Evacuated 1939

Here are some memories of my days during the war when three of my brothers and myself were evacuated in 1939.

It was an exciting time for us and many other children. Our mother made it clear that we should be kept together, the children were all happy and excited, we weren't aware how heart broken our Mother was to see us go.

On the morning we left we marched around the playground with our bags on our backs, a label with our name on and a tankard tied to it. This was for soup and a drink. We were then put on buses and taken to the railway station where were were put on the train . After our journey we were escorted to a little school where we were given soup. The cars arrived to take us to our destination. When our names were called we were taken out to the car then driven to Kelly Castle, Arbirlot .

I clearly remember it was raining when we arrived. We were driven into the courtyard and stopped at a large door where a nice lady was standing holding an umbrella. She told us she was Lady Ramsay and welcomed us in. We were taken firstly to be shown where our rooms were - my three brothers shared a room and it I had the room next to theirs. Other rooms belonged to two ladies who were to look after us and two of the maids.

I was born in Eliza Street in the 1930's. There were many houses with large families there. I remember as a youngster one of my brothers was an apprentice baker with Wallace's "Land O' Cakes". The bakery was opposite our house so he didn't have far to go in the early mornings. He spent all his working life there except during the war when he was in the Royal Navy. He eventually returned and worked there again till he retired. My late husband also worked there for many years so "Land O' Cakes" was a big part of our life.

Of course Stobswell like all other places has changed over the years. There is a car park where we used to live and it is hard to believe that at one time there were so many houses there.

The poorhouse bells used to ring at 9 o'clock - this was in Molison Street and in part of Eliza Street and Maryfield Hospital. It was also the thing that children were allowed out to play until the 'Poorie bells' rang - then it was time to go home, or else!

Mum and Dad met in Lochore, Fife. Dad was working in the Mary Colliery and was staying in digs owned by my Mum's foster parents. They were married in 1913 and celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 1973.

Dad started work in the mines when he was seventeen. During the First World War he served with the Royal Artillery in Egypt, Italy and on the Western Front. During the Third Battle of Ypres he was caught in an enemy attack while taking supplies up to the front. His horse was killed by shrapnel and he was badly affected by gas. As a result of his actions he was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

I had seven brothers, all of whom served with the armed forces either during the Second World War or later on National Service.

I went to Clepington School where I was there with my three brothers until we were evacuated at the beginning of the war. Later I left school at fourteen years old and started to work in a seed merchants packing seeds and bulbs. I left there as the pay was only 15s 8d per week and I started in Keiller's sweet factory. After work my time out was spent at the pictures then the dancing. My later years were spent in the jute mills as a spool winder.

My early days were spent playing on our pletty. The girls next door and myself spent many happy times 'clattering' along the pletty in 'high heels' and dressed up in 'long frocks'. The boys of course did something more daring, like swinging on a rope tied to the railings, or climbing over the railings, to our mothers' horror. Many years later my own two sons were brought up on a pletty, along with the other kids. They had happy times and of course in the summer they would put on their swiimming trunks and the mums would splash basins of water at them to their delight. Summer evenings were great. The children in bed and all the neighbours would sit outside chatting until late.

My earliest memories of trams - There was a long seat on each side with the passengers facing each other. If the tram was full people used to hold on to the strap hanging from a rail above your head. If we were upstairs we used to have fun changing the backs of the seats so they were facing the other way when the tram reached the terminus. The seats were wooden. Our dog was a regular passenger as he used to follow me and my friend to Maryfield. He'd follow us on then wr would pretend to come off at Stobswell. Once the dog was off we'd jump back on again - he found his way home. Roads weren't so busy then but trams were a pleasure to be on.


Submitted by Betty M