Bring Along Night
12th January 2011


Despite the poor conditions underfoot for pedestrians President, Murray Dickson, welcomed around 50 members of the Old Gala Club to the’ Bring Along Night in Old Gala House on 12th January. Members brought a variety of items to show and give information about.

The president started the evening’s proceedings with illustrated information on gold sovereigns. Gold sovereigns were first minted in the 15th century and at that time contained 23ct gold. They regained fashionable status again in Victorian times. We were shown a brooch made from a Victorian sovereign bought in a Spanish flea market for 3 euros. What initially appeared to be a bargain was soon revealed to be a fake as it had Queen Victoria on the front with 1800 on the reverse. The year 1800 was both too early to be Victorian and a year in which no gold sovereigns were struck.

We were then shown a medal given for excellence in needlework by the Brown family in 1925 to a Margaret Niven. This was followed by a photograph of a fire in a lodging house in Overhaugh Street, which was later rebuilt as the Ayrshire Market. There was also a stoneware pot from the Ayrshire Market made by Gray of Portobello to store 4lb butter. Another interesting photograph was of Provost Dalgleish taken on Wyllie’s Brae with the cute Dandie Dinmont dogs, which he bred. Not so cute was a tortoiseshell open razor with decorative blade made in Germany and a Burlington ear syringe.

The bowl from a clay pipe found at Galafoot proved interesting, as similar ones had been found in a house in Lauder and during construction of the lighthouse on Lewis. The bowl has initials TW and a gloved hand and was therefore made by T White and Co who were manufacturing in Edinburgh 1832-1864.

Another attractively decorated medal was shown which had been awarded to a Charles Dodds for a ploughing competition held outside Kelso in 1909. There were letters to George Craig bank manager advising of the bankruptcy of Sir Walter Scott’s publishers. There was a writing slope, which although in need of restoration still contained pen and ink, compartments for paper and blotting paper, sealing wax and stamp and at the pull of a button a secret compartment. A small brass plaque advised that the writing slope had been presented to Rev John Erskine in February 1893 by his Sunday School Scholars.

A 78 record with a sleeve advising that it was from 31/33 Channel Street was a mystery. No one in the audience knew which music shop had been in these premises. Memories were stirred with the showing of a Lexicon card game in original packaging complete with original rules. There were bills and a balance sheet from the former Co-op Society and a detailed report of a late 1800s enquiry into a bullying supervisor at a workplace in East Lothian.

We were delighted to see photographs of the only surviving Edinburgh horse drawn tram discovered in a garden in St Boswells. Now under the care of a trust and undergoing restoration by a coachbuilder and unpaid volunteers it has been revealed as tram No23 built in 1880 and out of service in 1900 when all such trams were sold off at £5 each. The beautiful interior woodwork is of oak, ash, pine and mahogany and has stood the test of time well.

We were shown a ‘Rolls’ safety razor with sharpener within the box made in London and a bowling ball which was one of a pair made by Taylor of Glasgow awarded to John Dickson at  a Galashiels bowling tournament in 1887. We identified an item as an old wooden spinner used in angling but couldn’t identify another wooden item shaped like an iron made of wood with a swivel action to the top part. We were interested to see a Victorian shilling purchased on e bay with a young Victoria on one side and Sgt George Fox on the reverse. Sgt Fox was a native of Galashiels who enlisted in the 42nd Regiment in 1853. He served in the Crimea War and the Indian Mutiny and later with the 43rd regiment in the 1863 Maori War in New Zealand. He was sergeant Instructor for the Gala Forest Rifles until he retired in 1891.

The evening was rounded off with a series of very interesting photographs and information on early transport vehicles including a mobile shop belonging to Dick’s china shop, the Co-op laundry van and two towing vehicles converted from a bus and a double-decker. There were photographs of buses and trains in Galashiels in the 1960s and 70s including the Eastern Scottish coaches bought to transport tourists from the Waverley Castle Hotel to Abbotsford, the double-decker on loan from Edinburgh, the evening mail train being loaded at Galashiels Station and Hillman Imp cars made in Linwood, Paisley transported along the Waverley Line on their way south.