I’m always amazed at all the little snippets of social history about Blantyre that is offered to me freely. Facts, stories and memories. Seventy two year old, Thomas Hamilton -Hailes contacted me in January and said,
“I spent my childhood summers playing down near the Clyde and Boat Jock’s orchards and learning to ride on the retired pit ponies fielded there. Sometimes we used to have wee scuffles with gypsy kids (as we thought they were) back then. Would you believe that as 11 or 12 year olds in 1956, my mate and I got hauled in by the “Polis” for rustling?!
We’d taken a couple of ponies from the Clyde side across the Whins Road to Calderglen where we’d have peace. Pulley ropes from the new housing schemes were used as bridles and ‘Tumschies’ and carots from Wilkies Farm were our payment to the ponies for having to put up with us.
It was, funny looking back though not at the time. Imagine ‘racing’ across a field on horseback (a wee lad on a pony) and a copper catching up and pulling you off the pony as he ran alongside. We were taken to separate cells in the Polis Station between the Nessies and Calder Street school (both of which I attended) and they told me my mate had admitted stealing the ponies. They told him the same of me. We both knew the were lying to us because we were not stealing them. Eventually they “kicked our arses” and threw us oot!
As a historical reference I believe that the man who either owned the retired Priory Pit ponies or the land they grazed on, was one Swaley (or Swealey) Forrest. If memory serves I believe he might have been with the Police on that occasion. There was a bookmaker at the bottom Stonefield Rd in a wee bungalow before the pub (Auntie Kate’s) and he was Charlie Forrest. I think, but can’t be sure, he was related to Swealey Forrest.”
Photo for illustration only.
On social media: