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Memories of Campbeltown’s lost weigh house
All that remains of the weigh house which once sat at the bottom of Campbeltown’s Main Street are photographs, including those on this page, and memories like those shared in the following poem by Mary Milloy.
Information about the weigh house appears hard to come by but it is still fondly remembered by many today and even got a mention in Duncan Brown’s booklet Boyhood Memories of the Wee Toon, published last year.
Duncan wrote: ‘At the head of the quay was the weigh house (known as the ‘Weeuss’) which was there to weigh certain incoming and outgoing cargoes from the pier. It was also a gathering place for old friends, especially ex-fishermen, to meet and blether about the old days.’
The building played an important role in Wee Toon life, and was even used in November 1918 to share news of the armistice that ended World War I.
A Courier report at the time read: ‘A wireless message was the first medium through which the great news came and it was at once made known ashore, a copy of the telegram being sent to Mr Ross Wallace at the Steamboat Office.
‘There was a rush for the pierhead where the welcome announcement – “Armistice signed. Hostilities suspended” – was displayed on the weigh-house window after Mr A Ollar had read it to the assembled throng.
‘Having got the authentic information, the joyous crowd hurried away in all directions, spreading the joyful sound of victory and approaching peace as they went…
‘The outlying districts quickly learned the heartening intelligence and there was general rejoicing.’
In her poem about the weigh house, written in the Campbeltown vernacular, Mary mentions an activist named ‘Jack’, who was Jack McKinven, a Saddell Street shopkeeper, who tried in vain to keep the weigh house open.
Remember the weigh hoose that stood doon by the pier,
Everyone was happy, they all had plenty beer,
And they sang together, everybody of good cheer,
Doon at the weigh hoose that stood doon by the pier.
Now doon at the weigh hoose the wine used to flow,
Till the councillors announced that it had to go.
Twas like the toll of death to ‘Borax’ and ‘Ding Dong’,
But their hopes were brightened when Jack came along.
Roon the streets he tramped, getting everyone to sign,
‘Save the weigh hoose’ was the plea on every line.
But his gallant efforts were all in vain,
And we’ll never see the weigh hoose again.
Nae place left for a poor drunk tae go,
You see them stottering and staggering up the Longrow.
Nobody cares how often they fall,
Oh, for the days they leaned against the weigh hoose wall.
So, God rest the weigh hoose, ye didna dae much herm,
Except to maybe cultivate the odd million germ.
Farewell to you, weigh hoose, we’ll see you no more,
The councillors have got rid of ‘Campbeltown’s eyesore’.
By Mary Milloy.