Blast from the Past – Beveridge Park Kirkcaldy Postcards –

Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy is a lovely park which was designed and built in Victorian times. They usually involve a lot of land and land being so expensive nowadays they’re a thing of the past, but apparently if you live near one it makes your home much more desirable. We used to live a two minute walk from this one so whenever I came across old postcards of Beveridge Park I snapped them up for my album. This blogpost will probably only be of interest to Langtouners – natives of Kirkcaldy in Fife, or people who know and love the park.

Beveridge Park Gates, Kirkcaldy

The postcard below is of the long gone bandstand, it’s such a shame that most of these elegant bandstands were ripped down, mainly in the 1960s and 70s I think. Possibly some were demolished during the World War 2 scavenge for metal for the war effort.

Beveridge Park bandstand

The next postcard is of what we have always called the duck pond, but I see that it is described as ‘the lake’ on the postcard, it hasn’t changed much.

Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy

The following one shows the original layout of the formal part of the park.

Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy

This last postcard is the only one which has actually been postally used and it bears a postmark – May 12 08. So it’s 110 years old. The bottom part of the photo looks very different nowadays because there are enormous trees there now.

Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy, Fife

A Blast from the Past – A Scottish Soldier

Scottish soldier

It’s a while since I did a Blast from the Past and this one isn’t as old as they usually are, the photo above dates from 1965 I think, and it’s of my eldest brother. My mother took the photo, as you can see she didn’t manage to get his feet in it!

John was about 18 years old in this photo and he’s in full Highland dress. In fact he was on his way to being part of the guard for the Queen’s visit to Dumbarton, where she was officially opening the town’s new County Buildings. There is a photo somewhere of the Queen inspecting the guards and it was taken just as she was walking towards my brother, so she is right next to him. It was taken by the local newspaper’s photographer and my mother had it framed and it sat on top of her display cabinet for years, but it has gone AWOL at the moment.

I was only about 6 years old at the time but I can remember the excitement quite clearly. My brother was in the Territorial Army which is the equivalent of the US National Guard I think, and they had all been given this very splendid dress uniform to wear for the occasion. However they were warned not to put anything in any of their pockets or even in the sporran. I suppose those in command didn’t want any unsightly lumps appearing in the pockets.

The upshot of that was that when my brother got back home after the ceremony he was locked out as everybody was either at work or at school. He used his initiative and went around to the back of the house where he managed to push the top sash of the kitchen window down and climbed in that way.

Unfortunately someone in one of the houses which you can see behind him saw him climbing in and phoned the police to report a burglary! Honestly how daft can you get – as if anyone would break into a house in a full Highland kit.

Anyway the cops duly appeared and my brother had a hard time convincing them that he was a legitimate member of the household. When the rest of the family heard about it we thought it was hilarious.

One other thing which sticks in my mind was that according to my brother they were ordered not to wear any underpants under their kilt -and they were inspected before being allowed to go on parade. Did they have to lift their kilts up I wondered!! No, apparently someone had to go along the lines with a gadget like a car wing mirror on a stick and poked it under the kilts, just to check that they had all obeyed orders and were properly dressed kilted Scotsmen. He swears that it is true but I’ve never been too sure about believing it!

The Festival of Britain

It’s time for another Blast from the Past and this one is a quick wee keek at The Festival of Britain, which was obviously way back in 1951, so before my time. The festival was thought up by the Atlee government, partly because it was 100 years after The Great Exhibition, but also as a way of boosting industry and arts.

Britain was still suffering from rationing and everything had been very austere and colourless after the war, so the festival must have come as a fantastic burst of joyful colour to a population deprived of anything but the strictly utilitarian. You can read more about the FOB here.

I suppose that everyone who visited the festival wanted to take a souvenir back from it and spoons were popular and cheap mementoes. They come in an amazing number of different designs which is perfect for people who like collecting commemorative stuff. The middle thing is a propelling pencil.

Festival of Britain spoons and pencil

The photo below is of one of the many designs of badges which were made for sale at the festival. It’s a good one of the festival logo which obviously incorporated Britannia’s head in profile.

Festival of Britain badge

Below is a photo of what must be the blingiest badge which was designed, it’s quite difficult to find one which has all its bits of glass intact as this one has.

Festival of Britain Badge

Below is a booklet about the Festival Ship Campania, a converted aircraft carrier. You can see lots of images of the ship here.
Campania booklet

The ship toured around Britain’s coast to bring a flavour of the festival to people who couldn’t make it down to London to visit the main exhibition.

The festival must have come as a godsend for young designers such as Terence Conran and Robin and Lucienne Day, you can see some of their designs here.
You can see images of fabric which was designed for the festival here.

For collectors of FOB souvenirs there’s masses of stuff to buy. Some people concentrate on tins or teapots, but you can buy face powder compacts, cake stands, pressed glass, knives, purses, jigsaw puzzles and probably even knickers but I doubt that many of those will have survived. There’s a seemingly endless array of stuff to be corralled by those people who feel the need to complete collections, which is just what some folks live for!

Exhibitions

North Cascade and Tower, Empire Exhibition 1938
Tower of Empire

I suppose that everyone in the UK anyway has heard of The Great Exhibition of 1851 which took place in the Crystal Palace in London. Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert had a lot to do with it, in fact just about everything which I’ve ever seen which was bought as a memento of that Exhibition has been made in Germany so I think that it was a cunning wheeze on his part to boost manufacturing back in his own country, he was a manipulative chap. I wonder what the English people of the day thought of that? I think that Exhibitions/Festivals/World’s Fairs were held to help boost the economies of the places they took place, I’m not sure if they were ever successful in that though. They certainly seem to have fallen out of favour now as the last such event in Britain was of course the Festival of Britain in 1951 and that was held partly to celebrate 100 years since The Great Exhibition.

In between those two events we had Empire Exhibitions, one in 1924, the Wembley Empire Exhibition and one in 1938 which was the Glasgow Empire Exhibition. It was that one which kicked off Jack’s interest in such things because the focal point of it was the Tower of Empire, a wonderful Art Deco structure postcards of which you can see above and to the right. Sadly it didn’t have much of a lifetime because the following year at the beginning of World War 2 it was taken down. An urban myth said it was thought it would be too much of an easy aim and signpost for enemy bombers but in reality, in wartime no one had time or money for its upkeep.

The great thing about the Empire Exhibitions was they were a chance for all the countries of the Empire to showcase their wares and culture. All of the countries had their own Pavilions so you could go and get a flavour of places on the other side of the world without having to do the travelling.

I’ve become a bit of an inadvertent expert on Exhibitions due to Jack’s interest in them and I must admit that I love the old postcards, especially if they have actually been used and posted. It’s great to get a glimpse into people’s lives and what they were doing all those years ago, apart from being at the Exhibition. The post card below is of the Scottish Avenue at the 1938 Empire Exhibition. There were two Scottish Pavilions! As you can see.

Scottish Avenue, Empire Exhibition 1938

It was a big marketing opportunity and all sorts of tourist tat was made but over the years they take on an aura of nostalgia and become collectables like the tin below which presumably had toffees in it.

Tin Sovenir of Empire Exhibition 1938

I plan to show more old postcards and memorabilia from this and other Exhibitions in the near future in my Blast from the Past category. The Great Exhibition, Empire Exhibition 1924 (and 1925!) the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition, 1939-40, and the Festival of Britain plus more such as the North East Coast Exhibition, held in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1929 and other Glasgow and Edinburgh Exhibitions. Oh, and the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908, the Chicago World’s Fair (A Century of Progress) 1933, The New York World’s Fair 1939 and 40, The Great Lakes Exposition, The Texas Centennial Exposition and so on.

I hope you’re going to be interested!

In the meantime here’s a very Art Deco bowl made by Carlton Ware and sold only at Treron’s Department store in Glasgow in 1938.

Carlton Ware Dish, Empire Exhibition 1938

Blast from the Past – World War I Postcard with Tsar Nicholas

postcard

I think the above postcard is an interesting one, if you look closely the Russian Tsar Nicholas II is on the right hand side, just below the mouth of the cannon, he’s the one with his cap askew. I think he has some of his family with him too.

This postcard crosses two interests of mine, the First World War and Russia, pre and post revolution. The photo seems to have been taken outside the Kremlin. Sadly it hasn’t been used and has absolutely no writing on the back of it so there are no clues to the date but it must have been before March 1917 as that is when the tsar abdicated. I wonder if that cannon was ever intended for use, it seems amazingly ornate for a weapon of destruction. Maybe everything way back then was embellished in what we think of as that heavy Victorian style.

It’s a bit confusing date wise because the Russians were still using the Gregorian calandar which makes it March the 2nd when he abdicated but in the Julian calendar which we all use now it was March 15th – oh who said beware the ides of March?! Obviously it wasn’t an unlucky date for Julius Caesar only.

If you’re interested in Russian history have a look at http://history1900s.about.com/od/Russian-Revolution/a/Russian-Revolution-Timeline.htm.

Blast from the Past – WWI Postcard

World War I postcard

This postcard is one of quite a few which I have collected over the years, it’s a photograph which has been turned into a postcard. As you can see it’s of a group of soldiers, including one in a kilt so they must be from a Scottish regiment, he must be their piper. Sadly there’s absolutely no mention in the card of who they are although maybe nowadays it would be possible to enlarge an area of it to identify their insignia.

Quite early on in the war the Scottish soldiers were told to stop wearing their kilts as they were causing them so many problems. The conditions were just not suitable as a kilt consists of 6 yards of wool and when it got wet as it inevitably did in the trenches, there was just no way of drying it. The wet material acted like sandpaper on the soldier’s skin as they moved and caused sores and infections. On top of all that the pleats were a perfect breeding ground for the lice which the soldiers were plagued with. The pipers were the only kilties around.

World War I postcard,

The postcard is addressed to:

Miss M. Willoughby,
“Binnie Cottage”
Causeywayside St
Tolcross
Glasgow
Scotland

The message says:
D.A.M. (presumably Miss Willoughby’s initials or a shortened version of an endearment)

Isn’t this a nice lot of chaps. Eh!
Not half. Expect to be leaving for France seven days or so hence. Will write later. Bert

The stamp which obviously has King George V’s head on it has been put on upside down. ( I thought that they could chuck you in prison for that!) Way back then every post office had its own postmark but I can’t make out this one, it’s somewhere St Mary, possibly Godford. Anyway the date is clear it was stamped on 18 November 1915.

Poor Bert. The chaps have obviously been at a training camp prior to being sent out to the trenches. I wonder how many of them survived it – if any.

World War 1 – 100 years ago today

As you will almost certainly know, it is exactly 100 years since Britain went to war with Germany, August, 4th at 11pm. It’s a subject I’ve always been interested in, although I never knew my grandfather who was involved in it from the beginning, he was one of those crazy youngsters who lied about his age to join up.

Although I have studied the war, it’s really the social history of it which interests me most, and to that end I’ve collected postcards from the time, all sorts of different ones – sentimental, patriotic and humorous.

Below is one which must have been sent to many a soldier from sweethearts, reassuring them that no matter what their injuries might be, they were still loved.

WW1  Postcard

Blast from the Past

I’m starting up what I hope will become a weekly category on ‘Pining’ – Blast from the Past. It’ll be a mixture of things I think, sometimes old photos, postcards or objects with a bit of history to them, anything oldish really which might be of interest or a bit of a laugh. I hope people will feel free to link to their own old photos, or whatever, in the comments if they so wish.

As today is our 38th wedding anniversary (I can hardly believe it) I thought I would kick it off with some photos from our wedding day. These obviously come under the laugh category!! Jack actually did have his hair cut especially for the big day, but our boys could never believe that. And what about those flares! The wee boy is my nephew and he now has teenage boys of his own, nowadays children in wedding photos tend to be the children of the couple getting married! How times have changed! Everyone who looks at this photo has remarked that it looks like I’m missing half a finger but I can assure you I do have a complete set, despite nasty slicing accidents whilst cooking.

J ,K & D

As you can see the fashion in bridal wear in 1976 was for something resembling a nightgown, and the dresses were all smocked which must have been handy for pregnant brides, but I wasn’t in that condition, despite the usual rumours. It was almost ten years before we went down that road. I still think 1970s bridal dresses look better than what is on offer to brides today. The poor things seem to have had no choice but to hang out of the tops of their almost non existent bodices for about 15 years now.

Windswept is what best describes the photo below I think, you can just see the old Dumbarton bridge in the background so we were on the banks of the River Leven and despite it being August 1976 it was blooming cold. Everyone always remembers that as a long hot summer but in Scotland the weather had just broken and when we went on our honeymoon, all the way to exotic Inverness, I was so glad that I had taken a winter coat with me as it was freezing up there.
J & K

The second of August 1976 was a Monday bank holiday, a strange day to get married you might think but Saturday was a complete no-no as far as Jack was concerned because as a mad Dumbarton football fan (a Son of the Rock) there was no way he was going to miss the beginning of the new football season. In fact we went to Inverness because at that time there were THREE football grounds in the town and he wanted to visit them all. We went to one match at one of them, but he made sure he got a look at them all. You would think that one football ground is much the same as another but apparently not.

Of course when we got married everyone said – it’ll never last, but it has, and sadly people don’t say – you can’t possibly have been married that length of time, the way they did when it was our 25th wedding anniversary. But I hadn’t looked at these photos for years and it was a shock to me to see how young I looked, a mad but optimistic 17 year old.

K

You might notice that the wedding dress is actually cream not white, I’ve never liked those pure Daz white dresses. In fact I never even wanted to get married in a church and I would have been happier in jeans, I just didn’t want to be the centre of attention but marrying into such a churchy family – the minister who married us was actually Jack’s brother – there was no way we could just go off and have a nice quiet wedding. They say it’s the bride’s day but it didn’t feel like it for me, I think that’s often the way with weddings.

Anyway, I hope you found that to be a bit of a laugh. The next blast from the past will be completely different, definitely nothing to do with me/us.