Miss Annie McFeat

Annie McFeat was born at the end of the 19th century and spent all her life in the Gargunnock area, her parents having been farmers at The Offers Farm.

Miss McFeat was an excellent needle woman winning prizes at the Highland Show and the Glasgow Dairy Show with her Surrey stitch rugs and beautiful embroidered hankies, patchwork quilts etc. She was a Sunday School teacher and ran the Brownies and Guides up until the 1950’s.

In 1969 Miss McFeat gave a talk to the Rural on the subject of Gargunnock. This is the text of her talk. Notes in blue are additional, updated, information, by Catherine Richardson, who used Miss McFeat’s notes to give a later talk to the Rural in 1990.

Gargunnock Past and present

15th January 1969

In preparing these noes for this talk on Gargunnock it has grown longer than expected, so it is hoped you will not be bored by it all. Anyway you won’t require to be in school tomorrow to write out for Mr Hutcheon, Headmaster what you hear and see tonight at this meeting of the Women’s Rural Institute.

Acknowledgements :

For this record of Gargunnock Past and Present acknowledgement is made to the late Duncan McNeil and the late Miss Mary Philp, postmistress, for these records and memories, and the Rev W Turner BD for items of information from the Church supplements, also to Mr A Buchanan  for the coloured slides of Gargunnock at this date the photographers who made the slides from old post cards of the village and to Mr G Matthews for lending some slides and for the use of the projector this evening.

Duncan McNeil worked with Miss Stirling as did his father before him. They stayed in Shrub Cottage and moved to Hillview on retiring

Miss McFeat and her sister Mary stayed in the White House before building and moving into Cladich. Miss Annie McFeat was a stalwart of the Church, SWRI etc, an excellent needlewoman gaining many prizes for stitched fireside rugs, hand made handkerchiefs and patchwork at the Royal Highland Show and other SWRI shows. Her niece Rita Robertson allowed me to take a copy of them and give a talk to the WRI in 1990

Gargunnock

Gargunnock Village is situated in the Parish of Gargunnock in the County of Stirlingshire, 5 miles west of the County town of Stirling. The parish is bounded on the north by the River Forth, on the west by Boquhan burn on the east by a small burn between Redhall farm and West Carse Farm. On the south the Gargunnock hills rise above the village the highest point to be seen from the Square in the village is locally known as the Pinnacle, 1319 ft high.  Another, about 7400 ft past this is Tulmore and further west there is the highest point of all Caerlayjer 1592 high. (two noticeable features on the hill are the Dinning Quarry and Downie’s Loup)

A splendid view of the Grampian range of mountains and fertile lands lying along the banks of the Forth can be seen from the top of the village

Ten years ago a mountain indicator was placed on the parapet of the belfry stairs, This was a memorial gift from Miss VHC Stirling CBE of Gargunnock, Mrs James Stirling and Mrs Frost, formerly Miss Joyce Stirling.

The Story of the Drum and Horn

In this record of Gargunnock it would be well to recall the story of the Drum and Horn which was carefully preserved by the late Miss Philp, postmistress, during her lifetime. They are now in the safe keeping of Miss Stirling CBE of Gargunnock.

In the third quarter of the 18th century Gargunnock held an annual horse race, expenses being defrayed by public subscription.

In March 1776, after paying expenses a sum of money remained with the Treasurer so a public meeting was called to decide what was to be done with the money. At this meeting it was decided to buy a drum and horn and, annually, to appoint a drummer to go round the village at 5 o’clock each morning and 9 o’clock at night using the horn on a wet morning and the drum on a dry one. The reason for this was that there was only one clock in the village – a wag-at-the-wa’  (“Wag at the Wa'” is a clock which hangs on a wall with a pendulum hanging free beneath it.) – and the drummer kept it to know the time. The drummer also went round in the spring, giving notice to the people to have all the poultry closed in when the villagers started to work in their gardens. The drummer was paid by public subscription on “Hansel Monday” (Hansel Monday being the first Monday of the new year). Local politics now took a hand, however, with the result that eight men, appointed to look after the drummer began calling themselves the Town Council and their Chairman, the Provost.

After a time the feuars insisted that no tenant be elected Provost; but the tenants fought tooth and nail and won back their equal rights.

A Treasurer and Clerk were appointed each year at a lively meeting.

(To maintain the feuars right to cut turf and peat a custom similar to riding the marches was kept each year. A Procession headed by the flag, the Drum, horn and the Provost marched to the hill where with due ceremony a turf was cut and carried to the village. At this time there was about 90 houses in the village. In 1955 (?) Gargunnock WRI was asked by the Federation to sew an Emblem representing their village for a banner to be displayed in the Rural Offices, the Drum and Bugle was sewn by Mrs Ross of Leckie and can be seen in the offices.)

The last Provost was Provost Draper who lived in the house lately occupied by Mrs McNeil and known as Hillview. The stone where the flag was planted on ceremonial occasions was broken up when repairs were made in the street sometime in the 1930s.

History

Leckie Old Castle

In the 14th Century it was the County residence of King Robert the Bruce and from there he planned his campaign for the freedom of Scotland. He exchanged part of his land of Leckie for ground at Cardross where he built a castle in which he died in 1329.

 Keir Hill

This is a hillock near the Mill Farm and was a fortress in the days of Sir William Wallace. From there with his private army he set out and captured the Peel of Gargunnock which was situated near where the Gargunnock burn joins the Forth and the Mains Farm. Some of the stones from the ruins of the Peel are built into the Eastern part of Gargunnock House.

A photograph of Gargunnock village can be seen in the Hall of Heroes in a show case under the case containing the Wallace sword

 Charles Edward Stuart – Bonnie Prince Charlie

The main street of Gargunnock was in 1745 the main highway to the South. Prince Charlie on his way south to Derlof(??) with his followers crossed the River Forth at the Ford of Frew passing through Boquhan estate to join the main road from Kippen. He stayed the night at Leckie Old Castle as the guest of Mrs Moir. Continuing his March southwards he passed through the village of Gargunnock past the church where the road then turned northwards towards Mill Thread cottage at that time an Inn or change house. The road continued on past Gargunnock House and the present avenue was the road at that time. Part of the road still exists going east towards Redhall Farm.

Gargunnock Church

(Built in 1774)

No one has yet discovered the origins of the Parish and the consecration of the Church. It is however safe to say that there has been a church on its present site since 1500, over 400 years ago.

There have been notable changes in the buildings over the years; notable features are the Cross on the East Gable and the crescent on the West gable. Some people think that the Cross shows the rising of Christianity in the East and the setting of Mohammudism in the West. Others think it dates from the time of the Crusaders.

In recent years alterations have been made which enhance the beauty of the Church/ Electric light has been installed and handsome subscriptions supplied a two manual electrically powered organ to replace the small harmonium. Two seats were removed to allow more room on the platform. A minister’s chair and two Elders chairs and two Elders’ stalls to accommodate the Elders at Communion were gifted in memory of relatives who had been Elders in the Church At this time, the pulpit and Communion Table were cleaned of the varnish so as to match the organ case, chairs andElder’s stalls

The war memorial erected in the Church was designed by Sir Robert Lorrimer and the names of the 16 men who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918 are inscribed in it.  A panel recording the names of the men who fell in World War II in 1939-1945 was added to the Memorial and dedicated on Sunday 4th April 1948.

In 1963 extensive alterations were made to the Church. The building was re-roofed and inside a new modern ceiling replaced the old plaster one.

While this work was progressing a most generous gift from Mr & Mrs Mitchell, Dasherhead, enabled the brown varnish to be removed from all the pews revealing the natural wood giving the effect of newness and lightness to the Church.

Oil fired central heating was installed which makes for greater comfort at the services.

During the alterations a vestry was built. This was a gift from Mrs J Ross Anderson of Boquhan and fills a need for the minister and visiting clergymen.

A table desk was made and given by Mr William Baker and Mr James More Woodyett presented all the other furnishings in the vestry.

Other Gifts to the Church

Two stained glass windows now beautify the church. The window to the west side of the pulpit was the gift of Mr A McLaren, Timber merchant, in memory of his Father, Mother and brother and was dedicated on Sunday 12th August 196.

The window to the East of the pulpit was the gift of the Mitchell family in memory of their father and mother, Mr and Mrs Robert Mitchell. This window was accepted buy the minister on behalf o the Kirk Session and was dedicated on Sunday 7th April 1968.

The table lectern was the gift of the Girls Association and was dedicated by the Rev M McNeill on Sunday 4th October 1936

The two flower vases for the Communion Table were the gifts of Major and Mrs McAulay who resided at Gartur House, Cambusbarron and worshipped at Gargunnock Church.

The red Pulpit Fall gifted by Miss J.D. McLaren and the White Pulpit Fall gifted by Mrs Rutherford and her sisters Mrs Hepburn Smith were designed by the Church artist Mrs Pritchard and sewn by Miss Whyte of the Glasgow School of Art. They were dedicated on Sunday 4th September 1955.

The Red Fall is used each Sunday and the White Fall is used at seasons of Holy Communion, Christmas and Easter.

The first Sunday School in the parish started at Burnton in 1883.

The Sundial on the side of the path was erected to celebrate the 400th centenary.

New Organ installed in the 1980s.

 The Church Hall

The church hall was originally the Free Church and the services were conducted by the Rev H.W. Hunter,  Minister of the Free Church in Kippen.

On ceasing to be a preaching station after the union of the churches it was handed over to the minister and Kirk Session of Gargunnock and was converted into its present form in 1938-39. The Rev Dr Stevenson, the former minister of the parish opened the hall in September 1939.

The hall has proved to be a useful adjunct to the Church and village.

Previous to this time all functions were held in the school and having a hall opened a wider scope for organisations and entertainments using the hall.

The Hall, although in use up til then was practically rebuilt as only 3 of the original walls were sound enough to be used in the new building.

A big report on the opening of the Hall is in the Stirling Observer Sept 1939 held in the Archives at Burghmuir.

The Hall was sold and turned into a private house in Sept 2001.

Education

Over 100 years ago, there were two schools in the village, one at the top of the village in the house known as Carseview, the other school was in the square and the old wall is still standing beside Mr Patterson’s house. There was also a school in the upstairs room of the White House in the Square where girls were taught sewing – a very necessary accomplishment in those days.

Church School

The Kirk Session, concerned about  the education of the children, in a minute of the Kirk Session, appointed one Alexander Ronald who had been teaching in the village for 2 years as a schoolmaster at a salary of £14 a year. This appointment was made on the 15th November 1652, thus founding Gargunnock Public School.

This notable ter-centenary was marked by a special service in Church on Sunday 30th November 1952. Mr A.K. Davidson (Convener of the Education Committee of Stirling County Council) and Mr W.J. Goldie Director of Education for the County) attended the service At this service a photostat copy of the minute was presented by Mr James Harvey, Session Clerk to Mr Davidson to be hung in the school. Mr Davidson accepted it on behalf of his committee and then handed it to Mr Duncan McNeil local school convener who then handed it into the care of Miss McKechnie, Schoolmistress at that time.

When Parish Councils were formed they took over the appointment of teachers. Sometime later when Parish Councils were abolished an Education Authority took over the management of schools in each county. This method too was done away with and Education is now on the hands of the County Council of each County.

The present school (now the Community Centre) was built in 1858 and a Centenary celebration was held in the Church Hall in November 1959. At this function a Merit Board to record the name of the Dux of the school each year was handed over to the Committee and now hangs in the school. This Merit Board was subscribed for by former pupils and interested friends.

About 14-15 years ago (1954) alterations were made to the school by building a wall across the south end of the large schoolroom and the space provided was made into a cloakroom. A staff room was also made from a part of the junior schoolroom and water and sanitation installed.  An auxiliary schoolroom in now places in the playground to accommodate one of the classes.

Education

In 1911 the building which is now the dining room for the pupils in the school was erected for technical and domestic training for the older pupils. Evening classes for teaching these subjects were arranged and many took advantage of them for their own instruction and enjoyment. Mr Ames English teacher at the High School at that time taught English and Miss Westwater, domestic Science teacher at Allans school taught cooking and baking.

About 2 years ago (1967) the County Council purchased the field at Foot o” Green with the view to building a new school on the site. The date for thus project was given as 1970.

This was opened in 1975 and the old school turned in to a community centre and is at present being renovated taking away the cloakroom and staff room.

In March 16th 2012 Gargunnock Community Centre was handed over to the village, this will allow us to receive finding to do alterations and improvements to the building.

Basket Making stopped about 1928. There was a second basket works in the village the building running from the Main Street to the School Road just below the present Inn where the new houses are. This was run the the Craik family (Eliabeth Craik’s grandparents)

Industries

From about 1858 Gargunnock was famous for the manufacture of oak spale baskets. The proprietors of the business were Messrs Travis who employed a large staff of basket makers. These baskets were considered to be the best in any market. The “basket shop” as it was names has gone now. The County Council acquired part of the ground and the buildings at The White House in the Square for road widening purposes and the buildings were removed (in 1934).

At one time there were weavers, shoemakers, tailors, masons and joiners all plying their trades There was a blacksmiths shop at Shrub Cottage and one there the Petrol Station near  Gargunnock Station.

About this time there was great activity at Glenfoyle Distillery near Dasherhead where whisky was made a a number of people employed there. After being used for various purposes for some years it was again in use a s whisky store but now in 1969 is vacant again.

The Distillery has now become a private house. Glenfoyle Distillery was named as an extension to another distillery needing to expand. The case newly claimed from the moss was growing good barley and the bur provided good water to make the whisky.

Sawmilling

There are two busy sawmills in the Parish and about (blank) men are employed.With  the introduction of electricity much arduous work has been done away with. Power saws for cutting down  the trees and at the saw bench along with new machinery for lifting and transporting the trees to the saw mill contribute to labour saving.

Transport

For over 100 years the village was served buy the Forth and Clyde branch railway from Stirling to Glasgow through the Blane Valley. (Jamestown Balloch with a connection for Glasgow)

British Rail decided in (blank) to close the railway stations as a regular bus service from Stirling to Glasgow passed through all the villages on the route. People found this an advantage as most of the stations were a mile from the village.

In 1962 the railway lines and sleepers were removed and the end of an era had arrived.

Perhaps the biggest change of all is in employment Looking at my own school photograph of 1949/50 most of our fathers were employed in farming or sawmilling. Now I only know of 2 Gargunnock people employed at sawmilling.

Agriculture

Farming is one of the chief industries as there are many good farms in the carse. With many modern methods of farming and with nearly all the implements in use now mechanised many good crops are harvested. Hay, corn, beans, barley and turnips and on dairy farms kale and cabbage are grown. There are sheep farms on the hill and on the drifield on the lower slopes good crops of potatoes are grown. Although at the time of writing the emphasis is on grazing for cows with suckled calves at foot.

Harvesting the crops has come through many changes from the hook and sickle and tying the sheaves by hand. After the reaping machine was invented the sheaves has still t be tied by hand. The binder, an American invention, cut the grain , tied the sheaves with twine and ejected them one by one from the machine.

Wonderful in these days.

Now a common sight is the combine harvester a machine which cuts, threshes and bags the grain ready for removal to the farm. The German machine by Claas, pours the threshed into a container which saves the handling of the bags.

To bring these notes up to date there is now no dairy farms in the Parish, Farm machinery is changing every year and I wonder what Miss McFeat would say about the size of the big bales which are now lofted by the tractor and too heavy to be handled by man.

Now one dairy of Jersey cattle at Boquhan

Water Supply

Through the generous gift of the Minister of Gargunnock, the Rev. Dr. Stevenson a water supply was laid on to the village in 1910. This water came fro the Gargunnock burn and reservoir was built to conserve the supply. Wells were places at convenient points in the village to serve the householders many of whom took the opportunity to have running water in their houses. Previous to this the only supply of water was from garden wells or the burn.

The fountain in the Square was erected at that time and the inscription on it reads :-

Erected to the memory of Jeannie Miller wife of John Stevenson, Lillies Hill, Dunfermline,. The water supply of Gargunnock was given by her sone The Rev. Robert Stevenson Minister of the Parish and this fountain was erected by her nephews.

In 1960 a new supply of clear water was brought from Loch Carron to Gargunnock reservoir.

A main sewage system for the village was completed in 1958. This was a great advantage to the village and house building has progressed though  this convenience.

2010 water supply now coming from Creiff??

Housing

About 36 years ago when some of the older houses had fallen into disrepair the first Council houses were built at Burnside, Station Road. 2 blocks of 2 houses each were occupied in 1932.

Alter, in 1938, 10 houses were built on the same site at Burnside and the new street names Charles Street.

Several years ago, Provost Park was taken over by the County Council and between 1947 and 1954, 32 houses were built to accommodate the people whose houses were sadly out of date and for young people requiring houses. The streets to these houses are Stevenson Street and Stark Street.

Since 1960 private houses have been built on the Loft Brae, the feus having been taken up by business and professional people. Other private houses have been built on the Old Road the new houses at the bottom of the street were occupied in 1961.

Three Canadian type houses were built at Leckie Road in 1963.

Ground lying to the south of the village was also taken up for building purposes and these homes were occupied in 1966.  This part is named McNeill Crescent. In 1968 two houses have been built on the Broom Park.

Broom Park now has 8 houses, Millbrae has 4 houses, McLaren Park, Drummond Place started with 14 houses and still growing. More houses along Leckie Road and The Glebe is now complete.

Cala Homes at Millbrae (2001) occupied.

Postal Services

In the early days the postman walked from Stirling to Gargunnock then on to Kippen in the afternoon. Letters would be very few in those days. The first post office was in the east end of Mr Brands new self-service grocery shop. Mr Peter Binnie was post master. When he retired Mrs Philp took over and was assisted by Miss Philp whom we all know so well.

Mrs Philp removed to larger premises and the post office was carried on there by Mrs Philp til she retired and Miss Jessie Macfarlane took over. The post office moved in to nearby constructed modern premises alongside Miss Boag’s new grocery shop. With  the growth of the population the post office is now a very busy place.

The telegraph was introduced to Gargunnock 70 or 80 years ago and messages were sent by Morse Code. The telephone came to Gargunnock after the 1914-18 war with a switch board operated by Miss Philp and during the 1949-45 war Miss Philp have up much of her time, day and night, to attend to it.

In 1975 Miss Elsie Boag and Miss Jessie Macfarlane sold the shop and post office to Mr Dunn from Doune who after a few months sold the premises as a house the post office was for a few months held in the church vestry until Mr and Mrs Matthews made a new door into the present post office in the Square.

Moved to the village shop on the death of Mr Matthews.

Closed altogether and now a van comes 5 days a week at different times also covering Buchlyvie, Fintry and Thornhill.

Roads and Bridges

When Dr Charles Moir built the mansion house at Leckie (now Watson House) the road to Gargunnock, along which Prince Charlie travelled with his followers, was closed as far as the top of the village thus making Gargunnock Street a cul de sac.

The bridge crossing the burn at the bottom of the street is said to have been built in the 18th century.

More than 100 years ago the Stirling – Dumbarton Road was constructed and at that time a bypass road was made to join the new Dumbarton Road. This road is now named Leckie Road and the part from the Beild to the Dumbarton Road is names the Laigh Loan.

About the same time Colonel Graham of Meiklewood had a wooden suspension bridge built over the Rover Forth and made and maintained a road to join with the Stirling-Doune Callander Road.

In 1932 the new bridge was built over the Forth at Gargunnock Station. There was a story that some one brought in a load of wood to the sawmill and Mr McLaren said you were not frightened taking that load over the wooden bridge. The man went to have a kook and refused to go back over it with  the empty lorry.

Other Items of Interest

A bonfire was built on the top of Dinning Quarry to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. All the farmers in the district lent their men and horses to pull the material for the bonfire up the hill. The hills round about were all aglow with bonfires.

How many bonfires will there have been since then.? We had a big one with fireworks and an effigy of Hitler on top at the end of the war.  Another built with the aid of a horse fork used for building hay stacks and we held open air dance on the day of the present Queen’s coronation. Both held in the field next to the Community Centre. In 1977 another was built up the hill to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

The house now occupied by the late Mr Harvey (McNair House) was at one time the butcher’s shop and the meat carcase hung from the tree at the door. When the new bridge was built the tree was removed (one landmark gone) (the tree was shaped like a corn stack)

The Guest House, now named Trelawny Cottage and the White House in the Square were public houses at one time.

The old mill at Mill Farm was the hub of the village and district. All roads led to the mill in the old days. Through the years is had become dangerous so was demolished in 1967 (and another landmark had gone)

The rest garden was gifted to the village through the County Council by Miss Mitchell formerly of Boquhan Estate (in 1937). The wrought iron gates commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953

A main sewage scheme for the village was completed in 1958. This was a great advantage to the village and housebuilding has progressed though the convenience.

Ground behind the water fountain has now become a memorial garden with seats placed in memory of Mrs Marion Robb of the Quarry Sawmill who played a very active part in the Church, WRI, WRVS and village gala and Mr John Bennet who also took an active part in  the village and helped in the work for Britain in Bloom competition at the time of this death was chairman of the Community Council.

Gargunnock Flower Show

No record of the village would be complete without mention of Gargunnock Flower Show. The flower show was held annually in the Public School on the last Saturday in August. In may well be named an invisible land mark. It was the “Red Letter” day of the whole year and people came from far and near to visit the Show. Nearly every resident in the village exhibited flowers, vehetables, fruit etc and baking – the exhibits being of a very high standard. A brass band was in attendance and a platform was provided for dancing.

A very jolly time was enjoyed by young and old.

Over 60 years ago Mrs Charles Katy, farmer, in Mill Farm was famous all over Scotland for growing pansies. He was known as the Pansy King and the bridge across the burn into his pansy field is still known as the pansy bridge.

Pansy growing proved a very profitable hobby as he created several new varieties naming them after friends and local people.

In 1914 war brought the Flower Show to an end.

A Public Interests committee lately formed in the village is valiantly tryoing to keep the gardening spirit alive by instituting a competition for the best kept gardens at the council houses.

In 1983 a committee was formed and the flower show is again held on the last Saturday in August, This is very popular and agin rivalry and good fun is enjoyed by the exhibitors and spectators.

At the beginning of January 1969 the ford at the Gargunnock burn on the Mill Loan was changed Three large pipes now carry the water and a cement road to carry the traffic to and from the Mill Farm. This will be a great advantage when the burn is in spate.

The Three Ministers

Along the way to the Beech Walk there are three beech trees named the Three Ministers. They grow at the South end of the property where Mr & MRs Archibald Chisholm lived. They had three sons and when each son was born Mr Chisholm planted a tree. The eldest son the Rev. Archibald Chisholm M.A. D.L.T.T, became minister of Langside Hill Church in Glasgow. The second son the Rev John Chisholm was minster of Moneyside Parish in Pethshire from which he recently retired. The third son was the Rev Robert Chisholm who worked for the Bible Society but emigrated to New Zealand.

So if you should pass thus was at any time have a look at the three trees

The Rev Henry Chisholm conducted the service in Gargunnock Church on Sunday 2nd October 1955.

This story is very much village embroidery. Rose Cottage had three beech trees in the garden and had 3 ons who became ministers but people who knew the Chisholms said the trees were older than the ministers.