Currie in old picture postcards

Currie in old picture postcards

:   John Tweedie
:   Midlothian
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2446-1
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Currie in old picture postcards'

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Currie, a simple rural village in a perfect setting, with arabie land, waterpower and ample spring water, makes an ideal subject for a look at life through pictures. It is a place where traces still remain of earliest times, and changes have been assisted by the geographical situation.

Life in early days was concentrated in 'ferm touns', where living was on a community self-help basis, and there was little movement to other communities. Transport was of little importanee, because work done generally gave rent, seed and food. Surplus in a hili area was negligible. Transportation was by packhorse - ten stones per horse - rather time-consurning.

The coming of the steel plough in the late eighteenth century made great changes in every way. Greater production on the farm, with less labour, and the availability of potatoes and turnips, all speeded up the coming of the tumpike roads. The changes meant a transfer of labour from the farms to the making of roads and vehicles, with many new skills being leamed. These changes meant living on wages and the

payment of rent, which could bring problems in time of sickness etc., so in their wake came the village Friendly Societies.

Transport encouraged the coming of industry up the Valley, and by the middle of the nineteenth century, population figures had recovered and extended. The papermaking industry found power in the Water of Leith, and a plentiful supply of spring water for manufacturing, and soon, with steam mechanisation, the industry grew. This was soon followed by the branch railway, and so the district became very busy, This expansion, added to the thriving farms, made a very effective balance of agriculture and industry with a very fulllife of work and play.

The Lamrnas Festival games of earlier years became absorbed in the Friendly Society galas, and the industrial workers started quoits and Colinton & Currie Gymnastic Sports. Curling was fostered by local enthusiasts, who had been founders of The Caledonian Society. The building of the Gibson Craig Memorial Hall extended the possibilities. Soon thriving drama groups: Literary Society: light opera; Kinderspiels:

and dances: with more extensive Flower Show competitions, built up a very composite involvement with the varied types of people who were then resident. In simple language, there was a good basic mixture of a living community, which brings the degree of contentment we all need in life.

Yes, it is a place of interest to the enquiring mind, with an ancient church background back to St. Kentigern's wanderings in 570. His pet name (St. Mungo) is repeated in the well under the railway embankment. Old stones remind us of the Tempiars and the Archdeacons of Lothian. Again, stones take us to the estates which have been connected with practicaily every movement in the history of our land, so that simple pictures lead to a wider canvas. Industry, though now dead in the area, has left its mark in many parts of the world. In New Zealand, one of the largest wood-using projects in the world is called 'Kinleith' after Kinleith Mill in Currie. It was named by the man who developed this huge project from its beginnings, in grateful remembrance of his early training there. In Canada and America local

names can be read in the founding and managing of large paper-making concerns in the last century. Farming is becoming an operation performed by unknown people with visiting machines, and the population has become so large that individual contact is difficult. Perhaps a look at life as it was may illuminate a facet of life not easily found to-day.

Here is a description from a presentation address which seems apt: My vision of Currie wh en I am living away from it, the heather-covered hills, the Hills of Home as Robert Louis Stevenson called them; the view to the north of the Forth and, bey ond, the distant Highland hills; the lovely ara ble country; the peaceful farms in their fields with the little river, the Water of Leith, running in a dip througb it all. And lastly, the lovely eighteentb century church standing beside the older churches before it; the peaceful green churchyard with its weli-kept grass and lovely old trees; and the Manse with its flowery garden ...

1. Looking over the valley from the middle of Currie village, the Kirk stands prominently on the rising ground, a simple building built in 1784 on the site of earlier churches. On either side stand schools of 1800 and 1829, fronted by the railway and bridge, which brought great expansion in industry to the valley, Over the vaIley, Currie Brig, 'which needed repair in 1599', still carries a fuIlload with no ill effect, .and beside it in the picture, the thatched house of the miller and the top of the ruined kiln, which was there before 1500. Here is an extract from a poem by G.A. Sheils: 1Wo anctent trees this brig adorned.] Ash and plane, so finely formed.] They cast their shadows on the bank! Ta Mungo's where we aften drank. 'Mungo's' is a reference to Mungo's WeIl, a few yards downstream.

2. From earllest times Currie village had three farms in its main street, and two of the farmhouses still stand. The steps on the right of the picture lead to the Riccarton Arms Hotel which was until 1874 Wester Currie Farmhouse. In the middle of the picture is the fourth school of Currie (1903) which is opposite the first school (1699). This stands beside the cartwright's shop, behind the wooden shed. The cartwright's shop was built as a coach house for the mortcoach in 1758. The rate was 2/6d. for yolking and 6d. per mile thereafter. This took the place of the mortcloth hire; any surplus went to the poor fund.

3. School class 1916. The 1903 school had been built with seating for 206 pupils. It had four classrooms, entering from a main hall, and three daily teachers - Infant, Junior, and Supplementary. The Supplementary was taken by the Headmaster, who was one of the three teachers. The fourth room was used two days a week by a visiting sewing and cooking teacher. Quite a comparison to to-day, when there are three primary schools and a High School which in 1974 had 1,228 pupils.

4. Looking back at the village scene at the turn of the century, we see Michael Stark, the blacksmith, watching a friendly chat in the middle of the road. Mr. Stark was used as a model for the famous painting 'The Thin Red Line', which was painted at Malleny Ranges. The Toll House is in the background, and the right foreground shows the old brae which till recent years took traffic to the bridge over the Water of Leith, This was the main access to all the hill farms and the railway. The old light standard reminds us that the lust gas lighting was supplied from Kinleith Paper Mill. (Bill for 1886 was !23.)

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5. This is the blacksmith's shop with four blacksmiths and a visiting diary-farmer from next door. From the middle of the eighteenth century it was a busy place with all the horse-shoeing, repairing of farm implements and work for the cartwright across the street. There was also extra work from the mills when their own tradesmen were extra busy. Previous to blacksmithing days it was the workshop of the village cooper making luggies (wooden containers) and measures - the first need in simple life. It is interesting to note that a recent publication of Sea Shanties for schools 'The Valiant Sailor' was based on the life of John Nicol, son of the last cooper. This boy ran away to sea in 1769.

6. Tom Blair, the village blacksmith, who came in 1911, demonstrates the art of gate-making. As farm implements and motive power changed, so did the trend of rnetal work, and as one door closed, another one opened. The large housing developments created a demand for gates, signs, fences, etc., and this decorative ironwork ensures steady work for the present family blacksmith.

7. Next door was the cobbler, Fred Young, the only one in the 1920's. Gone were the days when two shoemakers, making and repairing, were needed in the village. Ready-made was the modern trend, so repairing was his 'bread and butter'. The changes continued, and now there are no repair shops locally, The cobbler's shop, which was earlier the power plant for the blacksmith's mechanica! hammer, is now the electrical sub-station for the area.

8. To the south, over the valley, we see the railway station which changed the local scene so many ways in 1875. It was set against the Brewlands of Currie of the eighteenth century, and the cottages which early documents teil us were 'hou sis and yairds, pertaining to the clerics of Kyldeleithe' (ancient name for church area). The Kirkgate, the access road, continues steeply to the Pentland moors - the route taken by Tarn Dalziel and his troopers when they went to do battle with the Covenanters at Rullion Green in 1666.

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