Memories of Kinlochard - Jill Vice
I visited Kinlochard in March/April this year for the first time, although I have had a 'sense of connection' with the village my entire life, my grandmother having been born there (and would spend her days reminiscing') and my mother having visited on many occasions throughout her lifetime. I am investigating my family tree and would love to contact any relatives still living in the area. (You can contact Jill through email@example.com)
My great grandparents were David John Black and Lilias Johnston Cuthill (known to the locals as Granny Black or Lil). David was born in 1869 in Doune and Lilias was born in 1870 in Bannockburn. They married in 1894 in Bannockburn. David moved to Aberfoyle where he initially worked as a Quancer Labourer, lodging at Station Building, Aberfoyle and then later worked as a Carter, living at Bulburn (the site of The Teapot). He then became the Waterman for Glasgow, possibly appointed by the Corporation of Glasgow Water Department. David's job .involved him ensuring that thewater supply got through to Glasgow. He would work his way along the hilltops from Aberfoyle to Stronachlacher, checking the water valves and that the sluices were open, requiring him to sleep out in all weathers in bothies in the hills.
Lil worked as a Farm Servant at Ledard prior to their marriage. She then ran 'The Teapot', whose own history is hundreds of years old. All Lil and David's children were born at The Teapot. Later, Lil and David moved into a whitewashed cottage on the main road (on the site now lived in by Colin Stewart) which contained a sub-post office which my mother recollects was a cubby hole set into a wall. As an elderly lady, Lil would still deliver the post by bike around the countryside. The British Postal Museum and Archive based in London have confirmed that the Post Office opened 12th January 1855. By January 1895, the Post Office collected its' mail from Aberfoyle Railway sub-office, receiving its' own rubber stamp in 1904 (as it was being popularly used by the locals), although returned to the auspices of Stirling in 1921 and eventually closed in 2003. We don't know when Lil and David moved to the cottage but it was certainly after 1911.
David and Lil had the following children:
- Jessie Black born 1893.
- David John Black born 1894. David died at The Teapot in 1897 of meningitis. Family hearsay says that he was speared by a bull but his death certifcate does not accord with this.
- William Black born 1896. William worked at the Dreadnought Hotel, Callander before joining The Black Watch Perthshire Battalion in August 1914. He was killed in France in November 1915 aged 19 having been shot in the head by a German sniper, whilst leaving the trenches to return home on leave. Lilias and David were informed by the local chaplain. William is buried in France. His name is on the Aberfoyle War memorial and was mentioned in the Evening Times Roll of Honour.
- Katherine Black born 1899. Katherine worked as a chauffeur whilst living at The Teapot. She had a daughter Lilias (AKA Dolly Black) in 1919, father unknown. Dolly was raised by her grandmother Lilias as her own child
and was therefore treated by my grandmother as a sister. Katherine married Archibald McAlpine in 1921 and they lived in Aberfoyle. They are both buried in Aberfoyle cemetary. Katherine and Archibald had children and it is believed that they or their descendants still live locally. It is unknown if Archibald knew of Dolly's parentage.
- Lilias Johnson Black born 1901. Lilias married Robert Marr Lambert in 1923 at Kinlochard School and they lived in Aberfoyle. It is known that they had several children.
- Mary Black born 1903. Mary married Willy Cooper and they lived in Glasgow where they raised two children. Mary was very shy and was dominated by her extrovert mother.
- Maggie Black born 1905 (AKA Meg). Meg married Alec Macrae, an inspecter with Glasgow Police, and they moved to Stromeferry. They had two children. Meg would visit Kinlochard with her eldest son Alisdair.
- Helen Black born 1907 (AKA Nell). Nell helped to run the Post Office but prior to that she worked at the Forest Hills Hotel. Nell lived at the Post Office with Dolly when Lilias died. Nell died in 1987 and is buried in Aberfoyle cemetary.
- James Black born 1909 (AKA Jim). James was a Police Constable for Glasgow City Police. In June 1944 (a very hot day), whilst visiting home on leave he walked up the path to Ben Venue at Ledard Burn nr Ledard Glen. He went swimming in the burn, suffered from cramp and drowned. Mr and Mrs Luke of Kinlochard remembered that day as they were visiting the Post Office at the time, being friends of the family. James is buried in Aberfoyle cemetary and his headstone is in memory from the officers of C Division, Glasgow Police. He was aged 34.
- Jeanie McKay Black born 1911 (my grandmother). She, like Mary was very shy.
- Dolly Black born 1919 at The Teapot. Dolly once worked as a seamstress for the Lord Mayoress of Glasgow (the Lord Mayoress having taken a tour of the Trossachs and having stopped at The Teapot was quite taken with her as she was very extrovert, pretty and personable. She also worked at the Forest Hills Hotel. In 1945 she married a Canadian Air Force pilot, Flight Lieut. Denton Palmer (from Edmonton, Alberta) at the Forest Hills Hotel. At the time, Dolly was serving in the Army, based around Kinlochard. Her rank was Sergt of R.A.S.C. After the war he returned to Canada. Mr and Mrs Luke of Kinlochard believe that Lil persuaded Dolly not to return to Canada with him. Dolly later divorced him in 1956. He was living at a different address in Edmonton, so they obviously kept in touch. Denton died in 1969, aged 47 in Jasper, Canada. When Dolly retired from the Forest Hills Hotel, she was given a summerhouse as a leaving present. This fell down some time later and was replaced with a greenhouse. Dolly died in 2005 in a nursing home in Callander (having moved there following a stroke in the Post Office) and a further one in the home. After Dolly died the old Post Office was sold. The building was in a state of disrepair - the roof was falling in and was plastered in black plastic bags. No one knew this until Dolly's death as she refused to let anyone into the house. Dolly is buried in the same plot as Nell.
Lilias was also the first Chief Warden of the first Youth Hostel to be established in Britain - Ledard Youth Hostel, a position she held whilst being postmistress. It was at the Youth Hostel that my grandparents met. My grandfather lived in Glasgow (although he and his family were orginally from Galashiels) where he worked as a Police Constable for Glasgow Police. He had a car and in his time off would travel around Scotland. One day he visited Kinlochard. My grandmother lived at the Post Office and helped her mother run the Youth Hostel and they met at the Hostel. They married in 1940 at Aberfoyle Parish Church. Dolly was their bridesmaid and the best man was David Beaton (the Beaton's lived next door to the Blacks and David, their son, also worked for Glasgow police). After their wedding my grandmother moved to Glasgow, where my mother was born. Upon his death, my grandmother returned to Kinlochard into an extension that she had built at the side of the Post Office. She eventually moved south to Hertfordshire to help my mother raise both myself and my brother, where she lived permanently until her death. After her death in 1992, my mother scattered her ashes in Kinlochard.
David died in 1934 and Lilias in 1950, both at the Post Office and are both buried in Aberfoyle cemetary. My mother remembers the day of Lil's funeral, in particular the horses which carried the coffin with the big black plumes of feathers on their heads.
Memories of Lil are that she would sit on the doorstep smoking a clay pipe. She would take cigarettes, break off the cork tips, put the tobacco into her pipe and smoke it. When my cousin Bill and his brothers visited they would be sent to get a drink of cold water straight from the stream running down straight off the hills. They would then be sent out to the big black shed made of wood at the rear of the cottage to collect some bantom eggs. Lil had bubble jocks, ducks and hens all running free up the hillside at the back of the cottage, plus pigs, a horse and a cow.
Lil would take the eggs and break them into a big pot on the peat fire which would be cooking a venison stew so the eggs would poach in the liquid. If she was asked where the venison came from (this being wartime), she would say that it must have been a gift from God as she would find venison on her front step and neither she nor the dogs had heard anything! Apparently poachers would come from Glasgow, go into the village shop on the pre-text of buying a postcard and would ask for Lil specifically. Like The Teapot there was a still at the rear of the cottage. When Bill and his family returned home to Grangemouth, Lil would put a bottle of her produce in his mum's bag to give to her sister (Bill Davidson's grandmother) - at one time it was given in a milk bottle.
My mum remembers that there was an allotment to one side of the cottage that her father would dig up for Lil at weekends. She also remembers that the path from the cottage up to the Youth Hostel was riddled with adders. The last time that Bill saw Dolly she proudly showed off the cauliflowers she was growing at the cottage - a special variety of spiral shaped ones of different colours.
Lil owned a Jack Russell dog. Lil and Nell then had Pongo, a big, fat, soppy Dalmation. Later Nell owned Beauty, another Dalmation who was not so nice. Nell and Dolly also owned a donkey and Tam the Ram. They also owned geese, Vera and Donald. Bill remembers Pongo with a marrow bone stuffed once a week with raw sausage-meat, when the butcher made his deliveries in the van from Aberfoyle. Lil would use her Jack Russell to catch mice and rats that would come up from the loch into the boathouse owned by the McKenzie family from Falkirk (who owned a cottage near the village school on the loch edge).
Both Bill and my mum remember a man named Duncan who would drive the local bus. Bill thinks that he was a cousin but we can't be certain. Duncan used to take passengers to the early morning Glasgow train for the businessmen would leave at about 7.30am and he would then collect children who arrived at Aberfoyle to take them to the private schools on the lochside, then go up to Inversnaid and Stronachlacher taking people between the two lakes. He used to park his bus where there is now the Wee Blether Tea Room.