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Willie Stewart (audio)
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10 OCTOBER 2005 Interview with WILLIAM STEWART taken within his home at Lanark. Formerly Fruit Grower and Nurseryman from Briarneuk in Gladdenhill, Braidwood. Interview conducted by JOHN STEVENSON in the presence of BETTY SCOTT. So Willie we're here to ask you some questions in connection with your memories at the time of the war. Q 'Tell me what year were you born Willie?'. A '1915, during the first world war'. Q 'Of course that meant that you would be well established by the time it got round to the second world war starting'. A 'Well I was a young man then, aye'. Q 'Was your parents still alive at the time of the second war?'. A 'Oh yes, aye'. Q 'So they would essentially be running the nursery business and you would be working along with them'. A 'Well you see, the nursery business was ma faither and his brother, it was J & E. W. Stewart to start with, then it was efter ma faither deid that ah wis oot on ma own efter that and then ah named it James Stewart & Sons efter that, cause I was expecting ma brother to be comin hame fae the war you see, but he never came back hame'. Q 'I remember hearing about that. So what produce did you actually grow during the kind of war years?'. A 'Oh just tomatoes, well we had strawberries and gooseberries an' aw that sort of thing, ya ken, there were apples, pears and plums you know'. Q 'They were I assume greatly sought after just like everything else'. A 'Everything else was in short supply, there was no imports or anything, well the minimum anyway'. Q 'And was your produce essentially under great demand maybe in some ways because of the rationing?'. A 'Well, there was a shortage, after a while, maybe no the first year or so after the war started, but as the war progressed things got scarcer I would say. Of course there was controls put on, prices were controlled'. Q 'Oh right, so you couldnae just put the price up?'. A 'Naw, naw, well, no, there was price control on most things eventually'. Q 'So that would keep everything in place if that was the case?'. A 'Aye'. Q 'How many folk were engaged in the running of the business when you were dealing with it through the war?'. A 'There was a ploughman, well ma faither worked, my uncle worked, ah worked, my brother worked and there was another three or fower, ye ken, ah mean labour was more intense, the jobs were eh, nothing was mechanised at that time of course'. Q 'Labour intensive?'. A 'Aye'. Q 'Tell me did you ever get the use of any of the prisoners of war for that?'. A 'Naw, naw'. Q 'You see some of the farms got using them'. A 'Yes, aye, R. & W. Scott they had them for pulling their stuff'. Q 'So that seems a bit strange that you were'nae getting offered them as well'. A 'Well I don't think we actually needed them'. Q 'Oh maybe no'. A 'Well oor work was more seasonal ye ken, there was always children looking for jobs ken to come and pull the fruit'. Q 'For any sort of extra pennies they could make'. A 'Well that was eh, long ago the parents sent oot their weans and that was how they helped to cleed them for the winter time and they made their wages in the summer at the berries as they called it'. Q 'Something else I was wondering Wullie, was coal quite easily got during the war, because you would still need it for firing your houses'. A 'Oh yes, everything was coal fired then, yes that's right, you know, well there would be some bad stuff as well as the good, sometimes you couldnae aye get the good stuff, you know'. Q 'You just had to take what was going'. A 'We warselled away'. Q 'And the likes of gooseberries you see sometimes would be pulled green for the sake of making jellies?'. A 'Yes, that's what happened there, well you whiles got a contract if somebody wanted so many ton ye ken'. Q 'R. & W. Scott would be dealing in the same kind of line, they would be doing much the same sort of thing down at the orchard ah would think, and they would be taking the produce that they were gettin right up to the jellywork'. A 'Aye growin' themselves?'. A 'They had the priority, although there was a jelly work at Law at that time an a' and one also at Baillieston, ah can mind ah sending stuff to, apples and that sort of things, think they could take fallen apples at Baillieston to get rid of ken if there was a wind, ken if you were having the rain, winfalls you know?'. Q 'That must have meant then that the like of these jam works and jelly works could get any amounts of sugar to make the preserves that they were making?'. A 'Well, eh, they got their allocation I would say'. Q 'Cause I mean I understand the public that one of the items as far as they were concerned that came into the rationing so they wouldnae always have the right portion'. A 'Folks wi' glass tubes that could work their way oot through a sugar bag ye ken into a wee poke, so have heard, ah wis never at that game'. Q 'And what sort of atmosphere was the likes of Lower Braidwood and Braidwood in general, ah mean the people that lived there were they all mainly sort of employed inâ€¦..'. A 'Well there were a lot miners in Braidwood in that day tae, they worked at Castlehill ye see, Castlehill Pit?'. Q 'So there was a number of miners stayed doon in Lower Braidwood?'. A 'Oh aye, Braidwood Hall was a Miners Welfare Institute'. Q 'Oh was it, initially?'. A 'I don't know what's up there noo, but that's what it wis to start wi'. Q 'Anyway that's just another interesting fact that goes with Braidwood ah suppose. So did all the other nurseries round about, they would all be dealing with the situation much the same as yourself?'. A 'That's right'. Q 'And most of whom were all into tomato growing as well at one time'. A 'Aye, Fraser, he used to force rhubarb'. Q 'Oh right'. A 'That was a thing he gaed in for rhubarb'. Q 'And your other branch of the Stewarts doon at Catcraig, they would just be doing the same old thing?'. A 'The same thing aye, ye see it was all the one place at one time. By the way that was his widow who died there, was buried there on Friday, Anna'. Q 'I heard she may have died but ah thought it was maybe some time back there she died, but no it was recently?'. A 'It was the funeral on Friday there'. A 'That was Bill my cousins wife, his widow anyway'. Q The other nurseryman from Carluke, Jimmy Gray who died, his funeral was recently as well. These would all be people you knew in the past because you were all in the same work'. A 'Oh aye, ah kent Jimmy's faither in an' aw' as well, oh yes'. Q 'So there's no really a great deal that we can venture into, what did you actually grow in the fields at Gladdenhill?'. A 'Well we grew up grass and grew oats and wan thing an' another'. Q 'So it was really just farm crops you were growing there?'. A 'We grew tatties as well, aye'. Q 'Did you ever try carrots or turnips?'. A 'Naw, nothing like that. Gladdenhill ground wasn't suited for that, you need a sandy soil for carrots you know, clay'. Q 'Its pretty clayie doon there'. A 'Carluke clay you know'. Q 'And Gladdenhill is the extreme version of it ah think?'. A 'Aye, well once you go doon the brae at Catcraig, it was a different strata a'thegither, and then away doon into whit we called the Mill Brae, that's where a lot of strawberries were grown but before the war, between the war, ah would say'. Q 'Something that I meant to speak to you again about Wullie, was you at one time could tell me that you had remembered people who stayed doon next to the Tower, was it a Miss somebody or a Mrs somebody stayed in a house down at the Tower, the house is no longer there?'. A 'Well the hoose is still there'. Q 'Is that the house they've refurbished?'. A 'Aye they did up, ah could bide in it myself, have you ever been in it?'. Q 'I've been near it'. A 'Well I could stay in yonder ah can tell you. Have you been there Betty?'. Betty 'Uh huh'. A 'It's a nice we place, wait till ah show you a photograph of it, eh about 1950 somethin a' think'. Q 'There you are, well it must have been still in a wholesome state at that time, oh aye, it looks as if its got a corrugated roof at that time'. A 'It is a corrugated roof at that time'. Q 'And did somebody actually stay in that at that time?'. A 'There was nobody there, no, no, that was away back, the last folk to stay in there, they squatted ah think, we put them oot'. Q 'Was that building on your land at the time?'. A 'Aye, uh huh, that was eh, well of course there was a hale raw of them at one time, ye see, that was just a part of it, a raw, there was one in the middle that we called the frit hoose where they put all the aipples an' stuff ya ken as they pu'ed them and that's where they were kept. There were two hooses at the other end, four hooses there altogether and the Land Army stayed there during the first world war'. Q 'Oh did they?'. A 'Aye'. Q 'And did they made use of the place when they were there?'. A 'Well they lived in it, do you want to see it?'. Betty 'Oh aye'. A 'It's a fella Ian Wales took that picture, he used to work wi me an' finished up at the brickwork if ah mind right'. Q 'Oh right, and did he make it into a calendar for you?'. A 'Ah think he did, aye, in fact oor James seemed to have it, ah don't know, that's what it was like at one time, they wis aw' young plum trees that were planted there as well'. Q 'And the fact there's a row there, ah would assume from that there must have been several families all lived in there at one stage'. A 'Oh aye, there used to be some families came from Glasgow and stayed the summer holidays there and they worked'. Q 'Just worked at the fruit?'. A 'Aye, worked at the fruit', they were generally of Irish extraction.'. Q 'That extra work would be something that would be useful to them'. A 'Well of course that was their way of life I would say, a lot of them came ower for the tattieâ€¦. Irish people came to Scotland for the potatoes and one thing and another well this lot came for the fruit, but you got them away up the Clyde as well there at Kirkfieldbank. Ah don't remember them, I don't remember that lot, that was before ma day'. Q 'Cause there was a television programme about Lin Mill and ah remember it was quite a graphic story'. A 'Aye, aye, aye, that's right, oh well'. Q 'But it's all quite interesting. Anyway well that's as much as we can deal with here I think Wullie because I think essentially we've got the information we need to know about your way of working during the war years'. A 'Well there was a lot of snow here of course during the war years'. Q 'So they were quite rough winters?'. A 'Aye in 1940 ah saw as much snow that year as ma faither ever saw in his life'. Q 'Away you go and of course it returned again in 1947?'. A 'The road from Gladdenhill, it took us two days to cast the road from Gladdenhill oot to the main road'. Q 'Did it?. Two worthwhile days that do you think?'. A 'Oh well you had to get oot'. Q 'You had to get oot somehow?'. A 'Well you had to walk up the orchard or something, just aw' blew, it was just the direction of the wind and it filled the roads, the same as â€¦.. although ah did see as much snow in 1947 again'. Q 'Ah'm sure you did, aye'. Q 'And again in 1963, but there you go'. A 'Aye, we've seen it a', seen it a', ah never liked they jobs ya ken, shovelling snaw, kinda dead end, however, there we are' . END
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