|Elderslea faced onto the Wilton Rd and Mayfield brickworks before its demise and eventual demolition in 2012-13.|
Beside the brickworks was the black shale bing, grown over with grass, which became our playground. Across was Mayfield Row, a small street of eight ajoining one-room cottages which still had outside water butts to catch rainwater.
For the next two years I continued to go to the 'wee' school between Clyde St and Station Rd but then the new primary school opened at Eastfield Rd in '59 and that was just five minutes walk from home. That also leads to the stream which crosses Carluke known as the Ministers Burn and with its steep sides and overhanging trees there was lots of trouble for a young lad to get into in those days without drawing the attention of police or punishment.
From the top of the Mayfield bing you could see all over Carluke. We used to dig trenches in the blaes and chase each other over the edge of the bing onto the side which was being excavated as fodder for the brick making mill; before returning home to our evening dinners and a skelping for coming back filthy with the black dust and our shoes full of the oily shale.
In the fifties the brickworks was coal-fired and at night a watchman walked along the top of the kilns, spooning coal into the feeder vents and then replacing the steel lids before moving on to next. There was a regular clink of the lids all night long. Then next day the fireman would break open the mud seals to the arched kiln doorways and vent the heat. - some time later other men would enter the searing heat to manually remove the cooked bricks. This was all before palletised and mechanical handling of bricks. Back breaking and intensely hot work for little wages. Often during the winter, dossers and gentlemen of the highways would sleep in the warmth of empty kilns if they could sneak in unobserved. We did not know them by name but some were common visitors seen all year round.
Heading south towards Braidwood on country roads took us to Braidwood pond, a disused clay pit filled with water which had a green scum over it, nicknamed the GreenHole. Its sides were sheer and we stayed away for fear of falling in but tossing rocks in was a pass-time which made paterns in the scum. Also due south of our homes about two miles away was Butterhole cave via fields of cows and sheep. Walking into the cave was easy, being almost head high but it shelved downwards and the height reduces quickly to only allow a crawl for the brave, plus the rocks strewn around were thick with a muddy paste and there were beer cans and detritus everywhere with a human stink so it was not a fun place, more a challenge or a dare to go inside. On sunny days we guddled for minnows in the burn to bring home in jam jars. Thus, as mischievous as we were, it was basically country kids life and by enlarge we were harmless and I don't remember any of us ever getting hurt or arrested for our antics. Those times of innocence seem to have been lost these days.
At 12 years of age I qualified to go to Wishaw High School and then at 18 did an engineering degree at Paisley College of Technology, graduating in 1972. Sometimes it takes years to realise how lucky we are and it was only when I started travelling the world and talking to my peers in other countries that I now understand my upbringing in a clean new house provided by Scottish local authorities, my essentially free education and freedom to seek my own way in the world marked the end in a chapter in Scotlands social history.