FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD HAUNTS & ACTIVITIES - Jean Whitelaw
"Great! Seven weeks holiday!" Off came our school clothes,
sandals etc. into our old togs and off to the Beach which was
our favourite haunt. Many happy hours were spent there with swimming
being one of the top priorities. We knew exactly where the tide
would be every day and that determined the time the gang would
go swimming. Our favourite rocks were the McKinnie. the Craig
(which my family house was named after), the Skelly. the Buckety
Pat and the Ship and because we were all able to swim from an
early age, we had endless fun in the sea.
Another pastime was having fires in "Bully Beef tins found
on the "Store" tip along near the Johnny Moat. In these
days lots of rubbish was dumped on the shore. We cut out a small
air hole in the tin and our fuel (sea coal) was free from the
beach. We would boil potatoes, buckies and mussels in sea water
in an old can. no salt required. Can't see us using sea water
these days!! The tins were all lined up on the McKinnie rock and
when we were called for lunch the Fires were stoked by our pals.
Have your ever tasted tatties boiled in a can of sea water? Smashing!
If we were lucky enough to Find an old pram with a decent set
of wheels, that prompted us to make a "Gider". The gang.
Tommy Watson. Bobby and Jessie Shepherd. Lennie Clark. Bob Allison.
Jim Carson. Mary Shaw. Colin Campbell and myself, would congregate
in Campbell's back green. opposite the Goth. It was a good place
to make the contraption as Hastie's Garage at that time was over
the wall and spare parts such as nuts and bolts, axles etc. were
on hand. with a bit of cadging. Once assembled, we took it in
turns to run down the Penny Pit bing or Redburn Road which was
little more than a dirt track then. Very few vehicles were on
the roads so it was comparatively safe. Sometimes. Alex Watson
would tow us behind his bike.
During the demolition of part of the Kittle (Cuthill). the gang
decided it would be a great idea to make a raft. Off we went along
the beach to the Kittle and took four doors from a dump. In these
days doors were very. very heavy and weighed a ton and being amateurs,
we nailed the four together (with nails courtesy of Jock Hastie)
and the result, apart from not being able to lift the raft. was
it would not even float. The best laid schemes....................!
On Saturday mornings Lennie and I would be up early and along
the beach to see what Bellfield's Pottery- was disposing of. The
factory cleaned out their kilns that morning and. if we were lucky,
we would pick up teapots (minus the lids as they would probably
be thrown out the following week) trivets, pie dishes etc. We
had quite a lot of pottery stored in the back shed. The Pottery
was famed for their "little Brown Teapots" which they
produced and brewed a cup of tea second to none. Unfortunately,
it is said that the moulds used for the teapots were destroyed
when the Potteries closed down.
Do you remember "heners"? This was jumping over rocks
and pools along the beach, all done with bare feet. Sometimes
we took a daft notion and decided to empty the "Buckety Pat"
as the tide was ebbing. This was a large pool in the rocks (a
little bigger than the size of a billiard table) and situated
at the back of Dr Willie McEwan's garden sea wall at Walford.
It was full of large stones and rocks, buckies and seaweed with
loads of small minnows, eels and crabs in about two feet of water.
Emptying it was really hard work but great fun trying to beat
the tide as the first wave of the incoming tide Filled up the
pool again. We knew this would happen but it was a source of activity
and we all enjoyed ourselves.
Carving our initials on the sandstone rocks was another thing
which kept us occupied. This was done with two very hard stones,
chipping away at the rocks. Sadly, with the installation of the
pipe line from the Power Station along the beach very few. if
any. of our carvings have survived.
Fishing was another popular pastime. We would buy a ha'penny hook
and reel and spend endless hours at the end of the Craig fishing
for poddlies or cleeking cavies from the holes in the rocks. That
was at low tide. of course, when we knew all the best places to
When the tide was fully in. the Penny Pit was a great playground.
Football. Hide & Seek. Flying Kites (home made from the wooden
hoops off grape barrels), and sliding down the Bing were great
fun. I often wonder how our Mums managed to clean our clothes!
Saturday afternoon was "Scratcher" day. The picture
house was absolutely packed in these days. The two middle rows
of seats were always reserved for St Joseph's Home boys who were
a real rough lot. Pianist. "Old Shiny Broo" provided
the background music for the silent films. His head could be seen
above the edge of the partition and was a great target for orange
peel. apple cores and pellets from "potato guns" which
could be bought for tuppence.
Once a year we all went up to the Fun Fair at Portobello. The
owner of the Showground, a Mr Bidden, also owned the "Scratcher"
in the Pans and he gave every child at school a strip of tickets
admitting us to a ride on each merry-go-round. This was a great
fun day for everyone as a penny ride on the tramcar took us up
to Portobello and another penny brought us back. A good day's
outing for tuppence!
What a transformation there has been in the Pans. The pawky wee
community we knew in the old days has disappeared. No more washerwives
pegging clothes on the lines down the beach on the coldest of
days. There were workers in clogs from the Brewery. Soap and Salt
Works and hundreds of miners in their moleskin trousers trekking
home after a heavy shift down the pit. Let's hope the Pans will
thrive and keep its character and friendliness well into the Millennium.
Here is Jean in another of her
escapades, this time on top of the Gas Tank with Dave Ostler on
the left and David AlIan on the right. Taken in 1933 when nineteen
coats of point were scraped off before the tank was repainted