Robert Bruce – ‘worth half the kingdom’

There is a street in Larbert called Robert Bruce Court and it’s a fair bet that many people believe that it is a salute to the great King of Scots who triumphed at Bannockburn in 1314.

The Dunmore Pineapple – a work of art

The Dunmore Pineapple – a work of art

Before the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel the most iconic image in our area was surely the famous Pineapple at Dunmore. It adorned the front cover of many a tourist brochure attracting visitors from all over the world intrigued by this amazing structure of carved sandstone making a gigantic replica of the fruit and rising nearly fifty feet above the ground.

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The old Hart's shop

Falkirk and the birth of television

Local historians love anniversaries. They give us a chance to retell old tales of battles won and lost, buildings opened and closed and long dead pioneers who helped create our community.

Camelon's Canal Inn (above) and the Union Inn viewed from Lock 16 (below).

What’s in the name –
of a Falkirk area pub

A few years ago a regular reader of this column told me I must be obsessed with pubs because I wrote about them every second week! I think it was said tongue in cheek but it forced me to sign the pledge and forget for a wee while these favourite haunts of my youth.

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Champion volunteer Niamh is heading for California

College date for volunteer

A schoolgirl will keep her date with destiny this summer.

Zetland tomb

The paths of glory lead but to the grave

When the new Parish Church of Falkirk opened in 1811 there was an important meeting at which seats were allocated in proportion to the contribution made by the ‘heritors’ to the upkeep of the church, minister’s stipend, schoolmaster’s salary etc. The seat plan has survived and it will come as no surprise that the names William Forbes and Lord Thomas Dundas dominate with over 60 per cent of the places. These two men were far and away the largest landowners in the parish which at that time included much of the new village of Grangemouth. These places were thereafter reserved for their families, estate workers and other employees. There were other seat holders of course like John Heugh of Gartcows, Alexander Kincaid, surgeon George McCallum and even Carron Company but it was overwhelmingly the Forbes-Dundas show!

The former St Modan's Church in Bank Street (above) and Violet Grove, Bank Street, before demolition (below).

Falkirk’s Bank Street - a place full of history

Falkirk’s Bank Street looks a bit worse for wear these days which is a great pity because it is full of history, some lost, but much still in evidence.

An impressive vision for Zetland Park’s future

An impressive vision for Zetland Park’s future

I am always depressed when I read of another part of our rich heritage falling to pieces before the dreaded bulldozers move in to consign it to the dustbin of history. Thankfully there is another side to the story and it is a pleasure when a community comes together to save and restore the gifts we have inherited and pass them on to those who will occupy this place when we are gone.

The library when it first opened at 12 Stirling Street in Denny

Garrulous boys welcome but tobacco definitely not

The opening of the brand new library in Denny reported in last week’s Herald is great news for the customers and staff who have been living with really difficult conditions for a very long time indeed.

James Fitzmorris

James Fitzmorris – Polmont air ace

I was talking this week to my friend Kenny Baird of Bo’ness Hill Climb fame when the conversation turned to First World War aeroplanes and in particular the exploits of the Polmont air ace Major James Fitzmorris.

The opening of Dawson Park in 1904 and (below) Powfoulis, the family home of the Dawsons.

One name that can’t be avoided in Bainsford

One name that is hard to avoid if you live down Bainsford way is Dawson. There is a street and a park as well as the Dawson Community Centre, the Dawson Mission and, of course, the former Dawson Park school, now renamed and relocated to Stenhousemuir.

East end of Falkirk in 1960 with the Olivet Gospel Hall on the left and St Francis School on the right

Memories of Falkirk’s east end

There are a few parts of Falkirk town centre that have hardly changed for decades or even centuries. The area round the steeple with Tolbooth Street, Wooer Street and Fleshmarket Close is one obvious example and Newmarket Street is another with street layout and buildings from the Victorian era.

The inspectors were called by worried members of the public

Swan in a bit of a flap in town centre

A fully grown swan may have thought that the car park at Williamson Street in Falkirk was a small lake in this picture taken from our archives.

The babies receive their special gifts

Special delivery for happy mums

All these youngsters were born on Monday, January 18, 1982 – the same day that Falkirk Royal Infirmary celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The battle monument erected in 1927 and (below) the Redcoat Dragoons face the highland clansmen.

Take a walk through Falkirk’s battle history

In pursuit of a healthy lifestyle I bought an exercise bike last week and once I work out how to put it together I’ll get started!

The war memorial at the Dobbie Hall and (below) guardsmen wait in the Passchendaele mud in October 1917

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.

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