When my book on Falkirk was published a few years ago I got a bit of stick from friends who thought I had not said enough about their particular corner of the district.
The most outspoken was a guy from ‘the Glen’ who could not understand my apparent ignorance of his beloved village, but I had to confess that I had only the sketchiest knowledge of the history of the former mining community.
I remembered for instance reading a report from the 1850s which said that there were “two rows of collier houses...one storey in height, slated and in good repair...popularly known in the locality as Glen Village”.
I had also heard that the church had sent a missionary to the village in the 1890s and that he had helped the miners’ families during the bitter strikes of the time. Finally I knew a little bit about the Callendar Colliery and the firebrick works and that was about it!
That remained the case until recently when my friend Roy Coulter passed me a short memoir by his late uncle, Roy Hunter, one of the village’s most famous sons.
Roy sadly passed away last year at the age of 102 but Falkirk Herald readers will recall his 100th birthday party which was reported at the time.
Throughout his long life he had lived in Glen Village and had given amazing service to the community beginning back in his childhood days in the 1920s.
Back then the walls of those original houses were still standing but they had been replaced in the 1870s by two rows, each of 16 houses, the Front Row and the Tunnel Row.
These were ‘single and double ends’ with rows of coal cellars and dry middens at the back. Roy remembers that each miner was able to purchase a ton of coal for £1.
The nearby Stables were home to the coal cart horses and sometimes the ponies which worked below ground at the Cleugh pit.
The village had three water pumps, one in the middle of each row and one beside the Store, and in later years four lavatories were provided at the Front Row and another four at the Store, which was eventually taken over by Redding Co-op Society.
There were another two houses near there and six more at the Stables making 40 in all in the village.
According to Roy another 70-odd houses were built in the 1930s, including the ones in Glenbank, and the people in the two rows moved in while their single ends bit the dust.
There was a small Welfare Hall with billiard room and reading room years before there was a Community Centre.
With the coal seams nearing exhaustion, the pits shut one by one until the last, the Policy, closed in the early 1950s. The brickworks remained until modern times but today the work which made the village is long gone.
Recent years have not been kind to Glen Village.
The bowling green is gone, the Community Centre closed and even the village telephone box is wrecked.
But the spirit of a community is in the people and not the fabric and there are few places in the district with stronger feelings of belonging than the Glen.
The long life of Roy Hunter links the past and the present and his love of the place and determination to make it a happy and successful community should be an inspiration to today’s villagers and the generations to come.
What was the ‘Keys of Camelon’ ceremony?
Way back in 1863, forty years before the village became part of Falkirk, the Camelon Mariners celebrated the marriage of the Prince of Wales by presenting the leader of a procession from Falkirk with “the keys of the ancient city”. The custom faded away after a while until it was revived with Mariners Day in 1949 when it took place at the canal near Rosebank. How long it continued this time I don’t know.