‘A Strathard Worthy’ first appeared in the Strathard News in March 1988. Because of its historical interest, it was re-published in Strathard Life, Issue 111, Winter 2018, as part of a series entitled ‘Stories from Strathard’.
We hope that this will be a regular feature of the Strathard News, and for the first “worthy” we have chosen a much loved and respected person, Flora MacLeod, known to everyone as Aunty Flora.
Aunty Flora was born in the Jubilee Row in the slate quarry settlement in 1902, being the youngest of six brothers and sisters. At that time there were 31 houses, Granny Naismith’s Byre, and a school which had a larger population than the Aberfoyle School.
For the first ten years, Aunty Flora remembers a wonderful childhood with many happy memories, as the slate quarry was a big happy family. All the babies were delivered by one of the local ladies, usually Aunty Flora’s mother who came from Belnahua, a quarrying island west of the island of Luing. It is now uninhabited.
Every Monday the doctor cycled from Buchlyvie and visited and checked all the families individually for illness. Aunty Flora’s mother made all the clothes for the family, even the underclothes, the wool of which had been spun and then knitted. In the autumn a bag of oatmeal and flour was purchased. Most of the food was home produced from the large vegetable garden, apart from meat and fish.
A firkin of herring was also a standard purchase from the travelling van from Callander.
When living in the Port of Menteith, Aunty Flora’s father used to walk from Burnside Cottage to the quarry and back in the evening. The working day was 6.00am until 6.00pm, even in winter. In 1913 the family moved to Townhead, Glasgow as the quarry closed down. Mr MacLeod worked for Glasgow Corporation until he returned in 1928. At the age of 14 Aunty Flora entered domestic service which became her life and she loved it.
After her father’s retiral in 1928 the family returned to the slate quarry but the quarry closed again in the 30’s and the family moved to the Station Buildings for a short time before moving to Drumlean Cottage for 5 years and the Milton for 26 years. Besides caring for her parents Aunty Flora continued in domestic service and her last move was into Lime Craig Crescent where she has been for the past sixteen years. Aunty Flora remembers the school at the slate quarry, as well as Aberfoyle School. It had a good reputation and her eldest brother became a Merchant Navy Officer and her second brother became a Minister at Salen in Mull, Clachan in Kintyre and Ochiltree in Ayrshire. It is with deep affection that Aunty Flora remembers the “old days”, especially at the slate quarry, and she believes the young people of today, although better off materially, have lost a great deal in companionship and family relationships.
Thank you, Aunty Flora, for your time and reminiscences.