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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24. The High Brae, Torphichen, remains much the same today as it looked in this picture taken at the beginning of this century, except that the raad has now been surfaced!

Notice the red pantiled roofs of the cottages on the left and the more typically Scottish grey slate roof of the late Georgian house in the centre. lts stone work has been left exposed, but that of its neighbours on either side has been harled. Harling was aften used in Scotland to proteet soft sandstone from wind and weather.

High Brae, Torphiehen.

25. Slackend Cross Roads to the south of Torphichen on the road to Bathgate, is still easily recognisable, despite the new houses which have replaced the tree and the field.

Slackend House in the background, which belonged to Bathgate lawyer A.K. Fleming, now has a row of neighbours stretching up the hill to the left, but otherwise remains the same. The farm steading on the right later became a garage.

Slackend Farm to which the steading belonged is of particular interest as it at one time belonged to the Simpson family, whose grandson was Sir James Young Simpson, who gained farne as the Victorian doctor who pioneered the use of chloroform. During his childhood in Bathgate, young Simpson often walked out to spend the day on the farm and it is said that he delighted in listening to stories about earlier generations of his family at Slackend and in particular about their belief in superstition.

One story of ten told about the Simpsons was about the day a gypsy was turned away empty handed by one of the farm servant girls and as a result put a curse on its land. When farmer Simpson retumed from work in the fields and heard of the curse, it is said that he dashed after the gypsy. He caught up with her in Torphichen Square and grasping hold of her pulled out his knife and scratched the sign of the cross on her forehead as the only way to lift her curse.

The story which scared young Simpson most was one about how his grandfather tried to rid his herd of disease, by digging a pit and then burying a healthy cow alive to try to appease the evil Lord of Murain, the wicked spirit of the land.

26. Torphichen in the snow forms a charming Christmas card like scene. The little pantiled roofed cottages have long since disappeared, but the taU tower of the Knights of St. John's 12th century Preceptory and the adjoining 18th century parish church with its little belfry, still stand. Torphichen became the Scottish headquarters of the Order of St. John in 1168, when the Knights were granted these lands by the Scottish king. From here they administered all of their other possessions in Scotland as far north as Elgin and gathered their rents with which to finance their work on the Crusades or Wars of the Cross in the Holy Land, where to this day they maintain an eye infirmary in Jerusalem.

The Knights of St. John, who claim descent from their patron St. John the Baptist and who claim to be the oldest order of chivalry in the world, fuIfiUed a three fold religious, military and medical roIe, safeguarding the bodies and souls of pilgrims on the Crusades, and at Torphichen evidence of all three roles can still be found. The Preceptory at Torphichen is one of the few ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland with military architectural features, including battlements and a defensive staircase, while the whoie site was formerly surrounded by a moat and battlements and the road in the picture is still called the Bowyett from the bow butts or archery targets where shooting was practised.

A reminder of the hospital which the Knights ran is provided by the leper squint, the smaU slanting wind ow through which patients suffering from leprosy couid look into the church and witness the service, without themselves being seen or coming into contact with other worshippers.

Finally the Preceptory, named after the Christian Precepts, or Choir as it is of ten called, because that is the part of the church still standing, is a reminder of the Knights' services, revived once each year on St. John's Sunday in June.

27. Torphichen's parish minister, the Reverend MI. Beale, walks proudly beside the lead horse on this sunny summer Sunday School outing. All of the local farmers lent their horses and their large wheeled hay carts for this annual occasion, which always took place on a Saturday aftemoon in June or early July.

The destination for this summer pilgrimage was often Caribber Glen to the north of the village where, after a picnic and races on the grassy slopes of the glen, the litt1e girls in their white summer dresses could tuck their skirts and petticoats into their kniekers and paddle in the cool waters of the River Avon.

The summer picnic marked the close of the Sunday School year and next day at the moming service in Torphichen Parish Kirk, many of the girls and boys would step forward to receive book prizes to mark perfect or excellent attendance, while their parents in their Sunday best looked on proudly.

Today Torphichen Kirk under its long serving minister, the Reverend Tom Crichton who has served the village for twenty years, still has a thriving Sunday School for local children and in addition holds special classes for them on Tuesday evenings.

28. Flat capped villagers pass the time of day and watch the photographer at work at the top of Torphichen's High Brae.

Torphichen has two braes, the High and the Low. The word brae is derived from Gaelic and means hill, which aptly describes these two roads which twist up from the vilIage square to join West field Road at the point where this picture was taken.

The small cottages behind the iron railing have been replaced with modern ones and the one in the centre of the picture has been demolished and replaced by a two storey stone built villa.

St. John's Church, which can be seen in the background, still stands, but has been converted into the church hall, and has sadly been robbed of its little belfry and its weather cock.

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