenants of the right hand side of the house and Harry Flowers owned the other half and the orchard.

An old Rantonian
Ian Paterson
(wee packy) ian55 at blueyonder dot co dot uk

18 November 2009

LATEST: Harry Summers has now compiled a new page with more information on the images based on the above and other background knowledge. We decided that these images were worthy of a page of their own. This can be viewed here.

Added 13 July 2009

Hi Guys!

It was nice to see my old mate Eddie Shovelin's contribution ~ and to see his youthful wee face keeking over the shoulders in one of the photos.  Eddie and me go back a bit to our days in the Territorial Army at Renton Drill Hall, and later in the MoD polis at Faslane!  If you see him, tell him I finally received my  T.A. Efficiency Medal a couple of days ago, which was due to me in 1970!

Yours, aye. . .  '.Malkie' Lobban in Oz.


Added 11 July 2009

We are grateful to Eddie Shovelin for lending us three interesting images for the website. These are shown below. They can be enlarged to a new window by clicking on them.

Renton Independent Order of Good Templars

The above image is of the Independent Order of Good Templars - a temperance organisation that had sprung up in the USA in the 1850s. The chalked slogan on the blackboard says, "IOGT Defend Renton" and these men were members of Lodge 254, Renton, "Defend what you've Won".

We know that one of the people in the image is Sandy Black and that the picture was taken around 1900. If anyone can offer any further information it would be appreciated.


Renton Station

This group is pictured on the platform of Renton railway station Circa 1918. On the bottom left is John (Jackie) Cowan. It appears to be of the station master and his staff. Things were clearly a bit more labour intensive back then and now some stations are completely unstaffed with many others having just one ticket clerk.


Levendale Cycling Club

This image is of the Levendale Cycling Club outing about 1947/1948. The names, which are signed on the back of the original are Jackie Waterson, Willie Charnock, Jackie Denning, Eddie Shovelin, Jack Smith, Hughie Malcolm, Rab McGowan, D. Shaw, George Mills, Tony Truile, Tommy McNeil and 'Red' Reason.

We are not sure of the above information so if we have any of the names wrong or we have misspelled them please let us know.


Added 30 June 2009

I have been doing a project of the Vale for my father who was born and raised here, but theres still one part of the project incomplete. I have searched in Dumbarton and Mitchell libraries to no avail, and hoping that someone could help.

From all the research I have done, text and photographs, I haven't found anything of Linnbrane Terrace in Alexander Street, dating back to around 1933-1944. My father was looking for a photo of the houses in that area from round that period as this was where he was born.

Any information especially a photo(s) would be much appreciated.

Yours Sincerley

elaine dot nagle at bethere dot co dot uk


Added 12 May 2009

Hi Harry

You might like to know that during the Boer War in South Africa there was a 'Fort Tullichewan' built by the British Army. It was named after our own Tullichewan in the Vale..

The fort in question was a gun emplacement located just to the south of Pretoria railway station circa 1880. It was named by the then Garrison Commandant, Lt. Col. George Frederick Gildea of the Royal Scots Fusiliers in honour of his wife's family home in Scotland. She was Elizabeth Campbell daughter of James Campbell, 2nd Laird of Tullichewan (1823-1901).  The site of the fort was apparently excavated in 1980 and the facts concerning the naming were apparently confirmed by one "Mr. I.C.McOran Campbell of Harare, Zimbabwe" who is obviously a descendant of the Tullichewan Campbells.  George F. Gildea, having attained the rank of major-general died at Tullichewan Castle in 1898.  Not surprisingly, it seems that Fort Tullichewan was sometimes nicknamed "Tully". . .now where have I heard that name?

You can get all the details of this fort, including illustrations on http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol1065rt.html  I downloaded a copy for my own files (13 pages).

Hope this finds you well

Regards. . .Malky. (Lobban)


Hi Malky  Bryan
The name Fort Tullichewan immediately conjures up the Tully's old public bar up Fisherwood Road in the 1950's and 60's.
The connection with Gildea answers a problem I had, because I noticed from the Valuation Rolls that a Colonel Gildea was the tenant at Bromley House in the early 1890's and that by the late 1890's he had become a Major General, then he disappeared from view. Campbell of Tullichewan still owned Bromley at this time according to the VR, so obviously her daughter and her husband were his tenants. His apparently early death explains why the name disappears. In fact it made virtually no impression in the Vale, but if he was a professional serving soldier then he wouldn't have spent any time in the Vale.
I still haven't had time to read your article on the McOran Campbells, but I will do so quite soon.
Going back to the Tullichewan Camp - I'm beginning to suspect that we'll never get far away from it - I notce in the Valuation Rolls that there were over 90 designated tenants in the huts in the 1940's and 50's. This is higher than I expected and suggests many more huts than I thought. That maybe ties in with something that my next door neighbour, Tommy Dennet, who remembers you well from Argyll Street, has said. He thinks that the map on the web-site is not of the Camp, or at least not all of it, but mainly shows a Torpedo Factory bulding which co-existed with the camp. One person who lived in the camp as a child has been in touch, and the Valuation Rolls give the name of every occupant so maybe we'll find other contacts. I'll keep you posted.

All the best


13 May 2009

Hi Harry,

Re the camp, as is well document on this site, yes there was the one in "Tully" but there was another much smaller one just outside Bonhill on road to Dumbarton. "The huts" as they were known as, to locals. They had no running hot water or inside toilet, so each hut was allocated a cubicle in the communal toilet block. even back then of course ignorance would rear its ugly head and some people attached a certain stigma to the residents.

In reality the people who resided in "the huts" were mostly hard working vale families, who were homeless after the war. I cannot recall the dates, but mid to late fifties, my own and most other families were rehoused in a new development at Napierston farm,  Bonhill, ah the end of an era.

Danny May


(Received in Response to Ian Livsey's post dated 8 January 2009, below)

24 April 2009

came across this site by accident and know most of the names you listed,Alex Haggart lives in Bonhill,Dennis McGlaughlin lives there too he wasn,t very well a couple of years ago,but is fine now,sadly Dunky o ,Neill passed away very suddenly about 10 years back,Eddie Millar lives in Dumbarton last time I spoke to him he was in the building trade,not seen Tam McCue for a while he lives in Fort William or thereabouts.

Yours Bernard Boyle

(bb009e2885 at blueyonder dot co dot uk]


18 April 2009

It was great to read Andy Miller's message about the houses and paper shop at the corner of North Street and Main Street. The site was previously owned by Colin McNaught who purchased it from James Gardner, Veterinary Surgeon in 1854. Colin died two years later leaving everything to his childless widow, Cecilia Glass who received rent from the properties until her death in 1872.

There was originally a slaughterhouse next door to the shop. Cecilia rented both to her brother, William Glass. William eventually purchased them (and the adjoining houses) when Cecilia died in 1872.

William had 12 children but he buried six of them before his own death in 1882. Colin, Cecilia, William and his children are buried at Alexandria Church cemetery. Their gravestones are still legible and reasonably intact.

By 1893, only two of William's 12 children were still alive. David Glass (34) and his young sister Jeanie. Tuberculosis had claimed the lives of the others.

David and Jeanie became joint owners of the North Street property but decided to leave the area. They emigrated to South Africa - too late for David who was already ill and died in Cape Town on 15th November 1893. Jeanie was only 26. She was alone and in a foreign land. Both her parents and all eleven siblings were dead. There was little reason to return to the Vale so she moved on - 500 miles inland to Harrismith in Orange Free State.

When war started between Great Britain and the Transvaal, the Orange Free State decided to help its northern neighbour. It was a difficult situation for English-speaking people in the area as they were reluctant to take up arms against the British side. Jeanie would undoubtedly have been caught up in the troubles but I don't know if she was still in Harrismith when it was captured by the British. It was about two hundred miles further north east in Mankaiana, Swaziland that she married and became Jeanie Reid. She and her husband moved back to Orange Free State and had a farm at Landkloof in the District of Fouriesburg.

Although resident in South Africa, for 35 years, Jeanie continued to own and draw rent from the buildings in North Street and Main Street, Alexandria. I believe that the shop may have been rented by Fleming relations for a while before Grace and Margaret Watson took it over. It was not actually sold to the Watsons until 1928. It was great to read Andy Miller's message and hear from somebody who actually lived there.

Incidentally, Jeanie had no children so when her husband died at Bethlehem Hospital, Fouriesburg in 1932 she was on her own once again at the age of 65.

The last I know of Jeanie is her name on a Passenger List for the "Winchester Castle" which sailed from Southampton for Durban (Port Natal) on 21st December 1939. She had already lived through the 2nd Boer War and the Great War and here she was (aged 72) sailing out of Southampton in a passenger ship when the Germans were already laying mines around the south coast of England. On the ship's manifest, Jeanie's holiday residence in the UK is given as 9 Turnbull Crescent, Alexandria which, I believe, was the home of her nephew, David Fleming.

Alan Glass

(alanbglass at btinternet dot com)


17 April 2009

I am having a wonderful time reading all the news on this site. I lived at 2 North Street in the Vale and I was related to Grace Watson who had the paper shop. My Dad Willie Miller worked in the Torpedo Factory and my Mum Agnes (Freel) worked in Fyffes the bakers. Although I lived in North Street I spent most of my time  down in Albert Street where my gran lived. All my pals either lived in Albert Street or Victoria Street. Jim Cherie who is now on the council was one of the gang. We [played up in Jocks Park and also up the Glen. Summers were spent up Carman Hill or over at the Havock swims in the Clyde were the thing then.

I remember walking up to the Bay in Balloch past the saw mill and then we would spend the day with a swim , and then a feast of bread and whatever our mums had at the time. This was in the early 40s and rationing was in. Back to Albert Street and I remember Mrs Paul's shop on the corner , Gallones at the top of the brae.

I am in touch with some of the old vale people who now live in Canada and I hope to meet up later this year with Ian Livsey, Please keep up the good work it is great to read all the stories.My wife Margaret (Cannon) live in Argyll Street and was a music teacher.

Andy Miller

dusty dot legs at rogers dot com


16 April 2009

Dear "valeofleven.org.uk",

Several of my ancestors are buried in the graveyard at Alexandria Old Parish Church. If I was disappointed by the condition of the place when I first saw it a few years ago, I was utterly depressed as I walked around the grounds today.

This Church was dear to my forebears. Indeed it was at the very heart of their spiritual and social lives and it was where they chose to have their final resting place. At least nine of my great grandfather's aunts and uncles (and countless cousins) lie here in what once was a place of quiet and remembrance.

Now, many of the gravestones have fallen over or are in the process of doing so. Some are in pieces. Flowers have given way to traffic cones, wheelie bins, litter and other detritus. A large sign at the entrance screams "kidzworld - Childrens Soft Play Centre" and a bright orange toy ride sits a few feet away from Grace McFarlane, my great-great grand-aunt who died just a century ago. Bad taste doesn't come into it. It's vulgar.

I live 45 miles away but would dearly love to do something about these problems. Please let me know if you are aware of anyone with responsibility for upkeep of the graveyard. I would also be interested to know of any community associations which deal with this type of issue as I would like to become involved.

If anyone at  valeofleven.org.uk is interested in a short tour of the graveyard and an introduction to a few of its residents, I would be delighted to meet you and tell you a little about their fascinating lives.

Thank you for creating such an excellent website.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Glass (alanbglass at btinternet dot com)


17 April 2009

When I read the communication from Alan Glass regarding the graveyard at the former Alexandria Church, I decided to visit and photograph the gravestones before any further damage occurred.

I must say that my reaction was rather different to Alan’s.  I am a fairly regular graveyard visitor and have come across many in a far worse state of repair than this.  It is true that many gravestones are now lying flat, and some are broken, but I’m sorry to say that this is often the case, even in cemeteries maintained by a local authority.

I didn’t feel that the use of the former church building for Kidsworld was disrespectful.  I prefer to see death as a part of life in a community, rather than isolated and cut off from society.  It may be that Kidsworld has ensured the survival of the graveyard.  In many other areas where churches have fallen into disuse, they have been demolished and the land, including graveyards, has been built upon.  At Riverside Church in Dumbarton, the Church Hall stands on the former graveyard whilst at Renton Millburn, the building has been allowed to die and it’s only a matter of time before its remains are removed and construction takes place on the graveyard.

Photos of the Millburn gravestones can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamthebam/sets/72157602611137776/

and I intend to upload the Alexandria ones over the next few days.

I am sorry that Alan is distressed at what he sees of his ancestors’ resting place and wish our community cared more for its past and those who created it.

Tommy Crocket


Added 12 May 2009

Hi there, sorry it's taken longer than I expected, but the photos of the Memorials are now available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamthebam/sets/72157617871815430/
If you hover the mouse over a thumbnail, the relevant surname will appear, where this was legible.

Should anyone require it, I have them at higher resolution and will send specific photos on request.  I can do the same for Memorial stones at Renton Millburn.

Best wishes

Tommy Crocket


Footnote: As a result of this correspondence I also visited the graveyard and took some pictures of my own. To be fair I did not find a lot of litter lying around. It may be that there has been a clean up since Alan's visit. The grass has been recently cut so perhaps the litter was removed at the same time. What litter was there was consistent with the graveyard bordering a main street and it did not look like it had been there for long.

Sadly, as Alan says, many of the gravestones have fallen or been knocked over by vandals and I don't know who would be responsible for the maintenance of these?

Bryan Weir

Click images to enlarge.

Alexandria Churchyard Alexandria Churchyard Alexandria Churchyard


8 April 2009

In a pub discussion about the old Vale an old chap in his nineties related a story about when he was a small boy he used to deliver newspapers and one of his clients was McKenzies Bar. He says that at that time (1920's) it was known as the "Motor Bar". Presumably it was called after the nearby Argyll Motor works. We also hear that a picture of a motor car (again presumably an Argyll) was etched in the glass of one of the pub windows.

Can anyone confirm this or tell us any more about it?

B. Weir


Added 28 Nov 2012

McKenzies Motor Bar

The Motor Bar story has been confirmed. We came across this old picture of Alexandria Main Street which shows the site of McKenzies Bar from away back when. If you click the image to enlarge it and look closely you can just about make out the words Motor Bar above the nearest door.

B. Weir


28 March 2009

We received this in an email from Graham Lappin. It has raised the issue of fictional works that feature the Vale. If you know of any others let us know and we'll list them here.

B. Weir


After enjoying Whisky in the Jar by Alexander Tait (Mr. Scobie) and Gentlemen of the West by Agnes Owens and having just finished the hard to find A Lass of Lennox by James Strang I wonder what other fiction there is that features the Vale or has strong Vale connections.

I can think of Women of the Aeroplanes by Kojo (Bernard Laing) which I never quite finished and Orange and Green by Nan Rogers (Mrs Hamilton) but after that I come up blank.  Does anyone else know of other works?


A. Graham Lappin
Professor and Chair
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame IN 46556-5670


17 March 2009

Gallone's Cafe

Gallone bought the “garage” for his ice cream van off of Tenants brewery – It was a smithy originally and was used to shoe/keep the dray horses that delivered the beer to the old vale bar.

The children (one of whom grew up to be Cllr Cherry) who lived nearby thought that it was fun to block the chimney with hessian sacks and smoke out the smithy - who regularly chased them!

Gallone bought the garage before the 2nd world war and then Mr D’alessandro bought it from him – he was brought over from Italy along with betty to work in the shop – the interior of which (because of all its original 1920’s outfitting) has since been shipped to America.

Mr Freeman and Mr Chambers bought the garage off of Carmen D’alessandro in 1994 and it is  used as a workshop/garage. Now it specializes in plant and machinery and it is still owned by them as F.C. Plant.

Aileen McArthur

maxandremo at blueyonder dot co dot uk


15 March2009

Hugh Caldwell (Rhymer)


I was interested to see your item on Hugh Caldwell the poet.
Hugh was my gg grandfather and, modestly refered to himself as a rhymer rather than a poet.

Hugh was born in Springfield, Barhead in 1867. He and Jessie McGregor married in Alexandria in 1889 when he was working as a printfield hand, (he was living at The Crescent, Alexandria at the time). He then went on to work as a Turkey Red Yarn Dyer.  He and Jessie had 6 children.

When Hugh died in 1903 he was working as an Insurance Agent.
Jessie was the daughter of Mungo McGregor and Jane Gourlay.
Mungo became a Foreman Dyer and, the story in the family is, that he came up with a system for drying the yarn.  The money he was given for his idea/invention he used to buy or have built a house in Smollett Street called "Janeville", so named after his wife.

Best wishes Christine

christinehein-hartmann at hotmail dot co dot uk


8 March 2009


At last a response to the various issues and questions which have arisen in the past 4 – 5 months about the former Tullichewan Castle estate, particularly its war-time and immediate post-war use. The answers provided below were very much helped by Billy Scobie who pointed us in the direction of an Ordnance Survey Map of the site at Dumbarton Library, and Graham Hopner of the Library who was very helpful in not only sourcing it, but also in immediately providing a copy of the relevant part of the map. His colleague Roda was similarly helpful in supplying the relevant Valuation Rolls.

An unexpected bonus with the map is that it actually shows the details of the Royal Navy Camp, and of course the Orchard. It clearly shows where both Camp and the Orchard were in relation to each other and to the Woodbank. That alone would, I think, also answer the question of who owned the Orchard, but in addition the Valuation Rolls make it clear it belonged to Tullichewan Castle and not Woodbank, although it is referred to as “Gardens” in the Rolls. A few comments may help to remove any potential confusion about the Map.

1. It is only a small section of a much larger map so although the Woodbank is on it, the Castle isn’t – that would have required a bigger paper size which we couldn’t scan, only having a A4 scanner. For that reason we can’t show the whole stretch of the A811 between the roundabouts.

2. For the same reason, some apparently meaningless terms appear – e.g. “Bonhill” across the middle is only a reference to Bonhill Parish.

3. The map is dated 1962 which means that it is a bit of an anachronism because it shows both the camp and some of the houses from Phase 2 of Tullichewan, i.e. after they had started to replace the aluminiums. That was impossible, because the camp was long gone by then, but it does provide some useful reference points for where it was in relation to the existing houses in Tullichewan.
There are three images of the map provided:

Image 1 is a straight copy of a section of the Ordnance Survey map.

Image 2 highlights the Orchard in red, and the Camp in Blue. Note that there are symbols of trees on the map suggesting an orchard rather than a garden.

Image 3 has the new Stoneymollan roundabout and the new (well newish) stretch of the A811 superimposed on it by hand. This is not meant to be an exact measurement of its line, but a close approximation showing how the road and its embankments run through the site of the former camp.

There is also an aerial photograph in Dumbarton Library taken about 1980 from overhead the Carrochan Road roundabout, showing the line of Lomond Road and the then new link road up to the Stoneymollan Roundabout in the distance. This is before any of the bushes or trees grew up beside the A811 and what is particularly striking is the distance between the new road and the walled orchard, which at that time had its four walls intact. The site was obviously in use as a caravan site by then, because the photo shows a number of towing caravans standing around the walls. I think I’ve said somewhere on the web-site that at least part of the orchard lay under the A811, which is wrong and will have to be changed.

The question of Orchard or Walled Garden produced a greater response from people than anything else that we’ve asked for input on. To a man / woman they said it was the Orchard. People stopped me in the street, pub and in shops as well as emailing, all claiming to have lived in Tullichewan as children, and all remembering raiding the fruit trees. Tullichewan must have been the most populated place in the Vale in those days, with easily the healthiest, best fed children. So the Orchard it is, end of story.

The question of ownership is also clear-cut. Before the new road system, Stoneymollan was the dividing line between the Woodbank and Tullichewan properties, everything to the south of Stoneymollan unequivocally belonging to the Campbells of Tullichewan and their successors. The new A811 slip road confused matters, leaving the walled Orchard on its north side, but it did not belong to Woodbank. The site of the Orchard is now, of course, part of the Caravan Park and at least one of its walls is still standing.

On the subject of the Camp, there is an account of a Wren’s time there before going off to Bletchley Park at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/43/a2478143.shtml Her name is Marian Durrans and it seems to have been on the BBC war time web pages since March 2004, so many of you may have seen it already. What made the greatest impression on her at Tullichewan seems to have been how cold it was.

LATEST - 25 Nov 09: More information about the former war-time camp at Tullichewan Castle. The following sketch has been drawn for us by a former post-war resident of the camp, Danny May. Danny has previously provided the web-site with other information about the huts  The Admiralty workshop mentioned by Malcolm Lobban as having survived long after the huts had been demolished, lay between the huts and the Orchard. The sketch will help people who can remember the Admiralty workshop but not the huts to get some idea where they were located.

Harry Summers


19 February 2009

Hello from Down Under!

Does anyone in the Vale or elsewhere know anything about Heather Avenue and a tree known locally during the 1940s as 'Fletcher's Tree'.  In my boyhood days in the Vale, the story goes that a man of that name was hanged (possibly suicide) on the large elm tree, which was then situated at a point about 25 yards beyond the railway bridge (left-hand side, heading for the Leven).  I cannot be the only person who has heard of it, since it was common chat among local  Argyll Street and Govan Drive weans in my day!

Best wishes. . '.Malky' Lobban.


26 January 2009

(Regarding the Huts in the Vale of Leven Academy)

The huts to the left of the building seen from Middleton Street housed some of the Technical Rooms and the Remedial department ( one room nearest the road Mr A Cameron ) Domestic was _not _in that group of huts.  They were put up in anticipation of the raising of the leaving age to 15. The huts were comfy to work in and nicely removed from higher authority. Incidentally, the huts at Jamestown were of the same type and vintage and were to have been replaced by new super primary nearer Bonhill. I was in a working party that sweated blood to thrash out the agreement that it would be done. That was in 1988 and as you well know, it never happened.

The hut in front of the building dating as you say from the late fifties was not the dining room. It did not last long. The dining room and kitchen went up during the war in the corner of of the playground between Park Street and Middleton Street.

The prefabricated buildings in Park Street started their lives in 1948.
I can remember sitting in Room 8 watching the big elm trees being taken away. Mr Mckenzie was not amused. This row of high class huts did house technical and domestic and despite what it said recently in the Lennox, never contained the dining room. . Technical Drawing moved into them from Room 23 which became a Science Room.

(Regarding watching games at Millburn from the railway wagons)

The urban myth of railway wagons being parked on the Dillichip siding does not hold water. It was in the wrong place to screen Victoria Street from the football ground and Bridge Street was completely out of sight.

The reason for the wagons was simple. The were parked pending scrapping.You could tell by the white circle containing a cross inside. I think, but could not be definite that they were destined for Ardmore sidings where lots of wagons and coaches were cut up till long after the new academy opened in 62. They were lined up and set on fire and the plume of smoke was visible from this side of the hill. What metal was left was cut up once it had cooled.

R. Bain

p.s. Huts  When work started on the buildings at place of Bonhill in the late fifties, a group of excited weans came in to tell me the new school was well on the way to completion. "The huts are in already !!!!!"   Too bad the workmen took their huts away before we could use them. It just shows how they were conditioned to expect that a school had to have huts.  Place of Bonhill got them too before they built the firetrap that burned down.

Carry on with the good work...............  fascinating stuff.


13 January 2009


I have just read the article submitted by Jimmy(Scott), in which he mentions the orchard. It certainly made me smile and evoked some old memories. In my early childhood days i stayed in the " huts " and spent many a happy moment playing in the orchard. Indeed one of my earliest challenges in life was to jump from the  top of orchard wall and on to the ground. I remember the great excitement when i managed to achieve this. A great site this keep up the good work.

Danny May.


10 January 2009

no recent history would be complete without a mention of "FREDDIES" aka fountain cafe.
founded in 1961,this was the meeting place of many a mis spent youth,where a hamburger or hot cheese  roll and bottle of coke were very much of the staple diet of many a teenager.anyone remember a schoolboy lunch for 3 bob?.

 one of the  few established businesses still surviving in alexandria!

paulcocozza at blueyonder dot co dot uk


8 January 2009

I lived in Tullichewan (Bannachra Crescent) and left for Toronto, Ontario in June 1966; attended St. Mary's and St.Pat's schools; now live in Maple, Ontario (north of Toronto) and we have a home in Muskoka; working for Hewlett-Packard Legal; there are so many old friends I'd like to list and find out what they are up to today : Jimmy Dunn, Alex Haggart, Dennis Mclaughlin, Duncan O'Neil, Tom McCue, Eddie Millar, Desmond Balmer to name a few; there are some girl friends also but I suspect none of them wants to contact me !  This site has developed well since I first found it accidentally; well done, ian

Ian Livsey
livesyi at aol dot com


8 January 2009

Dear Bryan / Harry

Thanks for the info that has been posted on the site re the Tullichewan Camp, very interesting reading indeed. I paid my annual visit to the pub over the New Year period and was telling my friends about the website and the conversation turned to the old Tullichewan and surrounding areas. One of the points of discussion was " The Orchard" as we called it, located between the Camp and the old Sandpit. It was a walled garden with various fruit trees inside, hence the Orchard tag. We were not sure whether it was attached to the Tullichewan Castle or Woodbank House which was a bit closer. It covered an extensive area and was circa 100m x 100m and surrounded by a stone wall maybe 2 - 3m in height.

Another location that was "invaded" by us locals was the former tennis courts (we believe) at Tullichewan Castle. This was an area adjacent to the castle that was completely surrounded by trees and made the ideal small football pitch, and was affectionately known as "Wee Hampden" after several lawnmowers were brought up to cut the grass to a reasonable length and sawdust to line out the pitch. Many a long day was spent playing football in this location. Happy days indeed. Maybe Malcolm Lobban can expand on these places. Keep up the good work with the website, its a whole new education which a lot of us had forgotten about.


Jimmy (Scott)


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