Bathgate in old picture postcards

Bathgate in old picture postcards

Author
:   William F. Hendrie
Municipality
:   Bathgate
Province
:   Lothian, West
Country
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-3167-4
Pages
:   160
Price
:   EUR 16.95 Including VAT *

Delivery time: 2 - 3 working days ((subject too). The illustrated cover may differ.

   


Fragments from the book 'Bathgate in old picture postcards'

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4. These old buildings in Jarvey Street with their bow front, fore stairs and pantiles were demolished to make way for the headquarters of Bathgate Co-operative Society including the Co-op's well-known Speyside Function Suite. Jarvey Street is believed to take its name from the Jarves, a French Hugenot family, who came to Scotland to escape religious persecution in their homeland. Some of the family farrned land around Torphichen, where the name still occurs, while others continued the craft of weaving, which they had brought with them from France and established their little home workshops in the old part of Bathgate, where as aresult it is said that they gave their name to Jarvey Street.

5. The last of the Bathgate weavers, Nisbet Easton, poses by his hearth side for the photographer. The kettle on the hob is ready to make the tea, while the open book by his side is a reminder that while Bathgate's weavers worked with their hands, they had keen brains, which not only helped to create their intricate woven patterns, but which were also put to good use after the long day's work to participate in the town's famous Victorian Green Tree Debating Society and to write poetry.

One of their members, spinning wheel maker John Stark, or Starkie as he was known throughout the town, was such a Bums enthusiast, that every year on the poet's birthday, 25th January, he insisted on taking a holiday, decorating his home and holding open house. He decked his cottage from roof to floor with flags and holly and set up in front of it a large wooden model, which he had carved and painted, of Bums, dressed in grey, working at the plough. Inside he always arranged a display for his many visitors of curios, which he c1aimed bore a conneetion with the poet. They were very varied, ranging from some old thatch from Bums' cottage at A1loway and stones from the River Doon, to two of Poosie Nancie's jugs and even, so he maintained, some hairs from Meg's grey tail. One of his proudest possessions was a little prayer book, which he believed had once belonged to the church-goer who had inspired 'Holy Willie's Prayer'. Whether or not the people of Bathgate truly believed in all of Auld Starkie's Burns' relics, they always tumed up at his horne on 25th January to join in the festivities and see his giant haggis and Starkie, dressed in his Sunday best, proudly welcomed them all. Many of the local baims had perhaps an uIterior motive in keeping in with Starkie, for as well as making spinning wheels, he also made spinning tops for the youngsters and his 'peeries' were prized possessions. It is interesting to wonder if the one in picture 37 was made by him. Starkie died aged 75 on 30th December 1881, thus robbing Bathgate of one ofits most colourful characters.

6. The tower of the High Church looms over the Corn Exchange in Jarvey Street. The Corn Exchange provided the auction rooms where local farmers sold their crops, but after the sales were over its large hall often provided the setting for the town's dinners and dances and it is in this latter role that it survives to this day, Known for many years as the Palais, it occupies a fond place in the memories of many Bathgate couples who first met on its crowded dance floor. Today the style of dancing has changed and it has become the Queen's Disco, but it is still a popular meeting place for the town's young people.

7. This view looking straight down from the top of the High Church tower shows Brown Square in the foreground and Balbardie House and its spacious grounds in the background. Brown Square was known locally as the 'Bunker', because of its hemmed in trench like shape. Notice the horse-drawn cart delivering 'messages' to the house in the corner.

Balbardie House was the home of the Marjoribanks family, and it is also shown in the next picture over leaf.

8. This is one of the few remaining pictures of Balbardie House, now long since demolished, although the name is still remembered in that of Balbardie Primary School, whose headmistress Mrs. Myra MacPherson does much to interest her young pupils in the history of the area. Balbardie House as seen in this photograph was clearly an impressive mansion as befitted its builders and owners, Bathgate's best known family in Victorian times, the Marjoribanks, after wh om Marjoribanks Street is named.

The Marjoribanks were always a very publicly minded family and it was one of their number Alexander Marjoribanks who as the town's first Provost in 1814 led the legal battle to ensure that Bathgate's benefactor John Newlands' intention in his will that his money should be used to build a 'school for the bairns of Bathgate' was honoured. Unfortunately the court proceedings and the time needed for interest to acme on Newlands' capital meant that it was almost twenty years later in 1833 before the first classes were admitted to the new school and one boy who missed out on the added educational advantages which the new school offered was Bathgate's most famous son, Professor Sir J ames Y oung Simpson of chloroform farne.

However, when as a laddie young Sim ps on came each day to Balbardie House, to deliver morning rolls from his family's bakery in Main Street, Alexander Marjoribanks soon recognised how bright the wee delivery boy was and christened him 'The Y oung Philosopher' , a nickname of which Simpson was always proud, along with the two others which he bore as a result of his Bathgate childhood. These were 'The Box 0' Brains' as he was dubbed by his other customers amongst the townsfolk and 'The Wise Wean' as he was always referred to by his Bathgate schoolmaster, dominie Henderson, who hirnself bore the nickname of 'Timmerleg' because of his artificiallimb, amputated sadly long before his c1everest pupil discovered the pain saving qualities of anaestetics.

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