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The Here We Are Story - past, present and future

HC1-026-001 - Holidays in Cairndow (1902-1972)


Memories of preparing for holiday makers at Glaschoine by Alice Beattie 2007

In 1902 Archie McNair who was a roadman and his wife Alice and three children went to live at Glaschoine.  Later that year they had another child and by 1906 they had six children, one boy and five girls. 

Archie also had the upkeep and rent of his mother’s house at Croitachonie as his father had died and the rest of the family had moved away.

At Glaschoine there was a barn above the byre.  Archie to supplement his roadmans wage lined it with wood to make a summer house, he also divided it into two rooms, one as a bedroom and one as a kitchen/sittingroom and probably it had a bed as well.  A small open fire was made where all the cooking was done.  Every drop of water was carried from the burn across the field in pails.  In the summer the whole family moved into the “barn” and the house was let to paying guests.  These guests came mainly from Glasgow they came for a fortnight or maybe a month.  Some of them returned year after year.

Before the guests arrived the house would be given a thorough spring clean.  Blankets would be washed, clean curtains hung, the good cutlery and china taken out washed and polished.  If the walls looked grubby, the distemper and brush would be used to freshen it up.  The black range would get an extra polish.  A large black iron kettle always sat on the range, to give more hot water.

Glaschoine has a cold water tap at the back door and a water toilet across from the back door.  The range also heated some water it had a boiler at the side of the range which had to be filled with a pail, but had a tap to empty it.

This way of life continued for quite some time.  Lodgers were taken in the winter time mostly workmen who were working around the area, and for several years, while the school house was being repaired the school teacher stayed there.

Archie McNair died in 1934, after that one of his daughters (Alice) her husband (Lachie Sinclair) and their baby daughter (Alice) lived with his widow.  The letting of the house continued, but Mrs McNair was getting older and she didn’t want to come out of her bedroom so she slept there at night but came up to the barn during the day.

Then the war came, bring with it the evacuees, they didn’t stay long but they left the mumps and measles before they went home.  The evacuees had their own school, teacher, several of whom stayed at Glaschoine.  Lodgers and lorry drivers also stayed at Glaschoine.  During the war moving out to the barn stopped but after the war bed and breakfast started.  The bed and breakfast guests had their meals in the sitting room, a pot of tea and scones and pancakes before bed.  Porridge and sausage bacon and eggs for breakfast along with tea and toast.  Their hot water was carried upstairs in ewes to them in the morning.

The washing was all done by hand in large zink baths at the back door, water heated by kettles on the range and some from the boiler.  Once a week sometimes oftener the fire was lit below the boiler in the wash house, and the sheets pillowcases, towels and tablecloths would all be given a boil “stirring” now and again with a long stick.  They were then lifted out and rinsed in the zink baths, full of cold water.  They then had to go through the wringer, before being hung out to dry on the washing green.  When the sheets etc were dry they were put through the mangle, this saved a lot of ironing.  The mangle was a piece of equipment like a large wringer but much heavier and hard work to turn the handle.  Ironing was done with flat irons, heated in front of the kitchen range. It was a disaster if any soot got onto the ironing. 

After the war (1939 – 1945) the family stopped going out to the barn for the summer.  Several of the lorry drivers who lodged during the winter brought their families to stay in the barn for their summer holidays.  Before they came the barn had to have its Spring clean, this meant that all the beding had to be taken out side, on several sunny days to be hung out on the railing to be aired.  It was turned several times to make sure it wasn’t damp.  The walls would be washed down, spiders disposed of, floors scrubbed.  The people brought their own sheets and food but everything else was provided for them. 

For many years life continued much the same, bed and breakfast in the summer and lodgers in winter.  Electricity came in 1949 which made quite a difference and in 1962 Glaschoine was modernised that made a big difference.  The black range was gone, a Raeburn cooker was put in its place, which gave lots of hot water.  The small room was made into a kitchenette an electric cooker and washing machine was installed.  A bathroom was made at the side of the stairs.  It was a completely different house.  The Bed and Breakfast continued for a few years, but the end of an era came in 1972 when the tenancy of the house had to be given up.  The McNair family and decedents had been there for 70 years!

Glaschoine is situated beside the main road about three quarters of a mile from the head of Loch Fyne.  When the road was upgraded in the 1930s, the hedge that had been at the front of the house and part of the lawn were taken away to widen the road.  To reach the house from the road there were ten steps, with a gate at the top with GLASCHOINE written on it.  To the right is the front door and straight ahead “up the back” was a narrow passage way the length of the house turning right at the end towards the back door.

Glaschoine consisted of two buildings.  To the right of the gate was the house, and to the left was the out buildings.  Going “up the back” on the left hand side was a half-height building, part of it was the “shop” so called as at one time one of my aunts had had a little shop there.  At the end of it was the toilet, to get to the other out buildings you had to go through the “Big Door”, this prevented the hens and the cow from getting through to the house, it also kept the East wind at bay. 

The coal shed was to your right as you went through the “Big Door” and on the left attached to the shop and toilet was the wash house, the dairy and the byre all one building.. There was also a lean to hen house attached to the byre, passing the hen house was the midden.  The byre could take two cows and a pen for a calf, also there was another stall that probably at one time had been used for a horse, you had to go through the byre to get to the wash house.  In it was a boiler which had to have a fire lit under it to heat the water.  Above the byre etc was the barn.  To reach the barn you had to cross a concrete ramp, with iron railings on both sides.  The barn had been converted into a summer house.  It was divided into two rooms, and had been lined with wood.  Opposite the byre were two black wooden sheds, the largest was the hay shed and the smaller the stick shed, it also had all the tools in it.  Two fields went with Glaschoine, the one nearest the house the cow grazed in when she wasn’t on the hill.  The other was the hay field.  Part of it was ploughed in the spring to plant potatoes.  There was quite a big garden with a dyke around it. To get to the garden which was behind the house, from the field you passed two small sheds for gardening tools and through the wicket gate.  A path went all round the garden and round the sides were the flower beds, there were victoria plum trees, greengages, eating and cooking apples, red and blackcurrants, rasps and strawberries, gooseberries and rhubarb.  The middle of the garden was for vegetables, early potatoes, peas, beans. Lettuce, etc etc.  The washing green was between the garden and the back door, to get to it from the back door you had to go up a few steps, under a bower with climbing roses on it, there was also a flowerbed to the side of it. There were flowerbeds on each side of the front door and right along the fence above the road were roses.  In the spring the lawn was covered with daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses.

Glaschoine was quite a big house.  Upstairs there was two double bedrooms, each had a fire place, but they weren’t very high because of the ceiling.  Then there was a large cupboard at the top of the stairs where sheets and blankets were kept.  The stair had a curve on it, and I remember in the summer there always being a vase of flowers on it.  Coming down stairs to the left was the sitting room which was never used except on special occasions.  Off the sitting room was a small bedroom, but big enough to have a double bed, this was called the back bedroom.  The front hall was between the sitting room and the living room, with the front door going out onto the lawn.  The living room was also the kitchen.  Below the livingroom window was a cupboard, which you lifted the lid to open, it was just used for keeping odds and ends in.  Both the sitting room window and the living room windows had shutters on the inside.  There was a black range on which all the cooking was done, it had an oven on one side and a boiler on the other.  The boiler had to be filled by a pail, but there was a tap to empty it.  The fender round it was black leaded every day and the polished bits on the range were polished with emery paper.

To the left of the fire was a cupboard, in this cupboard the food which had to be kept dry.  Off the living room there was another bedroom, it was also big enough to take a double bed.  Another door from the living room took you through the lobby to the back door.  All the outdoor coats etc hung there.  Off the lobby under the stair was the “Black Hole” part of this was used to keep the perishable food stuff and the rest of it was used as a general cupboard.

Over the back door there was a corrugated iron lean to.  The cold tap was opposite the back door, and to each side of it there were built up areas for putting baths or pails for doing the washing in. 

The living room was light by an Aladdin lamp which had to be seen to every day, filled with paraffin, wick trimmed, globe cleaned and mantle checked that there was no holes in it.  A candle or a double burner lamp or a torch saw you to bed in the winter time along with your hot water bottle, often a stone one to keep you warm.  If you needed to go to the toilet at night it was a potty under the bed

Alice Beattie 2007

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