Remembering the past ... looking to the future

Opening of the Ford Bridge in 1887 and (below) the 14th edition of Bonnyseen, the magazine of Greenhill Historial Society.
Opening of the Ford Bridge in 1887 and (below) the 14th edition of Bonnyseen, the magazine of Greenhill Historial Society.

Bonnybridge remembers! No doubt at all where Memory Lane led us to this past week; not for the first time the villagers showed the rest of us how important it is for a community to mark their important milestones not least for the sake of the young ones who will do the remembering in the future.

First up were the members of Greenhill Historical Society who launched the 14th edition of their excellent magazine, Bonnyseen, at a special event in the library.

For anybody with connections to the village it is a treasure trove of articles on local history – schools, churches, houses and railways are all featured along with wartime stories and even a recipe!

The launch night included a very informative presentation by Harry Wilson on the clay mines and fire-brick works which provided employment and security for many a Bonnybridge family. Congratulations to Phil Swierczek and her team on yet another great addition to our local knowledge. If you want further information about Bonnyseen email me and I’ll put you in touch with the Society.

Last weekend brought two more events in the village of historical significance. Last Saturday the new footbridge over the Bonny was officially unveiled. This handsome blue crossing has replaced the venerable old lattice bridge which served the villagers since 1887.

There was a good turnout to see Provost Pat Reid do the honours supported by some young members of the Gillies family, direct descendants of David Gillies the local blacksmith whose engineering firm built that ‘new’ Ford bridge in Queen Victoria’s Jubilee year.

A previous wooden bridge built in 1875 had not survived damaging floods nor the attention of local lads looking for kindling for their Jubilee bonfire! The loss was keenly felt by the locals who had to pick their way across ford stones but only when the river level allowed.

On that official opening day, August 6, 1887, 1200 people attended in pouring rain and the man officiating was James Smith of Smith and Wellstood whose famous firm had provided the money for the crossing.

Finally, last Sunday, the villagers assembled again in the Memorial Park along with representatives of the services, veterans, cadets, scouts, municipal leaders and other community groups to unveil a new war memorial dedicated to the memory of those members of the naval services, military and civilian, who gave their lives in two world wars. A huge crowd walked in procession to the park from the community centre following an earlier service at St Helen’s Parish Church.

The memorial, which consists of a First World War mine, anchor and flagstaff, was funded by a generous donation from a local businessman. It was unveiled by Provost Reid and Bailie Billy Buchanan whose idea it was to honour the naval dead of the whole district.

It was a memorable event with prayers of dedication from Father Aidan Cannon and Rev. George MacDonald and hymns from the Strathcarron Singers whose performances grace many an important occasion in our district.

No matter how many of these ceremonies I attend I never fail to be moved by the bugler sounding the Last Post, the piper playing the great lament for the fallen, the Flowers o’ the Forest, and the period of silence.

I watched the faces of the young children and of the veterans as they joined in remembrance of events long past but still a vital part of our inheritance. Long may the good people of Bonnybridge gather at this spot to fulfil their promise: “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”