The fallen of Larbert 
and Stenhousemuir

A week ago I wrote about the Christmas experience of local wives and families as 1916 drew to a close. With the horrors of the Somme fresh in their minds there were no doubt many fervent prayers that 1917 might bring an end to the suffering and see the safe return of those who had survived and remained in the trenches or at sea.

The Tattie Kirk today from the old graveyard

The Tattie Kirk – Falkirk’s most unusual building

The most unusual building in Falkirk – and one that I get asked about most often – is the little octagonal Tattie Kirk in the Cow Wynd.

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The hoard of Roman coins discovered in August 1933 and (below) Robert Wallace, the workman who unearthed them.

Falkirk’s greatest
Roman discovery

Two weeks ago I wrote about the new issue of the local history journal Calatria and used a photograph of the famous Roman coin hoard discovered in the 1930s.

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Falkirk around 1916.

Christmas 1916 – Falkirk at war

As we approach the season of goodwill and over indulgence spare a thought for our grandparents’ generation facing Christmas 1916 in the dark shadow of the Great War. The disastrous Battle of the Somme had ended a few weeks earlier after five months of carnage but the casualty lists continued to grow and families throughout the district mourned their losses and waited in fear for what 1917 might bring.

Map of Falkirk area from around 1590.

Calatria – recording Falkirk’s history

Regular readers of this column will forgive me if I use this week’s article to celebrate a personal historical milestone.

Carnera with his 'sign'

Carnera – heavyweight champion of Falkirk

Although I wrote about today’s topic quite a few years ago I still get asked to tell the story of one of Falkirk’s most famous inhabitants – not a politician or a sportsman or even a wealthy foundry master but a horse, and a great big one at that.

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Millfield House

A look into the past around Polmont

They say a brisk winter walk is good for your circulation so here’s a way to combine healthy exercise with a look back at the past.

Holyrood Abbey

Falkirk’s connection with the abbots

Visitors to our area are often intrigued by the number of ‘‘abbot’’ names throughout the Falkirk district despite the fact that we never had an abbey in these parts.

George Square in Camlelon

The Camelon nailers – fighting for reform

Local history enthusiasts were greatly saddened by the recent death of our friend Margaret Lyon who did so much to uncover the story of the famous nailers especially the ones from Camelon.

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A fireman tackles the blaze at the Scottish Tar Distillers' plant at Camelon near Falkirk in November 1973

Looking back – the tar works fire in 1973

In 1973 the Falkirk district witnessed one of its most dramatic events when a tar works went up in flames.

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Sailing ships in Bo'ness Harbour

The Bo’ness Sea Box – a sailor’s insurance

Once upon a time the town of Bo’ness was the third most important port in Scotland with many local ships trading with the continent carrying away coal, salt and other raw materials and returning with timber from Scandinavia, cloth from Flanders and fine French wines.

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Remember, remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November

This Saturday hundreds of folk will make their way to Callendar Park for the annual fireworks display. Drawn there by the special experience of fire and light on dark chilly nights, they will also be answering the centuries old demand that they “Remember, remember the fifth of November”.

The John de Graeme fountain that still stands in Victoria Park today

Victoria Park: ‘a pleasant resort’ for over a century

Most Sunday mornings I walk my dog round the half mile circuit of Falkirk’s Victoria Park. Sometimes I’m the only one there but quite often there are football matches and occasionally visiting amusements at the north end.

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Veteran singer and actress Gracie Fields waves goodbye to the workers  after her visit

Singing star is big hit on Falkirk visit

Singing star Gracie Fields was greeted with “a hundred thousand welcomes” as she made her first visit to Falkirk in November 1971.

Clocking a golden age for masters of the time in Falkirk

Clocking a golden age for masters of the time in Falkirk

Last week my old pal from Kincardine Ian Park sent me a picture of a grandfather clock which a friend of his had bought over in Fife.

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Callander's shop with the giant fountain pen

Falkirk’s historic shop fronts recalled

With the weather cock in shiny new coat back on his perch and the refurbishment of the steeple well underway, attention is turning to other aspects of the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

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Falkirk Royal Infirmary.

Why are Falkirk folk 
called ‘bairns’?

The question I am most often asked by locals as well as visitors is why Falkirk folk are called ‘bairns’ and what distinguishes them from anybody else other than the obvious things like good looks and intelligence.

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An artist's interpretation of the generally accepted perception of the mermaid.

Myth of the mermaid remains an enduring fishy tale...

The mermaid with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish has appeared for centuries in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, Scotland included. ALISTAIR MUNRO recounts some of these acquatic connections with the Western Isles.

Entrance to the Callendar House ice house.

The days of ice houses and factories

When I was a child we had few of the household appliances everyone takes for granted today.

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North Rona could have been turned into a penal outpost

When Rona could have been Scotland’s own Devil’s Island

Devil’s Island, Robben Island, Asinara, Pianosa, Alcatraz – all prisons remote and with very little chance of escape... and little hope. But 150 years ago a small island in the Hebrides could have joined that list, its merit resting on the belief that it would “have all the terrors and none of the attractions of transportation to Australia”.

Debbie Clarke looks at the case put in 1852 for turning North Rona into a penal colony on Stornoway’s doorstep.

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