Down Memory Lane, October 2 2020

Duncan Brown has written a book, titled Boyhood Memories of the Wee Toon, about his childhood.
Duncan Brown has written a book, titled Boyhood Memories of the Wee Toon, about his childhood.

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Duncan Brown’s boyhood memories of the Wee Toon

The family of the late Duncan Brown has given the Courier permission to serialise his booklet, Boyhood Memories of the Wee Toon, in our Down Memory Lane pages.

The booklet – in which the former toy-shop proprietor reminisces about shops, industries and shares numerous anecdotes from his childhood – was printed and published just a couple of weeks before he died on August 11, aged 95.

Last week, we continued through the booklet’s first chapter, titled Longrow and Town Centre, which concludes this week.

Longrow and Town Centre – part three

Turning right from Huie’s took us to Matthew Andrews Lane which many people used as a shortcut from Longrow to Kinloch Road. At that time, there were many what was then known as tinkers, but today we would refer to them as travelling people, and those who came into the town for the day used to gather at the bottom of Matthew Andrews Lane before returning to their camps.

When they were attending a tinker’s funeral, mourners would arrive in large numbers from far and wide and afterwards gather at their usual place and their wailing noises could be heard all over the town. Very often fights broke out among the mourners.

I remember going to the Mill, which was approximately behind where the Lochend Church and the Lochhead Distillery used to be, on ground now occupied by Tesco. To get there, I crossed the burn over a small bridge consisting of a few planks joined together. I purchased a large bag of oatmeal for 6d from the owner, Mr Revie.

When I was a bit older, I got a job delivering milk from McKellar’s Dairy. The milk was poured into metal cans which had curved wire handles and I had to carry a number of these cans.

On reaching customers’ homes, I poured the milk into a jug which had been left outside the door, taking care to replace the saucer, which had been on top of the jug!

A not so good memory is of climbing the stairs to the two flats at the top of Mafeking Place! At that time, there were many other dairymen who delivered milk from a horse and cart. Their customers came out of their houses carrying their jugs in anticipation of a refill.

There weren’t many cars on the streets; there were plenty of milk carts, coal carts and farm carts. The well-known Jocky McLean, who was a porter at the Old Quay, bought a motor lorry, but one had to be wary of Jocky as he had very bad eyesight!

Morris McCallum used to deliver a full cart of coal to the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse – a very tricky business and it took him two days.

Angus McVicar, the author, started his career as a junior reporter with the Campbeltown Courier. During the week he lodged with Mrs Rankin in Cross Street and went home to Southend at the weekends.

By arrangement, we used to meet him at 1 o’clock on a Saturday at Huie’s garage where he kept his car. He then drove us out of town, letting us out of the car at Stewarton while he continued on to Southend.

We were quite happy to walk the 1.5 miles home. We’d had the thrill of being in a car! I remember in later years Angus telling me that that was his first car and it had cost him £7.10s.

It is not just the price of cars which has changed but it is sad to think that we no longer have people like the old cart-wrights or so many businesses in the Longrow area and we only have a tiny fishing fleet at the pier!

We do, however, have three distilleries, a number of very good viable businesses, and I so proud of our young people who cheer up the world with their pipes and drums. The fabulous brass band and our talented dancers are also be commended.

Campbeltown is still a wonderful place to stay.

See next week’s Courier for more.