Throughout the years there have been many pubs and hotels in Queensferry. One which no longer exists but will have been heard of by many locals is the “Hole in the Wa’”. This stood on the North side of the High Street, to the right of where was ‘Fairlies’ Butcher, now 'Maisies’.
In this late 1920’s image, the Hole in the Wall pub is the single story building on the extreme right.
Run by Miss Jemima Morrison, born in Queensferry around 1843, she took over from her parent’s, both of whom had been ill for several years, John (who died 1883 and was Publican and Baker) and Janet (who died 1882). It was known as one of the Ferry’s more unusual pubs, where you buy a carry out beer in your own ‘joug’. There was a ring on the wall for tying up a horse while the owner enjoyed a refreshment.
Position ‘R’ on this historic map, produced by Queensferry History Group in their book ‘Doon The Ferry’ still available to buy from them.
The ‘pub’ collapsed shortly after the Great War 1914-1918 and was demolished in the 1930’s. Jemima died in 1936 aged 93.
Soap has been around for a long time. The first use of soap has been attributed to the Babylonians in c. 2,800 BC and the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans also manufactured soap. In Britain, the Celts were probably the first to make and use soap, introducing it from Europe around 1000 AD.
Egyptian representation of women using soap. Image via Splash of Indigo
In an act of Parliament of Scotland in 1681, persons possessed of either capital or technical knowledge were encouraged to settle in Scotland and create new industries or improve existing ones. They were to receive naturalisation on condition of setting up manufacturers of cloth, linen, stockings or soap and teaching the trade to Scotsmen.
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, published in 1796, Mr John Henderson, Minister, states for Queensferry – The principal manufacture of this place is soap. It was here that first in Scotland the making of brown soap (made of oil, tallow, rosin and a caustic solution) was brought to its present degree of perfection. This manufacture commenced about the year 1770 and has since been carried on with varying success. From the year 1783 to 1789 it was a flourishing and extensive trade. There were four large works whish employed from 20 – 30 labouring men and paid an excise duty from 8,001 to 10,001 per annum. In the year 1789 the soap trade in Scotland met a considerable check. It was for some time almost annihilated here. It has since, however, happily revived and is now carried on with great deal of spirit.
Internal Improvement, Great Britain, published in 1814 states the following: “The manufacture of Soap is extensively carried on and three kinds are produced, White, Brown and Soft Soap. Tallow, Oil and Alkali are the ingredients which constitutes this article, the whole being subjected to the process of boiling. White Soap is made of tallow and a solution of alkali rendered caustic by lime. Brown Soap is made of oil, tallow, rosin and the caustic solution. Soft Soap is a compound of oil and a solution of potash. The manufacture of soap is carried on in all principal towns in Scotland, the demand for domestic purposes being considerable, as well as that for bleaching and exportation. The soap making is generally combined with that of candle making, the finer kind of tallow used for candles and the coarser for soap. A great quantity of tallow is imported from Russia. The shores of the Baltic and South America, but the ordinary slaughter of cattle generally supplies what is required by the inland and less populous districts.”
The Soap makers or Boilers as they were sometimes known, were prosperous merchants. However the art of soap making was not without its pitfalls. The smell of the process was most disagreeable and there were problems disposing of the waste incurred. The waste (Leys) was frequently used as manure in the vicinity of Queensferry, if applied in great quantities it was useful and lasting for all soils, however its weight, and the cost of carrying it to a distance, were considerable.
The Soap Boilers, commercial and small local makers, dumped the Leys in the street where they lay inconvenient and disagreeable to neighbours and every passer-by. In 1801 the Town Council sought liberty from the trustees of the Dundas Estates to use the yard at the back of the old Carmelite Kirk (Priory Church) and the kirk space itself for commercial purposes. They were granted the use of the yard for a rent of 3 guineas a year on the condition that the streets of the burgh were kept free of carts and all rubbish.
The Travelers Guide ‘Through Scotland and its Islands’- 1824, reported that “The town of Queensferry lies low, and is rendered disagreeable by the smoke of the Soap Works”.
By 1845, the New Statistical Account states that “for the last seven years only one small manufactury employing only three or four men exists. The trade is precarious and far from lucrative. The workmen make good wages and as the business is presently conducted, the morals of those engaged do not suffer”. This indicates the decline of the soap manufacturing in Queensferry.
Sun Fire Office emblem, c.1800
The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1785, names among the list of the founder and charter members, William Allan- Soap Boiler and Merchant, Ninian Paton – Soap Boiler and John Taylor – Soap Boiler, all of Queensferry. The National Archives hold the records of the Sun Fire Office, a company specialising in Fire Insurance, (it continues to this day as the Royal and Sun Alliance). The Sun Fire office records contain the following entry for 1791; Insured Thomas Jameson, Andrew Paton, Ninian Paton and James Brown, Queensferry Soap Boilers.
John Taylor & Sons, Soap makers of Queensferry, was dissolved in July 1823 and thereafter the business would be known as William Taylor (John’s son) & Co. In 1825 they sold up and moved to Salamander Street in Leith as manufacturers of Soap and Candles. William retired in 1854 and the business was carried on by Peter Brash, James Dick and latterly William W. Stephens. The company failed in 1883 and was reconstructed to become William Taylor & Co (Edinburgh) LTD and continued to manufacture soaps at Broughton Soap Works, Macdonald Road, Edinburgh, into the 1930’s. William Taylor was Provost of Queensferry from 1845 until 1852. He died in Edinburgh of Bronchitis in January 1866 aged 89 years. There are three memorial stones to John (who died in 1813 aged 73) and William Taylor and their families, in the Old Vennel Churchyard, Queensferry.
Memorial Stone to William Taylor who died in 1866 aged 89. This memorial and others to his family are in the Old Vennel Cemetery, Queensferry
John Mason, in his “History of Queensferry” -1963 writes - In 1798 Ninian Paton, Soap Boiler tired of the slow and tedious work of carrying water to his works sought permission to lay pipes along the South side of the street from Thomas Fairlies well to his factory near his dwelling house, with leave to pump the water at the well only when water was plentiful. In 1819, Campbell Innes, Soap manufacturer and Bailie of the burgh, received permission to draw water from the Town’s main to his works, the connection being made at his own expense. For the privilege of this supply a charge of 1 guinea a year was imposed. Campbell Innes and his wife Jean had several children born in Queensferry. Campbell who ws Provost of Queensferry from 1833 until 1839, is listed as clerk to John Taylor & Sons on his first Daughter, Jane’s, birth record of 1798.
Soap image LVSAV 1999.020; a bar of "Scotsman Soap" made by William Taylor & Co. (Edinburgh) Ltd. for the London firm of R. & R. McLeod & Co. Ltd.
Some recorded soap related events- The Salopian Journal, a Shropshire newspaper reported in October 1813: “Upwards of a fortnight ago, a boy, between 11 and 12 years of age, disappeared from the burgh of Queensferry. After public advertisement and the most diligent search, no trace can be found to lead to a discovery of this most serious circumstance. Several days having elapsed some of the men in the employ of Messrs. Taylor & Sons, soap boilers of that place while clearing out a waste lee-receiver found the skeleton of the unfortunate youth. Not a particle of flesh could be perceived, the penetrating Leys having completely reduced it, even the bones were soft as wax.”
The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh) of May 6th 1815 has an entry stating that among convicts sent from the Tolbooth to the docks in Leith, to be embarked for the hulks in the Thames, for transportation on 16th March, was a George Paterson of Edinburgh, convicted for 14 years for stealing soap from Queensferry. The Scots Magazine, 1815, also has the report and adds “by violent means, he feloniously and wickedly carried off several parcels of soap belonging to the proprietors of the said works, aggravated by being a servant of the works. (He sailed for New South Wales, Australia, in July 1815 on the ship ’Mary Anne’ – Ancestry). The Mary Anne arrived in New South Wales on 19th January 1816 carrying 101 passengers. The average sentence was 8 years with 29 Life sentences.
An 1867 edition of Caledonian Mercury, a Scottish Newsaper published three times a week between 1720 and 1867.
Most of the information here is extracted with permission, from "The Queensferry Soap Story" researched and written by Frank Hay, a member of Queensferry History Group
In January 2001, Peter Wilson, Eleanor Cooke and Grant Manson formed the company Renaissance Ecosse Limited which owns and operates Orocco Pier. The Orocco Pier, a 17th century ‘B’ listed building, at 17 High Street, Queensferry is a 12 bedroom boutique Hotel. It was previously the Queensferry Arms Hotel. After an extensive refurbishment by renowned architects Kerr Blyth Associates, it officially opened in 2003. ‘Orocco’ is the moniker of Iroko wood which was used extensively throughout the refurbishment of the building. The events venue ‘Fuschia’ was added in 2004, the café bar ‘Antico’ in 2009 and the seafood bar and grill ‘Samphire’ was added in 2011. Part of the building to the rear is on the ground of the now demolished Glenforth Distillery which was behind the Queensferry Arms and the nearby Staghead Hotel.
The Glenforth Distillery Co. was a large mass of buildings which lay at the end of Gote Lane near the harbour. It lay behind the Queensferry Arms Hotel, adjacent to the rear of the Staghead Hotel and was established in 1843 by Mr James Wylde, of Gilston, Fife, who was also proprietor of the Staghead Hotel in the 1855 valuation Roll. He employed 20 persons and made around 2,000 gallons of whisky weekly. His son Robert S Wylde, born in Leith, 1808, was Provost of Queensferry from 1852- 1861. He was proprietor of the brewery and buildings in Brewery Close which were no longer in operation by 1856.
This 1916 map shows the Royal Burgh Boundary in dark blue. Within this area, the light blue area marked 'Malthouse', near the harbour to the left of map, is where the Glenforth Glenforth Distillery was. The Stagshead and Queensferry Arms (marked Hotel) are in front on the High Street.
Image shows the side and rear of the Orocco Pier with Antico, and a sign at the rear of the Staghead Hotel
James sold the distillery in 1863 to John Stewart & Co, Kirkliston, who had it until 1867. The buildings from those days were demolished in 1939 following a fire, but part of a retaining wall still remained, which is now incorporated in the Orocco Pier Hotel.
Retaining wall from Glenforth Distillery
Orocco Pier today. Retaining wall from Glenforth Distillery is the right side wall of the main building. The outside area is where the distillery was.
Some Proprietors of Queensferry Arms Hotel via Census Records and Valuation Rolls. In the 1841 census, David Kerr was a publican then. It is unclear in the census information but it is possible he was publican of the Queensferry Arms Hotel. He was certainly publican in the North side of the High Street and it is clear it was not of the Stags Head Hotel. Born in West Lothian around 1811, he was with his wife Janet and children Margaret, David, William and Alexander.
Alexander Rae, born in Linlithgowshire around 1836, was Innkeeper by 1871. He was with his wife Christina Fraser (married in 1864) and children Jane and Christina. Alexander died in 1872 and is buried in Queensferry Vennel Cemetery. Christina then married William Russell, a Seaman, in July 1874. Sadly he died in December 1875, then an Innkeeper (of the Queensferry Arms Hotel) and Christina later married Hugh Mackintosh in 1878.
By 1881 Hugh Mackintosh was Hotel Keeper. Born in Inverness around 1842, he was with his wife Christina and step-children Jane Rae, Christina Rae and William Russell (from Christinas previous marriages). Christina, widow of William Russell, Innkeeper and previously widow of Alexander Rae, died in February 1886. In October 1886 Hugh married Janet Fraser (not a sister of Christina). She and their two children, Elizabeth and Hugh, are with him in the Queensferry Arms Hotel as he was still Innkeeper in 1891. 1901 still sees Hugh as Hotel Keeper, with his wife Janet and children Helen, Elizabeth, Hugh, James, Catherine, Russell and David. David was a member of Queensferry Rowing Club and had won trophies, the Hopetoun Mackintosh and McLaughlan Cups won by the Jolly Boat Crew at local regattas on the Forth. He emigrated to Canada in 1913 and joined the Canadian Infantry as a nationalised Canadian. He was killed in 1916 aged 23 (not 24 as stated on the memorial) in the Somme Offensive. He is remembered on Queensferry and Cramond Memorials, Queensferry Parish Church and Queensferry Primary School Memorials, also in ‘Veterans Affairs’, Canada.
Hugh Mackintosh died in Queensferry in 1910 and his wife Janet died in Cramond in 1930. By 1920/21 Valuation Roll, the proprietors of The Queensferry Arms Hotel are Mackintosh & Co LTD.
Formerly known as the Newhalls Inn, this is a ‘B’ listed building with several additions and alterations over the years. It was renamed the ‘Hawes Inn ‘by 1886.
The Hawes Inn, 7 Newhalls Road, South Queensferry, is a late 17th century Coaching Inn, with a date stone on the south east wall which says JS- 1638- BB, taken from the old house, Newhalls (no information on the 'old house' as yet). These initials are believed to be merchant John Smith, and his wife Bessie Bathgate. During the eighteenth-century, the inn was used as a change house for stagecoaches using the Newhalls Ferry and the adjacent ‘Hawes Garage’ used to be the stables and coach-house.
It has been modernised into a multi-roomed pub but with salvaged furniture and wooden beams creating an 'olde worlde' feel it is oozing rural charm and rustic character. Today the Hawes Inn offers seasonal pub food, cask ales and fine wines. There is a roaring log fire for the winter as well as a pretty beer garden for the summer months It is now part of the ‘Vintage Inns’ collection of pubs. The hotel area, ‘Innkeepers Lodge’ is next door to the pub/restaurant
Image: Robert Louis Stevenson, Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Robert Louis Stevenson, born in Edinburgh in 13th November 1850, is said to have been staying in room number 13 in 1886 when he came up with the idea of ‘Kidnapped’ and started writing the novel there. Indeed the Hawes inn features in the story as the place where the kidnapping of the hero, David Balfour, was arranged. There are or were, 4 painted panels of the story's main characters on the principle elevation. The inn also has other literary connections: it is mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's 'Antiquary' and again by Stevenson in 'Memories and Portraits'.
Image: Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery. Wikipedia
Proprietors and Tenants Information of early Proprietors and tenants are difficult to find due to lack of records. We have some information covering 1860's up to 1930's. More recent inforamtion is alo hard to come by. As more names and information comes to light, they will be added. The Proprietor from at least 1860 – 1930, looking at available valuation rolls, was the Earl of Rosebery. In the 1869 valuation he is named Archibald Philip Primrose 5th Earl of Rosebery 1847 – 1929, married to Hannah Rothschild who inherited her father’s fortune in 1874 to become the richest woman in Britain. She died of Typhoid at Dalmeny House in 1890 aged 39. Their second son Neil Primrose died from wounds received in action during WW1, in Palestine in 1917, leading his squadron of the 1st Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry in the 3rd Battle of Gaza.
Image: Abert Edward H. M. A. Primrose, 6th Earl of Rosebery. Wikipedia
From 1930 onwards the Proprietor would have been the 6th Earl of Rosebery, Albert Edward H.M.A. Primrose. (1882 – 1974)
In the 1930 valuation, Proprietor Rosebery Estates per Major R.F Brebner, The Leuchold, Dalmeny House.(He died of Tuberculosis, a retired Estate Factor in West Peterculter, Aberdeen, in 1952 aged 74, usual address, Dolphington House, Queensferry)
Mr Francis Wilson was tenant from 1860- 1962, according to valuation Rolls, and this included Inn, Stables and Land. Mr Francis Wilson, an innkeeper in Newhalls, died in 1862 aged 44. His wife, Margaret Wilson, took over as Tenant from 1862 - 1870. She died in Edinburgh in 1883 aged 73.
Thomas Wilkie was Tenant in 1875, he died of General Paralysis, in Newhalls, Queensferry in 1877, aged 77. His wife Margaret Wilkie was Tenant from 1876 – 1882. She died of a thrombosis, in Newhalls Inn, in 1883 aged 49. (big age gap).
Image: Parliament Supreme Court of Scotland. Wikipedia
Robert Lumsden, Accountant and Hotel Keeper, was born in Leith. He was proprietor from 1883 until he died in the Newhalls Hotel in 1919 aged 70. Robina McLean married Alan Turner, a Solicitor in the Supreme Courts, in 1914, in the Cramond Brig Hotel, while she was Proprietor there. She became Tenant of the Hawes Inn, as Robina Turner, from 1920 until 1930. She died in Barnton in 1941 aged 64.
image: Cramond Brig Hotel, now Miller & Carter Steakhouse.
The Hawes Inn was owned/leased by the Usher Vaux Group around the late 60's and early 70's along with the Allegro, Daniel Browns and the Hunters Tryst.
We hope to be able to add to this feature as more information comes to light.
The Anchor Inn dates from 1886 and is based at No: 10 Edinburgh Road, South Queensferry, in an area of Queensferry known in valuation rolls as ‘East Suburbs’ and ‘Beyond the Royalty’, being just outside the Royalty Boundary (see map below).
It is believed to be the oldest “Pub” in Queensferry (not being a “hotel”), and is definitely the smallest ‘pub’ in Queensferry, a traditional village pub who offers a range of real ales, beers, wines and spirits along with some good old fashioned pub grub for you to enjoy. “Banquette seating surrounds the room and a high shelf is adorned with sporting trophies. The pub has a friendly atmosphere and visitors are made welcome. Traditional board games, including dominoes, are often played and occasionally there is live music”. (whatpub.com)
Images above by Norrie Work 2014, with kind permission.
Valuation Rolls name the proprietor from 1894 until 1914 as James Wight, a Grocer and Wine Merchant living in Hartington Place, Edinburgh. According to the 1894/5 Valuation Roll he was also proprietor and occupant of a Shop and Cellar (No: 12, which is now part of Maurizios) and proprietor of a House and Billiard Room (either No: 8 or 16) around the same area as the ‘Anchor’ which is named ‘The Anchor Restaurant’. The publican tenant during 1894 - 1901 was William Chisolm who was also tenant of the House and Billiard Room mentioned above. In the 1898 -1904 valuation roll, James Wight, now of Maitland Street, (moving to Shandwick place by 1903), was letting his shop and cellar to tenant James Orr, a Grocer, born in Leith in 1875.
Image: Ship of the Union Castle Line who traded with South Africa
By the 1901 census, the Anchor Bar is now let to publican Ewen Cameron, aged 30, born in Inverness. He married Mary Brown in Larbert in 1901, but she is not with him while he is boarding with the Ruthven family in No 9 Edinburgh Road, which is a house and shop. Mr Ruthven, born in Queensferry, was a Saddler, working from home. Ewens wife, listed as ‘a Publican’s Wife’ is living at this time with the Simpson Family in Larbert, her sister Helen was married to John Simpson. In August 1903 the Gazette reported that Ewen was leaving to go to South Africa. “Naval men will regret to hear that Mr. Ewen Cameron, the genial proprietor of the Anchor Bar will shortly leave Queensferry for South Africa. During his stay here Mr. Cameron has made himself universally popular. A gentleman of great affability and exceedingly good-hearted, he made himself the friend of all, and his excellent manner and gentlemanly bearing particularly endeared him to those on board ship. There is many a bluejacket and marine, now absent from Queensferry who revered Mr. Cameron and on returning to the town will deplore the fact that he is gone from our midst. He is going to the land of the gold mines, and should he, as a result of his well-known industry and business aptitude, annex as much of the precious metal as to make him a millionaire, he will remember Queensferry which is not well blessed with amenities. He is wished bon voyage from everyone when he leaves in a few weeks”. (He can't be found on Emigration lists to South Africa, Did he actually get there?)
Notice the remains of the fitting for the Anchor Bar sign still above the Anchor Inn today. It can be seen in use in image below.
John MacFarlane was publican tenant from around 1905 until 1911, with his name above the door. The Anchor is known as the Anchor Bar by then but alos known as "The Cyclists Rest". John MacFarlane was born in Perthshire in 1860. He was a Spirit Salesman when he married Maggie Wilkie in 1895, aged 37 and they were living in Rankeillor Street, Edinburgh. He was a Barman living in Gorgie Road, Edinburgh in 1898 when his oldest child, son Alex, was born and by the 1911 census he was a Spirit Merchant, living in 9 Edinburgh Road, Queensferry, with his wife and 2 children. In 1907/1908 Valuation, James Wight still Proprietor, now living in Greenside, Grantshouse, Duns, let his house at No: 16, to David Reid, a Forrester, and the cellar to George Mackay, a Grocer.
The proprietors from 1915 until 1943 were brothers John (born 1893) and David Davidson (born 1895) in High Street, Queensferry. David was a Grocer, living in 5 High Street, and by 1922 they are living in 5 Springwell Terrace, Queensferry. They were owners of No: 8 (house), No: 10 (Anchor Bar), No: 12 (shop and cellar,) and No: 16 (house,) Edinburgh Road, which were all let to tenants. They are now all category C listed buildings. Their father, John was a Master Butcher who died in Springwell Terrace, Queensferry, in 1936, aged 86 years.
No's: 12 and 14, now Maurizios second Queensferry Fish and Chip Shop
Archibald Stewart was the publican tenant of the Anchor Inn from 1911 until 1930. An Archibald Stewart is in the 1911 census living in Dalry Road, with wife Henrietta, he is a Spirit Trade Merchant. As a Wine and Spirit Merchant, living in Blackhall, he died in 1933, aged 51. His wife Henrietta died in 1961 aged 75. Perhaps this is the same person. Another Archibald, Archibald Wood, was Publican from 1931 until 1933 when he became “incapacitated”. On 21st April 1933 the Gazette reported “William Mackie, Newhalls Cottage applied as a new tenant for the public house certificate of the Anchor Bar. Mr. Mackie's solicitor reported that the current licensee Mr. Archibald Wood was incapacitated and could not continue. The premises were satisfactory and business was well conducted and Mr. Mackie had 25 years of experience in the trade. The application was unanimously granted”. An Archibald Wood, Spirit Merchant Manager, of Leith Walk, died in the Western General Hospital in 1933. This may be the same person.
In April 1946 the Gazette listed license applications, and for the Anchor Bar was Percy Faulkner of Priory House, Queensferry. J and D Davidson were still the Proprietors. A Percy Faulkner of Rosebery Avenue, Retired Barman, died in 1959 in the Western General Hospital, aged 65. Survived by his wife Edith. At the same time as the license application, there was also an application for renewal of transferred certificate of the Anchor Bar by Mrs Janet Shapley, of Ambleside Cottage, Queensferry, widow of Samuel Shapley, a Publican (presumably of the Anchor Bar). Janet was Samuels’ second wife. His first wife, Williamina, died in January 1943 and he married Janet in May 1944. They only had 2 years of married life together, as Samuel died of Heart Failure in the Forth Bridge Hotel, in March 1946, aged 63. Janet died in Newington in 1982 aged 98.
More recent Prorietors and Publicans include - 1963/64 – Proprietors, British Linen Bank Ltd (Nominees). Tenant –Scottish Brewers ltd - Publican, Ian Spowart 1970/71 – Proprietors British Linen Bank Ltd (nominees). Tenant - Peter Philp 1980/ 83 - Proprietor -Alan Stewart - Alan remained in Queensferry, living in Plewlands House with his mother until both moved to Orkney some time mid to late 80s. Alan recently passed away in, Orkney.
Image from 1981 Ferry Fair Programme
1984/ 85 - Proprietor - Hammy Miller
Image from 1984 Ferry Fair Programme
In the late 1980’s he was followed by Alistair and Marion Maclennan. They created “The 39 Steps” Restaurant upstairs in what would have been the upstairs lounge and Billiard /Snooker Room. Alistair and Marion also took over the Sealscraig Hotel while running the Anchor Bar and 'The 39 Steps' Restaurant. The next proprietor of the Anchor Inn was Brian Hawkins, who converted 'The 39 Steps' into a Pierre Victoire Franchise which he sublet, and eventually closed. He then converted the upstairs into flats, which they still are. Around 1998 – Brian sold the Anchor to Frank & Carol Brown. Frank had experience as barman and Manager of the Anchor, over many years at various times.
Image from 1989 Ferry Fair Programme
Frank later sold the Anchor to Edinburgh Publican Kenny McLean, who still owns the property. Since then it has been run as a lease by a series of lesse’s including a Marie ? (Does anyone know her surname please?), then Denise Young, followed by Derek Service.
Around 2011, Diana Davidson and her partner Baz were the publicans
From October 2017, Stuart Holland is the publican.
Image from 2011 Ferry Fair Programme
and from around 2013 the publicans were Linda Thomson and her partner James Martin.
Image from 2014 ferry Fair Programme
In present times, 2017 – Linda Martin is still the Publican.
The annual ‘Ferry Fair’ which we will explain more about later, was stopped for the years of the Second World War. It resumed again in 1947, 70 years ago this month, this year! The next Ferry Fair is the week 7th-12th August 2017, with the parade and crowning ceremony on the 12th. To understand the Ferry Fair we must first understand the origins of Queensferry.
Origin of the Royal Burgh of Queensferry. South Queensferry, once a small fishing village, became a Burgh at end of 13th century, as one of four trading Burghs (including Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Musselburgh) within the bounds of Dunfermline Regality, every Burgh was a trading community established to produce revenue. The Abbot of Dunfermline, as ‘Lord of Regality’, having jurisdiction over the territory, kept customs on merchandise exported from his lands, the customs on imports belonging to the crown. King Robert I, no later than 1329, granted the great customs collected at the four Burghs of Regality, to the convent of Dunfermline. In order to encourage commercial dealings internally and within the outside world, the Burgh was granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. This right was shown materially with a Mercat Cross which determined the head place of the town.
image, Dunfermline Abbey Ruins, from Dunfermline Presbetery website; link at end of article.
Dunfermline Abbey and the ruins around it are all that remain of a Benedictine Abbey founded by Queen Margaret in the eleventh century. The foundations of her church are under the present nave (or `Old Church`), built in the twelfth century in the Romanesque style by her son David. After the 16th century reformation Dunfermline ceased to be an Abbey, but since the nave of the church continued to be used as the local parish church, much of the Abbey has survived to this day. The present parish church, to the east of the Old Church, was added in the nineteenth century.
Some believe the weekly Fair started around 1068, in the time of King Malcolm III and his Queen, Margaret (whose visits to Dunfermline Abbey via ferry boat, gave ‘Queensferry’ its name). It was a civic duty to walk the boundaries of Queensferry, which were fiercely guarded. In the course of time it became a social duty to celebrate the day with feasting and dancing and so the Ferry Fair was born.
In a charter granted by the Laird of Dundas in 1440 describing the boundaries of land granted by him to the Carmelite Friary as a site for the Church and Monastery they proposed to build (now the Priory Church) there is mention of the Mercat Cross of Queensferry, standing on the east bank of the rivulet which flowed down to the sea as a boundary between the lands of Dundas and the burgh. This stream flowed approximately where the street named ‘The Loan’ now runs. The head of the burgh was in the vicinity of what is now known as the Bellstane where in olden days, lay a stretch of waste land on which markets were held.
Through charters granted in 1576 and 1627, Queensferry believed they had the right to uplift the petty customs of all markets within the sheriffdom from the River Avon to the Almond. The town of Linlithgow challenged this and the customs officer of Linlithgow made an appearance at the annual Fair in Queensferry in July 1628 to collect the petty dues. The inhabitants of the burgh objected to his presence and a riot was started. The customs officer was injured and died. Arbitration ruled that Linlithgow had the right to the taxes. Queensferry was fined £800 scots pounds damages (1 pound Scots equal to 1s 8d sterling), and £100 scots pounds as expenses. The court decided the officer had died of natural causes. In 1629 the magistrates and councillors had to stand by at the Mercat Cross, while the customs officer of Linlithgow uplifted the petty customs for goods sold. An act of parliament considered by evidence produced, confirmed the charter of 1636 and in 1641 erected Queensferry into a Royal Burgh. This settled the customs matter and Queensferry was now entitled to the customs without challenge. The money raised by taxes was vitally important to the upkeep of the town. It also seemed to have mutually settled any disagreements between Queensferry and Linlithgow.
Image below, Dunfermline Mercat Cross
Image: Dunfermline Merkat Cross. Kim Traynor, used under Creative Commons License.
Markets and Fairs The bell stane was probably a stone on which sat the handbell used by the Town Officer (for a sum of 4d) to herald the coming of the weekly market or the annual fair. At a later date the capital initial letter for Bellstane was applied to the name giving it significance. Samuel Wilson wanted to purchase the land where the markets were held but this was refused as the council wished to retain it as a market place. (In 1641 he then built and resided in Plewlands House which was then just outside the Queensferry border).
“It was here all the caravans, penny shows etc that came to Queensferry, ‘put up’. It was a great affair for the youth of Queensferry when some of these perambulating showmen made their appearance”.-Thomas Orrock, Fortha’s Lyrics,1880. There is a carving on the wall at Bellstane (above the dentist) which shows a Bird and a Bell. The bell is believed to represent the bell rung to herald the markets and Fair (the original bell is now in Queensferry Museum). We are unsure of the history of the bird, however people born and bred in Queensferry are locally known as ‘Bellstane Birds’ and there was a local football team named ‘The Bellstane Birds’ (see Queensferry History archive dated 1/8/2015).
Ferry Fair Each twelve months, preparations for the annual Ferry Fair were made. Proclamations were announced in Kirkliston and Linlithgow that “all persons may bring all sorts of wares and commodities to be sold” and brewers were called upon for hiring horses for the riding of the Fair. Before the 25th day of the month of July, the start of the fair week (St James day), booths were erected in the high street for £12 (scots) for each covered stand and £8.00 (scots) for each uncovered erection. All the burgesses were ordered to gather in their best dress including swords in order to ride the fair. If they did not turn up they were fined £14 (scots) and if they had no swords they were fined £7.00 (scots).
Records show in the year 1690, the annual fair was held in the high street. Great preparations had been made. The drum had a new head and new cords costing £1.11s scots. The tailor had mended the colours. The town officer travelled to Edinburgh to purchase hose for the foot race. The drummer and piper who attended the race were each given 12/- and 18/- respectively and a pint of ale each. A pair of boots was purchased as the prize for the Burgh race.
By 1765, the Mercat Cross, a symbol of the Burghs status, a well known landmark round which for generations the life of the people had revolved, had fallen in to a state of decay. Its perpendicular pillar was in danger of falling and its situation now “greatly straiten and incommode the street”. The decision was taken to remove it and instead to erect a small platform raised two or three steps high, built to the North side of the steeple, (at Rosebery Hall) hastily decided and with disregard to its historical significance. A skilled craftsman could easily have dismantled the cross, supplied a new shaft and raised it on a suitable site. The platform was a poor substitute for an ancient Celtic Cross.
Image below, Inverkeithing Mercat Cross
Image: By Thomas Nugent, used under Creative Commons License. Inverkeithing Mercat Cross. Believed to be erected around 1388, Unicorn added at top around 1688 and is said to be the work of John Boyd, a Mason from South Queensferry.
During the summer of 1839 the Town Council decided that the Ferry Fair should be held on Friday 9th August and that the members of council should Walk the Marches. They gathered at the Bellstane and after roll call proceeded to Walk the Marches headed by a musical band from Linlithgow (for a fee of £1.00 sterling). After the first World War ended, the town council decreed that the celebrations for the Treaty of Peace at Versailles should be held on the Ferry Fair day, 8th August 1919. They generously granted £7.10s towards expenses for the day. A Union Jack three yards long and two small flags for each end were purchased for the decoration of the street.
Image, Treaty of Versailles, Cover of English copy. Wikipedia Public Domain
The Ferry Fair we see today is different from the Fair of bygone days. The Queens Procession met at the Hawes Pier and marched along to Rosebery Hall, led by the Town Crier followed by a Military Band. Children in Fancy Dress also took part in the procession and were presented to the Fair Queen.
The Boundary Race was started at the Bellstane, then through Hopetoun Crossroads, Loch Road, Station Road, Hawes Brae and back to Bellstane. At some time and certainly in 1937 it was changed to start from the Bellstane, along to Sealscraig Hotel and back to the Bellstane. Some time later it changed back to the original route which it follows today.
After the crowning ceremony, which was held on a platform raised at Rosebery Hall, the Burgh Races took part, prizes awarded, later the Queen laid a wreath (usually her bouquet) at the War Memorial to commemorate those that died during the wars. She still lays a wreath to this day.
Refreshments were served in Burgess Park, after which the Ferry Fair Games were held. Among the many varied activities, there were dancing competitions (eg: Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Irish Jig), various races including in 1937 (Gazette) a Treacle Scone race which was the most enjoyable and competitions such as the 'Greasy Pole', 'Piano Smashing' etc. There was also a competition for the best kept garden of council tenants. In 1937 the gazette reported that quite a lot of tenants "had not cut their grass". (Forerunner of the ‘Decorated Arches’ competition perhaps)? There was also a Best Dressed Horse competition, which drew people from near and far and was well attended.
Greasy Pole Piano Smashing
After the Fair, and certainly by 1948, there was an evening Thanksgiving Service in the Parish Church, and an evening Dance in Rosebery Hall the evening before. The Travelling Shows were stretched along the Hawes Promenade.
In 1937, a reel of photos taken during the Fair was shown at the Cinema. First Aid was provided by the Red Cross Society, who also ran a tea room at the adjoining Queensferry Public School. By 1930 it was decided to incorporate a children’s festival into the fair. A Queen was chosen by her peers in the oldest class at Queensferry Junior Secondary school. The first Queen, in 1930, was Emily McBain and the fair was held in August of that year. This format was carried through until 1939 but was discontinued during the years of the Second World War.
Images below show the crown used by the Ferry Fair Queen before the choice of Queen was changed to younger girls. This crown is now held by Edinburgh Museums.
There was no Ferry Fair in 1940, only the Burry Man (more on him further on) walking the streets. In 1941 there was no Burry Man either, the war having brought the celebrations to a halt.
Ferry Fair 1947 There was no Ferry Fair after 1939 until 1947, due to World War2. Traditionally the Sports events were held in Burgess Park. It was reported in 1947 that as Burgess Park was in such a bad condition, the Sports events would be held in Station Road Park, (near where the High School is now) until it could be repaired. By 1949 they were back to Burgess Park.
Image, 1948 Ferry Fair Programme cover, (we don't have a 1947 one!) Queensferry History Group
The Courier on 1st August 1947 reports “There was much excitement in the air as it was 8 years since the last Ferry Fair. Many of the children now at school will never have seen one before. Older folk are seeing in this year’s Fair a real sign of the return of peace and are determined to make it worthy of the occasion.” A cash prize was given this year rather than the traditional boots. In 1947, 70 years ago, the Fair was started again with Leonora Berry as the chosen Queen. The ex-Queen was Patricia McMahon, then aged 21. Although she was a grown woman by this time, she was honoured to take part in the ceremony with the schoolchildren.
Image, 1947 Queen Leonora, from 2016 Ferry Fair Programme. Queensferry History Group
Before the war, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Andrew Murray (1947-1951), had said it would be a good thing for Queensferry to have a proper “throne” for the Queen to sit on and he would give one to the Burgh. This could not be done until after the war so in 1948 he attended the Fair to donate the oak 'throne', received by QueensferryProvost Lawson. It is known as the 'Murray Chair' and is still used to this day. The Crowning Ceremony that year was performed, as 'Gracious Lady', by the Lady Provost, Miss Rodney Murray, sister of Lord Provost Murray.
The 'Murray Chair'
According to the 1948 programme (we do not have a 1947 programme) events were to be held over three days. The Boundary Race was to be held on Thursday 12th August. On Friday 13th August, The Procession from the Hawes Pier and Crowning of the Queen at Rosebery Hall, with Girls Races, Boys Races, Three Legged Races, Sack Races, Wheelbarrow Races, Ladies Egg and Spoon Race, Ladies Race, Old Women’s Race, Old Men’s Race and Band Race was to be held in Station Road Park. The Ferry Fair Dance was held in the evening in Rosebery Hall with a 2/- (shilling) admittance. On Saturday 14th August, in Station Road Park with admission costs of 1/6; children free, seats costing 6d, various events were held including races, with competitors from various Clubs and Schools, High Jump, Broad Jump, Hurdles,Tug of War, Pole Vault, Javelin, Pillow Fight, Treacle Scone contest, Various Dance competitions and Best Decorated Horse. Sadly however, the Courier reported that persistent rain on Thursday curtailed the Boundary Race and the Bury Man got so soaked through that he had a break in the afternoon and the evening’s perambulations to outlying areas had to be cancelled. The weather was fine on Friday for the parade and crowning ceremony however the ground was so sodden that it was decided to cancel the children’s sports. They had refreshments in Rosebery Hall and a film show in the Regal Cinema instead.
In the programme some advertisers included The Kiosk at the Hawes Pier, John Watson Chemist, Hillwood Co-operative Society and the Regal Cinema.
In the 1960’s it was decided to choose the queen from the primary schools as difficulties had arisen in persuading the ex-queens, then aged 15+ and working, to take part in a children’s festival.
,Since these days flower girls and page boys have been added to the Queen’s retinue. Floats carrying fancy dressed members of local organisations have been another welcome addition and the symbolic replica ship bearing Queen (later to become a Saint), Margaret with her brother Edgar (from whom came the name Echline, ofEchlinearea in Queensferry) and Princesses Agatha and Christina makes a historical addition to the parade.
Previously the position was held for many years by Willie Lamond who was better known to all as “Killiecrankie”. He was in fact retained by the local Town Council as Town Crier and “cried” public meetings, public disasters and anything else that had to be brought to the notice of local people in the days when only the police and doctors had a telephone. By 1949 he had served as Town Crier for 42 years.
Although not traditionally connected to the Fair, the day preceding the Ferry Fair Queen crowning ceremony, the Burry Man makes his annual parade in the town according to local custom, drawing the pupils of the local school after him. Completely clad in flannels, his body, arms and legs and even his face being concealed by a covering of burrs, fruits of the burdock that grew profusely in the neighbourhood, on his head a hat bedecked with flowers. As he walks, his arms extended laterally, hands each grasping a stout shaft displaying a profusion of blooms at the top. In the 1800’s he was led from door to door up the wynds and closes by his two attendants who supported the heavy weight of his arms. They walked him around the town knocking on doors and receiving money donations which brought good luck to the givers. Children cried out “Hip Hip Hooray, it’s the Burry Man Day” to draw attention. In days gone by, after the tour of the Burgh, he went further afield visiting outlying areas, being wheeled in a wheelbarrow (which can’t have been comfortable!).
The task of preparing the Burry Man for the ceremony is performed by the attendants who gathered the burrs and arranged them on a board, the burrs clinging together in such a manner they formed a mat which could be applied to the flannel garments. A loose leg of woollen stocking was drawn over the man’s head and face, slits having been cut for the eyes, nose and mouth, the face then concealed by a mask of burrs. It has to be a stout man who will have the stamina to endure the trials of the day, with no means of going to the toilet and only being fed liquids (some alcoholic) through a straw.
The origins of the Burry Man is obscure, but may go back over 300 years. Sir Walter Scott who tried to solve the mystery of the ceremony was baffled by it and archaeologists throughout the years, although they offered theories, have failed to find the origin and meanings of the custom. There are many theories, ranging from it having been instituted during the reign of King Malcolm III ‘Canmore’ (which translates as ‘Big Head’ which reputedly, he physically had) and Queen Margaret about the year 1032, through to a representative in human form of a tree or plant spirit formerly worshipped all over Europe, believed to bring a good harvest. Another, brought by Dr Mason, a local historian and founder of Queensferry Museum, who wrote ‘The History of Queensferry’ in 1963, was mentioned in the Gazette in 1948, having said that the Folklore Society have instances of similar ceremonies taking place in fishing villages which suggests that it most likely derives from a pagan ceremony in favour of the fishings. (Queensferry was once a fishing village). Yet another theory is that it was brought to Queensferry by visiting sailors from similar ceremonies abroad.
An old lady in Queensferry who was still alive in 1851, at 80 years of age, is said to have declared that her mother remembered when she was aged 13 in 1746 and the Burry Man used to go around the town at that time. Many people work hard behind the scenes to bring us both the Burry Man and the Ferry Fair. We are sure with the help and support of the community it will continue for many more years to come. Information extracted from ‘The History of Queensferry’-Dr Mason 1963, Linlithgowshire Gazette extracts 1835–1947, Dunfermline Abbey Presbytery Website, ‘Fortha’s Lyrics and Other Poems’- Thomas Orrocks, 1880.
Many people ask what used to be where the grassy area is, at the side of the Masonic Hall, and Hawthorn Bank, at the Vennel. the image below shows the buildings that used to be there. Rosebery Buildings was a tenement and many local people have memories of this building. John Wilson of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, was born in Rosebery Buildings in 1887. He died in Givency, France in 1914, aged 27 and is commemorated on the Dalmeny War Memorial.
The image above shows No:1-Rosebery Buildings, No:2-Smith's Land (behind whch the Vennel Hall now stands, just to get your bearings) and No:3-Hawthorn Bank, (both still standing.), No:4- Stables and later Garage, No:5- Workshop and Garage, possibly 4 and 5 were used by the same owner, Walter Scott who had a Motor Hire business. No:6-Masonic Hall is on the left, just off the picture and No:7-Rosebery Hall just to get your bearings, the lamp post in the foreground still stands in the same place. In more recent years many locals will remember the childrens playground in this area, with a climbing frame shaped like a rocket, which caused several serious serious accidents.
Grass area beside the Masonic Hall where Walter Scott had his Motor Hire business. Imge QHG
One local resident remembers being told of the time a cow escaped from the nearby 'killing' house (which most likely was at Brewery Close) and ran up the narrow stairs. Her grandfather had to stand with his feet against the door and his back against the wall to stop the cow pushing their door open, as it had to turn at the top of the stairs to come back down.It caused quite a bit of panic with the residents! Her Grandmother said there was a terrible mess to clean up after the cow had gone. (What happened to it then we don't know!)
Numbers 5 & 6 Stoneycroft Road, former names 'Catherine Bank' and 'Bonny Views', is a category “C” listed building. Date of erection unknown, but first records show dates around 1801, with a mention of pre 1720. It has late 19th century alterations, and has an attic with large dormer windows and steps down to the basement on the East side. This building is sited on a steep gradient resulting in a single storey appearance from the South. Above Catherine Bank were a number of houses, now demolished, called Catherine Terrace. Affectionately known as "The Brickies" they were built around 1883 to house the construction workers for the Forth Rail Bridge.
What follows is an incomplete complicated record of two halves – upper and lower, taken mainly from Deeds. Listing proprietors only, as there were many tenants throughout the years. The first mention of ownership is dated 1720 in the appeal for a ‘Charter of Novodamus’ in 1862 by Helen and Ann Elder in order to establish their ownership, as earlier title deeds were missing. More information on this further on.
The lower western flat of Catherine Bank was owned by Archibald and Margaret Stewart on deeds dated 23rd April 1801. (These deeds are unavailable but evidence is recorded on the 1852 deeds. This then passed to their youngest daughter Miss Margaret Stewart, who died in Queensferry in November 1852. Archibald Stewart c1736-1801, his wife Margaret Douglas c1740-1825, their son Archibald Douglas Stewart c1774-1825 and daughter Margaret Stewart c1780-1852 are all buried in St Cuthbert Church Graveyard, Dalmeny.
It was then put in the hands of Margaret’s heirs, Mrs Margaret Ellis nee Watt, (born c1801) residing in Aberdeen, widow of Army Captain Joseph Ellis (born c1791), who died between June 1841 and March 1851, (no information can be traced on his military career) and Miss Cecilia Stewart Ellis, her eldest daughter (born 1821), residing in The Isle of Man, proprietors by virtue of a disposition and deed settlement by Margaret Stewart dated 3rd March 1847. (Relationship unknown).
The property (lower western flat) was put up for sale by public roup (auction) in 1852 at an upset price of £15.00 sterling. Only one offer was made, of £15.00, this by James Wilson, residing at 1 Grove Place, who put it in the hands of Mr John Cullen, Writer to the Signet (Scottish Solicitor), Edinburgh. John Cullen sold the property, the lower western flat, for £15.00, to James Wood, a Joiner, on 12th November 1862. James married Janet Kerr in Queensferry in 1830, but sadly she died. He then married Catherine MacLaren in Queensferry on 3rd March 1850 .
The upper tenement back and front, and yard, lying to the south, was also owned by James Wood, Master Joiner, who purchased the property on 3rd July 1862, for £40 sterling, from Helen Smith nee Elder, spouse of Hugh Smith, Surgeon, from Glasgow, married in 1846 in Scoonie, who by 1862 were living in Newstead, Castlemain, Victoria, Australia and Anne Smith nee Arnott, wife of John Smith, Writer, residing in Leven.
The property (upper tenement as above) was previously owned by Anne Elder nee Anderson, wife of John Elder, Bookseller of Leven, until 1833, when it was passed on to her daughters Helen and Anne mentioned above, who were in possession until 1862. Helen and Anne were unable to recover earlier title deeds in order to establish their ownership so on 30th June 1862 a ‘Charter of Novodamus’ was granted as warrant of registration via George Dundas of Dundas Estates, at that time Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, Canada. 15 shillings fue duty was paid in respect of the Charter. (A charter of Novodamus, in Scottish feudal land law, is a fresh grant of lands to the grantee. It is usually granted to make some change in the incidents of tenureof land already granted, or to resolve doubts about the grant or its terms).
George Dundas 1819 - 1880. Image Wikipedia Public Domain
They stated that in 1720 the property, upper level back and front and yard, belonged to John Arnott, Carpenter in Inverkeithing and this fell to his son Robert Arnott, a Tailor in Queensferry, and subsequently to his eldest son John. By 1763, John’s daughter Ann Watson nee Arnott, was proprietor of Catherine Bank, spouse of James Watson, Merchant and Burgess of Edinburgh. This descended to their daughter, Helen Anderson nee Watson, spouse of George Anderson. Their daughter Anne Anderson as mentioned in previous paragraph, married John Elder, Bookseller in Leven and they remained in possession until 1833 when she was succeeded by Helen Smith nee Elder and Anne Smith nee Elder as above. Helen and Anne sold the property to James Wood on 3rd July 1862, three days later, for £40 sterling.
On 9th May 1863, James Wood, now a Builder and Ironmonger, purchased the lower Eastern flat for £20.00 sterling from Mrs Elizabeth Sharpe nee MacFarlane, widow of the late Walter Sharpe, residing in Bathgate. The writs of the property, having gone missing, were to be delivered upon recovery. It seems by 1863 James Wood now owns the entirety of Catherine Bank. He proceeded to make alterations to the building. He is given credit as ‘erecting’ Catherine Bank in the Disposition by grandson William George Wood, to the Co-operative Building Society, in respect of the purchase of the property by Thomas and Moira Watson in 1955.
In 1871 census James Wood, listed aged 71, Builder and Carpenter, is living in West Terrace with his wife Catherine and daughter Jane. In 1881 listed aged 82, he is still there living with wife and family including two sons, one daughter, daughter in law and a grandson. James Wood died on 23rd January 1884 in West Terrace, Queensferry aged 86 years, notified by his son David Wood of London. Catherine was living in Trafalgar Cottage, Queensferry when she died on 11th August 1888 aged 77 years.
Part of the building was sold by the trustees of James Wood, to Tom Ross in November 1892, and part of the building was sold by the trustees to James’s son William in July 1915. William Wood, was born in Queensferry and in 1861, an Apprentice Banker, he was living with his Uncle William in Largo, Fife. By 1871 he was living in Essex with his wife Annie. They returned to Queensferry by 1881, still a Bank Clerk, living with father James in West Terrace. By 1901 he had retired, as a Bank Manager, to New Malden, Surrey with his wife Annie.
William George Wood sold the two uppermost flats (No 5) to Thomas and Moira Watson, of Priory House, for £425 in 1955. With consent of Thomas and Elizabeth, William then sold the property to Mrs Mary Purves Scott, nee Collins for £1,855 the same year. The property is now named “Bonny Views”.
The lower two flats continued to change hands several times between 1964 and 1979, the value increasing accordingly from £400.00 to £13,00.00.
Mrs Mary Purves Scott nee Collins, died in Queensferry on 8th February 1983, aged 83 and left the two uppermost flats (Bonny Views) to Miss Edwina Collins and Mrs Kathleen Stewart nee Collins. They sold to Lawrence Johnston in June 1983 for £15,500. He in turn sold on to Mrs Janet McMurtrie in January 1984 for £20,000. Janet sold to William Goodsir Leitch, living in Kirkaldy, for £37,000 in November 1984. In 1989 Dr Hugh Fraser and Miss Janet Reid Scott purchased the two lower flats from William and Eleanor Clark for £71,000. No deeds were found. In 1990 Dr Hugh Fraser and Miss Janet Reid Scott sold 6 Stoneycroft Road, the two lowermost floors and garden, for £74,000, to Miss Hilary Sharman, who later that year sold them back to Hugh and Janet. In 1990, Rentokil produced a certificate of guarantee for treatment of rising damp and wood boring infestation and in 1992 a repairs grant was awarded to H Fraser for 6 Stoneycroft (Lower Flats)
In 2004, William Goodsir Leitch now living in Nagasaki, sold 5 Stoneycroft Road (upper flats) to Jon Davies and Alison Powell. They later purchased the lower flats (No. 6), and subsequently sold the entire property to the present owners. At present No 6 is a private dwelling and No 5 is 'Forth Reflections, Self Catering Holiday Accommodation', link to website below.
This information is extracted from Dispositions, Titles, and other papers regarding the sales of Catherine Bank. Additional information taken from Ancestry, Find My Past, census and valuation records and Scotland’s People.
The Staghead Hotel in South Queensferry, 8 High Street, South Queensferry, is an early 17th century Coaching Inn. It is a category “B” listed building and is of special architectural interest. The following information is found on the website - www.smoothhound.co.uk/hotels/staghead.html
Image from Staghead Facebook page, link at end of this article
The website for the Staghead hotel states - “Enjoy a stay in our traditional 17th century former coaching inn. The "Stag"(as its affectionately known by locals) is a family run hotel, situated at the water's edge of the river Forth, overlooking the ancient harbour, and nestles between the world famous Forth rail and road bridges. We are located on the towns medieval cobbled High Street and Gote Lane, which ambles down to the ancient harbour where many an artist can be seen sketching the bridges. There can be few hotels offering a more dramatic location!”
The story goes that in the year 1708, an unthinking "STAG" wandered into the village and was slain on this spot by a passing coach. The coach was a relevantly new innovation, and their predecessors took full advantage of the trade it brought to this area, and in 1712, added an extension of 14 bedrooms and an upstairs parlour to the existing alehouse. Karen Purves, the previous proprietor wrote this verse about the event
The Story of the Stag, There aince wis a Stag, a prood bonny Stag, whae bided in woods yont the "Ferry" Sae cantie wis he wi a glint in his e'e and fashes he ne'er any!
Ain day oor croose Stag cocked up his lugs on hearing a dirl frae the toonthis unco clatter- "Mon whit kin it be?" Sae he daured tae gae cannilie doon
Dumfoonert wis he at the sichts he did see as he keeked roon the bield o the kirk Twa naigs they were luggin a boxie on wheels an' the din wis the de'ils ain work
Inside the boxie sat maisters an' maids garbed oot in goons a' sae braw An the maisters wi' wigs a pootert as new and waistcoats as white as the snaw
Alas, the Stag louped, the better tae see, leavin the beild o' the kirk Alang cam' the coachman, no' thinkin, wis he o' Stags loupin o' the kirk An' lo in the gloamin' o' that nicht yestreen, oor Stag wis felled doon on this spot So dinnae be fashed wi noises at nicht, remember oor Stags bluidy lot
We've honoured his heid, in oor alehoose it hings,tak heed guid friends yin an' a' Yir neebors affair are thir ain, sae tae speak, an' nebbin can come 'fore a fa' Karen Purves MBII
(There is a translation on the website, button link 'A', at the end of this article.)
The "Stag" is reputed to be haunted by a few spirits who, on occasion make their presence known. Auld Mrs Wyld, a former proprietor and inn keeper of the 17th century, can often be heard pacing up and down the top floor.... and has been occasionally seen! While, in the cellar, "Jack", an ex cellarman, can be heard moving barrels around, and playfully switching lights on and off.
The Staghead was known in the 1960’s to be a sailor’s pub, popular with sailors berthed at Port Edgar. Many local girls are known to have married the sailors.
Image borrowed from Pinterest posted by Sarah Wells.
It is now the starting place for the Burry Man’s tour of the burgh since the Queensferry Arms became the Orrocco Pier.
Image borrowed from Staghead Hotel Facebook page
The area behind the hotel was the site of the demolished 19th century Glenforth Distillery.
Proprietors - This is an incomplete list of past and present proprietors. The information has been taken from valuation and census rolls.
1855 - James Wylde –(valuation roll) 1877-1880 - Robert Stewart, (valuation roll) (Robert in 1877 is also proprietor of a distillery on north side of high street.) 1881-1901 - Daniel Stewart (valuation and census rolls) 1913-1925 - William Murray, (valuation Roll) widower of Jessie Robert Elder who died in Buchanan Arms Hotel, Drymen, of acute rheumatic fever, in 1910 aged 44, son also named William. William senior died in 1927 aged 67, having suffered from Parkinsons Disease for 8 years so maybe his son, William, who was living in Stag Head Cottage at time of his father’s death notification, may have taken over. Their younger son, Robert Elder Murray was killed in action in Picardy, France in August, 1918, aged 22 and is remembered on Queensferry war memorial.
1930- Staghead mentioned in Valuation roll, but Proprietor is unnamed.
It seems likely that Ian Macmillan and his wife were the proprietors during the 1960’s.
Ken and Jeanette Taylor were proprietors around 1970’s until 1984 /5
1985-2010- Karen Purves - Karen was born in Edinburgh. Her parents were also publicans managing various establishments. She came to Queensferry in 1985 to manage the pub and hotel. She was a great supporter of local charities holding fundraising events and collections at the bar. Sadly she died in 2010 aged 52.
The current proprietors are – David Steel and Michelle Johnston
According to the West Lothian Courier, the telephone came to Queensferry in 1907 and was at first limited in operation to between Queensferry and Edinburgh. It was reported in the Gazette in 1917 that the remaining overhead telegraph and telephone wires would be placed underground. Some had already been placed underground previously. The section running from the east end of the town to the foot of the Hawes Brae posed no problems, however the western portion was expected to cause traffic inconvenience in the narrow areas of the High Street and Hopetoun Road. (nothing changed there then!) Telephone numbers have changed through the years and here are some old numbers for businesses in Queensferry and along the High Street. The connections were dealt with through a telephone exchange in Bank Buildings. We have not listed present day numbers as we are not a Telephone Directory, but a History Group. Over time more numbers may be added. (Information taken from old Ferry Fair Programmes).
Image from an unknown Museum
In the 1930’s – ‘Forth Bridge Hotel’, now the ‘Ferry Tap’ – Queensferry 84 ‘Walkers Grocer’, now the ‘Queens Spice’ – Queensferry 97 ‘Fairlie Butcher’, now’ Maisies’ – Queensferry 12 ‘Hawes Garage’, still ‘Hawes Garage’ - Queensferry 23 ‘Newhalls Hotel’, now the ‘Hawes Inn’ - Queensferry 15 (Interestingly by the 1950's the 'Hawes Inn' number had changed to - Queensferry 215)
During the 1940’s ‘The Regal Café’, and the Regal Picture House, demolished (was next to Rosebery Clock Tower) - Queensferry 259 ‘Bryces Dairy’, now private housing in Brewery Close - Queensferry 220 ‘Walter Scott Motor Hirer’, which was the Green Park next to Masonic Hall – Queensferry 211 ‘David Davidson Grocer’, now ‘Mauritzio’s’ at Sealscraig - Queensferry 264 ‘St.Elia’s Café’, now ‘Antico’ at Orroco Pier - Queensferry 246
The back of the Regal Picture House during demolition of part of Brewery Close in 2003 for housing. Image QHG
Stirling Dairy previously Bryces Dairy, now private housing. Image QHG
Grass area beside the Masonic Hall where Walter Scott Motor Hire once was.
Antico at Orocco Pier today, where St Elias Cafe once was. Image QHG
During the 1950’s/60’s Greenfields, now Mauritzios on Hopetoun Road - Queensferry 335 Hillwood Co-op Draper/Fashion, now The Little Bakery - Queensferry 213 Marshall Morrison & Ass. Architects &Town Planners, Black Castle, now all private - Queensferry 681
Mauritzio's on Hopetoun Road today where Greenfields Grocer once was. Image QHG
Queensferry has many inns, hotels and restaurants. One such Inn, at 36 High Street is called ‘The Ferry Tap’. It is a ‘free house’ pub with no brewery ties and has had several name changes. Fine ale has always been a centre-point of Scottish pubs, and they pride themselves on a constantly changing selection from breweries all over Scotland – their status as a 'free house' with no brewery tie, means that they can hunt around for the finest seasonal ales on offer. (Although Website states they are a ''free house, they are in actual fact 'tied' as the present owners are Caledonian Heritable). The nation’s other favourite tipple is also well represented, they have a selection of (at the last count) 52 single malt whiskies, the largest selection you’ll find in the area. Their regulars have instituted the ‘Tap Whisky Appreciation & Tasting Society’, an informal whisky sampling club, and there’s always at least one of the ‘TWATS’ on hand to talk you through their offerings! (Information taken from The Ferry Tap website, link at the end of this article).
The building was erected in 1683 states the plaque on the wall and was originally a house. When it became an ‘Inn’ is unknown so far. There is no mention of it in the early census information for Queensferry. The first information found is in the 1881 census, when, as a hotel, it was named the ‘Prince of Wales’ until pre March 1890. When the future King Edward VII opened the magnificent Forth Rail Bridge in March 1890, the hotel's name was changed to ‘The Forth Bridge Hotel’.
The Hotel suffered a fire in 1907 and it had to be rebuilt. Jessie Mackenzie was proprietor at this time. There was another fire in 1976, remembered by locals, and it was closed for a while. The new owner, Neil Waterman re-opened it as a public house with the rooms upstairs converted into flats. Later it was renamed ‘The Forth Bridges’ and with another later name change it became ‘The Ferry Tap’.
Proprietors There are gaps in the list of proprietors, but these will be added to later as more information unfolds. Information is taken from Census forms and Valuation forms.
From at least 1881 until 1885 – ‘Prince of Wales Hotel’, proprietor Charles Stevenson. ( Evidence shows he is in Tillicoultry at least until before 1875.). 1881 census - Charles Stevenson, aged 40, born in Cambuslang, Inn Keeper of ‘Prince of Wales Hotel', along with wife Jeannie aged 42, born in Paisley, and children, Nellie-c1870, John-c1872, Charles-c1874, all born in Milngavie, and Jeanie-c1875, born in Tillicoultry, while father an innkeeper. From at least 1887 until 1891 – Now the ‘Forth Bridge Hotel’, proprietor listed as Alexander Russell. 1891 until approx. 1894 – ‘Forth Bridge Hotel’, proprietor John O’Neil, aged 39, born in Ireland, along with wife Mary Jane, aged 29 also born in England, and children Ethel-c1882, Ernest-c1885 and Blanche-c1887, all born in England. 1894 until 1904 – proprietor James Mackenzie (a former Sea Captain), born in England, died in 1904, aged 60, of Acute Nephritis (causing Kidney Failure) and delirium. He was listed as “Widower of Matilda Oversley” when he married Jessie Oliver, born in Peebleshire, in Edinburgh, in 1897. 1904 until 1926 -‘Forth Bridge Hotel’ (with 16 rooms) -proprietor Jessie Mackenzie, James’s Widow. She died in 1929, aged 67, of an Ovarian Tumour and Cardiac Arrest. 1911 census states Mrs Jessie Mackenzie aged 44, born in Peebles, is hotel keeper of Forth Bridge Hotel along with son Oliver aged 13 and son Henry aged 7 both born in Queensferry. Oliver was proprietor by the time of his Mother’s death.
A bit of Local History - Private Charles Stuart Watson (1898 – 1916) of 8th Battalion Royal Scots, resided with his Aunt Hilda Watson, a relative of proprietor Jessie McKenzie, in the ‘Forth Bridge Hotel’, Queensferry. He died aged 18, of wounds received in action on 3rd September 1916, during the Battle of the Somme and is remembered on Queensferry and Kirkliston Memorials. Charles is buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.
1926 until 1936 – proprietor Oliver Mackenzie, (eldest son of James and Jessie, previous properietors), born 1897 in Forth Bridge Hotel. Oliver was called up for service in World War I aged 18, and enlisted in Queensferry, into the Seaforth Highlanders on 11th December 1915, for ‘Short Field Service at Home’. He is listed as ‘Hotel Manager’ residing in the Forth Bridge Hotel, Queensferry. No other war records can be traced. Oliver was a well known magician who developed a trick known as “My Drink Trick”. It was released in the 1960’s by Harry Stanley, a London Magic dealer. Based on a drinking theme, it is still performed today by many ‘close up’ magicians. Oliver married a Margaret Rosalie Locke, from Swanage, in 1921 in Queensferry. Then married Edith Seaton in Edinburgh in 1935. His occupation on the certificates states 'Actor'. He died of Brochopneumonia and Broncho Carcinoma in Northern General Hospital, Edinburgh on 27th January 1983. The telephone number for The Forth Bridge Hotel in the 1930's was - South Queensferry 84.
Proprietors are then unknown until around - 1951 – proprietors are David and Edward Simpson Around 1966, there was a function room upstairs. 1971 - Alan Harrower is listed as proprietor. Harrower a Turf Accountant, owned betting shops in Edinburgh. During this time locals knew it as ‘Harrowers’. In 1977 it was taken over Neil Waterman, then Maurice McKernon (there is some discrepancy over whether his name was Maurice (or Morris) McKernon, Maurice McKinnon or Maurice Mckellar Watt) in the mid 80's and John Gorrie followed by Derek Anderson around 1987. Brian Alexander Cowper Inglis, a past Director of Duddingston Golf Club, Edinburgh is also a past proprietor. Brian sold to Caledonian Heritable and the present manager is Linda Gamble. Thank you to local residents for the information which helped to make up this list.
This information has been extracted, with permission, from Michael G McDowalls book “The Harbour, Queensferry’s Maritime History”. Michael is a member of Queensferry History Group and also Queensferry Heritage Trust.
In 1641 when Queensferry became a Royal Burgh, it was described as having a haven, and a harbour. The definition of ‘harbour’ as a place of shelter for ships does not necessarily imply a man-made structure.
Image, a postcard from J Boner collection, QHG
As well as owning and running the ferry passage, its leading burgesses were merchants and shipmasters exporting coal, slate, sheepskins and meal in return for timber, iron, wine, randy, cloth and oil from Europe and Scandinavia. Ships were becoming larger, and loading and unloading was becoming more difficult. Also the rock ledges between low and high water were becoming dangerous as they were being quarried for building stone, to meet demands from the neighbourhood and for export.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Queensferry was a thriving seaport. Its prosperity reflected in the numbers of substantial buildings that still exist today. Local ships were making several voyages every year, chartered often by Edinburgh merchants, to exchange coal and stone for a wide range of commodities from roof pantiles to pots and pans, travelling to places such as Rotterdam, London, Calais, Danzig, Bruges, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. There is evidence that Queensferry skippers were venturing north for the whaling, bringing back blubber for oil to be used for lighting and the manufacture of soap.
Image - Whaling by Abraham Storck. Wikimedia Commons
The first built harbour was erected in 1694 when the Sea Baillie and fellow skippers raised money to build the harbour. The piers of this harbour probably form the base of the present day harbour. The wall and cobbled stone corner roundel at the harbour head are perhaps the only remaining features of this period. In February 1763 there was a violent storm that damaged the harbour and sea wall. Repairs and extension work were done but in January 1789 another storm ‘tumbled it to ruins’. By November 1798, work was finished on the harbour, The east pier was repaired and extended and work was done on the west pier. It was stated that “when this work is finished the harbour will be in a complete state of repair which is important not only to the town but also to the public. The materials for soap making as well as the greater part of the coals consumed by the inhabitants are carried by water”. By 1783-9, brown soap making had become a flourishing and extensive trade employing 20-30 men in each of the four large works in the town.
By 1815, again the harbour was in need of a lot of work as it was deemed to be unsafe in either an easterly or westerly gale. After many meetings and proposed plans construction work was carried out during 1817-18. In 1821 the Steamboat Queen Margaret was added to the fleet which included four large sailing boats three pinacces and three yawls for use in fair weather. However it was deemed unsuitable for steamships to be using the piers which had been built for sailing ships, so the Town pier at North Queensferry was extended and by 1830 the ferry ceased to use Queensferry harbour.
Inchgarvie from the south 1784. The harbour with the passage boat leaving the east pier. Image from Michael's book
In the first decade of the 19th century plots of land were sold for building new houses. A plot at the harbour head was sold, then when nothing was done with it, it was sold back to the council. In 1839 the Glenforth Distillery was built which “rears its walls at the head of the harbour”. Its production of 1700 – 2000 gallons each week gave employment to 20 people and relied on the import of barley.
The Harbour Head. Glenforth Distillery on left. (Water colour by Charles Bryden 1859-1906) Image from Michael's book
Gravestones in the Vennel churchyard record some of the Skippers of bygone days. One of the earliest is that of Robert Hill, Skipper and Bailie of Queensferry died in 1668. Henry Steel, Shipmaster, died in Granada in 1774, John Martin Shipmaster and Magistrate died in 1817. John Cant died in 1819, John Samson from Leith died in 1810, two days before his brother James.
Old image of Queensferry Harbour. Image- J. Boner collection QHG
To read more about this interesting history you can purchase a copy of Michael G McDowalls book for £7.50 plus delivery costs. Contact email :- firstname.lastname@example.org
The Church of Scotland opened the Robertson Orphan Home for Girls, in Queensferry, in 1898, in a house in East Terrace.
The original Robertson Orphan Home was established in 1875 by the Rev, Dr William Robertson of New Greyfriars, in the ‘Vennel’ and the children attended the New Greyfriars School. It remained there until his death in 1882. After her father’s death, Miss Gertrude Robertson took over the responsibility for the funds and for the management of the home.
It was thought the home, in the ‘Vennel’, was too close to the girls old homes and a decision was made to move further away so their friends wouldn't be able to "waylay them" on their way to and from school.
Between 1882 and 1898 the orphanage moved several times, from the Vennel, firstly to Wilfred Terrace, Piershill. This home prospered through funding support and a second flat was opened in Drum Terrace, off Easter Road. Both had facility for 12 girls. In 1887 a large house was secured in Mayfield, off Easter Road, and the two orphanages united there happily for 5 years until the house was pulled down for redevelopment. The home then moved to Pilrig Street, Leith.
Another 5 years passed and it became clear that the running of the home was too much responsibility for one person, namely Gertrude Robertson, (who later died of Cerebral Hemorrhage in 1900, aged 51.).
The Church of Scotland's "Committee of Christian life and work" agreed to take over the running of the home with the approval of the General Assembly. As the first institution of the kind undertaken by the Church of Scotland, it drew considerable interest. The new departure by the church was originated in 1896 when in spirit of self -examination the General Assembly reviewed their responsibility to the orphans and the friendless. It was hoped that this was to be one of many such orphanages throughout the church.
When the lease on the Pilrig house ran out, a house with a large garden was taken in South Queensferry, situated in the High Street (East Terrace) and overlooking the Forth.
Adapted for the purpose of the children’s home, the rooms were bright and airy and suitably furnished to provide accommodation for 20 orphan girls. The new home was opened in Queensferry in 1898. A Miss K H Davidson was initially appointed as superintendent of the institution.
In the 1901 census, an Annie Anderson was the Deaconess Superintendant of the home, with a Margaret Falconer, from Linlithgow, listed as ‘Head’ of house, occupation, a Boot Merchant, there with her family, two daughters and a young Grandson. There were two servants – sisters from Inchmarlo, Aberdeenshire ( former girls?) and a Cook. There were 16 girls listed, 11 born in Edinburgh, 2 born in Leith, one in Moffat, one in Falkirk and one in Greenock, this included two sets of sisters.
The house was sold by the proprietor in 1904 for building purposes, so after great searching, a suitable house was found in Musselburgh which was formerly used in connection with Loretto School and was in every way, suitable and it was opened in Hamilton Place, in 1905. Senior girls were trained in house work "to qualify them for domestic service". This home was still in operation, in No’s 12 – 16, High Street, Musselburgh, in the 1930’s with a Miss A E Brown as Matron.
Musselburgh High Street, c1905. Image with permission from Peter Stubbs, edinphoto.org.uk
Image, Dover ( not home featured) Orphan home for Girls, c1926. olddovorians.tripod.com
Dr John Mason, in his book, “The History of Queensferry ” written in 1963, but never published, tells us of Queensferrys Water supplies. In the year 1817 Lord Rosebery was well aware of the unsatisfactory nature of the town’s wells and the inhabitants longing for a supply of soft water and the desire for a bleaching green by the housewives for their laundry. He decided, out of concern for the health and well - being of the inhabitants, to provide a reservoir. Lord Rosebery owned Nivens Green which held a suitable natural reservoir and from its elevated situation, was in the best position to supply the town consistently with water of the best quality, due to the rivulet which ran into it.
Image from Ordnance Survey Map of Queensferry 1895
The Nivens Green reservoirs lay west and south of present day ‘Ferry Glen’. The Back Braes and back road to Dalmeny ran past the reservoir and along Ravel Glen, which at that time commanded a fine view of the deep cleft or glen in which ‘Jocks Hole’ is situated, which is in present day ‘Ferry Glen’. Part of Ravel Glen was used for the Queensferry rail track. The top of the Back Braes was used for drying washing before the railway was built. On the above map you can see 'Jock's Hole' circled in dark blue, to the left of this is the Bowling Green in green (to give bearings and perspective), the Reservoirs are below the Bowling Green in light blue.
The work of constructing the reservoir and the laying of the supply pipes to the three wells of the town began. The Centre Well was situated at the end of the main pipe opposite Swine Bush, (In 1821 Margaret Stewart possessed Swine Bush, a fue of sixty feet in length situated approximately where the bank now stands). The second or Easter Well, on East Terrace and the third or Wester Well at the east side of the lower part of the council stairs at Rosebery Hall. ( there seems to be only evidence remaining of the Wester Well, present day). The council, agreed that the Earl of Rosebery’s crest and the burgh coat of arms with a suitable inscription be set above the well. A lions head was to be placed above the other two wells. (Hover cursor over images to read description).
In June 1819 Baillie Campbell Innes received permission to draw water from the towns mains to his work, the connection made at his own expense and a charge of a guinea each year was imposed for the privilege.
Thomas Orrock, in his book ‘Forthas Lyrics and Other Poems’ published in 1880, tells that the summer of 1842 was very hot and dry. The town of Queensferry, like many other towns was badly off for water. The inhabitants had to carry it for miles and often bought it by the bucketful. A number of old wells that had been closed since 1817 were opened. A very deep one was opened in an old brewery. When cleaned out the skeletons of two infants were found, this of course stopped the supply of water from that source. Another well was opened at the west end of East Terrace and a pump put in to it.
In May 1856 The Glenforth Distillery (at the Head of the Harbour, no longer standing) applied to Lord Rosebery for permission at the companies expense, to make an additional reservoir to the South of the reservoir, permission was granted providing the distillery paid a land rent of £4.00 per acre while the ground was used for that specific purpose and if the reservoir was discontinued the ground would be levelled by the company. The Distillers were agreeable to the reservoir being being used should ever the burgh reservoir need repairs, cleaning out or there was a scarcity of water, provided the town would take on the lease of the ground in the event of the company surrendering it and pay for the levelling of the ground. To which the council agreed.
Image, Old Ordnance Survey Map of Queensferry 1916
This more recent map (1916) shows again 'Jock's Hole' circled in dark blue and the Bowling Green, in green, to the left. Note the reservoirs, coloured in light blue, are now to the side of the Primary School, on the opposite side of Station Road to the original reservoirs. It is unknown if these were the extra reservoirs put in by the Glenforth Distillery, but the map states' Queensferry Corporation Water Works' and the original reservoirs closer to Ferry Glen are no longer marked. Here you can see clearly the Ferry Burn meandering to the Ferry Glen next to Station Road on the left, and behind Burgess Park (for those who know the area).
Wilhelm Westhofen in his book “The Forth Bridge”, dated 1890, claims that during the construction of the Forth Bridge, water was drawn from the pits of Dalmey Shale Works for the boilers and other general purposes, but it proved too dirty, and some rough filter beds of gravel had to be constructed to pass it through. It was then forced by pumps to an overhead tank set about 60 feet above the level of the works and shops. This water was conducted in pipes down the incline to the jetty and in various leads, all over the works. For drinking purposes, another supply pumped from the sandstone was available, but it proved unreliable and often failed altogether. In the Summers of 1886 and 1887 a drought occurred in South Queensferry and this was met by the contractors placing large iron tanks at the harbour and filling them with a clean supply of water brought up by barge from Starleyburn in Burntisland. This could be used by everyone free of charge. In 1887 Kirkliston, Dalmeny and Queensferry arranged for a supply of water from the Pentland Hills and this supply is both plentiful and of first rate quality, and has been running since the summer of 1888. (Wikisource)
Founder Member and President of Queensferry History Group, Jimmie Boner, who sadly passed away late 2015, tells us the following - “The Reservoir and Jocks Hole by Jimmie Boner” “When the reservoir was planned in the early 1800’s, the Ferryburn had to be diverted. It originally ran right down the Loan. When Samuel Wilson had built Plewlands House ( see archive’ Queensferry History’ September 2015, below Brewery Close info) he had built it west of the burn to evade him from paying taxes to the burgh. At Burnshangie House the burn was piped up to the reservoir. When the burn flowed over Lovers Lane it was always at least two or three inches deep in the summer time and anyone going there for a walk had to use the stepping stones at the side of the road. It was like that until they built Moubray Grove where the burn now runs under the small bridge. The other burn crossed Lovers Lane and came down through the wood at the old fever hospital where it was piped under-ground down to the glen at Ashburnum Lodge, where it ran down to the shore at the promenade. When the railway line was built and part of it built up, a culvert was made so that the burn still ran well beneath the line down to the shore. If one walks down the glen the red brick wall can easily be seen. No-one knows how but it has always been called Jocks Hole. The overflow from the reservoir comes under the bowling green path over the waterfalls and joins the other burn there. Most of my news came from old timers who were Pat Duffy, Jimmy Ford (Caber La), Johnny Bone (Tiger), Peter Bone (Baseoe), Jock Phair (Barrow), Jock Wilson, Auld Adam Urquhart and Jock Wood.
Queensferry cycle/footpath which replaces the old railway line
Waterfall in Ferry Glen
View of Queensferry from Back Braes
The reservoirs were not without tragedy. One such event was published in the Scotsman on 1st August 1914. - South Queensferry. Girl drowned. "A girl was observed to disappear on Thursday afternoon in one of the reservoirs originally used in connection with the water supply of South Queensferry. On information being lodged with the local police, dragging operations were carried out, and eventually the body of Mary Airlie, seventeen years of age, who resided at Dalmeny Rows, and who had been until recently in domestic service in the neighbourhood, was recovered". Her death certifiate states she was 16 years of age, and was a Domestic Servant at Butlaw Naval Hospital, with this stated as her usual address. She drowned in the reservoir on July 30th 1914 at 6.30 pm. Her brother James, who notified the death, lived in Church Row, Dalmeny. It is unknown if her parents also lived there.
Simply stated, the Covenanters were those people in Scotland who signed the National Covenant in 1638. They signed this Covenant to confirm their opposition to the interference by the Stuart Kings in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Stuart Kings harboured the belief of the Divine Right of the Monarch. Not only did they believe that God wished them to be the infallible rulers of their kingdom - they also believed that they were the spiritual heads of the Church of Scotland. This latter belief could not be accepted by the Scots. No man, not even a king, could be spiritual head of their church. Only Jesus Christ could be spiritual head of a Christian Church. King Charles I had introduced the Book of Common Prayer to Scotland in 1637 to the fury and resentment of the populace. He declared that opposition to the new liturgy would be treason, and thus came about the Covenant.
King Charles 1, image Wikimedia Public Domain
The repercussions of the attempt by Charles 1 to establish the episcopal form of religious service in Scotland, leading to the riots in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, were severely felt in Queensferry. The Scottish nation had been aroused to organise resistance. The failure of the Scottish representatives to effect a settlement with the crown, followed by the Kings command for submission angered the people. In 1638 Scotsman of all ranks signed the National Covenant pledging to uphold the protestant Presbyterian form of worship in their midst.
Copies of the covenant were distributed to all parts of the country in order that people might signify their will to support and maintain Presbyterianism. The Queensferry copy of the Covenant was signed by 83 persons. The disillusion of the General Assembly by Hamilton, the Kings representative and the determination of the Assembly to maintain the Presbyterian religion led to a state of war. In 1639 Scotland raised 20,000 men who, under Sir Alexander Leslie, forced the King to sign the Treaty of North Berwick. But the struggle was not ended. The summer of 1640 saw Charles raise an army, but the Scots led by Leslie, penetrated England, defeated the ‘auld enemy’ and compelled the King to sign a permanent treaty leaving Scotland in the hands of the Presbyterians.
Sir Alexander Leslie, image Wikimedia Commons
During this struggle between the Crown and the Scottish Nation, Queensferry was not inactive. Alarmed by threat of invasion, the magistrates and council ordered Samuel Wilson to procure arms from wherever he could. 9 muskets and 10 pikes were purchased for the defence of the town. A drill master was employed to train the men in the discipline of war. The sight of men old and young emerging from their doors and the loud voice of the drill master instructing the recruits in military exercise in the new kirkyard, the haste of constructing earthwork east of the harbour and the mounting of a gun with its muzzle directed toward the sea, could not fail to cause wonder and alarm. All inhabitants who possessed a musket were called to arm themselves with sufficient powder, match and balls. Watchmen were posted at the East and West ports of the town and 6 men went to Inchgarvie Island as volunteer defenders. The fear of invasion vanished after the defeat of the Kings forces and the inhabitants returned to their normal business.
This was the nub of the entire Covenanting struggle. The Scots were, and would have been, loyal to the Stuart dynasty but for that one sticking point, and from 1638, when the Covenant was signed, until the Glorious Revolution - when Prince William of Orange made a bloodless invasion of Great Britain in 1688 - a great deal of suffering, torture, imprisonment, transportation and executions would ensue. There followed a period of very severe repression. Ministers with Covenanting sympathies were "outed" from their churches by the authorities, and had to leave their parishes. Many continued to preach at meetings in the open air or in barns and houses. This became an offence punishable by death. Citizens who did not attend their local churches (which were now in the charge of Episcopalian "curates") could be heavily fined, and such offenders were regarded as rebels, who could be questioned, even under torture. They could be asked to take various oaths, which not only declared loyalty to the king, but also to accept him as head of the church. Failure to take such an oath could result in summary execution by the muskets of the dragoons, who were scouring the districts looking for rebels. The persecutions became more frequent and cruel on the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. As time went on more and more ordinary folk became involved, and skirmishes and battles took place against Government troops. In 1678 the Government raised an army of 6,000 Highlanders, who had no love for the Presbyterian lowlanders. This army swept through the west and south of Scotland, looting and plundering. They remained for many years, quartering themselves on the already impoverished Covenanters.
The Palace or Covenanters House, situated at the West end of Queensferry, in Covenanters Lane, between Priory Church and Harbour Lane was an Inn at the time of The Covenanters. It was an old red tiled house, two stories high. The doorway to the North upon the gabled front lead by a spiral staircase.
It was on this staircase that in 1680, Covenanters Henry Hall of Haughhead, Teviotdale, who played an active part in most of the transactions of the Covenanters, and Donald Cargill, an outed minister from Glasgow, were accosted by Middleton, a Papist and Governor of Blackness Castle, where many Covenanters were imprisoned. He was assisted by a waiter of the Inn when he called for the people in the house to help him ‘in the Kings name’. While Cargill escaped, the waiter struck Henry a fatal blow on the head with a carbine. Henry escaped helped by the women of Queensferry, however he was mortally wounded and fainted in the street. Carried to a house in Echline, medical aid was brought to him, to no avail and he fell in to the inhuman hands of General Thomas Dalyell of the Binns, and the Kings Guards, when he died while being dragged to Edinburgh. His body lay in Cannongate Tolbooth for three days before being buried secretly.
Cannongate Tolbooth today. Wikipedia - Image by kilnburn
Despite being scrubbed, the blood stain on the stairs was said to show until the building was demolished. Henry Hall was found to have papers in his pocket, written by Cargill, in which the subscribers renounced allegiance to the existing king and government, and engaged to defend their rights and privileges, natural, civil, and divine. There were no signatures. This declaration is named the “The Queensferry Paper”.
No image of Henry Hall but this image is of Donald Cargill, 1619 - 1681 who preached open air, illegally to crowds in Maybole Scotland. image Wikimedia Commons
The alternative name of “The Palace” may arise from it occupying the site of a house erected for Queen Margaret, the Binks nearby forming a natural pier for the ferry across the Forth to Dunfermline. Unfortunately all the buildings in Covenanters Lane were demolished in the 1930s, as part of a Housing Improvement Scheme and the house at which the incident took place, known as the 'Covenanter's House' can no longer be seen More information can be found in our website http://www.queensferryhistorygroup.org.uk/queensferryhistorygroup/index.php/history/
General Thomas Dayell - 1599 - 1685 image Wikimedia Commons
In 1785, the Council decided to light the Burgh with oil lamps and raised Public Subscription for ten lamps which were set at convenient places. The Earl of Rosebery supplied an additional two lamps to be placed at the West end of the town. On the first evening of November, a Tuesday, they shone like beacons in the enveloping dark. Every evening, the new lamps were lit, except in the ten lightest nights of the month – five before and five after the full moon, until the coming of Spring. “Besides – oil cost one shilling a pint”!
For long the High Street had been lit by smoky oil lamps and the Wynds and Closes lay in darkness serve where a chinking light stole from a window or door left ajar.
In 1847, the Council took a notion to light the Burgh with Gas. They agreed a site for a new Gas Works, at the west end of town, bounded by the sea on a 50 year lease at £5.00 per annum, to be managed by Queensferry Gas Light Company.
-The Town Council invested in twenty £1 shares. To meet the cost, a Public Subscription was raised so that when the Gas Works went into operation “the lieges of the Town enjoyed the benefit of the new light”. The street lights were extinguished at 11 o’clock except on Saturdays when “lights out” was at 11.30pm leaving the streets in darkness. During the fishing season the harbour lights and those necessary for the fisherman were ablaze all night. This concession cost the local fishermen 6d a week per boat and strangers with boats coming from Fife and other ports were charged as follows - For each vessel under 40 tons…………………………………..6d. “ “ “ between 40 – 100 tons……………………9d. “ “ “ above 100 tons………………………………..1s. 0d The account for street lighting during the Winter of 1848/49 amounted to £11.13s.0d. A manager of the Gas Works was appointed to take charge of the street lamps at a salary of £4.00 a year. As Lamp-Lighter he lit the gasses with a rod which concealed a tiny flame at one end sheltered by a filigreed brass chamber
The City of Edinburgh Council Office, and Museum, in Queensferry, at 53 High Street, forms an eye-catching, white-harled block with some Arts and Crafts features. It holds the Queensferry Registrars Office and sits on the cobbled High Street of the historic town of South Queensferry, on the seafront between the Forth Rail, (now a World Heritage Site) and Road Bridges. The Marriage ceremonies take place in the impressive former council chamber with its beautiful corniced ceilings. The rose coloured seating and turquoise velvet curtains add to the elegance of the room and there are stunning views over the River Forth. The chamber can accommodate 37 guests in addition to the bride, groom and two witnesses. It also houses Queensferry Museum, upstairs. The Provost’s Room was on the first floor, now part of the Museum. It served both as his office and as a place to receive important visitors to Queensferry. These visitors included Queen Elizabeth II, Russian leaders such as Khrushchev and Bulganin, and other foreign leaders, among them President of Sudan Ferik Ibrahim Abhood and King Olav of Norway.
image QHG Archives
History This building, built in the early 1900’s, was originally the Viewforth Hotel which was a temperance hotel, serving no alcohol. The temperance movement began in the early 19th century and is a social movement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages, promoting teetotalism. The temperance movement still exists in many parts of the world, although it is generally less politically influential than it was in the early 20th century. In youth culture, temperance is an important part of the straight edge scene, which also stresses abstinence from other drugs. Fitzpatrick's Herbal Health in Lancashire, England, is thought to be the last original Temperence Bar. The Whistle Stop Sweet Shop & Temperance Bar opened in Rotherham in 2013.
Viewforth Hotel 1911 image QHG Archives
This building was used as the Norwegian Naval Command from 1942 – 1944 and Crown Prince Olav of Norway was a regular visitor. In 1939, he was appointed an Admiral of the Royal Norwegian Navy and a General of the Norwegian Army . During World War ll, Olav stood by his father's side in resisting the occupation by Nazi Germany. When the Norwegian government decided to go into exile, he reluctantly followed his father to the United Kingdom. Olav made several visits to Norwegian and Allied troops in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. In 1944, he was appointed to the post of Norwegian Chief of Defence and after the war he led the Norwegian disarmament of the German occupying forces. His war decorations from other nations, including the War Crosses of Norway, France, Greece and the Netherlands, the US Legion of Merit and the French Medaille Militaire, are testament to the international recognition of his contribution to the war against Hitler.
King Olav V of Norway, Image Wikimedia Commons
Olav V succeeded to the Norwegian Throne in 1957 upon his father’s death and was the King of Norway until his death in 1991. At his death, he was the last surviving grandchild of Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Alexandra of Denmark.
The building then housed the Council Chambers of the Royal Burgh of Queensferry from 1945 until Queensferry became part of Edinburgh in 1975.
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.
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.
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.
Queensferry Passage Fleet of Ferries - “Robert The Bruce” “Queen Margaret” “Mary Queen of Scots” “Sir William Wallace” Timetable:- Summer Service – Very Frequent Service Winter Service – 20 Minute Frequency. First Boat from North Queensferry …. 6.45a.m. Last Boat from North Queensferry .... 11.10p.m. First Boat from South Queensferry … 7.10a.m. Last Boat from South Queensferry ... 11.30p.m. Telephone: South Queensferry 253 Manager – R. A. Mason.
In the early 1960’s even with four ferries offering a 15 minute service, delays of up to 3 hours were common during the Summer months. Cars often made a 30 mile detour by Kincardine rather than wait in the queue.
To ease parking on the ferries, there was a powerful turntable mid-ships. The ferries were double bowed, whichever end pointed in the direction of travel was regarded as the front of the boat. The overhead mid-ships bridge allowed ample clearance for furniture vans. The 1960’s ferries were Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace, Queen Margaret and Robert the Bruce. Robert the Bruce was the world’s first all welded ship. A hearse was charged at 10/- . A corpse was charged at 12/6p. Often coffin lids were not screwed down to indicate the coffin was empty – which saved the undertaker the additional charge for the corpse.
Image Linlithgow Gazette 2002
The Forth Bridge was opened by the Queen on 4th September 1964.
On September 1964, the Ferry Queen Margaret made the final crossing (invited passengers only). The only ferry to escape the breakers yard was William Wallace – she went to Holland then Switzerland and was broken in Ghent in 1970.
The following 'snippets' with permission from “Discovering West Lothian”, written by William Hendrie, published 1986, by John Donald publishers. ISBN 0 85976 162 2
Many people ask why ‘Queensferry’ when it maybe should be ‘South Queensferry’ – According to its inhabitants, The Royal and Ancient Burgh of Queensferry should never be insulted by being prefixed by a direction. *********************
During the 11th Century, Queen Margaret, who gave Queensferry it’s name, is credited with the custom of sewing buttons on gentlemens sleeves, to stop them wiping their noses and mouths on the cuffs. When she married King Malcolm Canmore, she found his noblemens manners left much to be desired ********************
Did you know Kirkliston had the nickname "Cheesetown"? Do you know why? If not, here is the answer!
The building of our Railway Bridge took seven years. During that time the population of Queensferry and neighbouring villages such as Dalmeny and Kirkliston were completely swamped by a labour force of over 5,000. Kirkliston gained the nickname “Cheese Town” because of the huge quantities of cheese that had to be imported into the village every week to feed the largely Irish labour force.
The Legend Of Hound Point I have found several versions of the legend of Hound Point. It is up to the reader to decide which is most likely.
With permission from publishers of “Discovering West Lothian”, written by William Hendrie, 1986 - "Local tradition has it that Barnbougle Castle, on the shore opposite Hound Point Island belonged originally to a noble family called Mowbray whose most famous member, Sir Roger was a member of the Knights of St John. To become a fully fledged member of the order, a knight had to take part in a crusade to the middle east. As Sir Roger made his way down to the rocky promontory, beneath Barnbougle Castle to reach the little sailing ship, his faithful hunting hound rushed after him. Just as the ship cast off it jumped aboard and Sir Roger did not have the heart to put the dog to shore and so it accompanied him all the way to the Holy Land. In Palestine it stood beside his master in many battles until in the end, in one battle, the knight was cut down and slain. What became of the dog is not recorded, but it is said that on dark winter nights, when the wind whips up gales and rages out in the Forth, it’s mournful howls are heard as it hunts for a long-lost master, and so the rocky promontory is known as “Hound Point”. Usually the hound hunts alone but on occasion it is accompanied by a white robed Arab warrior and when he appears it is said to auger ill health for the family which owns Barnbougle, because local legend insists that the Saracen Turk has come to carry off another of it’s members and that following his ghostly visit, one always dies."
'Copper' howling from 'The Fox and the Hound'
toplocalplaces.com/united-kingdom/south-queensferry/landmark/hound-point/332941893462988m- -The name 'Hound Point' derives from a local legend surrounding the lord of nearby Barnbougle Castle, currently Lord Rosebery. The legend states that one of the first lords set off to fight in the Crusades, leaving his beloved hunting-hound behind. At the moment the man was killed, the hound began howling uncontrollably, eventually dying of its grief. Ever since then, the howling ghost of the hound has appeared on the point whenever the present lord is about to die. ***************
mowbray.homestead.com/Barnbougle.htm - Hound Point, on which the castle stands, juts out as a headland into the Firth, and joins together the two coast lines of Fife and West Lothian. Hound Point takes its name from the legend of Sir Roger de Mowbray who went off to fight in the Crusades. As he was leaving, his faithful hound looked so mournful and wailed its sorrow so loudly that Sir Roger took it along. After sundry adventures the knight fell in battle. On the night he died, a hound was heard to bay all night long on the shore near Barnbougle. Since then, just before a Laird of Barnbougle dies, a hound appears on the shore and “a ghostly baying is heard,” according to legend. **************
Image by Mary Bloom
And Lastly - Haunted Scotland investigates - http://haunted-scotland.co.uk/barnbougle-castle/ Paranormal Phenomena : Connected with Hound Point is the legend that whenever the death of any of its lords is about to occur, the apparition of a black man, accompanied by a hound, appears upon the point, and winds from his bugle the death-note of the baron.
In William Wallace Fyfe’s, Summer Life on Land and Water at South Queensferry (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd: 1851), pp.156-158. the Legend of the Hound Point of Barnbougle is documented (abridged).
Long, long, had the mail-clad Templar fought, Beneath the blood-red cross, Where many a knight was slain in fight, With none to mourn his loss. At length through the keep, by the waters deep, There thrilled a bugle sound-- A death-wail pass’d on the midnight blast, Where Sir Roger met the hound. And a darksome Paynim form appear’d, Winding that solemn wail-- In the ebbing tide, a hound by his side, But neither shallop nor sail. And ever when Barnbougle’s Lords Are parting this scene below, Come hound and ghost to that haunted coast, And death-notes winding slow.
It seems the question is - Did the hound go with him or was it left behind?
Image: Barnbougle Castle. Flickr Commons Sharing
About Hound Point Terminal The offshore Hound Point oil installation in the River Forth is where North Sea oil starts its journey to refineries round the world. It is operated by BP Amoco and can accept vessels up to 300,000 tonnes deadweight. Pipes run to the terminal from a storage facility two miles to the south west, near the village of Dalmeny. Degassed crude oil is pumped from the Kinneil gas Terminal at Grangemouth to Dalmeny Tank Farm and from there to the tankers at Hound Point.
Hound Point Oil Terminal. Image: Wikimedia Commons
with permission from hsp 60 Fickr https ://www.flickr.com/photos/hsp60/4615364705/in/photostream/
Recently, on local social media, there has been much interest in the history of Vat 69, formerly the King George IV Scotch Whisky Distillery, so here is a potted history. If you find any information to be inaccurate or have any information you would like added to this, please email email@example.com
Many local people have relatives who worked there and even worked there themselves. The building was demolished in 1985, and stood where Scotmid, the Medical Centre and surrounding buildings are. East Coast Tyres and nearby premises are situated in part of the original Vat 69 buildings.
VAT69 late 60's. Image courtesy of Harry Kelly, photographer, South Queensferry
Many people have fond memories of life while working there. One local man, whose father worked in Vat 69 and before that in the King George IV Distillery, remembers a time when singer Marlene Dietrich visited and he was taken out of school, dressed up in his Boy Scout Pipe Band Uniform and played the bagpipes for her from the roof of the distillery. Marlene Dietrich performed in the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, in 1964 and 1965.
Vat 69 is a Scotch blended Whisky created by William Sanderson & Son. Becoming a limited company in 1896, this Leith business, was a family firm both on employer and employee sides. William was born in Leith in 1839 and died on 3rd April 1908. His son William Mark took over.
With permission -ttps://www.facebook.com/Vat-69-176741702374032/info?tab=page_info
So, why 'VAT 69'?
In 1882, William prepared 100 casks of blended whisky and hired a panel of experts to taste them. The batch from the cask (or vat) number 69 was judged to be the best, hence the name VAT 69. It is a blend of about 40 malt and grain whiskies. Vat 69 Reserve carries no standard age statement because of the combination of the malts and grains.
In 1967 Wm Sanderson & Son Ltd won the Queen’s Award for Industry in recognition of their outstanding achievements in increasing exports (by 20.1% over the previous year – 87.4% of output exported to over 180 countries). It was success, not failure, which led to moving out of Leith in 1969 to Distillers Group’s expanded high output bottling and blending plant at South Queensferry. Sandersons is now owed by Diageo, headquartered in London.
The Vat 69 building was not without mishap. On 24th April 1949, there was a severe fire. Locals were entertained with the sight of a river of alcohol running down the loan. This kept the building closed until October 1952.
Here are some snippets from the very first Queensferry High School Magazine possibly circa 1974/75. Some of you may have a copy yourselves, or will remember or even recognise your own entry. If you can give an exact date, please let us know.
This magazine was prepared by the commercial department and in particular the girls of 3c, 4a and 4b, vetted and edited by Miss Neilson. The cover was designed by M. C. and the printing was supervised by School Secretary Mrs Aitken. It begins with a witty Editorial written by F. M. (images are added by the blogmaster)
“Welcome to the first edition of the School Magazine. I know you are just going to love all the wonderful articles in it. I am dying to find out what’s in it myself. As the time for me to leave approaches, I – choke – think of those past events most dear to me: partly because I realise the surroundings in which they took place will soon be inaccessible, but mainly because we need another paragraph. For example, way back in my first year I remember:
The first day of initiation.
As to the fourth year: it was very lucky for the pupils to get a Common Room. However, the most amazing part of the four years was the time during the days when we could leave school at any time during the day to go home: recline on a bed and listen to the radio. YES, the “O” Grades. To finish, I would like to thank all these teachers who have already contributed towards my education, and all those yet to suffer”. F.M.
Image Wikimedia Commons
“I think that the belt should be kept in schools because the belt is much quicker, it lasts about 10 -15 minutes then the pain is gone. Not like words and meanings or lines, you could be in all night writing them out. Even then, it takes a lot out of the teachers mind, the belt does.”
“I think the belt should be banned from school. I think that when you are giving somebody the belt, that it only encourages them to do it more often. It won’t help the person”.
“I think the belt should be kept. The boy that gets lines it takes about an hour, or he even gets someone else to do it. It would be better to give the belt so that he gets it and no one else”.
“I think the belt should be banned from schools. On Thursday of last week a boy was belted so hard his hand just about fell off. Surely lines would be better than a boy’s hand falling off”.
Queensferry High School. Image Wikimedia under Commons License
“The Great Escape” “On Monday, April 29th at 12.46pm five boys and two girls from an anonymous third year class broke out of Bathgate Colditz. Mysterious Jimmy G--------------, Whitey, Midget, Addie, Archie, Corgi and bunny. Exhausted they marched on and on and on and --------
They recovered from meeting a Dulux dog, furry, shaggy, given to chewing off people’s heads.
They met an old wifie who told them the time:-2.10pm. 1 hour, 26 minutes of freedom!!!
Suddenly a silver Corsair, with roof rack, slid up to them. The car of Herr Kapitan Syme! With one accord the escapers dived behind a hedge and barbed wire fence. (See Whitey’s hand). Corgi was in difficulties: (see skirt). They were interrogated with Dechmont, and freedom, in sight, then were given their bus fare and sent back to Colditz. Final, final, blow: they had to hand over the 2p change to Herr Kapitan Syme.”
“The Cat” “ Standing on the wall, Waiting for to pounce Ready for his prey, Prepared for battle. Below the unsuspecting bird, Greedily eats stale bread, Not knowing what will happen. Innocently eating, Watching-out-oh-too-late, A little blood, feathers, All over. Savage Tom Cat”. V.R Class 2B.
“The years” “When I was young, I had some fun, Running up the railway line. Then a teenager, I walked up and down, Pushing a pram, All around town. When I was old I had some gold, Hidden under, An old, grey stone.” C.P. Class 4D. “The years”
To finish, some jokes by T.H. Question:- How do monsters determine their future? Answer:- They read their horrorscope.
Question:- What do you get if you beat gelignite and egg white together? Answer:- A boomerangue.
Question:- What do you call a cow that gets on your lawn? Answer:- A lawn mooer.
Question|;- What did the policeman say to Plum Duffy? Answer:- I’m taking you into custardy. Question:- “Somebody told me your dad’s a magician, is that true”? Answer:- “It is true! One wave of his magic slipper and I vanish”!
The Old Parish Church in The Vennel, dates from 1633 and has an interesting early graveyard which dates between 1635 - early 1900s. The oldest legible date is Jean Allan, Spouse to John Allan, died 1662.
The people of Queensferry had long been attending service in the Priory Church, however they were under notice by the Laird of Dundas to quit the premises and hand over the keys to him at his bidding. This left them feeling insecure, so in the early years of the 17th century, the people of Queensferry decided to build a church of their own at their own expense.
Things were going well for Merchants and Skippers and they could well afford to build a church and support a minister with a stipend of 400 merks. By the year 1633 the foundations were laid on the rising ground now called The Vennel, behind the Black Castle, not far from the High Street. In the 1st Edition OS map (date unknown) site appears as St Nicholas Church. This may have been there earlier.
The Kirk building, (known as The Chapel of St Michael) was completed by 1635. A plain rubble built, oblong, single-chambered structure. In that year King Charles I granted a Charter separating the Burgh from Dalmeny and making it an independent Parish. It stated that the population of the burgh had so increased that Dalmeny could no longer house the enlarged congregation and in addition, the road to Dalmeny was an arduous one for the aged and infirm.
David Jonkin, a Dutchman and Edinburgh merchant, gifted to the church, a bell in 1635, made by Micheal Burgerhous , in Holland. This bell has a well-known curse on it. "SOLI. DEO. GLORIA. MICHAEL. BURGERHOUS. NE. FECIT. DAVID. JONKIN. MAERCHANT. OF. EDINBURGH. GIFTED.THIS. BELL. TO.THE. KIRK.OF.QUEENS. FERRIE. CYRSED. BE.THEY.THAT.TAKE. IT. FRAE. THERE. ANNO. DOMINO. 1635" The bell still hangs there today.
The Church bell (apologies for the rain!)
The first minute of the Kirk Session dated 13th August 1635, narrates that David Lindsay, second Bishop of Edinburgh came to consecrate the new church and to install Mr Robert Gibbison as the first Minister. After the sermon two children were baptised, Edward Sympsone and George Hutton, and Communion celebrated. A new influence had come into the burgh. One which in time was to affect the religious and social life on the people in many unusual ways.
On 23rd august a meeting of honest men was called by the Minister for selecting Deacon and Elders. James Dauling, an Elder, was to be Keeper of the Poor Box. The Kirk Session met regularly to transact the business of the church and to make rules and regulations for the conduct of the parishioners. The rules for keeping the Sabbath Day were strict and exacting. Fines were imposed for many transgressions. Anyone taking a boat out on Sunday morning was fined, brewers of ale and those carrying items for brewing were fined, women were fined if they did not cover their heads during church service - to name a few. The fines collected were deposited in the Poor Box and contributed to relief of the poor, widows and orphans and those in dire distress.
Image of an early Church Poor Box - Flickr.com
Revered Robert Gibbison died in May 1641. Ephraim Melville became Minister in October 1641, until 1650. His resolve was to reform the evil -doers of the town. This was the time of the Witch Hunts, when the Kirk Session, encouraged by the Minister, searched the town for evidence against suspects. Several women were burned as witches on the land at Ferrymuir. ( Read more in April 2015 Archive).
Successor to Ephraim Melville was Mr John Dick, who dallied 2 whole years without answering to the call. Therefore in 1652, Mr John Primrose was appointed, but removed in 1662 as he refused to conform to the episcopacy, from 1661, when Queensferry signed the Oath of Allegiance to King Charles 11, committing the Burgh to acceptance of Episcopacy, (where the church would be governed by Bishops). A search for a successor ensued over a long period without result, until the Privy Council relented, and John Primrose was welcomed back in December 1669 until he died in 1673 aged 45.
King Charles II, image - John Michael Wright or studio - National Portrait Gallery - Wikipedia- commons
Between the date of his death until 1690, Mr George Robertson, Mr Archibald Buchan and four other pastors served as Minister to the Parish. George Robinson exchanged parishes with Mr John Phillip and became Minister of Queensferry Parish, until 1683 when he was imprisoned for treason. The church then remained vacant until Donald Campbell was ordained in in 1693, however he died in 1697. During this time, in July 1671, it was decided to build a school using local stonework. The school was built at the south end of churchyard and still stands today. In 1672 the school was ready for occupancy.
Old school Building at bottom of Churchyard, now Masonic Hall
Also in 1688 the Kirk was under repair and the congregation worshipped in the meeting house, a hall let to the Kirk Session by Widow Dauling at a rent of 20 Scots pounds half yearly. This building is said to have been half of the vaults situated under what is now East Terrace at a point directly in front of Laburnum House - (13 East Terrace). The vaults disappeared at the time of the building of the shops along the terrace front. Repairs were completed in July 1689.
Laburnum House on the Terrace has the green door with the Holly Wreath on it. The shops below are where the vaults were.
Mr John Grierson was ordained in 1700, 3 years after the death of Rev Donald Campbell. John died in 1709. It is said that one of the Magistrates at one time threatened to put Mr Grierson in the Tolbooth. In 1724 the burgh's affairs were in a state of confusion and disorder and the burgh was in dire financial straits, owing much to the Crown, and the Kirk Session claimed the town owed 400 Scots Merks (in 16th and 17th centuries about 13 shillings 4d, later raised to 14 shillings -per Merk) to the Poor Box, amongst other debts, and the Reverend James Kid was in arrears of his stipend and demanded a sum of £879.10.8d which was due to him. It was then claimed that Reverend James Kid had lifted money from the Poor Box for his own use. Investigations considered this deemed to be untrue. To raise money for the Poor Box, fines were increased and new ones introduced, for profanities and swearing, walking through the town during time of divine worship brought fines, even children were not allowed to play outside on the Lords Day. The Town Council was forced to appoint two 'Burgesses' as constables to apprehend the numerous transgressors. Rev James Kidd died in February 1744 and The Council decided to approach Rev Archibald Mcauley. Parishioners were against this , and suggested to approach Mr Walter Paton of Linlithgow, however the council stuck to their decision and Mr Mcauley was ordain in September 1745
In 1753 -120 years since the Parish Kirk was built, the North side of the roof, which withstood storms of successive winters, was showing signs of decay. Each summer a slater climbed up and fixed the slates but the winter's heavy rain and snow still penetrated. So funds were raised from various sources and the roof was stripped back and repaired. In 1770 the roof and walls of the Old Kirk was plastered, covering the workmanship of the old masons and the evidence of the 17th century's craftsmen's art, at a cost of £24.10 shillings. In the year 1780 the Kirk Belfry was in a shattered condition and for some months it was deemed too dangerous to continue to ring the bell. The old 'bird cage; structure was repaired in its present form, with a pillar of stone and lime inside the church.
Other Ministers who served the Old Kirk include the Reverend John Henderson, who in the early 1800's, was offered a gift of 20 guineas to augment the stipend of 80 guineas per anum. He felt this was not enough as there was no manse and he had a wife and 6 children to support, so he petitioned to Parliament for more, but they felt it was sufficient, and no more was offered. The Reverend Thomas Dimma was ordained in 1820. He gave 34 years of Service and after his death in 1854, he was buried in the Old Kirk Churchyard. Revered David Millar, Minister of Queensferry from 1884 – 1897, was born in 1841 and died in 1897. He is buried in Dalmeny Cemetery.
The century and an era were coming to an end. In 1888 the Town Council met as a Parochial Board to consider the provision of a new burial ground, as the old ground at the Vennel was now a "nuisance" and should be closed. Various alternative sites were proposed and on 12th March 1900 a closing order was made on the old burial ground.
View of the cemetery today
Queensferry Parish (St Andrews) Church
The building which now houses Queensferry Parish Church, located in The Loan, was originally built as South Queensferry United Free Church in 1894, and extended in 1993. The stone Font (which now stands outside the church), the Lectern, Pulpit and the Communion Table were brought from the Old Parish Kirk in the Vennel.
Old Font outside Queensferry Parish Church. Below, Pulpit , Communion Table and Lectern all brought from the Old Parish Church.
Following the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland in 1929, the UF Church became known as St Andrew's Church and the Old Kirk became known as the South Church which served the Church of Scotland congregation until 1956, when it was united with St Andrews Church, becoming Queensferry Parish Church. The final Communion Service was held in the Old Kirk in March 1962 and after 365 years the congregation left to join that of Queensferry Parish Church. Following this, the building was sold in 1970 and converted into offices, taken over by the YMCA, and acted as a Community Centre until 1999, when it was sold and converted into a house.
Ministers of Queensferry Old Parish Church 1633- 1641 - Robert Gibbison 1641 – 1650 – Ephraim Melville 1650 – 1652 – John Dick – did not take up post 1652 – 1662 - John Primrose 1662 - 1669 - vacant 1669 – 1673 - John Primrose 1674 -1678– George Robinson (until 1683) 1678 - 1681 - John Philip 1682 - 1683 - Archibald Buchan 1683 - 1686 - Alexander Skirving 1696 - 1689 - William Smyth 1689 - 1690 - John Dalgleish 1690 – 1693 – vacant 1693 – 1697 - Donald Campbell 1697 – 1700 -vacant 1700 – 1709 - John Grierson 1710 - 1743 - James Kid 1746 – 1781 - Archibald McAuley 1782 - 1820 - John Henderson 1820 – 1854 - Thomas Dimma 1855 – 1861 - William Lockhart 1861 - 1870 - Thomas Andrews 1872 - 1884 - John White 1884– 1897 - David Millar 1897 - 1900 -D Melville Stewart 1900 - 1944 - W. Bower Wilson 1944 - 1953 - William Horsburgh Cemetery closed 1900 Church closed 1956 – sold 1970. Became YMCA,- sold 1999. Converted into a house.
Source of Information – Queensferry Parish Church website - http://www.qpcweb.org/pages/early-beginnings. Also 'History of Queensferry', by Dr John Mason -1963. (unpublished). (Much of Dr Mason's information came from parish records.)
It is interesting, with the Edinburgh Tram developments, to know that in November 1902 it became known that there was a prospect of running trams from Edinburgh to Queensferry.
Intimation had been received by the Town Council that application was to be made to the Secretary of State for Scotland, to authorise the construction of a tramway from Edinburgh to Queensferry, which would begin at the South end of Queen Street, pass along Queensferry Road and into Queensferry, to the boundary beween Queensferry and Linlithgow at the East end of the Burgh. (bottom of the Loan).
1815 map showing Royal Burgh Boundary in Blue and Parliamentary Constituency Boundary in blue.
This was welcomed by the Magistrates and Councilors of Queensferry, particularly as the North British Railway had removed the passenger station from Queensferry to Dalmeny . They gave their consent unanimously and hoped construction would begin right away, it was also hoped this would be extended along the foreshore towards Hopetoun.
However, The County Council of Linlithgow lodged objection to the project. The Town Councilors of Queensferry urged that the consent of the County Council should be dispensed with, on the grounds that Linlithgow had no material interest in the project .
Musselburgh Trams -image kind permission from Peter Stubbs -www.edinphoto.org.uk
In January 1905, proposal was made to construct an electric tramway to Queensferry from the terminus of the cable tramway in Comely Bank and a breach from Bonnington Place, Leith to join the main line at Davidsons Mains. Queensferry Town Council pressed the promotors for an agreement that the tram would go along Queensferry foreshore to the harbor.
This request could not be permitted meantime but promotors agreed to later bring the tram as far as possible into the burgh and to run a bus from the West end of the town to the terminus. Sadly their hopes were not to materialize. The project came to nought. If it had succeeded, the Royal Burgh of Queensferry would have been opened up to tourist traffic to the benefit of merchants and perhaps to the relief of those who managed the affairs of the swimming baths.
Laying of Trams in Princes Street 1953. Image with permission from Scotsman Publications.
The Tolbooth is a category 'A' listed building. It's Clock Tower dominates the high Street and the old burgh. The building at its foot, known as the Rosebery Hall, has an interesting and complex history. The tolbooth of a medieval burgh was an office where taxes and customs were collected. By the 16th century it was not unusual for the tollbooth also to have become the burgh court house, the prison and the meeting place of the burgh council.The earliest part of Queensferrry Tollbooth may date from the late 16th and early 17th century. In 1642, a set of weights and an iron weigh beam were brought from Holland to be installed in the Weater Laigh House (basement) of the tollbooth, where merchandise was to be weighed and meal measured. In 1644 there is a reference to the Tolbooth's other function, as a prison when a suspected witch, Margaret Young was imprisoned there. Prison accommodation probably occupied the Easter Laigh House. It was decided to "build a wall on each side of the thoroughfare flush with the inside of the steeple pillars so as to leave an entry to the Black Hole and to the place called the Entry to the new wall to be built on the south side". The Black Hole and the entry were let as cellars until Martinmas. Such information, casually recorded, makes plain the fact that the tower or steeple was supported on four stone pillars. This fact explains why it was possible in 1641 to house a weighing machine under the Tolbooth. In the minute of council 25th November 1641 it is stated, " The council understanding that the benifit arising by the weightis and metts is proffitable, therefor they desyne allot and appoynt the westre large house undre ye tolbuthe to be ane weynge of merchan guids metting of meall".
Old Clock Tower In February 1720, Henry Cunningham of Boquhan, member of Parliament for the Stirling Burghs which included Queensferry, offered to finance the building of a steeple and of erecting a clock on the Tolbooth Tower. The offer was accepted by the Council and Bailie George Hill and two councilors were deputed to 'oversee the work, provide materials, hire workmen and do everything necessary thereanent'. The steeple was built, the clock with its one dial facing the high Street was erected, and so they remained, basking in the summer's sun, braving the winter's storms until the steeple was remodeled in 1887 when the present clock known as the Jubilee Clock, was erected to mark the jubilee of Queen Victoria. The clock was purchased for nearly 200 pound sterling, raised by public voluntary subscription. The final cost was 227 pounds seven shillings and six pence! The clock was lit with gas until some time in the mid 1920's when electric light was introduced. The minute book of the burgh for the year 1725 records that the steeple 'was in some way loose so the bell when ringing or in stormy weather was in danger of falling'. The necessary repairs were effected forthwith. It is not clear whether the entire Tolbooth Tower dates from this period or whether the new steeple was added to an existing tower. Henry Cunningham also donated a bell, which hangs in the clock tower, a second bell once hung there, Made in Holland and gifted by the seamen of Queensferry in 1694, it is believed to have been given on loan to the Episcopal Church (The Priory Church).
In 1770 further improvements were made to the Town House on the East side of the Tower. in the month of March 1832 the Black Hole, with the place West of it called the Entry, was let by public roup to Alexander POLLOCK, Merchant, for nineteen years after Whitsun following, at a charge of 10 shillings per annum. The conditions of the roup contained the provision that the premises were not to be used as a 'Byre, Stable, Hoggs Stye or to deposit Gunpowder'. It was fortunate that on 1st January 1832 the Town Council resolved to tidy up the precincts of theTollbooth Tower, for by their resolution and consequent action revealed what had remained obscure for generations. In the minute of meeting it is stated that the open area under the steeple as well as the Black Hole lay in ruin. The Town House on the east of the building was replaced in 1894 by the Rosebery Hall which the fifth Earl of Rosebery gifted to the town in memory of his wife.
The Burgh Court Room , minus its 19th century fittings still survives just inside the Rosebery Hall complex. It was customary for the court room to be placed, as here, on the first floor with access to an outside stair. The stair ultimately replaced the Mercat Cross as the place where public proclamations were read and notices posted. On the wall of the clock tower adjoining the outside stair is the Queensferry War Memorial.
At the roadside, a plaque dated 1817 commemorates a supply of water and a bleaching green for the inhabitants by the Fourth Earl of Rosebery. Here was the most westerly of the three public fountains to which the water supply was fed. One other supply can still be seen under East Terrace.