Tuesday, 6 May 2008


Stirling High - my old school.

[This text is a sequel to ‘Bogey Days’]
written 2005



In this second text, I chronicle experiences and happenings during the early part of my working life, as well as providing some details of my cricketing career. The first little volume documented the events of the 1920’s, during a portion of which time I had a bogey, and here I aim to give an account of my life through the 1930’s from the day I began my employment in the Town Clerk’s Office, Stirling, to the point in 1940 when I was called up to serve in the Royal Air Force for war-time service.
The earlier text was completed just a month or two before I reached my 90th birthday and this one will, I plan, be finished shortly after that important milestone. Again I would like to express my appreciation of the support given by my dear wife, Trudi, whose forbearance and patience have been invaluable. She has given me an abundance of encouragement to inspire me to get ahead with this further record. At the same time, I wish to offer warm thanks to my son, Iain, for his helpful advice, especially for editing guidance and worth-while alterations to enable certain aspects
to be more readily understood by those in the modern world with whom I am not unduly familiar. To both of these pillars in my life I readily dedicate the Text, as I did the earlier one.
I hope to cover the main parts of my 30’s career by telling about my engagement as an office boy in Mr. Morris’s office, about my duties as such and how they developed over the years, about the members of the staff and the routine of the office. I shall also refer to the challenges which I accepted to prepare myself for the Scottish Law Society’s preliminary examination to enable me to enrol as a Law Student at Glasgow University, and then, overtaking that hurdle, of my formal Law Apprenticeship, and about sitting and passing the necessary examinations to see me qualify as a Solicitor. I also tell about my short but very happy experience as a Legal Assistant in the Town Clerk’s Office, Kirkcaldy, before returning to Stirling
as Depute Town Clerk in 1939 and about my call-up to the Forces in
I include quite a lot of information about my activities as a member of Riverside Cricket Club, utilising many of the records which I have, fortunately, retained. I also write of my Sunday walks for which I had set myself a target to complete 16 miles between attending the North Church choir at the Morning Service at 11a.m. and being back in time to play a somewhat inadequate role as a member of the bass section at the Evening Service at 6-30 p.m. I also recall how I was induced to develop an interest in the local Operatic Society, culminating in a number of appearances in the chorus of various Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas, such as Ruddigore, the Pirates of Penzance, and H.M.S. Pinafore, after serving my apprenticeship as a young steward ushering people to their seats in the Albert Hall, and then being given the part of a coolie in the
Mikado, paving the way for the spectacular entry of that great potentate.
part of my early training, I occasionally assisted at Musical Evenings in the
Smith Institute.
It was a very full decade for me and I’m sure that the Booklet will
prove to be a useful record of how a 90-year-old can re-capture the on-
goings of an eventful period in his life occurring 65-75 years earlier. As I
said in the prelude to the last little volume, my son and grand-children and
possibly others from further future generations, are the intended principal
beneficiaries and I hope that they will find my experiences of some interest,
and that it will enable them to achieve an understanding of a life-style which
will, inevitably, bear little resemblance to their own.
If all my writing plans materialise - and at my age there is
unquestionably a grave risk that there could be a breakdown somewhere
along the way – I shall complete my life’s history in a short series of
Booklets. That is why I shall, as far as possible, stick to the same format.
Apart from the information given, I would like to believe that those who
read my stories will derive some pleasure from them. If there is a viewing
place on High, then I may ultimately find out how successful I have been.



My entry into Stirling Town Council’s Municipal Offices was
preceded by the visit of Mr. David B. Morris, the Town Clerk, to Mr. A.
S. Third, the Rector of Stirling High School, for the purpose of seeking the
latter’s help in finding a suitable office-boy – a not unimportant position as I
was later to appreciate. Having been selected for the interview as the sole
nominee, I had this a few days later and then began the interminable wait –
although, as it turned out, it was only a matter of a few hours - for the
hoped-for letter of appointment.
The letter, with its favourable contents, soon arrived. It was dated
11th March, and it pleased me to read that referring to my call to-day, Mr.
Morris ‘would be pleased to give me a situation in his Office, that the
salary would be £20, £30 and £40, for the first 3 years, that afterwards the
amount would be arranged, and that he would be glad if I would start work
on Monday first at 9 o’clock’.
So it came about that on the 17th day of March, 1930, - St. Patrick’s
Day – at 9 o’clock in the morning, complete with my long-trousered suit,
made to measure by Hepworth’s in Murray Place, I entered the Municipal
Buildings , Corn Exchange Road, for only the second time in my life, and
ascended to the first floor where the office of the Town Clerk was
located. I should explain that there
was a tradition or custom in these days that boys wore short, i.e. knee-
length, trousers until they were 14 years of age, at which point they earned
the right to wear long trousers like a man. This office was to be my second
home until 1946, apart from the war-time years when I was in the R.A.F.,
and it was to see my progression from school-boy, to office-boy, to Law
Apprentice, to Solicitor, to Legal Assistant, and finally to Depute Official of
the Town Council, all in the space of just over 9 years. I was immediately
made to feel welcome by Mr. John Clink, the Depute Town Clerk,
because Mr. Morris did not normally reach the Office until 10-15 from his
home at 15 Gladstone Place. When he did arrive he naturally had a few
words with me and cemented the friendship which had already been
The staff numbered 8 in total, from the Town Clerk down to me, and
it had comprised that number for many years. In fact, the last alteration to
the personnel occurred about 5 years earlier when my predecessor – the
young fellow whom I was replacing – was appointed. Mr. John Clink was
No. 2 as Depute Town Clerk; Joe Copley, a qualified Solicitor, was Legal
Assistant; Adam Lennox was in general charge of all the Licensing work
and , along with Joe Copley, acted as a Depute Clerk at the Police Court;
Miss Nan Ferrier had the very interesting job of maintaining the Register of
Sasines for the Royal Burgh of Stirling, a post which involved copying by
hand-writing into beautifully bound books supplied by the Register House
in Edinburgh every deed in relation to land in the Burgh – feu charters,
dispositions, bonds and dispositions in security, notices of title etc., the
right of the Town Clerk to keep the Register ultimately coming to an end
with its transfer to Edinburgh, like most of the other Scottish Registers, on
the retiral of Mr. Morris in 1939; Miss Dawson who was the senior of the
2 Typists, taking charge also of the filing of correspondence – in a
somewhat makeshift way as explained later; Miss Chris Robertson, the
junior of the 2 Typists; and finally I came in at the tail end.
It must be remembered that Stirling was a fairly small Royal Burgh in
the early 30’s. It did not include such local districts as Causewayhead,
Cambuskenneth, and Cambusbarron, or even the Abbey Craig area upon
which the Wallace Monument had been erected. The population was just
over 21,000. The Town Clerk’s Office – or Department – was responsible
for the general administration of the Local Authority’s affairs, including legal
and court work, for servicing the Town Council and all its committees, as
well as the Licensing Court, the Dean of Guild court, and the Police court,
for the writing up and production of all the minutes, for the properties of
Cowane’s Hospital and Spittal’s Hospital, and for the hundred and one
matters which did not fall within the purview of the various other Council
Officials – Town Chamberlain, Burgh Surveyor, Medical Officer, Sanitary
Inspector, Inspector of Poor, Registrar of Births etc., Manager of the
Electricity Works, Housing Factor, Parks Superintendent etc. The Gas
Works were operated by a private company in Stirling, unlike some other
Burghs where the Councils were responsible for the manufacture and
distribution of their own gas and thus there was not a Gas Manager. The
Town Clerk’s Office was the Citizens Advice Bureau – a port of call which
anyone with any local problem could visit to seek help.
When I entered the service of the Town Council and indeed for many
years thereafter, the Town Clerk was very much the chief, the No. 1
Official of the Council, this being reflected in the salary paid to him being
more than double
that paid to any other Official. I remember the period when the Town
Clerk received £1,200 a year, with the next senior Official being rewarded
with about £450 per annum. The Town Clerk had to be a Lawyer and I
think that, in these days, a person within that profession was somehow held
in awe. It seemed to give him a standing which kept him aloof from his
colleagues – probably it was
due to the lack of high -flown professional qualifications among the
remaining Officials. How circumstances have changed now!
As the Councillors gave their services to the community on a voluntary
basis, and as many of them were business-men with commitments in day-
time, they had neither the time nor the inclination to attend meetings during
normal working hours. Thus nearly all meetings commenced at 7 o’clock
in the evening and they frequently lasted for many hours. It meant that the
Town Clerk and his Depute had some exceedingly long days on several
occasions throughout the week and the working month of meetings
culminated in a great rush to have the minutes finalised and printed in time
for the full meeting of the Town Council.
The lay-out of the office in these early days was quite primitive by
modern standards. There were 4 rooms in all, plus a spacious ‘walk-in’
strong-room. When one entered from the first-floor landing of the
Municipal Buildings, it was to a rectangular public area bounded by a
‘dog-leg’ desk, with a swing door at the end. Mr. Morris occupied one
room – surprisingly leading off the public area. It was a very attractive
room, with a fine desk and chairs, and incorporating much beautiful glass-
fronted book-case and cupboard accommodation. Adjacent to the Town
Clerk’s private office, which I have just mentioned, and also entered from
the public area, was another room used as required as an interview room.
This was sparsely furnished with a table and chairs, as well as an antique
bench, but sufficient for the purpose for which it was intended. At the
other end of the General Office, where one could look out to the steeple at
the top of King Street, was the Typists’ room for the accommodation of
Miss Dawson and Miss Robertson. The remaining 5 members of the staff
were all to be found in the General Office. Mr. Clink had a large spacious
desk from which he supervised the on-goings in the room. Joe Copley had
a somewhat smaller desk for his legal work, and the remaining 3 were
allocated places at the high-level desk, Miss Ferrier having one side, i.e. 2
places, for herself, and Adam Lennox and I occupying the opposite 2
positions. The only other apartment of note was the fairly extensive strong-
room which contained many records and items of value, and within it was a
proper safe for the storage of such precious items as the old Charters.
There was a one and only telephone in a corner attached to the wall and
contained within a tiny compartment which was supposed to be a sound-
proof box. The reason the Town Clerk’s Office was situated on the first
floor of the building was to provide easy access to the Council Chamber
and Committee Room which were situated along the corridor towards the
marble stair-case.
My responsibilities were as follows – [1] to alter the perpetual wall
calendar, first thing each morning, to show the correct date, this being of
value to the whole staff who, for receipts and other purposes, depended on
seeing the exact date; [2] to receive the incoming mail in the morning which
for all the Offices in the Municipal Buildings had been sorted out by the
Burgh Officer in his small room, and to place the Town Clerk’s mail on
Mr. Morris’s desk unopened in a neat bundle, the size of this varying from
day to day; [3] to ‘book’ all the outgoing mail, and, having done that, to
select appropriate envelopes, seal and address them, finally affixing stamps
of the correct postage by using, if necessary, the scales provided to me; [4]
to keep up-to-date the ‘postage book’ – a record of the value of each
stamp placed on each letter which was not going to
be delivered by the Burgh Officer, the basic postal rate for a letter in these
days being 3 half-pence; [5] to ‘book’ any accounts in a ‘tissue ledger’
and return them to the member of staff dealing with them; [6] to issue 2-
penny stamps as required for receipts and to keep in the ‘postage book’ a
careful record of such issues, all receipts in these days requiring to be
signed or stamped over a 2-penny stamp; [7] to keep in the ‘postage box’
sufficient stamps for expected requirements and to replenish the stock as
necessary using cash or cheques supplied by the Town Chamberlain’s
Office; [8] to attend to people arriving at the office and deal with their
queries as best as I was able, it being clearly understood that the ability to
serve the public in this way would develop with experience; [9] to answer
and originate telephone calls as required, especially for Mr. Morris; [10] to
undertake any special deliveries, e.g. to Solicitors’ offices, but not to be
responsible for undertaking deliveries of letters which were either to be
posted or taken care of by the Burgh Officer, and [11] to take to the Post
Office such documents as needed to be transmitted to Edinburgh to have
impressed stamps placed on them and to collect them when returned to the
Post Office. I was not a dog’s-body for the staff. I had my own little
‘empire’ to look after, and the responsibilities above tabulated were
certainly adequate for me to remain fully occupied throughout the day, this,
incidentally being, supposedly from 9-5 [Monday to Friday] and 9-1
[Saturday], with an hour off for lunch on week days. I was required to
remain in the Office until Mr. Morris left, and, more often than not, my
working day was extended by at least half an hour, the cleaning lady often
arriving to do her work before I left. During the first year, on the 15th day
of each month, I was paid by cash in an envelope my month’s salary of £1
13s.4d. Fortunately, I did not require to have deducted from it the
employee’s contributions for health insurance and unemployment stamps
until I was 16, by which time 2 years later, my salary had been increased
by 16.8d. a month.
For the discharge of most of the above-listed duties, I had my desk
into which I put the postage book and stamp box, as well as a stock of
envelopes to meet current and foreseeable needs. Apart from my desk, I
had a ‘work station’ this being a 4-feet square waist-high cupboard
structure, on top being fixed a heavy metal press, and 2 trays, one
containing numerous foolscap-sized dampened cloths, and the other
providing storage for a large number of waterproof membranes or skins,
also cut to foolscap size, these being the predecessors of plastic sheets
which material had not then been invented. There were also spaces
underneath for the letter book and the tissue ledger as well as for a new
unused letter book to be started when the current one had been fully used
The first thing Idid in the morning was to climb on top of my work
station to adjust the tape rolls within the perpetual calendar to ensure that it
displayed the
correct date. This was visible over the whole office. My second little
chore was to put some water on the box of cloths, ensuring that they were
merely dampened and not over-soaked. My third job was to index some
of the letters in the letter book as explained later. It was not long before I
added a pleasant little fourth task by joining the Burgh Officer in his room
and helping him to sort out the correspondence for the various Offices in
the building. By the time I had done these things, I was ready to deal with
our own mail. I placed this in a neat
pile on Mr. Morris’s desk before his chair. He opened the envelopes
himself, and, after a meeting with Mr. Clink, in course of time, walked
through the General Office to the Typists’ Room to proceed with his daily
In the Typists’ Room, apart from the 2 desks supporting the 2
typewriters, there was a very large table. Mr. Morris’s appearance was a
signal for the 2 Typists to move to the short ends of the table, one at each
end, and he took a chair at one of the long sides, proceeding thus – ‘Will
you take a letter, Miss Dawson?’ – then – ‘Will you take a letter, Chris?’ –
and so the session went on, the typing work being spread between these 2
members of staff. Miss Dawson, being older, was never referred to by her
Christian name, it being difficult to recall what it really was. After
completing his dictation, Mr. Morris returned to his own room.
To discharge item [3] of my list of responsibilities, i.e. to ‘book’ the
outgoing letters, was an interesting exercise, bringing into play the
apparatus in and around my ‘work station’. There wasn’t a modern filing
system, so each letter had to be copied into a letter book. The typescript
on the typewriters was soluble to a certain extent and the idea was, through
the medium of the damp cloth, to copy each letter on to a page, or half a
page in the case of small letters. This I did by first opening the book at the
next available blank page, placing one of the waterproof sheets on top of
the last copied letter, then one of the dampened cloths which I had to
ensure was not too wet because, if so, it would result in the type needlessly
dissolving and the letter becoming badly smudged, folding over on top of
the cloth the next available blank page, and placing a letter or 2 of them if
they were small with the typescript facing the page – in other words, upside
down – and so on until I had dealt with 15-20 letters in the same way, this
being about as many as could be coped with at one time. Finally, the
book was carefully closed, I making certain that nothing slipped out of
place and it was inserted between the plates of the metal press. The
handle on top was turned as far as possible to ensure that the book with its
contents was given a good squeeze. After a few minutes the handle was
slackened to facilitate the removal of the book, and then, first making sure
that the letters had left proper impressions on the pages, I extracted all the
letters and laid them aside for a few minutes to dry. I also replaced the
cloths and sheets in their containers.
If there were still more letters to be ‘booked’, I had to go through the same
process again as, of course, I had to do each day in the late afternoon
when the outgoing mail was given to me by Mr. Morris, after he had
checked and signed it. Some time after the ‘booking’ session, normally
partly later in the day and partly during the following morning, I indexed the
letters by recording the page number of each letter in the book’s attached
index under the name of the addressee, or the additional page number
where the name appeared already.
Accounts involving the use of the tissue ledger were not so common,
these mainly being legal bills in relation to land transactions for which the
office was due to be paid fees, thus there was nothing like the same
pressure on me to work with it. That book, as a consequence, lasted
much longer than a letter book. The quantity of outgoing letters varied
from day to day, with normally a considerable batch on the day following a
Town Council meeting.
I enjoyed my little experience of accountancy in operating the postage
book and checking that my current balance of cash and stamps was
correct. I soon
appreciated that this small financial corner had to be maintained accurately
as the Internal Auditor would occasionally descend on me and check my
balance. When the official [external] Auditor came along to examine the
Town Council’s main accounts once a year, he also audited my postage
In no time at all I was relishing dealing with callers at the public
counter and was rapidly trained to help them with their enquiries. One of
the first things I did was to issue fishing permits for the River Forth and I
saw no reason why I shouldn’t have one myself. I still have the card, dated
11th June, 1930, authorising me to fish by rod and line from the banks of
the river, free of charge [ 1] from 1st February to 31st October, below
Kildean Ford, and [2] from 1st February to 26th August, above Kildean
Ford, in both cases in parts of the Town’s Fishings. Whether such an
important document still confers significant rights, I would not know – still it
is a nice little keepsake. My value as a staff member understandably grew
as my knowledge and experience increased. Soon I was issuing Lair
Certificates for the various cemeteries under the control of the Council on
the basis of authorisations given to me by the Cemeteries Superintendent,
comparing the proof copies of the minutes and returning them to Mr.
Crombie who was in charge of the printing section at the ‘Sentinel’ Office,
that printer invariably holding on to the relevant contract for the work, and
learning to appreciate Mr. Crombie’s valid complaints that much new
matter had been introduced in the returned copy when, in fairness, the
corrections should only have reflected printer’s errors.
I quickly identified the Councillors and what the purposes of their
various calls would be – also the other Council Officials, whose offices I
regularly visited for one thing or another. Perhaps some men would come
along to be sworn in as Burgesses on joining the Guildry or one of the 7
Incorporated Trades; maybe there would be callers to make payments
immediately after we had issued accounts to the owners around the
decorative private garden at the junction of Snowdon Place and Gladstone
Place, such owners being required to pay 20 shillings or 10 shillings
annually, according to the length of their frontage, for the garden’s
maintenance; or someone would be there to make an application for a
Special Permission under the Licensing Act or for one the many licences
which the office had to deal with. I soon got to ‘know the drill’, and the
things I began to learn were as many and diverse as the flowers in the
I had a close working relationship with John Burns, the Burgh Officer,
with whom I had to consult in relation to the delivery of various items of
mail. He preferred me to leave it to him to deliver all the envelopes
addressed to Councillors, and he was certainly a well-known figure rushing
around the town
on his bicycle. For many years, his daughter was the cleaner in the
Municipal Buildings and she kept the Council Chamber, Committee Room
and all the ancillary accommodation ‘spick and span’ – paying particular
attention to the marble staircase which was out-of-bounds to everybody,
being reserved for Royal or other very special occasions.
The telephone arrangements were extremely old-fashioned by today’s
standards. As I have already explained, there was only one telephone
serving the office. It was located in a corner of the General Office in a
sound-proof compartment, the door of which one had the discretion to
close or not according to whether what was to be said was to be regarded
as private and not for the ears
of the staff or not. While my function was to answer the telephone and
make calls as required, it was useful to have knowledge of the mechanics
of the telephone system in so far as it had been developed in the early
1930’s. Wireless or radio telegraphy was a thing of the future. We were
still in the days when there had to be a continuous wire between the caller
and the person being called to enable a proper connection to be made.
The system was operated by a series of Telephone Exchanges situated
throughout the Country, staffed mainly by female Telephone Operators
who sat before banks of flexible numbered customers’ wires with their
terminals, and the terminals of the outgoing wires. The name of the
Telephone Exchange was part of one’s number, our office number being
Stirling 38. If I wanted to be put through to another Stirling number, I
would lift the receiver from its hook on the wall, this being the end of our
particular wire connected direct to the Telephone Exchange. One of the
telephone girls would ask ‘number please’ and I might, for example, reply
‘Stirling 24’. She could tell from her board whether that number was free
or engaged. If free, she would pull our terminal wire out of its socket and
pull it over to the connection plug for Stirling 24, and insert our wire,
thereby effecting a connection. The bell at the receiver’s end would ring
and I could have my conversation when the receiver was lifted. If she saw
that the number was occupied on another call, she would tell me ‘I’m
sorry, the number is engaged’, at which point I would say ‘would you ring
me when the number is free?’ and she would readily agree to do so. I
would normally hear from her within a few minutes to the effect that I could
now have Stirling 24. The switch-board was a mass of wires going in all
directions. If I called an Edinburgh number, the girl had to find one of the
direct lines to Edinburgh and then ask that Exchange for the desired
number. The same help was given to me if the number was engaged – they
were always ready to call you back when the number was free – even from
While the members of the staff originated their own calls, or if I
answered the telephone and the request I heard was for one of them, it
was only a matter of calling to the requested person. Serving Mr. Morris
was, however, a different proposition. If he wanted to make a telephone
call to someone, he would leave
his private room, come through the swing door into the General Office,
walk along to my desk, and say, for example, ‘Sandy, would you get me
Mr. Fleming of the Scottish Home Department on the telephone?’ and then
he would return to his room. I knew the number of the Home Department
and would ask the
Operator for, say, Edinburgh 1234, knowing that the Exchange would go
through the procedure which I have just described. Having successfully
got the Home Department, I would ask if I could speak with Mr. Fleming,
and he, in due course, would respond. I would tell him that Mr. Morris,
the Town Clerk of Stirling, wished to speak to him, and he ‘held on’ while
I traversed the General Office, went through the swing door, knocked on
Mr. Morris’s door, was invited to enter, at which stage I was able to say
‘Mr. Morris, Mr. Fleming of the Home Department is now on the line’.
He, in turn, left his desk, undertook the tortuous journey to the telephone
compartment, shut the door tightly as he was wont to do, and had his
conversation. The same procedure applied even if the call was a Stirling
one, for example to a local Solicitor. If the call was an incoming one for
him, I had to ask the caller to ‘hold on’ then I had to undertake the journey
Mr. Morris’s room to inform him that Mr. ‘X’ was on the telephone
wishing to speak to him, whereupon Mr. Morris walked through to the
telephone as above described. I should explain that if the Telephone
Exchange did not have a direct line to the Exchange you were looking for,
e.g. in the case of a small Exchange, it would be necessary to extend the
route so that the call proceeded via a larger Exchange possessing direct
contact to the smaller one, resulting in more contact work on the part of the
Telephone Operators. There appeared to be an unwritten arrangement
that any caller or recipient of a call would ‘hang on’ as long as necessary,
showing exemplary patience. Telephone calls were, of course, few and far
between, the Telephone Service not having developed to any great extent
as borne out by the small number allocated to our office.
I went backwards and forwards to the Post Office as required to
obtain postage stamps and with documents for stamping in Edinburgh, e.g.
Burgess Tickets which each required an impressed 5-shillings stamp, or
property deeds needing such stamps according to the value of the
transactions. I had contact with other Solicitors’ Offices and got to know
other fellows who were more or less in the same position as I was, at the
beginning of their careers, but my journeys in the town were really not so
frequent as my main work required my presence in the office fairly
continuously. What I immediately relished at the beginning of my working
life was the freedom from school discipline requiring attendance at various
classes in 45-minute periods all day and every day, with only about 2
minutes to change over from one class to another just giving time, if
necessary, to rush down to the ‘dubs’, being the affectionate name for the
toilets. The freedom was quite uplifting, and I often thought of my former
school colleagues with their ‘noses to the grindstone’.
One thing which I was not forced to go through was an initiation
ceremony. This seemed to be occasionally inflicted on a new lad when he
started working in the Office. I was to see this operating when my
successor was appointed a few years later. The staff, or some of them,
thought it amusing to send a raw recruit on an impossible errand to
purchase a bottle of ‘tartan ink’. I remember how my successor combed
the stationers’ shops throughout the town in an effort to find one, ultimately
returning empty-handed. I recall how we were so sorry for the lad that,
unknown to him, we asked one of the local printers to print ‘tartan
ink’ on a piece of tartan paper and wrap it round a small bottle containing
some coloured liquid. We relieved the young lad’s distress by telling him
that we had
learned that the co-operating printer had recently received a supply of the
ink from the manufacturers, so he set off to get it. I remember Alex – that
was his name – returning triumphantly with the little bottle neatly covered in
tartan paper on which was emblazoned ‘tartan ink’. On reflection, it all
seemed to be a pointless exercise – and rather childish.
The staff proved to be a friendly group of people who were happy to
work with each other and the senior ones were very supportive of me as a
newcomer and trainee. There was not a great deal of ‘social’ involvement
apart from a small sweep-stake on the occasion of the Derby and Grand
National horse races, the horses being allocated out against payment of a
small fee and the ‘kitty’ being given to the winner. Sometimes we shared a
bar of Fry’s Cream Chocolate when somebody had invested 2-pence in
purchasing one. We even had an occasional game of cricket by the use of
3 cardboard rolls, whose purpose in
life was to act as containers for Burgess Tickets, these serving as wickets,
a very small solid rubber ball that could not possibly do any damage, and a
little bat, the General Office being the pitch. This game happened only
when the office was especially quiet around lunchtime and there was little
likelihood of there being any callers.
And so my new working life’s experiences increased by ‘leaps and



At this stage I would like to insert a short paragraph to give an idea as
to what was going on in Britain and the rest of the world at the beginning of
the 1930’s.
Economically, Great Britain was anything but in perfect shape, a
severe depression having developed as a result of the Stock Market crash
of 1929 resulting in the number of unemployed people rising to over
2,000,000. It was a world-wide problem so Britain was not alone in
facing the difficulties. It must be realised that to be unemployed in those
years was a real burden and hardship, especially in the case of a man who
had a wife and growing family to feed and support. There was throughout
the land a substantial amount of poverty. Of course, people were not
tempted to possess the multitude of gadgets which invention and skilful
advertising inspires us to buy today and thus there was generally a much
simpler life-style. For example, radio, or wireless as it was first called, had
not become generally available in people’s homes. It was certainly a few
years after 1930 when I purchased the first wireless set for the benefit of
the family, this working from a dry battery which had to be renewed every
3 months or so, and an accumulator – like a miniature car battery – which
had to be re-charged at a local charging station every 2 or 3 days
according to the extent of use. I remember that my favourite programmes
when I purchased the set were the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts
from London. The paucity of such electrical entertainment machines
encouraged conversation within households – now almost a lost art – and
outdoor activities such as walking in the countryside leading to a greater
interest in nature.
Parliament was in an unsettled state, not one party being in complete
control by virtue of having an overall majority. The Party with most votes
was the Labour Party and it held sway under Ramsay MacDonald, as
Prime Minister, with the support of the Liberal Party under Lloyd George,
who took the view that their own support was in decline and so, for them,
it was the lesser of 2 evils to throw in their hats with Labour. Arising from
further deterioration of the position in 1931, Ramsay MacDonald decided
to resign, but the King asked him to form a Government of National Unity,
with Conservative and Liberal members taking part, and this arrangement
continued for some years, the
change obviously being designed to try and achieve some stability and
renewed prosperity to enable the country to weather the then current
depression. Ghandi had meantime developed a large following in India and
he was a thorn in the side of British politicians. So also was Hitler in
Germany, where the Nazi Party was rapidly gaining ground, inflamed by
increasing resentment over the terms of the Versailles Treaty and a rapidly
growing level of unemployment.
At Scapa Floe, it will be recalled that the Germans had scuttled their
fleet in 1919 rather than hand it over to the British as they had taken
themselves bound to do. Nearly 30 of the ships had been raised from the
seabed but the battleship Von Hindenberg had thwarted a number of
attempts to re-float her by sliding back to the sea-bottom when success
seemed to be imminent. Later in 1930 the large vessel was, however,
finally brought to the surface and towed to Rosyth in the River Forth to be
broken up as scrap. It was about the 30th German ship to be lifted from
their grave, leaving nearly 20 still to be dealt with in the future.
On the water, the Henley Regatta was again trying to recapture its
pre-war standing, and Cowes Royal Spectacular saw the King’s yacht ‘
Britannia’ win its 200th race. Sir Thomas Lipton, the Glasgow-born
entrepreneur, was, for the 5th and last time, challenging for the elusive
America Cup with his Shamrock V, a craft of nearly 140 tons, and failing
once again. John Brown’s yard at Clydebank was building the ‘Empress
of Britain’, a magnificent Liner costing £3,000,000, following distinguished
predecessors, the ship being named and launched by Edward, Prince of
In the field of car racing, Brooklands attracted important events.
There was an ‘open’ 500-miles race, 2 drivers being involved for each car,
changing places at the half-way stage. There were big racing cars and
small ones involved in the race, and it was won, surprisingly, by a Baby
Austin 7, finding itself the fastest of over 70 cars at an average speed of
about 83 miles an hour, notwithstanding its diminutive size compared to
other monsters. There was also the first women’s race in 1931 when the
winner completed the set course at an average speed of 98 miles an hour.
A great deal of work and effort was being put into the design and
construction of military and civil aircraft, particularly at the commencement
of the 1930’s. There seemed to be an unresolved question as to whether
provision should be made for the transport of the expected increase in the
numbers of those hoping to fly by flying-boat or land-plane. At the top end
of size, the Germans had built the largest flying-boat in the world – the 6-
engined D.O.-X. It was a high-wing monoplane. Other Designers were
still adhering to bi-wing planes, i.e. with 2 wings. As progress developed,
no-one in Britain appeared to wish to follow the idea of the monoplane in
early days, the nearest being a gradual shortening of the width of the lower
wing, with one ingenious developer creating a ‘ flapping’ wing. The D.O.-
X. visited Calshot on its way to the United States and its presence created
some excitement – even the Prince of Wales was permitted to pilot it
during a flight round the Isle of Wight –but it took another 9 months or so
to complete the journey to America because of various technical problems
arising en route.
Shorts, who much later built the Sunderland flying-boat, which was a
real work-horse for R.A.F. Coastal Command during the 2nd World War
and on several of which I had flights during my war-time service with the
Royal Air
Force, produced 2 aircraft types during the early 30’s, firstly the Short
Valetta flying-boat – one of the largest aircraft in the world apart from the
German machine, convertible to landing on land - and 2 3-engined flying-
boats for the Fleet Air Arm, destined to join a Squadron at Aden, these
giving a cruising speed of 97 miles an hour and capable of taking 15
passengers and crew. The British aircraft industry built a 4-engined plane,
the Hannibal, claimed to be the largest passenger plane in the world apart
from the D.O.-X., the first of a new range of large 4-engined passenger
airliners, and with a cruising speed of 105 miles an hour, the builders
adopting the shorter lower wing.
Henry Ford was currently erecting the huge car factory at Dagenham,
the largest in Europe and comparable only to the great American plants,
the plant, when completed, being designed to produce 250,000 vehicles a
year and giving employment to more than 15,000 workers. There was
even a question at this time of Ford joining the aircraft-building business
and introducing a 16-passenger 3-engined plane at a factory near
Dagenham. This did not materialise however.
To stimulate the growing interest in aviation, the R.A.F. put on a great
aerial pageant in 1930, at which the best of British aircraft was displayed.
The Show was visited by the R.101 airship before proceeding to its home
station at Cardington, and pilots demonstrated their new-found skill of
aerobatics with several planes in combination looping the loop and
performing other remarkable feats of synchronised flying. Later on, one of
the operators encouraged the public’s interest in flying by offering flights
over London for 12s6d in a 4-engined Imperial Airways aircraft. Not least
of the publicity and enthusiasm arose from the King’s Cup air race being
won by Winifred Brown – the first woman to win it – over a course of 750
miles at an average speed of just above 100 miles an hour.
At the same time, the boffins of Farnborough were successfully
experimenting with a catapult to enable a 9-ton plane to take off in 30
instead of the normal 300 yards. This achievement obviously led to the
days of Aircaft Carriers. An Automatic Pilot was also invented and
thoroughly tested.
The desire to produce great speed saw various Designers
endeavouring to produce racing cars and speed-boats, but the real
‘speedster’ was Sir Malcolm Campbell, who held both the water and land
speed records from 1927 onwards. In the early 30’s, he broke the speed
record at Daytona Beach with a speed of 240 miles an hour and by 1935,
this had advanced to over 300 miles an hour at Utah. Later on, in 1939,
he took the water speed record to over 141 miles an hour, all his racing
cars and power- boats being named ‘Bluebird’.
Among the visitors to London in 1930 were Charlie Chaplin, on a visit
to the city of his birth, being received with great acclamation, and Mahatma
Ghandi who was there in connection with a Round Table Conference,
staying with an old friend in East London.
There were other miscellaneous and interesting events in the early
1930’s such as [1] the King opened a new session of parliament in 1930,
riding with Queen Mary in the magnificent gold coach drawn by 8 horses,
the whole proceedings being carried through with great pomp and
ceremony, including a 41-gun salute in one of the London parks and the
presence of the Grenadier Guards at Westminster; [2] the world’s richest
horse-race for 3-year-olds, with
over 1,000,000 Francs in prize-money, took place in Paris; [3] an
adventurer named William Hill safely went over Niagara Falls in a barrel,
predecessors having given their lives in the attempt; [4] the totalisator – the
‘tote’-was brought into operation with the approval of the Betting Control
Board; [5] gangsters, notably Al Capone, were creating a stir in America,
arising particularly from the advent of prohibition and bootlegging,
culminating in a big running gun-battle in New York in 1931; [ 6] during the
same year, Von Hindenberg was elected as President of Germany, and he
presided at a ceremony to mark the 12th anniversary of the creation of the
German Republic, inspecting units of the new German Army; [7] a 500-
horse-power oil-fuelled streamlined railed vehicle, operated by a propeller,
reaching its cruising speed of 90 miles an hour in 60 seconds and carrying
40 passengers, was creating a sensation in Hanover, Germany; [8] a blimp,
with a small under-slung cabin, was developed by an enthusiastic Inventor,
who tried to market it as ‘the car of the future’; [9] Vines was defeating
Perry at tennis and Wills-Moodie was also winning; [10] the Monte Carlo
Rally took place in 1930; [11] women’s cricket was beginning to gain
ground, and in one challenge match they did in fact defeat the male
opposition; [12] the Washington Bridge – at the time the longest
suspension bridge in the world, was opened in New York; [13] the King
and Queen attended a service in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, along with
other dignitaries; [14] Edward, Prince of Wales, was carrying out a variety
of engagements, and [15] not least of all, Lady Astor took her seat in
Parliament in 1931 as the first woman M.P. While the foregoing is not
intended to be a complete record of all the events of the 1930’s decade, I
have listed some of those which occurred during the early part to give a
savour of what the background to one’s life was like in these days.
There were a couple of local happenings of special interest which I
readily recall because they are so strongly imprinted in my memory, both
occurring about the middle of the decade. The first was an experience
which I had on only one occasion in my life of travelling in the dickey-seat
of a car. This was a small vehicle constructed in such a way that, instead
of where one would expect to find the boot cover, one lifted down a
similarly-looking section at the rear end of the vehicle to expose a bench
for the accommodation of 2 passengers – completely in the open air and
with no protection from the elements – it being wise, therefore, to use this
further seating only when the weather was dry. I found it a great thrill to
have my ride while sitting in the dickey-seat – an invigorating journey which
I have never had the pleasure of repeating. What ‘make’ of car it was, I
cannot recall, but I’m sure that it was not very usual for cars to be
constructed with this interesting facility. I think that the internal seating was
for the driver and one passenger only, giving the impression that when the
dickey-seat was not in use the fore and aft sections of the car were of
much the same appearance. The other event about the same time was the
arrival of the ‘Flying Circus’ at a field on Falleninch Farm, just below
Stirling Castle, on the Gargunnock Road. The public were urged to come
along and see ‘the man walking on the wings’ and the organisers were at
the same time offering flights round the Castle for 5 shillings.



The months passed all too quickly. After a spring and summer of
learning, as well as enjoying my new-found life-style, autumn was
approaching and I felt that the time was coming when I should turn my
thoughts to my career. Pictures of my former hard-working class-mates
encloistered in Stirling High School were rapidly coming to be but a distant
I had remained observant and learned as much as I could about what
was going on around me. In addition to the duties which I have already
listed, I found it easy to become involved in other aspects of the workings
of the Office, especially helping to prepare files for the forthcoming
meetings, thereby giving myself an insight into the topics which were due to
be discussed.
I had seen Mr. Clink continually buzzing around to ensure that the
work of the General Office proceeded smoothly and efficiently. I had
noticed how much time he particularly spent supervising the work of Miss
Ferrier in writing up the
Register of Sasines. It was obvious that this work displayed the depth of
his legal ‘conveyancing’ knowledge, involving the checking of submitted
deeds for errors which seemed to crop up quite frequently. These were
normally misspellings of words when nothing more serious than the remedy
was to include the Latin word
‘sic’ in the Register to demonstrate that the error had in fact been in the
original document and had not been made by the copyist. Very
occasionally, the mistake was so material that it required him to get into
touch with the firm of Solicitors who had submitted the deed to withdraw it
and provide a correct version, resulting in the deed’s removal from the
Presentment Book, this being the record of deeds received for
registration, as if forming the queue.
I had watched Joe Copley preparing Feu Charters in connection with
sales of land by the Council, as Patrons of Cowane’s Hospital, as well as
other deeds, and become fascinated with the ‘legal jargon’ which he
employed. I saw him or Adam Lennox disappear from the Office nearly
every morning just before 10 o’clock to go to the Police Court, especially
on Mondays, on which day trials would be arranged to take place. I
learned the meaning and full implications of the Warrants which were
signed after most of the bigger Court Sessions empowering the Police to
take into custody guilty parties to be whisked off either to Barlinnie Prison
or Duke Street Prison, according to whether the offenders were male or
female, after sentencing to terms of imprisonment for such offences as
Breach of the Peace, or Assault, or Theft, the maximum sentence capable
of being imposed by the local Magistrate being a fine of up to £10 or up to
60 days in prison. Maybe the Warrant was being issued because an
offender had failed to pay a 5-shillings fine within a prescribed period of 7
days, so justifying arrest for transmission to prison for 5 days.
I saw the letters flow out of the type-room and, before passing them
into Mr. Morris’s room for signature, was able to judge how busy I was
going to be that afternoon. I had viewed, with interest, Miss Dawson
preparing answered letters for filing by first folding them into uniform
shapes, exposing the blank backing on which she was to record the date of
the letter, the sender, and the subject-
matter, to join other communications of the same month in that month’s tied
bundle, all letters being kept in precise date order, ultimately to join the
monthly bundles for that particular calendar year in the wooden box
earmarked for that year. All the boxes found their way to a store-room on
the 3rd floor to join the used letter-books. This system persisted until the
late 30’s when I modernised the filing arrangements.
I soon learned of Mr. Morris’s interest in the Stirling Natural History
and Archaeological Society and how he always seemed to be producing
another Paper as the basis of an address which he intended to deliver to
that august body which met regularly in a small upper room adjacent to the
Lesser Albert Hall.
I had learned of Adam Lennox’s interest in music, of his involvement
with the Operatic Society, as Musical Director, and of his professional
duties as Organist of Chalmers Church, Bridge of Allan. I had early on
succumbed to his
approaches to me to assist him in some way at a concert which he was
I had spent time watching the Assistants at their drawing boards in the
Burgh Surveyor’s Office because their architectural and engineering work
fascinated me. It made me wonder what my life would have been like if 2
significant days in March, 1930, had been transposed – if Mr. E.S.Bell, a
Architect with premises in Allan Park, had decided to seek the assistance
of Jimmy Atterson, my much-loved Art Teacher, in finding a new
Apprentice one day earlier than Mr. Morris’s visit to Mr. Third. My
understanding was that the 2 visits were so close together that Mr.
Atterson was unaware of my departure when he tried to make contact with
me throughout the School to give me the opportunity of setting my sights on
the profession of Architecture.
The monthly round of Council activities and routine was gradually
becoming familiar to me, and I sensed the excitement of an occasional
break from formality, such as the annual ‘Water Inspection’, when all the
Coucillors and Officials could demonstrate their ability to adopt a relaxed
and holiday-type atmosphere.
On the lighter – somewhat guilty – side, I had participated in the
games of ‘office cricket’, recalling that when Chris Robertson was batting,
and Joe Copley was bowling to her, I was normally instructed to take up
my fielding position at ‘silly mid-off’, with all of us keeping an eye open, as
I said before, for a possible caller who might appear to interrupt the match,
necessitating a speedy ‘cover-up’ to give the impression that we were
busily engaged on the normal affairs of the Office.
In paying attention to all the people and happenings around me I
noticed that there was a very attractive young Typist in the Burgh
Surveyor’s Office called Fay Turton, who, although she was marginally
older than me, was prepared to respond to my shy smiles. She was, it
might be said, the first girl-friend whom I would happily have conquered,
although unhappily I never got to the stage of ‘taking her out’- in any event,
there was far too much opposition from 17-year-olds.
While the foregoing is, no doubt, an interesting catalogue, other
things were developing in my mind. I had to think of my career, and, not
least, of the possibility of being found ‘wanting’ when it came to the point
of assessing my true worth at the end of the 3rd year, at which stage I might
become ‘stuck’ on £40 a year. Fortunately, the Parliament House Book, a
chunky volume with
many hundreds of pages, occupying a prominent position in the Town
Clerk’s bookcase, contained a wealth of information, and was guide,
philosopher and
friend in charting the route I had to take. The section of the book which
aided me was all about the Solicitors’ examinations and how to go through
the process of becoming a Solicitor.
The first hurdle which I had to encounter and leap over was the initial,
or Entrance, Examination to open the way for my attendance at University
to enter the law classes. The obligations on one who had left school before
obtaining the requisite equivalent of their prescribed examination, or who
had not obtained
passes at school in the subjects laid down by the Law Society, were
clearly specified in the book and the information given was reinforced by
providing the name and address of Mr. G.S.Donaldson, the Clerk to the
Examiners, who turned out to be a very helpful adviser to me. Following
consultation with him, it was decided that I would require to sit and pass
the Solicitors Entrance Examination, being their prescribed equivalent of
the University Entrance
Examination, in the following subjects – English [Higher level];
Mathematics [Higher level]; and Latin [Lower level].
While the period of nearly 3 years spent at the High School may
almost have been sufficient preparation for me to sit the Latin examination,
it certainly was not ample for the 2 Highers subjects. The problems which
I faced could be summarised as follows – I had to reach a higher standard
in English, for which there were 4 prescribed books, [1] Shakespeare’s
Julius Caesar; [2] The Vicar of Wakefield; [3] The Essays of Elia; and [4]
a book of Modern Poetry – I had to reach a higher standard in
Mathematics, covering particularly Trigonometry and other advanced
aspects of the subject which I had not touched at school – I had to
undertake a considerable brush-up of Latin and gain confidence that I was
able to face a thorough test.
I resolved to target the January, 1933, examination diet as the one to
be aimed at, this, I thought, giving me a reasonable time in which to
prepare. After all, I would still be only 17 years of age at that date. I felt
that I had a certain advantage over my former class-mates, who, while they
would sit their Leaving Certificate Examination some months before my
chosen date, would not have had the advantage of having learned what
business life was all about, as well as having the experience of working with
other people, and generally getting the atmosphere of a legal office by
being involved in many aspects of legal and administrative matters which
the ordinary school student could not possibly experience.
The next thing I determined to do was to join an Evening Class around
September, 1930, to improve my Latin, the Class being due to terminate in
the Spring of 1931, and, looking forward, to repeat the Class during the
1931-32 winter session. Then, armed with the prescribed books for the
English Examination, I set about studying them. I was determined to read
and re-read them – and read them again – to achieve a proper knowledge
of their contents. I resolved to understand, apart from the general tenor of
the texts, the true intent and meaning of every word about which I was not
clear. My books became a mass of notes as I constantly ploughed through
them during the many hours I devoted to them, still finding time to study
other aspects of advanced English from various text-books. The remaining
subject, i.e. Mathematics, did not worry
me. I had an in-built confidence that I could expand my Mathematics
knowledge into the advanced areas because I liked the subject. Whether it
was due to an
inherited aptitude for the subject, or whether it was due to the respect I
had for Pa Soote, my former Maths Teacher, who had an undoubted skill
in teaching, I do not know. In any event, as it turned out, I found little
difficulty in expanding my learning into the higher realms of Mathematics
solely with the aid of good text-books.
My first year in the Latin Class resulted in a fine mark of 85%, but
some unseen power decided to diminish any over-confidence by awarding
a lesser mark of 74% at the end of the 2nd year. I did study hard during
the run-up to the examination, being conscious of the fact that, for the 2
Highers subjects, I had no professional coaching. My recreational
activities, mainly cricketing, were
carefully adjusted to ensure that my studies were not affected. There was
one little benefit which meant a great deal to me. Mr. Morris, who had
written a
number of books apart from the wide range of booklets on archaeological
and other topics as a basis of his presentations to the Natural History
Society, and who ultimately became a member of the exclusive P.E.N.
Club of Authors, took a keen interest in what I was doing and wished to
show that he desired to help and encourage me as far as possible. I told
him that I felt that I was not too good at composing such written material as
essays and he readily decided to help me. He started off by giving me a
number of essays to write on a variety of topics. In the course of a short
time, having examined my efforts at producing essays on the subjects of his
choosing, he gave me valuable criticisms and pin-pointed the weaknesses
in my submissions. He provided many excellent tips and remedied the
structural and other defects of which I was unaware. I believe that these
sessions with Mr. Morris, while maybe not creating within me an admirable
story-teller, gave me an inner confidence in expressing myself in text which
has been of great benefit to me throughout my working life. I think that
when a person, especially a young one, has reservations about his ability in
some direction, it is of tremendous importance to have someone at hand
capable of inspiring confidence. Of course, in early days and at a
preliminary level, this is done by a mother who takes a great interest in the
development of her off-spring.
During the first 3 years of my employment, I had become well
acquainted with the routine of the Office, was familiar with what all the
members of the staff did, and was able to make an expanded contribution
beyond my own basic duties, by, for example, dealing with a much greater
number of the enquiries which arose at the public counter and by helping to
prepare agendas and files for meetings.
With regard to Sunday activities, I had advanced from membership of
the North Church Sunday School to membership of the Church, with a
place in the Church Choir, where I was allocated a position in the base
section. I had also begun my regular pattern of long walks on Sundays
between morning and evening Church Services, enabling me to explore the
countryside around Stirling in a fairly systematic way. Many a time I
climbed Dumyat and I found a wide variety of routes to descend from it,
via the Hillfoots Glens. Often I would derive much pleasure from walking
around the Callander area, having a special liking for Loch Lubnaig which I
would walk along to Strathyre and back to Callander, a distance of 16
miles. 16 miles became my regular aim. It was 8 miles to Doune,
so it was easy to walk there and back to Stirling. It was 16 miles to
Callander giving me the opportunity to walk there and get public transport
back, or vice
versa. It must be borne in mind that all the roads were virtually free of
traffic in these days, thus increasing the pleasure of hiking. As I already
indicated, it was 16 miles up and down Loch Lubnaig, on the south side, of
course, because trains were still running along the Loch on the north side.
On one occasion I greatly exceeded my quota of miles by walking from
Callander to Kilmahog, then along the Trossachs Road until Loch
Vennacher came in sight, at which point I
climbed over the fence bounding the hillside leading up to Ben Ledi, next
ascending that peak, sitting on top to rest and admire the view of the
distant red roofs of the Raploch housing area nestling below Stirling Castle.
unmindful of the distance which I had already covered, I continued down
the far side of the mountain to Balquidder, where I took the opportunity of
inspecting the grave of Rob Roy, and, with some struggle managed to get
back to Strathyre and public transport to Stirling. Among my favourites
was setting off up Polmaise Road and walking round North Third Loch,
returning by the Long Line to Whins of Milton, inspecting once again the
hole in the ground, covered by a simple grating, where Bruce was
supposed to have erected his Standard prior to the Battle of
Bannockburn. There were no grand memorial buildings in these days –
just that hole in the ground adjacent to the roadway. I also liked to go up
Sheriffmuir Road, where at the Highlandman’s Well, I would have a drink
of the chrystal-clear water, and make a decision as to my remaining
journey from among the various options open to me. Coupled with the
Sunday obligations, I had to attend choir practice each Thursday evening,
with possibly the need to learn another anthem which Miss Duff, the
Church Organist, intended to incorporate in the service the following



All my studying culminated in me reaching the required level of mental
preparedness and passing the Law Society’s Entrance Examination
‘prescribed by Act of Sederunt dated 12th March, 1926’, and a
Certificate to that effect, dated 17th February,1933, signed by 3
Professors, being posted to me. You can well imagine how pleased I was
to have that examination behind me. It opened the door for me to enter
into a formal document of Law Apprenticeship with Mr. Morris and to
make arrangements to enter, in the fullness of time, the Scots Law Class at
Glasgow University.
The deed of apprenticeship – or more properly – Indenture, between
David Buchan Morris and myself, with the consent of my father, was
executed at Stirling on 7th July, 1933, and it obliged me to serve Mr.
Morris in his office and employment of Law Agent for the space of 5 years
from 27th January, 1933. I and my father took ourselves bound ‘jointly
and severally’ that I would serve
Mr. Morris ‘honestly, faithfully, and diligently,’and ‘at no time shall absent
himself from the office without liberty asked and given under pain of 2
days’ service for each day’s absence’, and also that I would ‘conceal and
in no ways
reveal the secrets and whole affairs of the master’s business’ and ‘behave
decently, civilly, and discreetly during the apprenticeship, and shall abstain
bad company and vicious practices’. Mr. Morris, for his part, undertook
to ‘teach the said Alexander McIntosh in his office or employment as Law
Agent’, ‘to conceal no part thereof’ and also to ‘ do his utmost diligence to
cause’ me ‘to learn and conceive so far as he knows himself and so far as’
I ‘shall be able to conceive and learn’. It was a very formal document,
with a one-shilling embossed stamp, intimated to the Registrar of Law
Agents in Edinburgh, and presented for registration in the Sheriff Court of
Stirlingshire for ‘preservation and execution’. This again was another
important milestone on my way forward. So far as I knew, I was the only
Law Apprentice which Mr. Morris ever had in his long career, and he
seemed to ooze a great deal of satisfaction from having nurtured me to this
point. Whether he regarded it as part of my training or not, he began to
rely on me to stand in for him by periodically asking me to read one of his
papers to the Archaeological Society when he felt unwell or had a sore
While my Indenture formalised my relationship with my master, Mr.
Morris, it did not alter my relationship with the Town Council, where I
continued to be just one of their employees. So much so that when my
salary was due for review at the end of the first 3 years of my employment,
it was advanced by £10 per annum to £50 per annum, and a year later to
£60 per annum, breaking through the £1 a week barrier after 5 years of
working, but with no hint of a further scale. In other words, like all the
other employees, I had just to depend on my fate on the occasion of the
‘annual review’.
As part of the Law Society’s examination structure, I was obliged to
sit and pass an examination on Bookkeeping and Accountancy, and I
decided to face up to this before embarking on the University classes.
While again this subject did not hold out any terrors for me, I resolved to
take a Correspondence Course from the ‘School of Accountancy’ on the
subject to ensure that I was adequately briefed and confident of passing
successfully. I enjoyed my sojourn into the realm of Accontancy, having
only one blip through slowness in achieving a speedy understanding of
Accounts of Charge and Discharge. I sent the customary £3 3s.
examination fee to the Clerk to the Examiners, Mr. Donaldson, at the end
of 1934, sat the examination in January, 1935, and received a certificate of
passing dated 13th February, 1935, again signed by 3 Professors.
I had now completed all the preliminaries on my planned journey, and
I looked forward, with keen anticipation to what lay ahead.



The door was now open for me to enrol for the Scots Law class at
University during the next session which began in early October, 1935, and
continued through the winter to the late spring of 1936. With a clear plan
now to sit my 1st Law examination in the summer of 1936, and then to
attend the Conveyancing lectures during the winter of 1936-37, possibly
attend Evidence and Procedure lectures during the shorter summer term in
1937, I was geared to seeing myself sitting the 2nd and final Law Society
examination at the diet on 30th November, 1937, being the first available
date on which I was permitted to sit the final examination, namely, the last
diet preceding the expiry of my Law Apprenticeship. This was quite a
challenging programme, and it was certainly going to interfere with the
recreational cricketing activities which I had enjoyed since before 1930,
and which had provided the balancing relaxation to the long periods of
intensive study I had already put in and also was projected for the critical
months lying ahead to November,1937.
Armed with the foregoing action plan, I made application to the
Education Authority for a bursary in August, and on 26th September, I
received an intimation that an ‘after-school bursary’ of £31 per annum for
the 2-years’ course had been awarded, tenable at Glasgow University.
There were, of course, many attached conditions, including the threat of
cancellation if my progress was not satisfactory. I hasten to explain that
while the award appeared to be ungenerous, it was based on the actual
sum of the class fees, the price of the required text books, and railway
fares to and from Glasgow. Now the rest was up to me.
After the formality of enrolment, which proceeded without a hitch, I
vividly recall that first day in the rarified atmosphere of Gilmorehill within
the jurisdiction of Professor A.D. Gibb. My examinations up till now had
all been at Edinburgh University. I discovered that I was a member of a
class of about 110 males and 2 females, the latter understandably ‘clinging
to each other’ for support. I also immediately realised that there were 2
other students in the class from Stirling and that the 3 of us could travel
together on the train leaving at around 7 a.m. from Stirling Station to enable
us to be present when the class began at 8-30 prompt. The departure of
our train at such an early hour was rather too soon for Mr. McWhirter, the
Station-Master, to put in an appearance to wave us a fond farewell, as he
regularly did to his more important customers bound for Glasgow around 8
o’clock. At the class’s conclusion at 9-30, one of the 3 of us proceeded
to his work in Glasgow, leaving 2 of us to hurry back to Stirling to our
posts there. James Penny was the one who remained in Glasgow and
Willie McEwan returned with me.
All 3 became very good friends and we curtailed the monotony of the
railway journeys by endeavouring to do the ‘Glasgow Herald’ cryptic
cross-word puzzle
each day [Monday to Friday]. It was probably fortunate that none of us
was very good at solving cryptic puzzles as these were largely incomplete
by the time we reached Glasgow. The trains, normally without corridors
making for a mass of large barren 12-seater compartments, with 6 seats on
each side, puffed their way to Buchanan Street Station, Glasgow, to arrive
about 8 o’clock. We rushed down to Sauchiehall Street to catch a
University tram. If we were lucky and the train was early we might decide
to walk the first part of the route – to Charing Cross – to save half the tram
In the commodious lecture room, the Professor would stand at the
lectern and deliver an hour’s address, while we, armed with a copious
supply of notepads and pens, would scribble down as much as we could of
what he had said. I was usually back at work by 10-45, ready to face the
responsibilities for which I was being remunerated. I got into the early
habit of writing out neatly each evening, in volumes I kept for the purpose,
the daily lecture, based upon my notes as supplemented by research notes
from a study of the relevant portion of the text-book – ‘Introduction to the
Law of Scotland’ - and any Court of Session cases which had been
quoted by Professor Gibb. In course of time, I built up quite a number of
these volumes in spring-back binders. This whole exercise was designed
to enable me to obtain a fuller understanding of the lectures, as well as an
aid to my memory, and it was often done while I stayed on at the office
beyond normal finishing time. There was no discussion in relation to any of
the lectures or their contents, and if one missed a lecture, friends were very
good at providing the missing details, but it was only in the direst of
circumstances that one would be absent.
And so the foregoing routine proceeded, the main relaxation coming at
the mid-term break at Christmas, which was, indeed, very welcome. In
early January, we faced the now well-formed routine once more for the
spring term. I continued to study after Professor Gibb’s course was
completed because I was due to sit the 1st Law examination on 21st July,
1936, only a very short time afterwards, and this I did by ‘working an early
shift at the office’ from 7 a.m. to the start of the normal working day at 9
a.m. That arrangement, among other things, enabled me to continue to
study in a quiet atmosphere and take advantage of Mr. Morris’s Library to
research Law Cases which I felt would be of benefit to me.
Soon it was back to the Examination Hall, Room B, at Edinburgh
University, after paying my regular dues and being instructed to take my
seat at table no. 35. It was going to be a long day, from 10 a.m. until 4-30
p.m., incorporating 2 papers on Scots Law and one on Mercantile Law. I
was informed that candidates who were required to have an Oral
Examination would be notified forthwith. I was pleased not to receive any
such notification, but a Pass Certificate, dated 24th July, signed by 3
Examiners. Naturally , the family and I, and also the office staff, were very
pleased and shared my joy.
I had met my targets and it was now a case of ‘only one more bridge
to cross’.
Whilst my involvement with the fortunes of Riverside Cricket Club
was severely interrupted in 1936 because of the 1st Law Examination
being in July, at the height of the season, I did very much enjoy my
continued participation in so far as I had the time and opportunity to
practice and play in the games. Having the exercise arising from these
activities was important to me. It wasn’t only the cricket which I depended
upon for exercise. Our playing pitch was now well established in the
King’s Park, and at the conclusion of a match or practice we usually
adjourned to the Tennis Courts to have a half-hour’s game. This was often
to the distress of Mr. Asher, the Superintendent, who, sensing the
approaching gloaming, was anxious to close up the premises and make his
way home. We would be on the look-out for Ginger Davidson, a strong
red-headed Policeman, who would be sure to give an opponent ‘a good
game’. There was
usually a queue of young people in these days waiting for entry to one of
the 8 courts. Maybe, as an alternative, it would merely be a round of
putting on the adjacent well-maintained Putting Green that would take our
fancy to finish off the evening, the 2-pence charge being good value.
I shall shortly give some cricketing details after bringing to an end the
story of my quest for a qualification in the legal profession.
Now I was determined to face that last remaining hurdle. The principal
subject was Conveyancing, but there were important ancillary matters of
Trusts and Succession, as well as Evidence and Procedure, to be
overtaken. The forthcoming winter session of the University [1936-37]
would be devoted to attendance at the Conveyancing Classes under
Professor John Girvan, and, as I have already indicated, my master plan
obliged me to be present at the Evidence and Procedure Class under
Lecturer Mr. Donald McLeish during the shorter summer term in 1937. I
enrolled and began my final quota of winter journeys to Glasgow University
early in October. Being by now a person who would be regarded as a
Senior Student, I knew all the University routine and settled down to the
business of listening attentively to Professor Girvan and, as before,
scribbling down in my notebook as much as I could.
There is one item of interest which I ought to have mentioned before.
In anticipation of attending Law Classes, and knowing that I would require
to become skilled at recording notes, I attended the Pitman’s Shorthand
Class at Evening Classes during the winter of 1933-34 and gained a
Certificate of Shorthand [Theory]. While I didn’t use this knowledge
extensively for note-taking at the University, I found the information which I
had gained invaluable during my later career when it always gave me some
satisfaction to help a Typist decipher an outline in her notebook over which
she was puzzling. The routine, from Stirling Station onwards was the same
as in the case of the Scots Law Classes the winter before. There were
again the 3 of us, the 8-30 to 9-30 Class involving a similar procedure in
travelling to Gilmorehill, and the long evenings of writing up the lecture,
studying ‘Burns on Conveyancing’, and research of Law Cases. Once
again, when there was a break in University attendance and at the end of
term I was happy to do a ‘morning shift’ in the office when the only people
I saw were the Office Cleaners. The novelty of attending University
and the awe in which I had held these ‘noble seats of learning’ had
somewhat diminished due, no doubt, to familiarity with the surroundings.
All the time I felt that I was playing a growing part in the office. There
was much that I could learn and I took advantage of every opportunity
which presented itself. Equally there was a great deal which I could not
learn due to the specialised nature of the Local Government work for
which the office was responsible. Occasionally I envied those in the
private legal offices who had the opportunity of becoming involved at first
hand in a wide range of legal activities, such as Civil Law cases, which
were outwith the ambit of our office. On the other hand I relished the
work I did in relation to such matters as elections, and the whole panorama
of council and committee work in all its aspects. I realised that many
specialisms must exist within the legal profession and I accepted that,
especially for examination purposes, there would be many topics which
one would have to learn without practice or experience of them.
When Professor Girvan had delivered his final lecture in the spring of
1937, and I had received my Class Ticket in the usual terms certifying that
I had ‘attended regularly and duly performed the work of the Class’, it did
not mean that I could ‘sit back and rest on my laurels’. The Professor, on
the other hand, was probably greatly relieved to have the session behind
him, as, being extremely short-sighted, he obviously had difficulty in seeing
and reading his papers – not that it detracted from the learned way in
which they were imparted to us.
A few weeks later, I was to and from the University once again – the
very last session which I was due to attend – and fortunately it was to be a
short one in the approaching summer weather. Mr. McLeish did his best
to make a ‘dry’ subject palatable, but for me it was one of the least
attractive. I concluded that, for the final Law Examination, it would involve
much committing to memory without necessarily fully understanding. As
usual, I dutifully recorded the lectures in my special volumes, as I had done
in the case of my Scots Law and Conveyancing lectures, hoping that this
would contribute to stimulating my memory.
My master plan had served me well. I had not varied it in the slightest
degree and I was rather pleased with myself. Now it was a case of
ensuring that all pistons were firing in the run-up to November. I left no
stone unturned in my efforts to succeed, by sacrificing every extraneous
interest and hobby. After all, as I saw it, it was the most critical study
period of my life, with so much at stake.
I had the normal correspondence with Mr. Donaldson, the Clerk to
the Examiners, at the end of October, paid the customaryfee of £3 3s, and
at the beginning of November received my instructions. These were to the
effect that I was to ‘present myself for examination in the Examination Hall,
Room B, Edinburgh University, on 30thNovember, 1937, at 10 a.m. and
on 1st December [the following day] at 11 a.m. and that I was to take my
place at table no.73’; also that candidates for this – the final – examination
were to attend at the Court Room, University, on Friday, 3rd December, at
11 a.m. for the Oral Examination; finally, that the result of the examination
would be issued to all candidates by post immediately after 3rd
December. The examination was thus
to be conducted over 2 full days from 10 a.m. to 4-30 p.m. on the 1st day
and from 11 a.m. to 4-30 p.m. on the 2nd day. On the 1st day there
would be the 1st paper on Conveyancing [10 to 11-45]; Trusts and
Succession [12 to 1-30]; Evidence and Procedure [3 to 4-30], and on the
2nd day there would be the 2nd paper on Conveyancing [11 to 12-45];
Court of Session and Sheriff Court Practice [2 to 4-30]. How anyone
fared in such a mass of papers could only be determined at the time of the
‘Oral’. On that fateful Friday I appeared along with all the other
candidates and discovered that a notice had been posted outside the
Court Room listing the names of those who, because of their satisfactory
written papers, were not required for the Oral Examination as they had
successfully passed the examination – and my name was on that list.
Never was I so happy in all my life! I had, after these years of study,
successfully qualified as a Solicitor, with not a single examination set-back.
And what did I do to celebrate before returning to Stirling to announce
the good news to family and friends and colleagues in the Municipal
Buildings? I just walked down to Princes Street and invested 3-pence to
climb the Scott Monument – maybe I felt the need to seek out a ‘high
place’. When I did in fact return, it was to a major round of
congratulations and good wishes, which
pleased me very much. Even the newspapers were informed and they ‘got
carried away’ with the excitement by publishing a news article
incorporating the statement that I was now ‘the youngest Solicitor in
Scotland’. Maybe I was. I have no way of judging the accuracy of the
claim – I don’t think that anybody bothered to challenge it, probably
putting it down to ‘a little local excitement’.
Joe Copley left the Office about 1938 to become Town Clerk of
Grangemouth, and this facilitated my advancement.
I have frequently mentioned how I was sustained in all my studies by
my continuing involvement with cricket. This was certainly true although,
understandably, at times of examination pressure, it became somewhat
neglected. This, however, seems to be an appropriate time to give a
history of my involvement with the sport and thus I shall devote the next
paragraph to the subject.



In my earlier Booklet, I mentioned how, as a very young boy, my pals
and I had chalked wickets on the wall of the Petrol Depot to play cricket
on the traffic-free surface of Abbey Road and that, in course of time, when
the Waverley Crescent Playground was completed, we had moved there
and had earmarked one corner of the ground as a corner for our activities.
The period in Abbey
Road was uneventful apart from one mishap. As we grew stronger, we hit
the old tennis ball which we used much harder, and the inevitable happened
– a
window was broken. It was really the only type of damage which could
arise from our game. I was the culprit and it hurt me a great deal to have
to make full confession of my transgression to my mother, knowing that my
parents would require to pay for the necessary repair. My mother was
very understanding and she encouraged me not to worry. Her kind words
helped to ameliorate my distress. I later learned that it cost a hard-earned
5-shillings to replace the broken pane, the work being done expeditiously.
We grew in power and cricketing ability during our spell at Waverley
Crescent, which, incidentally, was originally called Riverside Park, and
decided to form ourselves into a proper cub to be named Riverside
Cricket Club. We were still playing with home-made bats and wickets,
apart from a second-hand cricket ball, which we had managed to procure
from some source. I remember how I tried to wrap rubber strip round the
handle of my bat, which had been made by my father, to try to take the
‘sting’ out of it when the cricket ball was hit. The earliest game which we
had with this primitive ‘gear’ was against Burghmuir Cricket Club, another
bunch of 14-15 –year –olds, and it was played in a playing-field in the
Burghmuir area at the foot of the Craigs. I don’t know who won the
match, but it helped to cement the team spirit which we were trying to
Around 1930, we were told that a Cricket League was in course of
being formed in the Stirling District – to be called the Stirling and District
Junior Cricket League, and we quickly formed the ambition to join. We
realised that our attainments could not be regarded as first-class, on the
same level as those connected with Stirling County Cricket Club, whom
we were happy to watch at Williamfield when we were not otherwise
engaged on our own activities.
The season 1930 was the first season on which Riverside Cricket
Club existed and had been organised and conducted on established lines.
Home matches were played either in Riverside Park or in the King’s Park,
to which we were gradually moving, as our regular ‘home ground’. The
Club was dependant on the Town Council cutting the grass, and the
condition of the pitches left a great deal to be desired. We resolved to join
the new League, however, and become full playing members as from
season 1931. Our funds were very low at the end of the 1930 season, and
a subscription of 7s 6d. was decided upon for 1931. Since the
membership was only 13 during this season, a special effort was to be
made to increase it to 15 -20 by the beginning of the 1931 season. We
had played 14 games in all during 1930, winning 7, drawing 2, and losing
5. The total number of runs scored by the Club in these matches was 641,
with an average of 6 per wicket, as against 847 against, with an average of
nearly 7 per wicket. Our highest total for an innings was 100 for 8
wickets, and the highest individual score was 46 by J.H. Carlisle, who led
the batting averages for the season with an average of 7.9. He was
followed by J.P.L.McIntyre, G.M.Meredith, L.Wilson, A.M.Christie,
H.W.Hill, A.McIntosh, G.Henderson and A.Lamb, who only mustered an
average of 1.3 for 6 completed innings. J.I.Hutchison and I.Jones also
batted. On the bowling side, our mainstays were L.Wilson and A.Lamb
who took 37 and 35 wickets for 90 and 87 respectively. Most of the
other members of the team were given the opportunity of bowling at one
time or another, and appeared on the list of bowling averages.
At the end of the first year with the League, we reflected on how bad
the summer weather had been, but we were happy that, in spite of this, we
had managed to play more games than in 1930 – in all, 23 matches, of
which 5 were won, 4 were drawn, and 11 were lost. In the League
games, out of 16 games played, 5 were won, 2 were drawn, and 9 were
lost. We congratulated ourselves, however, on the further experience
which we had gained and discussed how best to field a strong team in
League games during the ensuing year.
Soon all our home games were played in the King’s Park on wickets
prepared by Stirling Town Council. The condition of the pitches, which, at
the beginning of the summer, were far from perfect, rapidly deteriorated as
the months advanced, and to escape personal injury, as much as to protect
his wicket, a batsman had to display a nimbleness of foot, a flexibility of
wrist, a quickness of the eye, and a rapidity of thought and motion that
would have done credit to a Formula 1 racing driver. Batting in the King’s
Park became a dangerous adventure. There were no protective face masks
or special padding in these days. While we regarded it as exhilarating, it
was not cricket in the best sense of the word. We did in fact formally
thank the Town Council for the interest they had shown in providing the
pitches, but pointed out that unless these were improved by re-turfing or
laid with coconut matting, their efforts to foster the game in Stirling would
never be successful.
Numerically, the Club membership had advanced from 13 to 23 and
we had acquired the older and wiser head of Jimmy Bertram, the Manager
of the Petrol
Depot. The financial position had greatly improved, although it wasn’t
what one would call sound, the cost of purchasing playing equipment, at £2
2s. for a bat and 7s 6d. for a ball, causing a drain on our resources. The
funds had been augmented by the profit from a Whist Drive and Dance, as
well as the increased revenue of subscriptions from a larger membership.
For extra funds we were now beginning to rely on the profits from after-
season activities, such as Free Gift Schemes and Dances, and accordingly
we were looking forward to a balance of several £s by the end of next
season, as well, of course, to a further increase in membership. We began
to be so ambitious at this time that we formed the expectations of being
able to rent a playing-field and have a small pavilion.
Mr. F.B.Crockart of D.Crockart and Sons, Gunsmiths and Fishing
Tackle Makers, King Street, presented a bat to be awarded to the leader
of the batting averages and this was won by J.Bertram, who immediately
gave it to the Club.
This year [1931], the Club had scored 1036 runs for 188 wickets at
an average of 5.51 runs a wicket, and 1386 runs had been scored against
the Club for 205 wickets at an average of 6.76 runs a wicket. The highest
total score was once more 100 for 8 wickets, equalling the Club record
and the highest individual score was 49 [not out] by A.S.Borroman.
J.Bertram led the batting
averages, as already mentioned, with 169 runs at an average of 11.27, and
now various new members – F.Durie, E.Dryland, J.Miller, A.Crockart,
J.Purves, A.Hynd, I.Budge and R.Reid appeared in the batting averages.
As before, most of the playing members had the opportunity of
participating in the bowling – 13 names appearing in the list of bowling
averages, led by J.Carlisle who took 10 wickets at an average of 4.9, the
greatest number of wickets -40- being taken by J.Bertram at an average of
8.2. I managed to play in 20 games with a batting average of 5.38, and in
bowling took 12 wickets at an average of 9.25 runs a wicket.
We had now begun to take notice of Club records as well as putting
the Club on a more business-like basis by having the annual meeting in the
Y.M.C.A. premises in Dumbarton Road. As League members we were
required to play the following teams – R.A.O.D., R.A.O.C., L.M.S.,
Menstrie, Bannockburn, Falkirk Victoria, Castleview, and Y.M.C.A. and
during 1931 we played the following non-League Clubs – Stirling County
[3rd XI], A. and S.H., Carron [2ndXI], Gothic, Bridge of Allan [2ndXI],
Alloa Y.M.C.A., Airth and Dunmore, East Stirlingshire [2nd XI], Larbert
L.M.S., 2nd Castings, and Stenhousemuir [2ndXI], in most cases on 2
occasions during the season, although some games were cancelled due to
bad weather.
I ought to have mentioned that in the early years of the League the
proprietor of the ‘Stirling Observer’ had gifted a Silver Shield to be
awarded to the Club which led the League table. In 1933, the owner of
the ‘Stirling Journal’ presented a Silver Cricket Ball for the winner of a
knock-out competition, 12 Clubs entering this in the 1st year. That year
saw another innovation, the Town Council erecting a block of about 6
changing rooms for cricketers, on the basis of a small charge for the 2
rooms required for the ‘home’ and ‘away’ teams. This encouraged us to
negotiate with R.Carlin, the Baker, to provide teas and buns at a suitable
stage in the Saturday matches, at 9-pence a head, each home player being
responsible for a payment of double that amount to cover the cost of an
opponent’s tea.
In the 3 years to the end of the 1933 playing season, we had a total
income of £54 13s. 2d. and expenditure of £46 4s. 10d. leaving a balance
of £8 8s. 4d. to carry forward to 1934. We had a profit of about £12
from Free Gift Schemes and Dances and the major items of expenditure
were on playing equipment. It is interesting to note that at the end of 1930
we had a balance of 1s. 9d. Now, at the end of the 1933 season, we
were still mainly a group of 18-year olds. One of the members who had
served us exceedingly well over the past 4 years and who, unfortunately,
was having to leave his post at this time was our inspirational Secretary,
R.D.Liddle. He wrote a very comprehensive report for our annual meeting
in 1933 and I have decided to include the bulk of it in the ensuing
paragraph for the valuable information it contained.
‘The steady expansion of former seasons has been well maintained
during this, the 4th year of existence of Riverside Cricket Club. The
general position of the Club was never sounder, the prospects were never
brighter, and the Club’s reputation throughout the County was never
higher. Efforts to find a suitable playing-field near Stirling having failed,
home matches and practices were again
held in the King’s Park, on wickets prepared by Stirling Town Council.
Constant playing during the almost rainless summer left its inevitable mark
on these pitches, which, by the end of the season were definitely not fit to
be played on. Fresh consideration of this urgent question leads one to
believe that, in order to remedy matters, a different line of action should be
taken by the Club. Apart from letters from the League Secretary to the
Council, we have made no constructive attempt to improve the pitches.
Instead of supplementing the efforts of the Town’s workmen, we have
stood idly by, ridiculing what was done for us, damning with faint praise or
indulging in pointless witticisms at the expense of our Civic Leaders. The
financial stringency of the times is ample justification for the unwillingness of
the Town Council to spend a considerable sum for the benefit of a very
small section of the community. It behoves us, therefore, to cease our
ineffective jibes and complaints and to devote our energy instead to a more
useful and honourable end – the actual work of repairing the pitches. 2
hours’ hard work by each member would effect a vast difference. If,
further, we spent a few £s on the pitches, the Council would almost
certainly see to it that, within reasonable limits, the pitches attended to were
protected and reserved. The difficulty of maintaining a ground of our own
is considerable. The advantages of the King’s Park as a ground are many.
Without for one moment abandoning our ambition of securing a private
ground, let us tackle the King’s Park bogey with resource and energy and
make the best of our position. The Treasurer’s report is at once
comforting and startling. The Club is financially sound, but the expenses of
what can be taken as a normal season have proved so heavy that it is clear
that only a big effort by all members can keep the Club in its sound
position. The figures showing expenditure and income for the past 4 years
are challenging and insistent. To ensure an increase of, say, £6 10s. a year
in the Club’s reserve fund, our annual income must be about £25.
Assuming that the number of members and annual fee remain the same, we
are set the task of obtaining £20 from other sources. The Club has 20
members at present. Club fixture cards were printed for the first time this
year and this innovation has been welcome to members and friends. The
interesting suggestion was made during the season that a 2nd XI should be
run. After discussion at one of our meetings, it was decided that the time
was not ripe for so bold a step. Expense and the difficulty of securing a
sufficient number of players and of suitable fixtures were the factors which
caused us to pause. Off the field, the Club continues to win for itself
respect and honour. Several members of the Club are officials of the
League and J.Bertram was selected to play for the League against Stirling
County 2nd XI. During the season 33 games were played, 8 of our
opponents being met for the 1st time. Almost every Club of our class in
the Alloa, Falkirk and Stirling Districts was played at least once. This
number of games must surely be almost a record for one XI of a Scottish
cricket team. No further proof of members’ enthusiasm is required. Of the
33 matches played, 16 were won and 16 lost, 1 being drawn. A.McIntosh
led the batting averages with a record total of 447 run for an average of
14.90, and J.Bertram led the bowling averages with a massive haul of 95
wickets at an average of 4.80. We are
once again indebted to the local newspapers for their kindness in printing
the results, thus maintaining the interest of the Club’s many supporters.
The splendid work done by the Treasurer was also greatly appreciated,
especially for initiating fund-raising activities. The true sporting attitude
good fellowship, and a light-hearted merriment have run like a thread of
gold through this happy summer-time. The Club members during this year
were, as listed in the batting averages – A. McIntosh, J.Bertram,
R.D.Liddle, J.M.Purves, A.M.McArthur, J.Buchanan, A.McAfee,
A.Lamb, A.M.Christie, W.McCrindle, J.H.Carlisle, B.Flude, W.E.Minto,
A.C.Clink, A.Maxwell, J.S.Drysdale, H.Donald, J.Hynd, E.Dryland, and
G.G.Cooper. The Club records at this stage were – highest total for, 124
for 8 wickets against Stirling Y.M.C.A.; lowest total,5 against Falkirk
Victoria; highest total against, 184 for 8 wickets, by A.and S.H; lowest
against, 3 by Bannockburn; best batting average, 23.75 for 8 completed
innings by A.S.Borrowman; best bowling average, 29 wickets for 3.76
each by A.S.Borrowman; highest score, 66 by J.Hynd; best bowling
performance, 9 wickets for 1 run by L.Wilson against Bannockburn; and
most wickets in a season, 95 by J.Bertram’.
As a matter of statistics, we played 34 games in 1934, winning 18,
losing 15, and drawing 1, indeed a very successful year. I have a card
indicating that a Victory Social and Dance would be held in the New
Pavilion, Burghmuir, on 2nd November, 1934, at 7-30 p.m. While we
invited several distinguished guests to attend, I’m sure that it would be a
money-making event.
I was elected Captain in 1935 and added to the Club records that
year when I took 4 wickets in an over of 6 balls against Menstrie in a game
at Cochrane Park, Alva. On the bowling side, I was happy to take 3
wickets for 0 against our old adversaries, Bannockburn, and 7 wickets for
2 runs against Stirling Station, who were really no match for us when they
were dismissed for 10 runs – not quite as low as the 3 runs dismissal we
once achieved against Bannockburn. The Bannockburn team were quite
clever at taking advantage of the position of their pitch to the detriment of
the opposition. They skilfully laid out their playing area in an east – west
direction so that, on the occasion of a Wednesday evening fixture, they
would try to arrange for the visitors to bat after them, thus requiring their
adversaries to face their fast bowler while looking into the setting sun which
was now low in the sky.
In 1936, we embarked on an experiment which misfired. In our long-
term ambition to have a pitch of our own and be independent of the Town
Council and their troublesome wickets in the King’s Park, we did a deal
with the farmer
in occupation of the field at Bridgehaugh to enable us to create a pitch
there. We did not properly realise the difficulties in doing this, and apart
from the problem of maintaining the wicket in a neat and tidy condition, in
the games which followed, we had great trouble coping with the cow-
patches deposited by the joint tenants who were unable to understand that
good cows should respect the needs of cricketers and deposit their manure
elsewhere. We gave up the idea after a year and returned to the much-
maligned King’s Park determined to be thankful to the Town Council for
what they were doing. The Riverside Club
can, however, claim to have been the pioneers of sports activities in
Bridgehaugh – long before the magnificent rugby complex, which adorns
the field today and which must have been developed at considerable
expense. If only we had had a few £s when there was a thriving cricket
team willing and anxious to lay down a good cricket pitch, how happy we
would have been, and it might have altered the sporting history of the Royal
Over the ensuing years to 1938, the Club continued to play 20 – 30
matches each season but my involvement with them was severely curtailed
from 1936 because of my studies and the Law Examinations. I also had to
give up the Captaincy. Notwithstanding these pressures, I continued to
play when circumstances permitted. It was always important to me to have
the pleasure, as well as the exercise, through practising, batting, bowling,
and fielding, compensating for the long hours spent at desk work.
The Clubs based in the King’s Park for their home matches provided
entertainment for a regular band of supporters, who let their voices be
heard when they felt that they had something to shout about. The crowd
were, at the same time, generous with their applause.
One might find, during a Saturday afternoon, up to 3 matches being
played on the flat portion of the King’s Park and, on the occasions that
these games coincided with ‘Bannockburn Day’, when R.B.Cunninghame
Graham was encouraging interest in the Scottish National Party from his
position on the old flat wooden band-stand to a big audience, and Wendy
Wood had erected her soap-box some distance from him, but within
shouting distance, to antagonise him and proclaim the benefits of support
for the Scottish Democratic Self-Government Association, then there was
indeed a plethora of inexpensive entertainment for the many people
thronging the Park during that significant day.
I think that Riverside Cricket Club was gradually wound down during
1939, along with the League and other Junior Clubs with the war clouds
looming and the calls of careers for the established players. Before the
1939 season began, I
had gone off to Kirkcaldy to a post of Assistant Solicitor in the Town
Clerk’s Office, and I did not return to Stirling until the season was nearly
I have often wondered what happened to the cricket trophies, the
Silver Shield and the Silver Cricket Ball, which were much fought over
throughout the 30’s decade. It would be fine if they could be recovered
and deposited in the Smith Museum as a memento of these years and of all
the game meant to a
large number of young people in Stirling and District. These activities have
provided special memories. Some details are a bit hazy, but such records
as I have provide an interesting catalogue of the many matches which took
place and of the friendships the sport developed. It is surprising that after
the war there appeared to be no interest in reviving cricket as the local
game to be encouraged for young fellows, the preference obviously being
for football.
There was one interesting outing which 3 of my friends and I were
able to enjoy in 1938. It was the ‘Ashes’ season once more. We were all
cricket enthusiasts and members of teams in the Stirling and District
League. We were desperately anxious to see the great Don Bradman play
in one of the games. Learning that there was to be a Test Match at Leeds
and that we could adjust our annual leave arrangements to cover at least
part of the Match, we decided to go. One of my pals had an old car in
which we set off a couple of days before the game was due to begin. The
car never travelled at more than 30 miles an hour – probably it was
incapable of reaching a higher speed. We managed to get as far as
Roberton, in the Borders, on the first part of the journey and stayed
overnight at a friendly farm-house. Next day we completed the journey to
Leeds and arrived at the ‘digs’ which we had pre-booked, getting to our
destination in the late evening. Next day saw the opening of the big event.
We watched the formality of the tossing of the coin and England
proceeding to bat. As if we were Assistant Scorers, we recorded the
details of every ball bowled and every run made in the score-book which
we had brought all the way from Stirling for the purpose. It was an exciting
experience as we followed closely the attack mounted by the Australian
bowlers. England’s innings totalled 263. In the course of time, after
W.A.Brown had been bowled, at first wicket down as usual, Bradman
went to the crease and pleased us immensely by scoring 103. We did not
have time to see the end of the game, but our long trek had been rewarded
– we had been there when the maestro had scored a century. I think that
the old car had relished its outing too and seemed to be inspired to achieve
greater achievements on the way back home.



Apart from all the cricketing activities, I had to settle down to the
business of managing my career. I hadn’t exactly made a mint of money
during those first 9 years in the employment of Stirling Town Council. As
near as I can recollect, my
annual salary in each of the years was £20, £30, £40, £50, £60, £75, £90,
£105, and £170, a total of less than £650 for 9 years’ work. While the
Council did not have the reputation for being overgenerous to its
employees, I felt that they were being particularly ungenerous to me in
relation to the value which I considered I now was to them with the
qualification gained at the end of 1937. There was now ample work of
responsibility which I was undertaking and I felt that while my services
were being appreciated within the office, this was not getting through to the
Finance Committee who controlled the salaries. I was now taking a share
of Committee meetings, and, with the experience gained in attending the
Police Court during my learning days with Joe Copley, I was, by 1938, in
a position to act on my own. Ultimately, in the autumn of 1938 Mr. Morris
formally appointed me as a Depute Clerk of Court and this was approved
by the Town Council. The Council did in fact at this stage give me a fairly
substantial salary rise to £170 per annum, but, having nursed my
resentment all through 1938, I felt compelled to seek new pastures. These
presented themselves to me in the early spring of 1939 when the Town
Clerk of Kirkcaldy advertised for an Assistant Solicitor at a starting salary
of £205 per annum. After an interview with Mr Hutton, the Town Clerk,
and a medical examination for superannuation purposes, I was appointed
to the post. For the application, Mr. Morris gave me a good testimonial.
The staffs in the Municipal Buildings, in accordance with their well-
established tradition, collected a generous £6 17s. 6d, which enabled me
to purchase from Hepting and Farrer, Murray Place, a ‘Staybrite Steel
Omega’ wristlet watch which is ‘still going strong’ in the 21st century, and
has served me well throughout the years.
I was a little sorry, naturally enough, to leave Mr. Morris’s office and
the wonderful colleagues some of whom were still in harness since the day
in 1930 I first entered the office. My parting thoughts were of the many
experiences I had had and of the people who had helped me ‘along the
way’. I thought about Fay and that 2-storey window from which, for so
many months, if not years, she had given me that little wave at 6 minutes to
1 o’clock when I made a point of crossing the Corn Exchange Road after
my lunch interval. Being such an attractive girl, she had clearly been
captured by a more mature suitor. I thought about that other Councillor’s
daughter - I don’t know how I came to be friendly with her, but I do
know how it all ended. With so many Cricket Club Dances, it is
understandable that there were many innocent liaisons, some of which
probably did not last longer than a few months. It is just that I particularly
remember this not unattractive lassie. She really brought our relationship to
an end by choosing to say the wrong thing. We had gone for a walk along
Polmaise Road and we came to a point where I had previously stood at
the bottom of a rainbow, a memorable experience because, against a tree a
few feet in front of me, I saw the rainbow rest on the ground. There no pot
of gold however. In any event, she decided to tell me, at this unforgettable
spot, that she thought we would ‘get along very well’. This long-term
projection on her part was too much for me. I was thinking more in terms
of days and weeks rather than years, and the friendship came to a
premature end.
In 1937, at Christmas, a kindly Coucillor, Bailie Jenkins, who held a
senior position at the St. Ninians Nail-works invited me to attend an office
staff party in his home, probably because the bulk of his staff were girls and
he needed fellows
to achieve a balance in the company. I was clearly paired with a very
attractive girl in a red dress, with nice name of Rhea to match. I’m sure
she was his Secretary and the Bailie had obviously set his heart on being a
match-maker. We had a lovely evening of party games, and the hospitality
was magnificent. Over a subsequent lengthy period, he continued to
promote the idea of a friendship. I was in my heart not averse to seeing the
girl, but for some inexplicable reason, I developed a silly and quite
unnecessary inferiority complex. Why I should fail to take advantage of an
opportunity like that one, I shall never know. It may have been that I was
blinded by the memory of the red dress as being too striking for my liking.
I have demonstrated that, throughout my career, I was not slow to seize
any opportunity which presented itself, and that is why I have failed to find
an explanation for my reluctance to face up to this challenge, which I was
really quite happy to do. Over the years, I have searched for an
explanation as to why I didn’t demonstrate some initiative and provide for
myself a degree of undoubted happiness which might have developed into
something tangible and lasting. Maybe it was due to my hearing the
premature call of someone else I was to meet some 20 months later.
Maybe! Maybe! Maybe! – If only we could fathom the unfathomable!
So it was that in March, 1939, after passing the required medical
examination for superannuation purposes, I made my way to Kirkcaldy to
take up my first post away from my home town. Kirkcaldy was named
‘the lang toon’ because of the length of its main street, the town with the
‘queer-like smell’ as the rhyme went, this emanating from linoleum
manufacture for which the town was famous. 1939 was, of course, before
the days of vinyl. It had double the population of Stirling, and was one of
the 2 Large Burghs in the ‘Kingdom’,
the other being Dunfermline, of roughly similar size, resulting, as I was soon
to learn, in rivalry for acceptance as the leading community of Fife. It was
not least also famous as the birth-place of Adam Smith of ‘Wealth of
Nations’ fame.
The staff had arranged ‘digs’ for me at 54 Victoria Road, the home of
Mr. and Mrs. Cook, and their daughter. I settled down there quite well,
returning home to Stirling each Friday evening until Sunday evening when I
resumed occupancy of my lodgings. I never had any problems during my
stay with the Cooks, apart from one little exception. The exception was
that, without fail, on the Thursday of each week, Mrs. Cook made tapioca
pudding, which I hated. I hadn’t the heart to tell her, even if I knew full
well that she would have altered the menu to provide a pudding which I
liked. But no, I very foolishly carried on
eating the tapioca and pretending that I was enjoying it. I discovered that,
by taking up lodgings at the Cooks, I had entered the home of a
Railwayman and, since my father also worked ‘on the railways’, there was
an instant acceptance of me as one of the fraternity. Over the years, I have
found that, especially during these earlier times, railway families seemed to
have a close affiliation for each other.
The staff were very friendly and got along together extremely well,
this being largely encouraged by the goodwill of Mr. Hutton, who, every
few weeks invited the key members of his staff to lunch with his wife and
himself in their home which was adjacent to the office. These were
pleasant social ‘get-togethers’ at which we got to know each other more
closely than would have been possible through office contact alone. Jack
McCluskey was Depute Town
Clerk, and Iain Noble was another Assistant Solicitor, who, because of his
length of service in Kirkcaldy, was senior to me.
I was allocated Kate Dougall as my Typist. Outwith our office work,
we enjoyed each other’s company at the public tennis courts, where she
decided to take me in hand and improve my tennis ability. I rather liked
Kate Ford, the senior typist who did work for Mr. Hutton and Jack
McCluskey. Both girls were
about the same age as I was, but I never struck up a close relationship with
either of them. My tennis games with Kate Dougall did, however, give me
a lot of pleasure. I can only attribute my failure to have a closer
relationship with her to the fact that she continually defeated me at tennis
and this probably built in me a male-based resentment that I could not be a
dominant partner.
In the office, I was made responsible for the work of a number of
committees. I recall that these were Fire Brigade, Parks, Harbour, Gas,
and Electricity. There may have been others as well. I recollect that there
seemed to be endless work in preparing hire and hire purchase agreements
to enable people to hire or purchase gas and electric cookers and other
apparatus which we seemed to have in stock. I enjoyed my association
with the old Captain-Harbourmaster. At Kirkcaldy harbour, there was
sufficient activity to justify the appointment of such an official, and this was
an area of Local Government which was new to me. I also enjoyed my
dealings with the Parks and Gardens
Department in which the floral arrangements were created and maintained
to a very high standard, giving much pleasure to the citizens and visitors.
I enjoyed my walks along the riverside with Jack McCluskey. He
was from the Glasgow area, and probably thought that, being another one
from the west [if Stirling can truly be regarded as in that direction], we
would have a great deal in common. In any event, we got on very well
together and always had much to talk about. I specially remember the time
he was thinking about purchasing a new car and was looking for a good
bargain. If I remember correctly, the prices ranged from £105 for a Ford
8 h.p. to £112 for a more luxurious 8 h.p. model. He selected the Ford. I
recall another interesting outing with Jack when we decided to go down to
the church on May morning, from the steeple of which the choir was
welcoming the month in the traditional manner. There was not a large
audience and we were sure the choir appreciated our support.
There was an office car to convey staff, files, etc. back and forth to the
councillors’ meeting place and I was required to take steps to learn how to
drive it. I accordingly obtained the necessary driving licence, and,
instructed by a capable male clerk in the office, I set off on a number of
expeditions throughout the Kirkcaldy district to make sure that I would
become proficient at driving. I must have been hard to handle as a trainee
driver because, on the first day of learning, admittedly on a very broad
road, I had the car doing 50 m.p.h. That inbuilt desire to be speedy
probably encouraged me to buy a second-hand Jaguar years later to
propel me along the Glasgow Road to my then home in Motherwell.
As an indication of the camaraderie which existed among the staff
members, I recall how we organised a picnic outing to the Lomond Hills,
where, after climbing West Lomond we set about climbing East Lomond.
It was a day which we often relived by reflecting on the many happy
incidents we experienced together and the friendship of the occasion. I
suddenly realised how such an outing would be unthinkable for the Stirling
staff where the average age could not have been less than 45. Here in
Kirkcaldy, I was beginning to appreciate how refreshing it was to work
among a staff of young people whose average age was probably only
around 30. Even Mr. Hutton, the Town Clerk, was youthful in outlook
with at least 2 other senior posts to contemplate before his career was
over. When we looked over to the garden area behind his house, we
could see his young family playing happily.
Kirkcaldy was to pay the penalty for encouraging such youthfulness
before many months had passed. Young people, especially those with
suitable qualifications, are ambitious and they are continually on the lookout
for still greater opportunities to advance in their professions. The changes
all seemed to happen as if overnight. By early summer, Mr. Hutton had
announced his intention to resign, having been offered the post of Depute
Town Clerk of Edinburgh. My colleague Legal Assistant followed suit by
intimating that he would be leaving to resume a career with a private law
firm, and I capped the evacuation when I reported that I had received a
letter from the Town Clerk of Stirling, my old chief and master, dated 20th
June, 1939, informing me of his desire to retire on 15th August; that Mr.
Clink, his Depute, had been appointed to take his place as from 17th
August; that he wished me to become the new Depute Town Clerk; that
the Town Council had unanimously approved; that the salary
would commence at £300 per annum, rising by annual increments of £20
to £500 per annum; and that I could immediately signify my acceptance on
the basis that, in accordance with the law, the formal letters of appointment
would be issued by Mr. Clink immediately he took up the office. I wrote
confirming my willingness and formally resigned from my post in
Kirkcaldy. With 2 months still to serve, this would mean that my spell in
Kirkcaldy would last about 5 months. Mr. Morris immediately sent me a
hand-written letter couched in very nice terms saying how pleased he was
that I was coming back to the Office and especially that the resolution in
regard to my appointment had been ‘carried through last night without a
dissentient voice’. Among other complimentary
things, he told me that the extended area had been incorporated into the
burgh very smoothly.
Whether I did the right thing in readily agreeing to return to Stirling, I
shall never know. If I had remained in Kirkcaldy, with a youthful Depute
Town Clerk having been promoted to Town Clerk, there were indications
to me that if I had decided to stay, I could depend on being given the post
of Depute there. I had got on well with the Councillors and Officials, and I
had no doubt that my prospects of a speedy promotion were very real
indeed. What if! It would have altered the whole course of my future.
The period in Kirkcaldy had seemed like a holiday interlude for me. I did
not know exactly what lay ahead on my return to Stirling. I did not know
that I was to meet Mary, and that it would lead to our marriage in 1942,
and to the birth of Iain in 1954.
With my impending return to Stirling, there was one matter which I
decided to attend to before I left Kirkcaldy, which I had delayed doing
because of the expense involved – that was to pay the Government stamp
duty and other fees necessary to have my name included in the Register of
Solicitors under the Solicitors [Scotland] Act, 1933, thereby giving me full
practicing capability. I sent the required payment of £62 8s. 6d. to the
Registrar in March, 1939, this amounting to about 4 months’ net salary
which I was receiving at Kirkcaldy, £54 17s. 6d. being the payment to the
Government for stamp duty. I duly received the registration certificate
dated 26th April, 1939.
Mr. Clink wrote to me on 17th August, at the end of his first day in the
‘inner chamber’ as he put it and sent me my formal letters of appointment
as Depute
Town Clerk in terms of Section 80 of the Town Councils [Scotland] Act,
1900; Depute Clerk of the Police Court in terms of Section 460 of the
Burgh Police [Scotland] Act, 1892; Depute Clerk to the Patrons of
Cowane’s Hospital; and Depute Clerk to the Patrons of Spittal’s Hospital,
all the appointments being re-endorsed by the Town Council after Mr.
Clink had assumed the post as previously arranged. His letter gave me
preliminary information about a number of matters likely to arise, and he
invited me to call at his home the following weekend for a chat. He was
most concerned that I should have the importance of my position
recognised by being called ‘Mr.’ This was not an insurmountable problem
with the cooperation of the staff, recognising, of course, that some of the
older ones would still be picturing me as the young lad who
kept the postage book. It is worthy of record that, from the day I returned
to Stirling and throughout my entire career, I was ‘Mr. McIntosh’ to
everybody. The shackles of being just a boy had been thrown off for
My final working day in the Town Clerk’s Office, Kirkcaldy was 18th
August, 1939, resulting in me taking up my post in Stirling just a few days
before war was declared.



I did in fact resume working in Stirling on 20th August. That day
was spent getting to know everybody again – or at least those of my
former colleagues who remained, and new ones. Joe Copley was now
away in Grangemouth and the replacement Legal Assistant was William
Wardlaw. Alex [moneybags] Miller was the new office-boy. And then,
of course, there were numbers of temporary assistants in developing
emergency sub-offices. Apart from that, it was a day of preparation for
the Town Council meeting which was due to be held on the evening of the
next day, this giving Mr. Clink the opportunity of having long talks with me
to bring me up-to-date in relation to all the business on hand. I received a
very warm welcome from all the Officials and staff members throughout the
Municipal Buildings. At the Town Council meeting on the following
evening, I took my place beside the be-wigged and gowned Town Clerk,
on our designated chairs immediately in front of the Magistrates’ bench.
Provost McAllister addressed words of welcome to both Mr. Clink and
me as the new team, and Mr. Clink expressed thanks on behalf of us both.
During the months before I left Stirling, there were 2 major jobs
on which I was engaged. These were [1] all the considerable procedural
work associated with the presentation and hearing of the successful
Provisional Order
mainly to expand the area of the Burgh substantially by incorporating within
it adjacent areas of the County of Stirling, principally Causwayhead,
Cambuskenneth, much of Airthrey Estate on which the University now
stands, and the Abbey Craig area on which the Wallace Monument had
been erected, the objections of the County Council having been repelled;
[2] 3 Clearance Area Compulsory Purchase Orders, working alongside Sir
Frank Mears, a Planning Consultant, to secure the elimination of the slum
areas in Baker Street, Bank Street, Spittal Street, Bow Street , Broad
Street, and St. John Street, ensuring that buildings of historic interest were
retained and a significant open space created and landscaped between
Baker Street and Spittal Street, at the east end of the High School.
In relation to item [1], the draft Provisional Order was formally
approved by the Town Council on 4th November, 1938, after the mass of
preliminary work had been completed, and the formal Hearing took place
in Edinburgh over the 4 days 21st – 24th March, 1939, J.G.McIntyre
K.C., assisted by J.F.Gordon Thomson, Advocate, representing the Town
Council. The Council were able to celebrate complete success when the
Royal Assent was given to the Parliamentary Bill approving the Provisional
Order on 28th July, 1939.
With regard to [2], there was a Public Local Inquiry because of the
various objections lodged against the Council’s proposals but,
notwithstanding these, the
Orders were approved. There were Books of Reference to be prepared,
with a high degree of accuracy, listing all the properties sought to be
acquired, and much statutory advertising to be done and formal notices to
be served on the many affected people. The objections mainly centred on a
criticism that the historic township would be destroyed and that the
problem of the run-down areas should be solved by more extensive
As I have indicated, the work in relation to these major items had
been completed before I left for Kirkcaldy. Mr. Morris, in a kind personal
letter of congratulation to me on my appointment, told me that, during my
absence, all the Provisional Order work which I had done before I left
Stirling had been satisfactorily moved forward. The second item was a
much more time-consuming one, and it was obviously going to take a
number of years to finalise the plans and purchase all the affected
properties, even if the redevelopment scheme was carried through in
phases. With the impending war situation such a project, as well as many
others, came to be delayed.
The whole pattern of Committee work changed with the sudden need
to give attention to emergency war work. For many years, and certainly
during my whole period of service with the Council since 1930, a very
acceptable structure of Committees had operated, involving 3 groups of
Committees simply called A, B, and C. Group A comprised 7
Committees – Allotments; Burgh; Electricity Undertaking; Fire Brigade;
Housing; Lighting; and Works. Group B consisted of 7 Committees –
Cemetery; Child Welfare; Cleaning; Diseases of Animals and
Slaughterhouse; Parks; Public Assistance; and Public Health. Group C
incorporated the following 6 Committees – Baths and Municipal Buildings;
Cowane’s; Development and Fishing; Provost’s; Spittal’s; and Water.
The Finance Committee, chaired by the Honorary Treasurer, was elected
separately. As will be seen, there were 21 Committees to carry out the
normal business of the Town Council, and as there were 21 Councillors
representing 7 Wards, with one third retiring each year, it meant that when
the Committees were reconstituted
after the Municipal Election in November, each member could look
forward to being appointed as Convenor of a Committee, thereby ensuring
that he or she had a sphere of interest. The Group meetings were spread
over each month, and then the Town Council met to consider the
recommendations of the Committees, they not having executive powers.
I have selected the following miscellaneous items from the minutes to
indicate the sort of subjects which were engaging the Council’s attention
immediately pre-war – the bringing up-to-date of the Standing Orders
regulating the procedure at meetings; providing lavatories at the Wallace
Monument; concern about rats in Lower Bridge Street; installation of a
telephone, and also a clock, in the Town Clerk’s room; purchase of 3
films, at £6 each, made by Mr. Nairn, Manager of the Regal Cinema, on
the Trossachs; Burgh Surveyor instructed to take action to remove chalk
and other marks which had been made on the Municipal Buildings;
considering a letter from King’s Park Football Club seeking financial
support; giving 6 allotment gardens to unemployed men; and receiving a
report that of 109 allotments under the control of the Council on 9 sites
throughout the Burgh, 46 were let and 63 were vacant. Among the early
things I did was to send the Register of Sasines
to the General Register House in Edinburgh, in 25 packages, as was
obliged to be done following the retirement of Mr. Morris.
With the advent of war-time conditions, a number of Emergency
Committees were set up – Food Control Committee, Fuel Advisory
Committee, and Evacuation Committee, these being the initial ones.
Stirling, through the Town Council, had been informed that it was to
be a reception area and that it would receive evacuees from Glasgow,
these to comprise 2 categories – [1] mothers and accompanied children
under 5 years
of age, and [2] school children. Kirkcaldy had been designated as a
‘neutral area’, meaning that it would neither evacuate children nor receive
them. The preparation work for the evacuation involved the Town Council
being required to undertake a complete survey of the Burgh to ascertain
the total number of vacant rooms in all dwelling-houses. This job was
given to the Assessor who reported a very large figure and this information
was passed to the Government. The Council were in due course advised
that the evacuation date would be Friday, 1st September, 1939, and that
the number of evacuees earmarked to come to Stirling was 5464 [including
2660 unaccompanied children], somewhat fewer than the large figure of
empty rooms calculated by the Assessor, but nevertheless a considerable
number. They were to be brought in special trains. Fortunately fewer than
that came and many soon returned to Glasgow, so much so that after 2
months, on a census being taken on 28th October of those remaining, the
figure found was 551, including 50 mothers, 27 Teachers, and 2 Helpers.
The Town Clerk was appointed Chief Reception Officer on the
resignation of Mr. Berry, who had formerly been responsible. The
Reception Room on the ground floor of the Municipal Buildings continued
to be used as the headquarters, with Mary Gault, as the paid assistant, in
immediate charge, and the ladies of the Women’s Voluntary Service being
depended upon to render yeoman service as before to keep the work
flowing and to help to resolve the many problems. There was a
tremendous need for stocks of bedding and
blankets and quantities were freely issued to those who were prepared to
take evacuees, often as an inducement towards cooperation. A survey on
6th November, 1939, disclosed that the current stock was then 90 camp
beds, 1120 blankets, 2850 sheets, and 1675 mattresses, most of the stock
being of extremely good quality. The various items were kept in large piles
in the Reception Room.
I do not know why it was necessary to bring together at the same time
such large supplies of foodstuffs. On 6th November, 1939, a check of the
stock showed that this comprised 3378 tins of canned meat; 3012 tins of
milk [sweetened]; 3153 tins of milk [unsweetened]; 219 tins of biscuits;
and 348 dozen bars of chocolate. Most of these items were returned to
the manufacturers with the exception of a small quantity retained by the
Public Assistance Committee.
The problems of getting householders to take evacuees became very
great and it became necessary to use compulsion through the service of
Billeting Orders, with a small Appeals Committee to hear appeals. As Mr.
Clink’s Depute, I soon discovered that it was becoming a major task for
me to help to sort out the difficulties associated with the whole billeting
operation, with people becoming ill and for other reasons wishing to be
relieved of their evacuees, and generally to
give support to Mary Gault and the W.V.S. volunteers in their work. We
found it easy to get the cooperation of residents in the Raploch area who
came to our rescue on many occasions, but it would have been quite
ludicrous to resort to billeting all the evacuees in that district. Many a time
I had a battle of words with residents in the ‘Terraces’ area, some of
whom were completely resistant to helping the staff in their difficult job
while at the same time occupying large houses with many vacant rooms.
It was almost inevitable that Mary Gault and I would ‘grow together’,
sharing, as we did, so many difficult problems in our work. She told me
that when I appeared in Stirling after my stay in Kirkcaldy and visited her
office while trying to get the measure of my new responsibilities, she
reacted to my asking questions, regarding me as interfering. She
immediately developed a ‘love-hate’ relationship which was demonstrated
in her sotto voce _expression at the time – she told me this months later –
‘who does he think he is? I’m going to marry him!’ – and so she did on
25th August,1942, after a very happy year during which our friendship
developed before we were ‘torn apart’ on my call-up to the Royal Air
Force towards the end of 1940.
The Town Clerk was appointed Food Executive Officer to take
charge of a Food Control Office which was established in the Reading
Room of the Public Library. As Depute Food Executive Officer, I had to
become involved in its administration as well, but this work did not present
the same trouble as the evacuation office gave me.
The mixture of, what I would call, normal work which I had
experienced during the earlier years of the 30’s and the sudden surge of
emergency work created an abnormal situation resulting in all the
customary priorities being relegated and supplanted by local war-time
administration. Nevertheless I settled down well and undertook a fair
share of attending committee meetings as well as the other responsibilities
which fell on our shoulders as the principal administrators and legal
advisers to the Town Council.
With regard to possible conscription to serve in H.M. Forces, I was
aware that I could not claim to be in a reserved occupation, being too
young at 24 years
of age at the critical date, the reservation age for my post being 25. It
seemed no time at all before I received the dreaded call-up order, dated
14th June, 1940, requiring my attendance at the Medical Board Centre,
Allan’s School, for the preliminary medical examination and interview. I
passed my medical test all right, except that my colour-blindness was
discovered, thereby preventing me having any air crew involvement. As a
matter of record, I was graded 2[a] [v]. It was concluded that my eyes
were hazel, my hair was black and that the examination had taken place
24years 358days after I was born. I had expressed a preference for the
Royal Air Force and this was granted. As the alternative to aircraft
positions, which were ruled out because of my defective eyesight, I was
told that there was a great need to fill the post called Clerk/Accounting and
that this would be my destiny. The pay was to be 3s.3d. a day and I was
given the number 1119565. I was originally called up for 23rd
September, 1940, then this date was postponed to 29th November, on
which date I set off for Padgate.
My enlistment notice sparked a bit of a panic at Council level,
obviously encouraged by Mr. Clink who was reluctant to see his new
Lieutenant snatched from him. A special meeting of the Town Council was
called to try and have the call-up paper cancelled on the basis that my
work was of considerable importance to the community and that it should
take priority. The Council, by a large majority, resolved to make
representations accordingly, but these were rejected. I have always been
glad that it turned out the way it did and that I could always claim that ‘I
did my bit’.
Mary and I had many happy times over the winter and summer.
There was sufficient snow to see us joining with the many other local
enthusiasts in sledging in the King’s Park, the preferred run being down
from the former 1st green to the fairway below. The cinema was a great
attraction in these days, especially the large 2,000-seater Regal Cinema,
where the energetic Manager, Mr. Nairn, occasionally promoted ‘Midnight
Concerts’ commencing around 11 p.m. and comprising as many as 40
separate entertainment items to crowded houses. We
took full advantage of many pleasantly warm days by cycling and walking.
On one occasion I thought I was doing her a favour by taking her to see
King’s Park play in a football match at Forthbank, learning later that it was
one of the most boring outings in her life.
Before I bring this text to a close, I would like to say a word
about Alex Miller, our office-boy, as I mentioned earlier. Alex acquired
the nickname ‘moneybags’ because he never had any money in his pocket
– he was always hard-up. Alex was the most charming fellow you could
wish to meet. He was always smiling. He joined the Royal Air Force on
his call-up and became a rear gunner on a bomber. Alex was lost over the
Mediterranean when his aircraft was shot down. It was a dreadful blow,
especially to his mother, whom Mary and I regularly saw and chatted with.
I treasure one letter from him in which he narrates how he heard about
Mary falling off her cycle in the middle of a ford while unsuccessfully
attempting to cycle across, and giving his view of the problems he thought I
had in trying to dry her soaked garments while still remaining a gentleman.
I often look at his name etched on the local War Memorial and think of him
and of how inadequate this is as a memorial for such a fine boy.