Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas Greetings from Earlston

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 

To All Our Blog Readers  

A charming Christmas card 
from  the collection of  local historian - the late John Weatherly 



Photographs of Earlston Christmas Lights

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Earlston on the Dance Floor

   Dances were a regular feature of social life in Earlston.

Here are just a few of the accounts found in the local press from the past, featuring the Earlston Jazz Band, the Earlston Rhythm Band, an Ankle Competition and a "Spectacular Rumba Competition."   Read on!

Bachelors Ball: 25th January 1921  
"A dance organised by the Bachelors of Earlston was held on Friday evening in the Corn Exchange when over 50 couples were present. The hall was beautifully decorated and made an artistic spectacle. Excellent music was provided by the Galashiels Town Band and Messrs Henry Wallace and Robert Murdison undertook efficiently the duties of MC. The dance was continued until the early hours of the morning and was pronounced one of the most enjoyable held in times past."

Flannel Dance: 17th June 1922 

Earlston Jazz Band - 3rd January 1924  

"The Earlston Lawn Tennis Club gave a dance on Wednesday evening last in the Corn Exchange, for the purpose of augmenting the club funds. About 30 couples were present. The music was performed by Earlston Jazz Band, and Mr. Wm Rodger was M.C."

Rhymers Dance Band: 3rd October 1929

"A group of local musicians who formed themselves
into a dance band, known as the Rhymers Dance Band, gave their initial performance gratuitously on Friday night in the Corn Exchange..... Names of performers were C. Taylor, A. Stafford, D. McAndrew, J. Rankine, J. Stafford, and G. Creighton....As the dance provided such success, it was agreed to hold it annually."

New Year Dance: 10th January 1935

"1935 was ushered in in Earlston by a brief dance in the Corn Exchange under the auspices of the local Golf Club, the music being provided by the "Revellers" from Selkirk. Although the hall was crowded, the dance was very orderly , considering t he festive nature of the occasion. When the hour of midnight struck on the town clock, the company dispersed after exchanging New Year's greetings. A great deal of first footing seems to have taken place for bands of young people of both sexes were to be heard for several hours parading the streets in a more or less hilarious manner, though not necessarily in a state of inebriety."

Spectacular Rumba Competition: 24th March 1938

Anyone who follows TV's "Strictly Come Dancing" will know that the Rumba is a slow, sensuous dance! 

Dance And Ankle Competition: 24th May 1945
"Through the kindness of the following Earlston ladies Mrs Jas. Mitchell, Mrs Geo. Kerr, Mrs McQuillin and Mrs J. Amos, a very successful dance and ankle competition was held in the Corn Exchange. The music was supplied by Mrs Anderson's Band from Lauder judges for the ankle competition were: Dr. and Mrs Campbell and Mr and Mrs Wm. Hogg, Clackmae. who made the awards as follows: 1 - Mrs P. Johnstone, 2 - Miss J. Allan, 3 - Miss N. Bell. The sum of £34.11s 9d. was raised for the Earlston "Welcome Home" Fund which reflects great credit on the lady organisers. Thanks are also due to the Polish Soldiers who decorated the hall."

Taking a break from the dance floor

Victory Dance: 23d August 1945 

                                                     The Polish  Dance Band

And finally the only photograph we have in the Auld Earlston Collection of people actually dancing - the Auld Earlston Group would be delighted to receive other pictures.

Tennis Club Dance, 1959


Friday, 25 November 2016

A Look at Earlston during the Second World War

War Weapons Week the Home Guard, Munition Workers and a Polish Tank Regiment - all feature in this look at Earlston during the Second World War.

In August 1941 War Weapons Week was held across Britain as a major national fund raising campaign to provide for the replacement of weapons lost in the evacuation from Dunkirk.

Each town was given a figure to raise. Earlston's target was £8000. In fact the "patriotic investors of Earlston" raised £23.006, 18 shillings and 4 pence - a phenomenal amount and equivalent to over £1 million pounds today. [Source: Measuring Worth] 

 Southern Reporter:  4th September 1941

The fancy dress parade included a float depicting Mary Queen of Scots and her the Four Mary's - Peggy Betts, Ella Montgomery, Lizzie Burrell, Mary Young and Mame Weatherstone.

Voluntary organisations were  on parade, including nurses and the Home Guard.  

Earlston Home Guard, drilling at Carolside. 

The Home Guard (initially "Local Defence Volunteers" or LDV) was a defence organisation operational from 1940 until 1944. The Home Guard was composed of 1.5 million local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, such as those too young or too old to join the services, or those in reserved occupation - and is best known today from its portrayal in the TV comedy "Dad's Army".
 The Home Guard's role was to act as a secondary defence force, in case of invasion by the enemy. The Home Guard continued to guard the coastal areas of the United Kingdom and other important places such as airfields, factories and explosives stores until late 1944 when they were stood down, and finally disbanded in December 1945. [Source - Wikipedia]

Also supporting the War Effort in Earlston - Local Munitions Workers.


Earlston women munition workers were employed at Charlesfield, St. Boswells and at Rodgers in Earlston. Ella Hood recalled being sent to college at Portobello, Edinburgh to learn how to operate a lathe. She said there were two shifts working seven days a week involving dozens of women.

Around 950,000 British women worked in munitions factories during the Second World War, making weapons like shells and bullets. Munitions work was often well-paid, but involved long hours. Workers were also at serious risk from accidents with dangerous machinery or when working with high explosive material. Some munitions workers handled toxic chemicals every day. Those who handled sulphur were nicknamed ‘Canary Girls’, because their skin and hair turned yellow from contact with the chemical. [Source: My Learning.Org ]


The Polish Tank Regiment in Earlston

General Eisenhower arriving at Earlston Station in 1944 to inspect 
the Polish Tank Regiment stationed in the village. 
Tanks in Earlston Square, under close inspection  by two little boys.

Polish troops under the command of General Stanislav Maczek trained across Scotland including Berwickshire, before taking part in the Normandy Landings of 1944. At its peak, the division numbered 16,000 soldiers.

In Earlston, the rugby club pitch and clubhouse were requisitioned by the military. Approximately one third of the pitch was dug out and concrete laid to make a "hull-down" park for the tanks stationed in the area preparing for D-Day.

The Polish contingent in the village involved themselves in local community events, including playing for the dances which were a popular form of wartime  entertainment.  
 The Polish band playing for a dance in the Corn Exchange. 

With a thank you from the Auld Earlston Group to everyone 
who has supplied the photographs featured here.   


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Earlston War Memorial

On the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, 

the Great War of 1914-1918 came to an end.

Two years later on Sunday 13th November 1921, in a service of dedication in the square, Earlston War Memorial was unveiled by Mrs Hope, wife of Colonel Hope of Cowdenknowes, chairman of the War Memorial Committee,

The War Memorial was built on the site of the old Pump Well in the Market Square,  "The Southern Reporter" of 17th November 1921 noted that the memorial was designed by Galashiels sculptor Thomas Clapperton, and executed in Creetown granite  by Messrs G. Sutherland and Sons, Galashiels.  at a total cost of £650.  The report also listed  the forty-eight  men whose names were inscribed on the memorial,   the names of the fund raising  committee and details of the  service, including  the  speech by Colonel Hope of Cowdenknowes. . 

Colonel Hope looked back at the campaigns and sacrifices of the Earlston men who never returned home and concluded:

"This Memorial which we are about to unveil, will keep the memories of those brave men always before the minds of those seeing it from day to day , or passing by it from time to time.  We are proud also today to see so  Manny of those salient men who went forth from this parish and have been spared to rturn to their homes.  And now having all pulled together to win the war........ shall we not now all pull together to  win  the true peace and prosperity which  are so much wanted throughout the world after all the devastation of the war."  


The memorial inscription reads "To the glory of God and in memory of the 48 men of Earlston Parish who gave their lives for King and Country during the Great War. Their names liveth for evermore".

Names of the fallen, as listed in the Dedication Service Programme (above) 

Aikman, William F.                  Aitchison, Alexander S.        Archibald, James S.          Ballantyne David                     George, Lord Binning            Black, Archibald
Borthwick, David A.                Boyd, John                            Cessford, Alexander
Dickson, John                          Duff, Henry                           Elliot, Henry
Faichney, Thomas                    Fairley, Alexander               Forbes, Henry W.
Gillie, Thomas                         Graham, William                   Hardie, James
Hardie, John T.                       Hewitt, John                        Johnston, George R.
Kerr, William                           Kerr, William G.                   Lees, Robert
Lunam, David                          Milne, Alexnder                    Notman, James
Paterson, David                       Robertson, James W.           Simpson, Alexander
Simpson, George                     Slassor, Walter                      Stirling, William
Thomson, James                     Turnbull, Henry C.                Turnbull, William
Todd, George                          Vallance, Thomas                  Weatherston, James
White Robert R.                      Wilkie, William                      Wilson, Adam
Wilson, Robert                        Wilson, William                     Young, George
Young, John F.                        Young, Robert D.                  Young, William R.

Following the Second World War, a bronze tablet was added, with seven more names of those who lost their lives in the conflict. 

Brown, Robert                         Colville, David                      Donaldson, Walter Scott
Falconer, Edward                    Faulkener, Robert Mason    Johnston, John T. 
Sandilands, David 



The Auld Earlston Group would be pleased  to receive for its collection  any wartime memories or photographs which could be scanned and returned to you.

Please contact auldearlston@aol.com 


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Wartime Air Crash over Earlston - UPDATE

Last November the Auld Earlston blog featured an account of the Darlingfield Air Crash of 1943 when a German bomber came down near the village, killing all four members of the crew.  Click HERE to read the full account.

Recently Henning Hiestermann  the grandson of the pilot, Paul  Rogge (left),  made a return visit to Earlston with members of the Aircrew Remembrance Society who were making a further investigation of the site.   

A new plaque was placed at the simple memorial, in the presence of members of the Auld Earlston Group, who assisted in the original enquiry to trace more information on the crash. 

It was a beautiful crisp autumn afternoon, standing in the field, surrounded by the peaceful Borders countryside that 73  years earlier had witnessed a tragedy of war.
 Henning Hiestermann (centre) with members of the Auld Earlston Group

  Henning holding a portrait of his grandfather on the site of  the crash

Monday, 31 October 2016

Exhibition on Earlston at Work and Play

Auld Earlston's recent exhibition and slide show at the Church Hall has been voted a great success by organisers of the local heritage group.  

The theme of "Earlston at Work and Play" drew a large audience throughout the two days, with the four slide shows attracting full houses. Visitors also had the chance to browse through information panels and extensive displays of vintage photographs on working lives - at farms, mills, blacksmiths, shops, trades  and as carters and posties, whilst "Earlston at Leisure" saw features on the local cinema, dances, fetes, socials and shows, plus fun outdoors, sporting activities and setting out for trips away.

Visitors enjoyed reminiscing over tea and coffee, whilst also completing a short survey "Share a Memory of Work and Leisure in Earlston." 

Auld Earlston Chairman,  Sheila Mckay said " We were delighted at the response and thank all who came along to support our event to make it such a success. We were encouraged by the length of time many people took to look around and see what our Auld Earlston Group is  doing to keep Earlston’s past alive."


Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Night Out at Earlston's Cinema.

Do you or your family have memories of the Cinema in Earlston? Can you help us with any background information? 

Some members of the Auld Earlston Group recall: 
"The Eildon Cinema first opened in Melrose but  moved to the Corn Exchange, Earlston, with planning permission was given for the building's  change of use in 1956.  It was run by Mrs. Blenkinsop and Alan Coates, and my mother and sister were among the usherettes.
I remember one night  watching a Richard Todd war film, when a bomb went off in the film, startling  the usherette who dropped her large torch on the floor with a further bang.  We used to sit at the back row smoking - despite us being underage!   
It seemed every time I was there, the music being played was Russ Conway's "Side Saddle"  - the popular piece of the day, but I  got very fed up of hearing it. 

The cinema was very well attended and great for a night out that didn't involve  travelling to Galashiels.  But it only lasted a few years, before  becoming  a bingo hall and a venue for discos.  I remember Manfred Mann performing  there in a live show.   

I think in the 1930's,  behind the Red Lion was a rather make-shift cinema  in what was known as the Union Building.  They had a fire scare when people panicked and the incident  made the local newspapers.

In the collection of  Auld Earlston are two programme bills (below).   Cinema goers could view a weekly programmer= of five films, (two performances on Saturday) .    Unfortunately the bills  are not dated,   but the film release date is given in brackets  as an indication of when people would be enjoying them - in the 1950's and 60's  

The Long Hot Summer, with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward & Orson Welles  (1958)

Oregon Passage  - John Ericson and Louis Albright (1957)
Count of Twelve - Eunice Gayson and John Bentley (1953) 
The Siege at Red River - Van Johnson and Joanne Dru (1954)
The Law and Jake Wade - Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark (1958)

The billing on the second advertisement is more wide-ranging in date from 1942 to 1960 with:

A Woman Like Satan - Bridget Bardot  (1958) 
The Five Pennies Danny Kaye (1959)
Orchestra Wives - Geo Montgomery and Anne Rutherford. (1942)
Rock A Bye Baby - Jerry Lewis (1958)
Inn For Trouble - Peggy Mount and David Kossoff (1960)
People Will Talk - Cary Grant and  Jeanne Crain (1951)
Circus of Horrors - Anton Diffring and Erica Remberg (1960)
The Baited Trap - Richard Widmark and Lee J. Cobb (1959)
What Price Glory - Jimmy Cagney and Dan Dailey (1953)
The Flesh is Weak - John Derek and Millie Vitale (1958)
Toby Tyler Kevin Corcoran and Henry Calvin (1960)
Let's Get Married - Anthony Newley and Anne Aubrey (1960)
Tammy - Debbie Reynolds and Leslie Neilson  

Many of these titles and actors. may well bring back memories to film buffs. 

If you can help us with more reminiscences on cinema going in Earlston, do get in touch - by writing a comment below, or e-mailing: www.auldearlston.aol.com - we would like to hear from you.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

See Earlston at Work and Play at our October Open Days

Valuing the History of our Village
for Future Generations


is holding 
Open Days in October on the theme


Saturday Oct. 29th, 10am-3pm

Sunday Oct. 30th, 12noon-4pm

in the Church Hall.

·   New Slide Show - previously unseen images
  Sat. 11am & 1.30am.     Sun. 1pm & 2.30pm

·         Exhibition of Photographs and Memorabilia

Admission £2, Children Free.  Including Tea/Coffee


Tel. 01896 848240.  E-Mail: auldearlston@aol.com

Simpson & Fairbairn Mill

Happy choir members from Ercildoune Church on their trip 
to the Trossachs in 1936.