Since 1962 the ‘Falkirk Herald’ has been unchallenged as Falkirk’s purveyor of local news.
In that year its long standing rival, the ‘Falkirk Mail’, closed its doors bringing to an end 76 years of keen competition.
In the Victorian era it was even more of a battleground with titles like the ‘Falkirk Advertiser’, the ‘Falkirk Express’, the ‘Falkirk Journal’ and even the ‘Falkirk Liberal’ fighting for the attention of a population which depended in large measure on local newspapers for information on everything from local political shenanigans to what’s on in the entertainment world and bargains in the shops.
For those who like to look back at our community in past times old papers are a treasure and a delight and this week I came across a copy of the Falkirk Mail dated Friday, August 6, 1948.
It was a broadsheet of just four big pages yet packed with information.
The lead story, for example, described in considerable detail the funeral of Charles William Forbes of Callendar House who had died a few days earlier.
He was the fourth Forbes of Callendar since the first William (they were all called William except him) had acquired the estates in 1783.
Like all his predecessors, he was buried in the Mausoleum south of the house following a funeral service conducted by the parish minister, Rev. Wilson Leslie, in the main hall at Callendar House. Thereafter all the great and the good along with 500 mourners traipsed up the hill for the committal.
Mrs Forbes was too frail to travel from Earlston where the family had another estate but she sent a beautiful purple pall on which she had sewn the coat of arms of the Forbes family.
Mr Forbes was, said the ‘‘Falkirk Mail’’, “beloved by his tenantry” and much admired for his sporting prowess.
Elsewhere the paper reminds us that the forthcoming Free Colliers demonstration was to be addressed by the famous (and somewhat eccentric) Scottish patriot Wendy Wood at Wallacestone. There was no shortage of other things to do.
An astonishing number of bus trips left the Callendar Riggs for all parts of Scotland.
There were six every day as well as several mystery tours.
Saturday was a day of rest for the trippers but there were eight every Sunday.
The average price was seven shillings (35 pence) though if you chose to go to Oban it was nearly double that!
Sports fans could pop along to the ice rink to see a boxing match between Polmont’s Jim Kenny and “the North of England’s most promising young fighter” Jimmy Green of Warrington.
Football supporters were eagerly awaiting the start of the new season but the reporter said: “There is an optimistic air pervading Brockville at the moment ... but at the risk of being labelled a dismal Johnny I think that this feeling may be more hopeful than factual”. We all know what that means.
Music lovers were offered a Saturday afternoon recital by the Clydebank Burgh Band in the Dollar Park enclosure (price three old pennies) and the picture houses (six of them) had films like ‘Dick Barton: Special Agent’, ‘Daughter of Darkness’, ‘Buffalo Bill’, ‘The Bandit of Sherwood Forest’ and, in the Ritz, Camelon, ‘The Corpse came C.O.D.’
In the women’s column ‘Martha’ has good news from the latest Falkirk Business and Professional Women’s Club meeting: “Falkirk’s feminine faces should be prettier than ever after the recent visit of a Cyclax Beauty Preparations expert from London”!
Finally there is an article by ‘Will Dale’ about Falkirk’s local history – part of a regular feature apparently!