Friday, 25 March 2016

Life in Earlston in the Late 19th Century

                 What was everyday life like in Earlston 
                             in the late 19th century?

We get a sense of this from old newspapers, They are fascinating documents. The reports enable us to "experience" events, as they were recorded in the press of the time. It is not textbook history in the conventional manner, but is full of vigour, recording many varied aspects of the lives of ordinary people.
Take a look at these random snippets of "Headlines on Earlston" drawn from the local press - the first of a regular series.

EARLSTON. The property known as the Thorn House, has been purchased by The Misses Scott, Dunbar, for the purpose of establishing a high class boarding and day school for young ladies. 10 June 1879 - Berwickshire News and General Advertiser.

FOR the SCHOOL of REDPATH, Parish of Earlston. Applicants for the situation must be qualified to Teach thoroughly all the Ordinary Branches of Scottish Education. A Salary is given. The School is at present in a highly prosperous condition. 
15 July 1864 - Kelso Chronicle


EARLSTON.The Kirk Session meeting on Thursday evening resolved to distribute about 35 tons of coal among or poor people in the parish. The coals are to be supplied by Mr William Gray, Coal-Agent, Earlston Station. 

9 November 1878 - Berwickshire News and General Advertiser

EARLSTOUN. Short-Time Movement.— Last week Messrs (Chas. Wilson & Sons intimated to their employees that they should henceforth have one hour each meal instead of three-quarters formerly, thereby reducing the time of labour for the week to fifty-seven.  10 November 1871 - Kelso Chronicle.

Rhymer's Mill 

WEATHER - (Sounds familiar!)
Since the snow disappeared. a  considerable quantity of rain has fallen, which has saturated the soil with moisture and delayed the work of seed sowing. A favourable change, however, set in on Saturday, which was a good drying day,[
09 April 1872 - Berwickshire News and General Advertiser

PAVING THE STREETS A public meeting of the inhabitants of Earlston was held in the Reading Room Hall, on Wednesday evening, to consider the subject of making pathways on each side of the main street of Earlston, 17 January 1871 - Berwickshire News and General Advertiser.

DEATH OF LANCELOT WATSON11th April 1918 - Hawick Advertiser.

But  who was Lancelot Watson, with Earlston, Hawick and American connections?  
More research called for here!

And Finally

There died the other day at East Morriston a man named John Middlemass, at the very advanced age of 93. He was the father of 11 children. He had 70 grandchildren, 138 great-grandchildren, and 4 great, great  grandchildre , making in all 223 descendants. 17 May 1881 - Berwickshire News and General Advertiser.

So John Middlemass must have been born c.1788, just before the time of the French Revolution, and 75 years before the railway reached Earlston in 1863. 


Sunday, 13 March 2016

Earlston Railway Cuttings 1 - Celebrating the First Sod

11th October 1862 was a local holiday in Earlston to mark the cutting at Greenlaw of the first sod for the Berwickshire Railway, with shops and businesses closed for the day.  

An article in "The Southern Reporter" 23rd October 1862 gives us a contemporary and entertaining  account of the celebrations  on that occasion:

"Villagers were put on the "qui vive" by the arrival of the brass band of the 2nd Selkirkshire Volunteers who reached here between 8 and 9 o'clock, and after partaking of refreshments and discoursing several spirit stirring tunes, proceeded onwards to the centre of attraction.

They were quickly followed by the majority of our male population in carriages, gigs and omnibus, and not a few in long carts - the occupants making every village and farmstead they passed resound with their oft repeated and hearty "hurrahs".

Of what passed at Greenlaw it is unnecessary to to speak here, suffice to say that the whole of our sightseers arrived home between 6 and 7 o'clock in the evening, all highly gratified by the proceedings, not from what was seen or heard, but from the fact that they had had a period [a stop] put to their desponding fears, and had witnessed the realisation of their ardent hopes. The commencement of the railway will open up a ready means of communication in every direction.

Towards night, rain began to fall which to a great extent marred the effect of a large bonfire on the Western Green, the materials for which had been kindly contributed by Messrs Wood, Gasworks; Smith, merchant; Brownlie. wood-merchant.

The Messrs Wilson, manufacturers, not only closed their factory, and placed their horses and carts at the disposal of their employees. but forwarded a liberal supply of refreshments and had also secured in Greenlaw a private room for their reception."

 A goods train from Earlston travelling between Gordon and Greenlaw.
Copyright  © Bruce McCartney.  All Rights Reserved.  

This article is the first in a series of newspaper clippings 
on the railway through Earlston.  


Sunday, 6 March 2016

Earlston Women at Work

Women's Worktime Fashions is the theme for  our latest post - from munitions to mills, housework to farming.

                     Earlston Munitions Workers at Charlesfield, St. Boswells.

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, sometimes up to seven days a week. 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 ]

 Nurses  in the Second World War

Housewives at the Travelling Co-op Van  
I remember my mother wearing this kind of pinny with a handy front pocket for dusters etc. . She made them too for many a sale of work. 

Workwear at the Egg Packaging Station at Georgefield Farm
   At Simpson & Fairbairn's Rhymer's Mill, Earlston 

Bondagers were female farm workers in south east Scotland and Northumberland. As part of their husband's contract (or bond) with the farmer, he would undertake to provide another worker (usually his wife) to help as and when required. The women wore a distinctive dress with bonnet, described as the "last remaining peasant costume" in Britain.


Thank you to everyone who has  donated or loaned old photographs for scanning. 

For more photographs on village life,  
look at our associated Facebook page  Lost Earlston