During the 1st World War, sentry duty soldiers paraded at the bottom of the Town Hall (Rosebery Hall) stairs every morning and marched along through the Ferry, peeling off two at a time at the Sealscraig, Hawes and so on until the Forts (now a private house) up Hawes Brae. Members of the public needed to carry a pass at all times.
Mrs Sinclair was a familiar sight in her Barber’s Shop, cutting hair and shaving Gentlemen customers. Mrs Sinclair eventually bought the Sealscraig Hotel.
You could learn to swim in the indoor Public Baths – now the car park.
It was not an uncommon sight to see Lord Rosebery in his horse and carriage pass along the Ferry to the shops, as did Walter, the coachman for the Dundas family.
Wounded navy personnel visited the Sailor’s Home (now Bridge House) and were conspicuous sauntering along the street in their blue uniforms.
Teddy Gardiner and Cecil Comisky, Telegram Boys, were often to be seen in their uniforms cycling to and from our “Crown Post Office”.
The big grey horse and cart delivered goods to all the shops. Jimmy Porteous the driver ruled the Ferry street.
The Goods Station, now the site of Plewland Croft houses, included the Station Masters House (Messrs Smith and Gilhooley) and an Administration Office. Jimmy Neilson checked the usage of railway wagons and applied Demurrage charges as necessary. There were spaces rented by local coal merchants for storing their coal as it was unloaded from the wagons.
Apart from coal merchants, the largest contractor at this time was John Wilson, a well-respected business man with three horses and carts, plus a four wheeled float. The horses and carts were almost continually uplifting coal from the Goods Station to the local Gas Works (approximately where the Binks are now) and then returning coke and barrels of tar from the Gas Works to the Station for delivery to Edinburgh. Mr Wilson employed Andrew Bowie and Andrew Walker but the horses could travel more or less on their own as they had done the journey so often.
The Council provided its own horse and cart to collect ashes from the households. Tom McLaughlan and Rab Bruce carried out this duty plus general sweeping etc. Paddy Ford was the Lamp Lighter and looked after the other workers.
In 1750, the Seamen of Queensferry gifted a Bell to the Town, which was hung in Roseberry hall. It was later gifted to the Episcopal Church (Priory Church and still hangs there today).
In 1792, the Herring Fishing began in Queensferry with boats gaining catches in the Winter season opposite their own homes – at St Margaret’s Hope (now Rosyth Dockyard) and Inverkeithing Bay. Now that the industry was established and thriving, the Ferry Town Harbour had become popular with fishermen from other ports, and such was the regular haul of Herring landed in the fishing season that the fisherman asked leave to cure their catches on the pier. This request was readily granted on the payment of duty for every barrel laid and salted, this being one penny for a Freeman and two pence for an Unfreeman – over and above all other dues.
In 1880, it was recorded that “The Soap Boilers of the town were wont to cast their soap leys (waste) on the street, where they lay inconvenient and disagreeable to the neighbours and to every passer-by”.
Also in 1880, the Dundas family (then resident in the Keep) readily acceded to the Council’s request for use of the Yard behind the Carmelite Kirk (Priory Church), for a rent of 3 guineas a year, on condition that the streets of the Burgh be kept free of carts and all rubbish. This Yard was then used for drying nets and keeping fishing tackle.
By 1845, the Glenforth Distillery in the Harbour area, was producing 1,000 – 2,000 gallons of whisky each week and giving employment to 20 people. The Glenforth distillery was sold in 1863 to John and Robert Stewart of Kirkliston.
Traffic ceased from Queensferry Passenger Station on 11th January 1895. This station was sited in the cutting below the Back Braes and evidence of it can still be seen today.
© Queensferry History Group 2016