Already we have collected a number of fascinating snippets of life that Dalmally Station has watched over, for well over a century.
We are so looking forward to learning more.
As time goes on, we will write them up to share with you here, where we have permission to do so. Some stories will just be ours to have had the privilege to hear.
Memories of People
second half of the 1900’s – Bert Barnett was the signalman – he lived at Tom na Coille in Stronmilchan. His son became a Policeman, one of the first to join the new cadet force when it was launched.
Mrs McCormick, the butcher’s wife, ran the Station Café on far side of platform but in the culture of that time we did not chase up fast food from such outlets
Memories of travelling :
As a child travelling on the old Callander line as I used to travel on it every year of my childhood going to stay with my aunt and uncle in Greenock, then later going to see my brother in Stirling.
My aunt used to come to collect me and when we could see the train coming round the Succoth bend my mother used to sing ‘she’ll be coming round the mountains when she comes’ Coming home on the train after the summer holiday in Greenock with Aunt Meg we always had ‘high tea’ or afternoon tea served by the waiters in their red jackets
Memories of the tearooms :
The tea rooms were private run by the butchers wife Mrs McCormack (They had a daughter that worked there too) during the 1950’s. When the co op closed, the tea rooms took over the Sunday papers and she remembers going for them. She remembers going in the tea room door and the counter was on the right hand side and the seats were on the left. Flora and Alistair Campbell were the post master, they eventually moved to Glasgow.
Memories of Dalmally :
Orchy Bank (at the bridge end of Stronmilchan) used to be the Co-op shop with a family called Kirkham.
Doriechullin was a licensed grocers, owned by Mr and Mrs Hunter.
Butchers – used to be owned by a Mr Anderson – brother I think of Anderson of Castles Farm, then sold to the McCormicks – being post war and rationing the meat was not of the best quality.
Memories of the Trains
My memories of the school train include
• The wonderfully old fashioned ‘scholar ‘ label on each compartment window.
• Storing our bikes in the station building – some waiting room or other.
• The morning train came out specially for us and on freezing winter days it could be pretty parky in the compartments -presumably the heating was still to reach its desired temperature.
• chucking toilet rolls out of the window over Bridge of Awe in order to see them spiralling downwards to the river way below.
• John MacLean coming down to Oban station to check we were all sitting quietly in pre arranged compartment groups [there must have been some complaint made] and immediately he was gone, reverting to our natural divisions.
• We had to leave our morning train at Connel Ferry and cross over to the other platform to join the ‘Ballachulish ‘train from Kentallen. There was then a scramble for seats with the pupils in residence doing their best to keep out the Dalmally train lot.
• the bespoke morning train ceased after my first year and we travelled in by bus thereafter.
• We left home at 7am and got back at 6.20pm in wintertime [4.45pm from Oban] and 6 50pm in summertime [5.15pm from Oban ] – I can sympathise with concerns about long school day but of course safety was not an issue in our day.
• When the bus replaced train in mornings I think we still parked our bikes in the Station and used the station yard as area for playing football while waiting for bus to arrive I recall us not finishing the football kickaround fast enough one day and bus going off without us – we had to cycle like mad down ‘new road’ to pick up the bus when it arrived at Fay Black’s house via Stronmilchan.
• The PM train did not always have sufficient reserved seats for us scholars and I vaguely recall tourists’ enthusiasm for the scenery which we took for granted and could not appreciate their delight.
World War 2 and the people who worked at Dalmally Station.
Molly Patterson nee Douglas
Molly, is the ‘girl’ in the forefront just behind the dog and next to the man in the white shirt. This photo was repeated on a BBC 2 series that covered the hard work completed by the Land Girls and the Timber Jills during WW2.
Molly also provided the background to an account that was part of a book called “Timber” written by Affleck Gray. Her account is included later.
1940. Molly had been working for the Ministry of Supply based in Dundee living locally with an Aunt when she went down with mumps. She was sent home to Cladich to recuperate. During the period of recuperation she was told that the Ministry needed someone to work in an office that they had at a logging site near Portsonachan to maintain the records, she was 18 at this time and was awaiting call up to the forces or perhaps to one of the munitions factories.
In 1942, the Timber Corp was created. Her boss at Portsonachan suggested that she joined to carry on with what she was doing. She agreed and was immediately issued with her uniform.
Her job, to measure the trees felled reporting the results to the Ministry and to the railway to enable transportation. Measurements were taken in Imperial and converted to cubic to inform the transport people.
Her other duties involved felling trees, trimming the bark off, slicing and burning off the brushwood. She also had to walk at least 1.5 miles from her home to the site and return often in the complete dark. In the mornings, this was after she walked 2 miles to the dairy and back to collect the milk for the day!
Some of the Timber Jills worked the horses – paired to drag trees to a loading point sometimes a couple of miles away from the logging site, some rafted the trees down the loch but mostly, the timber was loaded onto trucks at convenient sites and shipped to Dalmally Station where they were loaded onto railway wagons for shipment to mines across Scotland and England for use as pit props.
Dalmally Station was an extremely busy place during the war being a railhead for timber being felled across that part of Argyll together with being a hub for troop movements relating to the servicemen being trained in the numerous training camps in Argyll many of whom were later involved in water borne assaults across the whole European theatre of war.
Larger trees were hauled off on lorries to become telegraph poles or to sawmills to produce coffins and, crosses.
In the Portsonachan camp there were approximately 16 men and 10 Timber Jills the girls, most of whom came from the Glasgow area, were billeted in English Church Manse in Ardbrecknish and the men’s camp was 2 miles further down the Loch.
As the men suitable for call-up to the forces left, they were replaced by more girls.
The names of some of the girls were:
Iris Mackie, Jessie Marshall, Nancy Speers, Margaret Taylor, and Jean Spence.
The men were:
Jock McVain, Archie Stewart, Bertie Cooper, Kenny Macdonald and Angus Maclachlan plus many more that Molly cannot recall.
Her father was Sandy Douglas who worked on the local roads with the Dalmally squad of road workers.
Extract from Timber by Affleck Gray.
A ministry of Supply unit was operating at Ardbrecknish near Dalmally, Argyll under the direction of Mr Stewart Dow and a contingent of WTC was billeted in the Ardbrecknish Manse. I had been working in Dundee, contracted mumps and was sent home to Cladich to recuperate and as soon as I was able joined the WTC 1.5 miles away.
My duties were mainly clerical; timber measurer, wages clerk and all general office work. I greatly enjoyed the companionship of a lovely, lively bunch of girls, mostly from the Glasgow area. I can still remember a lot of their names and still correspond with a friend who lives in the Bridge of Weir.
I spent as much time as I could at the Manse, where we all had a lot of fun, despite the war. One girl tried to teach me ballroom dancing to the one gramophone record that she possessed until we were shouted down by the others. Others ran behind me for miles until I was able to master a bicycle!
We walked miles to the dances in Portsonachan even crossing Loch Awe in a rowing boat in the pitch dark, to get to dances in Kilchrenan. We still had to get to work early the next morning. How vividly I remember the blisters on my heels caused by the thick wooden socks and the heavy ‘tacketty’ leather shoes. As I walked the 1.5 miles to work each day.
I have so many memories, all happy, of life in the Women’s Timber Corps. Molly Patterson.