The Stirling Story (Part 2 of 2)

This transcribe of Elizabeth Whitelaws (nee Stirling) story is continued from Part 1.….

“At Easter, we had hard boiled eggs which our mother made a different colour in some way known to her. We went to quite a steep hill in a paddock and rolled our eggs to the bottom of the hill. This actually signified the rolling away of a huge boulder from the entrance to the cave where Christ was taken to after his crucifixition and was later taken away by his followers.

Jim Stirling 1905 - 1964

Jim Stirling 1905 – 1964

Jim, my eldest brother left school at 13 years of age and his first occupation was in a Nursery which he loved. Almost twice each week he would bring home a flower in his lunch box for me, thus, i think fostering my own love of flowers. He later went to work in the mines. When he came to New Zealand he studied at night classes and later became manager of McDonald opencast mine. Always he kept his interest in gardening as was evident around his home. Well done Jim. “

(Blantyre Project comments – The nursery near to School lane was a quick walk down Hunthill Road to Brown’s Nursery Barnhill)

“When we were still living in Scotland, Jim was a member of the Lanarkshire Cycling Club. Over a period of a few years he traveled over most of Scotland and most of the North of England. He also trained for quite a while in Amateur boxing and was a very keen Soccer player.

Hugh Stirling 1908 - 1975

Hugh Stirling 1908 – 1975

Hugh was educated at St John’s College after having been a very sick little boy with Scarlet Fever and Rheumatic fever . We all walked a great many miles to visit him in Motherwell Hospital where we could only wave to him from the gates. That was the reason for his more advanced education. After coming to New Zealand he also went on to night classes on mining and later became Superintendent of Glen Afton Collieries.

Tom, my younger brother missed many months of school having developed Asthma. He had to have a bed in the sitting room, where the fire was kept going 24 hours a day. I can remember my mother opening the bay window and scooping up a few handfuls of snow for him to touch. After coming to New Zealand, he attended the Huntly Primary school and was quite well for about three years.

Sandy, my youngest brother started school in High Blantyre and decided on his first day that he hated it. Tom

High Blantyre Primary c1955

High Blantyre Primary c1955

and I went to the same school. I had to drag Sandy practically every inch of the way to the huge iron gates where the janitor and a teacher had to carry him into school. When allowed out for play period, he more often than not, ran home again which meant going through the whole procedure again. He carried his dislike for school all the way to New Zealand. Luckily i did not have to carry him at this stage. Nevertheless it was still difficult to get him there. Quite often he would begin the day by having a sore toe and then continue upwards until he had a headache. Needless to say as soon as he knew he could stay home, his aches and pains disappeared. When i was a teenager, he seemed like a little shadow going with me a great deal of the time. When he grew up he actually took the credit for keeping me on the straight and narrow path. When Jim Whitelaw who later became my husband came to take me out, Sandy would be sitting quite casually on the big double gate. Jim flicked a half crown to him and from then on Sandy made a habit of  always waiting at the gate to collect his half crown.

I was born in Burnbank and my parents moved to High Blantyre when i was about two years old (1912). At five years of age, i went to High Blantyre school which took the pupils through to Standard 4. High Blantyre was a lovely little place and in the surrounding areas there were quite a number of properties of historic value. Calder(wood) Castle was about three miles away.

High Blantyre Cross c 2008

High Blantyre Cross c 2008

To reach it we walked over East Kilbride road for most of the way there were huge old Chestnut trees which actually met overhead. When the trees were in flower it was truly a most beautiful sight. On the other side of the Calder river, we were able to pick wild raspberries. At that point we were really near the source of the river, which finally flowed into the Clyde. During the 1914-1918 war there were polish refugees billeted in the Castle. Quite a distance further on was Mount Dechmont. (Dechmont Hill) which had magnetic properties in the rocks and during the war German Zepplins would fly over this mountain to set their instruments. To reach this goal, they flew over High Blantyre. At the end of the war, every citizen met at High Blantyre cross. The Bag pipes playing, the older people dancing and everyone having a celebration.

Elizabeth, who wrote these words

Elizabeth, who wrote these words

When I reached about nine years of age, i would come home and look after Sandy. Some days i would come home, put my school bag away and then walk two miles to my grandmother’s home to do her shopping, which entailed walking through a private farm road and coming through the huge iron gates into the shopping area. There were about 10 shops, each of which i had to buy perhaps one item from and if i didn’t get that individual item from each shop, my grandmother to my surprise, knew it.

On the way back, I always called in at the farmhouse for her milk and a small round pat of fresh butter. It used to look so nice and of course a thistle design was stamped into the butter. My grandmother was a very lovely person and I loved her dearly and would have quite happily walked double the distance at any given time for her.

I am proud to have started my life in Scotland and although i was only fourteen years of age when we left (1924), I still remember a lot of very special things about my parents, and my four brothers who all proved themselves to be fine Scottish New Zealanders”

Paul Veverka writes – Isn’t that wonderful story and so many memories! Elizabeth died after a long life on 22nd September 1994

5 Yellow flowers on School Lane wall in memory of the 5 Stirling children

5 Yellow flowers on School Lane wall in memory of the 5 Stirling children

in New Zealand.

Her story is especially interesting to me, for at this WW1 era she is recalling, she lived over my own garden wall, in School Lane. The narrow lane of stone shops and houses, which although no longer there today, would have looked on to my own house at the time. As a mark of respect and to show her family is remembered, on behalf of myself and Linda who shared this story, today I placed 5 little yellow flowers on the School Lane wall, now overgrown with gorse in memory of Elizabeth and her 4 brothers. (Elizabeth and at least one of her brothers having a love of flowers). Whilst modern homes are now on the location of Elizabeth’s old home out the left of this picture, I can clearly imagine those children clambering on the old stone wall between 1910 – 1924. The wall would have been at the bottom of their own garden, literally a few feet from my home.


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  1. Thanks Paul 🙂 x

  2. Thankyou Paul !!!!

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