Oral history project: interview. Sample containing about 12967 words speech recorded in leisure context

2 speakers recorded by respondent number C265

PS2A4 X m (Malcolm, age unknown) unspecified
PS2A5 Ag5 m (Swinton, age 72, retired motor engineer) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 098201 recorded on unknown date. LocationBorders: Galashiels () Activity: interview

Undivided text

Malcolm (PS2A4) [1] This is a conversation with Mr Swinton in Galashiels.
[2] Mr is seventy two.
[3] Right Mr .
Swinton (PS2A5) [4] Well er I think some of my earliest memories are er dating to the First World War time when I was a boy and we lived in Street which er during the war, we made a shift to which was really the opposite side of the street.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [5] Yeah.
Swinton (PS2A5) [6] It was a peculiar street because Street was on a higher level and at one time, the dam which must have been open, now the dam when I mention the dam, it's the mill lead, but known to everybody in Galashiels as the dam.
[7] And it runs through the town and was the means of driving the waterwheels in the old days in the factories.
[8] And er this divided this street into two but at probably a number of years before, it had been tunnelled in and the top part of the street was called Street and there, there was a slight hill run down to .
[9] Now my father had the garage in .
[10] It was er he had had it since my grandfather had had the same place as a blacksmith's shop and then my father followed on with the garage with cycles first of all, and then when the motor trade came in, he started in motors repairing.
[11] Motor repairing.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [12] Had the garage been a, a erm a stable at one time?
[13] Was it, did, did he have stabling or for coaches?
Swinton (PS2A5) [14] No.
[15] I think it, like in Galashiels there seemed to be a lot of rows of one storey cottages at one time in that part.
[16] And at a later date, part of them had been, another storey had put on to them.
[17] Er but at that time this, this, the blacksmith's shop was really made in a, a one storey cottage.
[18] Then the gardens were befind behind the front row and then there would be another row of cottages behind that again.
[19] Now as the garage grew, the, the blacksmith's shop was, it still remained in the same place but the remainder of the cottages were made into the garage, and the garden ground in between was filled in between with sheds with corrugated iron roofs.
[20] And it made a long garage.
[21] A deep garage.
[22] And then in these days there were pits for going underneath the cars er dug into the ground so as you could get underneath the cars.
[23] There were no lifts lifting the cars up at that time.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [24] What year did your fathers er cy wh it was really a bicycle shop that he had but i
Swinton (PS2A5) [25] Yes.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [26] erm did he tr er make it into a garage?
Swinton (PS2A5) [27] I should think round about nineteen hundred or nineteen hundred and one or two som it was [...]
Malcolm (PS2A4) [28] Was that the first in Gala?
Swinton (PS2A5) [29] Er no.
[30] There had been a shop in Street I which is still there but it's been used for other things now.
[31] But they were the first people to sell a motor car in Galashiels.
[32] They called them James .
[33] And er they had sold a car in eighteen ninety eight I think it was.
[34] The first motor car in Galashiels.
[35] And er that was before registration of cars.
[36] I can't find out what make of car it would be, but it would probably be a, a French or German car.
[37] And it was sold to a wealthy manufacturer.
[38] Well a, a mill owner, the owner of the skin works in Galashiels, a Mr .
[39] And this er was the first car in Galashiels.
[40] But we came into it about after nineteen hundred I should say.
[41] We bought an engine in Edinburgh, a gas engine, run off the town's gas to drive the machinery we had.
[42] Er we also did general engineering because my father was an engineer er and my grandfather was a blacksmith, my father was an engineer.
[43] The machinery of course was driven by the gas engine first of all.
[44] In later years that, it was driven by an electric motor.
[45] But the shafting, of course it was driven off the shafting and we had l lathes and drilling machines.
[46] And an ideal little workshop for anybody doing work as they did in the early days, most of the components of a motor car had to made.
[47] Labour was cheap of course, time was no [laughing] object in these days [] .
[48] And of course er when an article became, when you needed an article or something broke down in the car and you needed to m=make something up on the lathe o it was made on the premises.
[49] Later on of course the change in the trade, components were readily got as cars became more popular.
[50] And er there were not so many i in the older days every car was an individual thing.
[51] But in the later days when they made mass production was coming in, the components for them, it was easier to buy a component and fit it than to, to make up a, a piece in your own workshop.
[52] But er I w I would think, although it's before my time, I would think that er of what I've heard my father talking about these early days, there was great enthusiasm for motorcycles and of course some of the early registered numbers you'll find that there's many of them were motorcycles, the young men of the town who had probably been cyclists, quite a number of them er took up this motorcycling and they made their own motorcycles so were buying either kits and er even manufacturing the tanks and these things themselves.
[53] And our er workshop was open for and they got every assistance and every help from my father in these days.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [54] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [55] They these when I remember the garage, it was a series of er lock up garages in the front, with a central one opening right through to the back.
[56] And er by that time the w the horse shoeing has gone out.
[57] My father had first er he had, him being an engineer, and had been working in Glasgow after his er having served his apprenticeship at Amos the, it was the thing to go to Glasgow in these days which was the centre of all engineering activity, and er to gain experience he went to Glasgow.
[58] And er also many engineers when they were out their time, they went to Glasgow and for a few years, he, everybody who went from Galashiels, word got through to him and he met them at the station and got them settled in their digs in Glasgow.
[59] And er
Malcolm (PS2A4) [60] Would, this would be about the turn of the century [...] ?
Swinton (PS2A5) [61] It would be about before, it would be eighteen ninety seven I should think.
[62] When my grandfather died in er just about that year.
[63] Er eighteen ninety seven he died.
[64] And er i he that, my father came back to run the business for my grandmother.
[65] And er later on he took it into his own name you see.
[66] But er his erm ... father h was the blacksmith and he had been born away up , and er he came to Ga he came to serve his time in a blacksmith's shop at and er
Malcolm (PS2A4) [67] The one that's still there?
Swinton (PS2A5) [68] Still there today, aye.
[69] It's still there in, in today.
[70] He came to serve his time in , he came from a place they called Green, which was a track between the hills away up .
[71] And er it was probably where the drovers came through, it's a drove road and I, I haven't been quite able to find out what he di I think he would be a shepherd probably.
[72] And my grandf yeah my great grandfather
Malcolm (PS2A4) [73] This is your grandfather's father, your great grandfather.
[74] Mm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [75] And he died in eighteen forty eight when my grandfather would be about probably eight year or nine year old I think.
[76] Er he, the family, must have came at a later date into Galashiels.
[77] Of course Galashiels in, in, at that period was the place for everybody to come to.
[78] Because the mills were thriving and you would come to Galashiels and get a job right away.
[79] But first of all he served his time in the smithy at and he met his wife, my grandmother in which was quite, you can quite imagine, it was just a walk up over the hills and er he met her in and er they were married.
[80] She had been born in Edinburgh but only mad chance because I think that the family were only there a short time.
[81] They belonged and they had to come back to .
[82] And they were shoemakers.
[83] And er their name was .
[84] Er there's none of them left now except an old M Mrs in who is over a hundred.
[85] And she's the last of the family.
[86] In the borders, there's some in, in England but er that, that family has died out in the borders.
[87] Er mostly anyway there is a, a [...] relative I believe er in the town but er my ... grandfather after he had served his time at smithy, got a, a job in Galashiels in one of the big factories, which was er was the name of the manufacturers there.
[88] It was one of the big mills and er there's still parts of it yet, in use, one of the high buildings is still there.
[89] And er he was there for quite a number of years and then went to [...] just for a few years, and came back to Galashiels to work with the same firm and then he started business on his own.
[90] He, I say, in these days, blacksmiths made bicycles.
[91] And we have a bicycle which he made in the year eighteen seventy, that was before he had started business on his own and he had erm made it for a young solicitor in Galashiels and I believe it was used in a race from Galashiels from Place in Galashiels to the .
[92] Where five of these boneshakers or velocipedes took part.
[93] And er this bicycle well it would go out of fashion and was put in a, a loft in one of the, it must have changed hands from Mr whom it was made for.
[94] Er it er w was found in a loft in Mill about the year nineteen hundred.
[95] And they were going to throw it on the scrap heap but somebody in the mill the said, that was the bicycle that Adam had made.
[96] And we got it back into the family and it's been with us ever since.
[97] During all our alterations I've seen it in the old garage away up in a loft and I've seen it put out in the back yard in the rain, and I've always saved it and it's there today.
[98] And er after er my grandfather made that bike, after he started business on his own, he had, well the next thing came in was the penny farthing bicycle.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [99] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [100] And of course blacksmiths still worked on the penny farthing bicycle.
[101] And I have lots of letters which I discovered about five years ago, which I thought were probably letters that my father had written it, Adam , because his name and my grandfather's name were exactly the same.
[102] But when I looked at the date, my father could only have been about twelve year old you see, when these letters were written so it must have been my grandfather writing to Coventry and Birmingham for parts for the penny farthing bicycles which he worked on.
[103] And er these were er he would do a lot of the iron work, because a lot of the iron work would be forged.
[104] But wheels and these sort of things would be got from Coventry in , I think, the maker's the, the same people who invented the, the safety bike.
[105] They were er these letters are to one of these firms.
[106] And erm these er he must have given up bicycles when the penny farthing was outdated.
[107] And er there's quite a number of years h he, there was many bicycle shops in Galashiels when the new safety bike came in, and blacksmiths probably didn't bother doing any work on them.
[108] It was mainly newer bicycle shops.
[109] But when my father took over, when he came back to Galashiels, he started in bicycles and there was quite probably [...] ten bicycle shops in Galashiels at that time and er he gave, well he, he attracted business with his efficient way of repairing bicycles and er it's funny that after about a number of years, we were between the last, after the last war I should say, the Second World War, er we were about the only people for, for a period the only bicycle shop in Galashiels.
[110] There's more now but th at that period we were the only one left [...] .
[111] Then we, father er with doing the bicycles and with interest in other engineering things like gas engines, which seemed to have a, a period of er great prosperity I would say er in the period between nineteen hundred or maybe a few years before that until early twenties the, the gas engines were ideal things for little factories.
[112] And er you even find them in some of the mills er in Galashiels and in er as the taking place of steam.
[113] And of course the, or driving part of the mill I wouldn't say they completely took over from steam.
[114] But they just went out of fashion as well.
[115] And er when electric motors came in naturally and each individual machine was driven by an electric motor.
[116] Er well this maybe gave him a an insight into working on gas engines, er I couldn't really say.
[117] But he erm he was once burned very severely with one of them blowing out, and he's b he suffered from it all his life after that.
[118] But er er when you looked at his skin he was all burned in the front and er with this exp explosion of a gas engine.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [119] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [120] Now in the period that I come into it would be the First World War, when we had er, of course in these days, the thing we always, to look at the motor trade then, it was a follow up from the carriage trade.
[121] Because motor cars didn't go at great speeds and nobody would dream of taking a motor car to Edinburgh when the railway was there and could get you in Edinburgh within three quarters of an hour.
[122] But the, the motor car was used firstly for taking people back and forward to the station.
[123] In place of the old horse and cab.
[124] And then of course people had picnics on the Sundays of the summer and er so on it grew more quite a lot from the hiring.
[125] And then after when there was practically no erm commercial trade with them at that time.
[126] Any commercial vans or lorries seemed to be made out of what was originally private cars.
[127] And which is natural because you know, the very early motor cars were only a sort of toy for the rich as it were and er when it came to you see er grocer's vans or, or er laundry vans made out of old pr private cars.
[128] And then of course when the First World, World War came along,th a lot of cars were remade into ambulances and er then of course the lorries began to be, come into their own.
[129] There were there wouldn't be very many before the wirst First World War.
[130] But after the First World War, there seemed to be quite a lot of lorries.
[131] And of course after the war broke up, there were quite a lot of X W D lorries, lorries on the market and they were converted into a erm charabancs which was an open bus [laughing] as it were.
[132] And er they, we had a, a stake in that too at the very beginning er we did have a converted er X W D lorries into charabancs and we also got some newer ones.
[133] But this ceased in nineteen twenty six.
[134] When we sold to another firm.
[135] Er who ran bus services from Gala to Selkirk and Melrose and er we sold out to them because we, the other side of the business where the private car side seemed to be growing.
[136] And we just hadn't the time to do both.
[137] And er it was quite a good move I think, to dispose of the, the charabancs and concentrate on the private cars.
[138] We then got the, the agency for Morris, which was a very popular car and erm we also got the agency for Austins, which er, it came about with father being interested in a hiring car, the Austin Twenty, he thought it was, it was the best that could be got.
[139] And he went into the main agent in Edinburgh and gave them an order for three of those, and of course, we didn't get them just right away because er probably we'd have got the last one about a couple of years later [laughing] in these days [] .
[140] But anyway we, they must have been so impressed by the, the order that they got, that they gave us the agency for Galashiels and Selkirk for the Austin.
[141] And of course, the next year, the Austin Seven came on the market and proved to be one of the most popular cars in the market.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [142] So that the foundation of your future prosperity in a sense.
Swinton (PS2A5) [143] That was we were main one of the, my father seen er possibilities er when he attended the London show, he went er he, he was very much taken on with the Morris Cowley first of all.
[144] And he went to, he decided to go straight to Oxford before he came back to Galashiels and er see William Morris who was Lord Nuffield later on.
[145] But he, we, we were offered the agency for the four counties in the borders.
[146] But as we were very small people in these days, he could only see his way to take Selkirkshire and Peebleshire.
[147] He'd probably have been better to have taken Selkirkshire and Roxburghshire.
[148] But however that's the way things went and er we were distributors for the Morris for Selkirkshire and Peebleshire.
[149] And held it right up until recently.
[150] Which the, the organization changed you see and er it wasn't through our fault but er distrib they wanted some, a main agent in every town after that.
[151] And the distributorship sort of fell through.
[152] But that was only after we had it for about thirty years or, or more.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [153] To go back to your own life Mr , erm you [cough] could you er were you always interested in engineering as a boy?
Swinton (PS2A5) [154] No.
[155] I would say of the three brothers, I was the one that was least interested in engineering.
[156] I always had a sort of inclination towards buildings, architecture and that sort of thing.
[157] But being the son of my father, it was his aim to send me out to serve my time as an engineer.
[158] Which I really I went to Amos and I didn't like it but of course I had to stick it.
[159] But I, I only s er times were very poor as it was nineteen twenty seven, twenty eight and things were very poor in the mills especially.
[160] And of course a lot of the engineering was on textile machinery and er I didn't, I just wouldn't go back to it after I'd been at it about a couple of years.
[161] I wouldn't finish my apprent and I came into our own firm and started with bicycles and motorcars.
[162] Right up until I wasn't able to do any more and able to, like all engineers you get most of the men [...] when you get to the stage where you're not able to crawl under cars [laughing] and do things like that so you [] you find another bu business, we went into sales and, and er accessories, stores and that I've been in all that line in the last twenty years before I retired.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [163] Did all your schooling take place in Gala?
Swinton (PS2A5) [164] Yes, my schooling I went to the School in nineteen seventeen in the middle of the First World War.
[165] And er we had er a very fine teacher then when [...] er I can look back in pleasure when I went to school.
[166] They were Miss was the teacher and the, the next three classes I would say with great pleasure, and then we came to one of the old ones which er they were more severe, probably she used the tawse a lot.
[167] And we used to c as we had nicknames for the ones we didn't like, she was called [...] .
[168] [laugh] So er we didn't like er [...] so we, she was a Miss of course.
[169] [laugh] And we had erm we, there was a few changes during that time, we used to get troops coming in and occupying the classroom, and we [...] maybe, at the very early days I can remember having to go to the Street School and also the Street Hall which belong that was a church hall.
[170] But we only went for half a day at that period and then for a month or so then the troops went away again, we got back into our own school.
[171] I can remember the, the days of the, the armistice when we thought there was a lot of the [...] with the teachers and er, this is faintly in my mind, we heard all the mill whistles blowing.
[172] And er then we knew that the war was finished.
[173] And then every year after that, they used to hold the one minute's silence which the mill whistles went and of course you stood for a minute and then they went again and that was it over.
[174] And this carried on, right on well practically until the second war.
[175] And er then we had a bit, there was a victory organization of the schools then.
[176] We had to go from the School to the School for two years and back to the School again, and er finally we'd go to the Academy.
[177] But I went to a private school after that, I went to one run by a Mr , Mr E M .
[178] He was a grand master er and er you got Greek and Latin and all these sort of things.
[179] But I didn't er I think his teaching days, he was getting rather old and he didn't control us as he should have been able to.
[180] And er it was a mixed school of course some of ours er different ages you see because it was just one big classroom.
[181] And er however it's funny that you, things remain with you, er even in the Greek and Latin, I often find when I'm doing a crossword puzzle, something I don't think I would ever take in, and yet I seem to, can answer the [laughing] question.
[182] About er er the son of er Greek goddesses or something [] .
[183] The, after the school I was never one for er I never was a great one for sport.
[184] Although I did go and watch the rugby, I never was a great one for, and I, I used to swim quite a lot.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [185] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [186] But er most of my interests were in motoring actually er in the days of er after we left the school after I was driving, of course I was er, these were the days when if you had a motorcar, the whole world was at your feet, and er you could go all over Britain if you, just for petrol at one and thruppence ha'penny a gallon or something like that.
[187] And er therefore er w we made the most of it, my chum and I, Sid , we were in nineteen thirty two I would think we would be o one of the first hundred people or so to go with a, a week's f er tour to Paris by air.
[188] A package deal.
[189] The, the Imperial Ai Airways had just er they had just received four big planes er which they put on the Paris er route.
[190] And I think we were going, first of all it was a firm Polytechnic Tours in London.
[191] We had booked up for the ordinary ship and, and rail you know, to go over by ship and rail but er during the months awaiting the, I think we were going in July and er we had booked up maybe about April, but they had put these planes on and Polytechnic wrote to us and said, if we paid two pounds ten extra, we could go by air and we did it and the full tour for a week in Paris, going by air, was twelve pounds ten.
[192] And that included two tours as well.
[193] And we flew from er that was from London, we flew from the Croydon Airport in London, and er we, you went down to er an, a small office near Victoria Station in these days and er you w we, you put your luggage in there and then they took you out on a special bus to Croydon.
[194] And we only flew about I think it was four thousand feet, that we flew and we thought this was terribly high.
[195] [laugh] And then and of course as far as I remember we, you could hear the noises of the engines of course, terrible, not, not like planes today.
[196] And you could also feel the, the shuddering of the, the wings and the fuselage er and er it was rather frightful you know, if you hadn't been before.
[197] But er it's so simple today when you realize the, the difference, how easy it is and but er that was an experience I can tell you.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [198] Can you possibly remember how much you were paid for your apprenticeship with Amos ?
Swinton (PS2A5) [199] Yes, I have the slip somewhere, and my father I didn't keep it but my father must have kept it, but I discovered it one day and it was seven and thruppence I think for the first week's pay.
[200] And that was the common thing in these days.
[201] With er apprentices was seven and thruppence or seven and six or something like that.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [202] And that would be about the m m the m m m nineteen twenties.
Swinton (PS2A5) [203] Nineteen twenty seven I would think.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [204] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [205] Nineteen twenty seven. [...] .
Malcolm (PS2A4) [206] And er your working week was what?
Swinton (PS2A5) [207] Well erm eight o'clock in the morning till quarter to six I think it was then in the evening.
[208] Er there must have been a at one time it, it had been six o'clock I think it was a quarter to six we finished.
[209] And of course there was a thing we w a lot of the work in the mills was in [...] or Selkirk and of course you went to the early train in the morning, there was a train from Galashiels to [...] and it was full of workers going to the mills in [...] and of course if you going er to work in a mill there, your, your foreman would come, you would draw the tools, at the, the night before you went to the job, you would take them there to the train in the morning, and meet the foreman and you would go to [...] to do the job and the same to Selkirk.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [210] And these sort of jobs would be repair work or construction work?
Swinton (PS2A5) [211] Er textile machinery er I can't remember us doing very much except er dismantling machinery
Malcolm (PS2A4) [212] Mm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [213] er because at that time there was quite a lot, you would get one mill in [...] probably with somewhere about seventy looms in it and there would only b be less than ten of them working.
[214] The, it was into the depression period.
[215] It had been b I think a lot of the mills had been during the very, the years after the war, they had been very busy and a lot of them would build sheds and b take up looms that were, you, they probably had new looms on order but they were filled with a lot of scrap almost you know, anything they could get that work, work.
[216] And er they were, well quite a lot of them were scrapped in the days when the depression came on.
[217] And erm the ... I, I can't remember er ... [...] oh I think most of the work up there that I was on, we were doing different jobs in the mill, like er when very too when the mills were closed at the holidays, we, we used to go up and work in some of the mills.
[218] And er we had er I've seen us work er I think one of the jobs was on shafting and things like that mostly.
[219] [...] didn't work on the machinery so much.
[220] Er but as I say, I wasn't very long at that so er when I came back to the, the motor trade, and bicycle trade, motor trade, cars in these days you get a variety of er all sorts of cars.
[221] Some of them were [...] some had got old cars in where the tyres, if it was a puncture it was these great big wheels with beaded edge tyres which you can, you put on in quite a different way from the modern car tyres.
[222] You had to put them all on in a piece you see with the tube in it and er things became much easier when the wheel base trim came in.
[223] Er then of course er petrol, before that I was in the, before I started the work we used to go out delivering petrol and petrol was all done in tins, two gallon tins.
[224] There was no petrol pumps.
[225] And er they were kept in a special store which had to be three feet into the ground you know, for safety.
[226] And every big mansion house had a place about at least ten feet away from the house, where they had a store for holding the tins.
[227] And each of the places er where we got the supply of tins, er we had a [...] little van that went out to deliver the tins and we delighted as boys, going out, carrying the two tins er into the place.
[228] And er the cars then of course were all painted in, there were no cellulose paint, we had a paint shop there but er it, and we had an old painter who used to paint the cars in enamel and they were an awful lot of work on them.
[229] And of course you had to have great dustsheets to keep the dust.
[230] Because if it had been painted, and the paint took quite a long time to dry and er if there was a speck of dust it remained there forever.
[231] Or [...] or you would have to take the whole thing off again.
[232] So there were, the place was specially [...] big dustsheets and kept the dust off the paint.
[233] And there was a lot of rubbing down and that sort of thing.
[234] After the cellulose paint came in of course, things were quite different.
[235] They had to be done in a special, you know where they extracted the, the fumes away from the, the paint shop.
[236] And of course it was a very much harder paint.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [237] Did you go to a technical college at all?
Swinton (PS2A5) [238] [...] in the evenings, everybody then went to the technical college here.
[239] It, it at least u two nights a week.
[240] And er that was the old college in Street.
[241] I can remember it well, it was lit by gas e even in these days you know [...] it would have been all electric light but it was gas and er we had erm, I would go for engineering drawing and maths probably I think.
[242] I just can't remember.
[243] Of course, for about two years you know after [...] and everybody went to something or other.
[244] It was the done thing.
[245] There was no er you, you thought nothing about it.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [246] And what about er your life, you started really on the sort of bicycle and repair side of life
Swinton (PS2A5) [247] Yes.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [248] erm how did that e wh wh what did your father pay you in those days for that?
Swinton (PS2A5) [249] Oh well, being the boss's son I probably got ten shillings a week probably
Malcolm (PS2A4) [250] Ten.
Swinton (PS2A5) [251] [laughing] when I started I would think [] .
[252] And er later on er I would be er wages I think were then about three pound something, in the, very little more than three pounds.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [253] For a skilled man?
Swinton (PS2A5) [254] Yes.
[255] For a skilled man.
[256] Er they had been very much lower th er er in nineteen hundred and ten when we, I have some of the books showing you know, as little as er thirteen shillings a week for a skilled man you see and that sort of thing.
[257] But erm and of course my father was also an inventor, he had, he had done, everything was used.
[258] We he had a patent on what we called aiming race for laying guns in, during the First World War.
[259] He, it was for the, you know, the, the instructor w would come round and see if you had aimed the thing, it was a tripod sort of thing.
[260] Now orders came from and Sons the printers who were great target printers, and are still today the great target printer.
[261] Now orders came from the, and also we had orders for th, e the falling target in the [...] you know, of a, a rifle range where you had to er put up the frames you know with a target on it and er we made a lot of these during the First World War.
[262] W that bit we gave up after the First World War but we made er we did make some of these er patented things that they had in the Second World War.
[263] Er he also, everything was used, they were made out of gas piping and what [...] got the piping in certain lengths and there's always a bit, a small bit about a foot left over, he made these into gas pokers.
[264] And er the things that we had, we had a [...] or two when they used to be, when all the cars most of them were open of course in the early days and except for the, the limousines who were chauffeur driven.
[265] But er there were so many open cars and we had an upholsterer who er made the hoods and repaired the hoods and upholstery and er we even made things out of the old scraps of these er just to, we made bags for, for carrying trade plates for er people going away for cars.
[266] To Oxford and, and Birmingham.
[267] And er I used to go myself quite a lot er when there were well when there were more than one coming up I've seen me go into, down in the pullman train from here to er, well we had about five changes I think,fat father had it all marked out so as you changed at a certain place.
[268] We used to walk from New Station at New Street Station at Birmingham u up to Snow Hill Station.
[269] Now that's all away now there's, there's no Snow Hill I don't think you can really find out where it was nowadays.
[270] But we got into a train there and went to, to Crewe I think it was.
[271] And then there was a certain place where we would go to a breakfast on the train.
[272] Then he landed in Oxford just at the right time to go out to the factory and it was open, and you had to get your car as soon as you could and see that everything was all right.
[273] And erm if you noticed anything, get it done before you left the works you see.
[274] And then he, he got on the road and he, we usually took, he had to run it er not more than twenty five miles and hour, and er you had to run it, we, we stopped at Preston if we could get there.
[275] That was one of the stopping places.
[276] And then the next day we brought it home.
[277] But er that was one of the things er he kep it was an enjoyable trip and the roads were in these days, er you get the motorways today, I just think on the roads, what they were in these days, there was even some places we went through a ford in the middle of the road, with the water about two or three inches deep.
[278] And er there was very little money spent on the roads at that time, the, the railways had been the great carriers of everything and the motorcars were just coming in [...] .
[279] And er but, but w I did see the roads improving continuously through all these years.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [280] Did your brothers go with you into the family business?
Swinton (PS2A5) [281] Yes, my oldest brother, they were older than me er my brothers, there was one two years older, there was one seven years older than me.
[282] And er I was really the youngest, there was one in between who had died.
[283] Er but he had died actually as a very young child.
[284] The then of course when the wartime came along, the last war, I didn't, I didn't used to rush away, I, I had that sense to not just, to rush on to the [laugh] with the [laughing] rest of them, so [] I joined the fire brigade, the regular fire brigade.
[285] And er I was unmarried at that time and erm I, for a number of, well till nineteen forty was the end of nineteen forty I think, I joined up and went into the, the R A O C as it was then, it became the [...] the side that I was in of course.
[286] In a workshop which was being made up [...] ... [break in recording] Then we went on to er, it was funny that we passed through London, the very s day or second day that word arrived that the invasion was on, the troops had arrived in, in Normandy.
[287] And oh the reception we got in London.
[288] They thought that we were going straight, we and we thought so too [laughing] that we would just go straight over the, through London [] .
[289] And of course everybody after years of gloom were all absolutely er treating everybody you know.
[290] [laughing] We just couldn't get off [] we had the Metropolitan Police escorting us through you see, to the, we were going to the south.
[291] Er where I ended up in Barracks which was a guards barrage barracks near .
[292] In Surrey.
[293] And then we started we thought, oh well we'll just th be guarding then we'll be away.
[294] However we, the next thing we knew was the flying bombs began to come over.
[295] And of course this, there, we couldn't understand it what these things were that went flying through the sky and er aeroplane tried to chase them.
[296] Of course they couldn't because they weren't speedy enough.
[297] And then the next thing you heard er away in the distance some had landed about Croydon or Streatham or something and, and some landed in the hills rounds about us.
[298] One landed in the very centre of er East Grinstead too.
[299] But er however there were none of them struck the camp.
[300] So we were off er after that we were off and landed down in erm Bishop's Wharf [...] er in the woods there and we, the next morning we were off down to Gosport and we were embarked on the ships there and er landed in Normandy at the [...] beach it was.
[301] And er then we were led through into the [...] assembly area.
[302] And it was quite quiet for a little bit because most of them had established themselves and we were waiting for a breakout and er we didn't get on the move again until the they went through the [...] after it had been.
[303] Er we went through just after it, the rest of the troops had gone through, we followed them on.
[304] And then we were held up at a place because some of our tanks e e the seventy ninth armoured division was er holding all the special tanks er which were flamethrowers and flails and all these sort of things.
[305] Er and of course they had to use these crocodiles er [...] down the coast er where the Germans were holding out er at [...] and Dunkirk you see.
[306] Er and although they'd got, they couldn't get the towns although they had [...] .
[307] And also they sent some of them away down to the u the n the army that was coming from the south.
[308] Er I can't remember I wasn't with them but we, we were in a spot and erm some of the tanks were away down there and some were up here and we, the next move we went to [...] .
[309] And
Malcolm (PS2A4) [310] And all this time you were recovering and repairing?
[311] Yes.
Swinton (PS2A5) [312] Recovering and repairing, aye.
[313] Well mainly recovering, taking them into workshops.
[314] Many of them were er ... sometimes we, you co got into a minefield and you couldn't, you gave it up you know because er [...] by that time I think there would be plenty replacements coming on the market.
[315] But some of the early days, they, we, we gathered them into a park which er the w they were cannibalized.
[316] Instead of sending back to Britain for a, a part, they took it off an old tank you see, and on that had been part [...] was still all right you see, but the tank was er useless but there would maybe be a bit of the track alright, so we cannibalized them.
[317] And they were put onto it.
[318] And then we went right through Belgium and Holland, we were stuck in Holland for er in [...] luckily enough for the winter.
[319] In er the last year before we broke through.
[320] And then it was erm erm ... [...] which was er battered about a bit but we were preparing for the, the next move you see.
[321] Then after they crossed the Rhine, we moved away up to the north Holland about [...] .
[322] Which was on the German border.
[323] But by that time er we weren't there very long and the war finished and I was there in for a year after that in, in er Germany.
[324] Up near the [...] .
[325] So that was er and then I came back here I was demobbed and came back to, I was er the highest rank I had was corporal you know, in the [...] acting corporal actually.
[326] Er in er when we were in Germany.
[327] Now er we, I came back here then and of course we had, the, the workshop had to be brought back to normal again to deal with the cars.
[328] Er and the, we had, had a lot of, during the war, we did a lot of general engineering, we had made er what they called iron shearing machines.
[329] Cutting the iron by hand.
[330] And er it actually went back to my grandfather's day when he always wanted to get one of these machines and er he couldn't afford it.
[331] But he got a pattern made and had the base of the machine made at a local foundry and he made all the leverage parts and got the, he got the blades made in Sheffield or somewhere and er he made one for himself.
[332] And he called it the [...] well he was asked to make one for other blacksmiths.
[333] And we s we had kept on making this, maybe we, some years we would sell about ten of them.
[334] This had went on and on and there was practically every blacksmith's shop in Scotland would have one of these machines made by us.
[335] And they called it the [...] number one.
[336] And er I think there were some of them still in use about fifty years after they were made.
[337] They'll be still in probably in use today.
[338] But at the beginning of the war, when things were very doubtful, and we didn't know whether the army would commandeer all our buildings or what, and we started to make bench models of this er iron shearing machine.
[339] And
Malcolm (PS2A4) [340] Can you describe really what i what an iron shearing machine does?
Swinton (PS2A5) [341] Well it's like a big lever and it has a, at the bottom it has a bar which the very high tensile steel is fixed into.
[342] And, and the b and the bar on the bottom as well holding the th no the base of the thing holds the other bit of the blade.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [343] Mm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [344] And as you pull it down, it's the leverage that cuts the, the steel.
[345] It er it'll cut mild
Malcolm (PS2A4) [346] It's a huge knife really.
Swinton (PS2A5) [347] It's like a huge knife aha.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [348] Yeah.
Swinton (PS2A5) [349] Just the same, you've seen them with paper cutters you know.
[350] [...] it's the same principle.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [351] Like a guillotine type of thing.
Swinton (PS2A5) [352] But er we made them er, of course the le it's the leverage that does the cutting you see.
[353] Because you get er great leverage on this thing and it er you're cutting mild steel bars you see.
[354] And er we, we did erm we, we started making er bench models [...] because we found quite a lot of these had been made in Germany.
[355] The there, a lot had, we had never made the small ones before.
[356] But we st started making them and er we made thousands during the war and of course part of the, the lower part of the garage was used for making these.
[357] And er then we after the war was finished, we continued making them for several years, but we had to transfer it to another factory.
[358] And it was a chancy business, sometimes we were very busy, sometimes we, we could er ... we could diversify and making some other machines like we, we did some er rotary punching machines which were instead of drilling a hole, you could punch it you see.
[359] And er we did this er in this little factory at Netherdale.
[360] But there was periods that y your men you, you hadn't enough to occupy fully occupy the men.
[361] And we got a firm in Glasgow who had to move.
[362] They made bakery machinery, and they came er and took our factory over.
[363] And we, we concentrated on the motor trade after that.
[364] We, we kept on er making or doing repairs for the Ministry of Works for about ooh seven or eight years after the war finished, which kept a lot of men working in Galashiels when we, you know, when they weren't very sure if they could come back to [laughing] their old jobs [] .
[365] But we kept this on for quite a number of years.
[366] And we had an inspector from the, the office from the home department here who er e had his office down there, and we did all this, they were for er the Ministry of Works.
[367] And they, they did erm vehicles for the Navy, the Army, the Air Force and the Forestry Commission, any government thing that was [...] .
[368] And er until it became the time when the thing got smaller and smaller and we finally had to do away with that place.
[369] But it lasted for a good seven or eight years after the war was finished.
[370] And provided work for quite a lot of men.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [371] How
Swinton (PS2A5) [372] And then of course the other garage in the middle of the town, we got back to normal, repairs and er
Malcolm (PS2A4) [373] And how h h had l had l life changed between er the nineteen thirties and the nineteen forties?
[374] By the time you got back.
Swinton (PS2A5) [375] Oh very much.
[376] Very much er so although wages at the end of the war weren't so big you know even then er
Malcolm (PS2A4) [377] Can you remember what sort of
Swinton (PS2A5) [378] five pound would be a, a, a wage you know, five, ten, five somewhere between five pound and er six pound I would think.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [379] As opposed to maybe three and
Swinton (PS2A5) [380] And, and they gradually went up.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [381] three pounds before the war?
Swinton (PS2A5) [382] Yes probably three pounds before the [...] .
[383] Now I was one who saved a lot myself, and we had some very good holidays.
[384] And one of the last holidays I took, and I was on my own, I went to the United States for, and Canada for er the, the six weeks I think it was or eight weeks.
[385] And er that was a very interesting period because it was nineteen thirty nine and of course the, what the, my impressions of America were quite different when you got there, from er what er their er impressions of the world situation were.
[386] Where even going on the boat, we went from Glasgow from [...] Quay in one of the Line boats and erm it cost erm the cheapest fares were twenty seven pounds ten return.
[387] The, the fare for er that I went was thirty two pounds ten.
[388] And that was er I didn't come back with an Line boat, I came back with a erm Canadian Pacific Boat.
[389] Because I changed out there, but we had to pay about five pounds just to change from one line to the other.
[390] But er we went from erm [...] Quay, we did stay at Belfast for a about erm just er a few hours, picked up the Belfast passengers, they, they, we didn't dock there,we they came on by tender.
[391] Then you had about ten days at sea and you had oh three big meals a day included all in this.
[392] And erm dances and everything you know, [...] it was really a, a luxury the crossing.
[393] Although it was very rough at first, but I got used with it even when the seasickness caught me up going round the top of the highland, but once he was away from that and er I wasn't a drinker in these days but some old man says to me, er before you go to a meal, he says, take a drop of brandy.
[394] I, I says, oh, I says, I hate brandy, I says, I never could.
[395] And I did [...] and you know, I was never seasick after that.
[396] And I went er in the boat coming back er from Canada was far worse as the one going acro but we went to Boston and we stayed out in the harbour there and then we sailed down the coast into New York, which was a great sight.
[397] And of course the, the main object of going there was to see the World Fair that was on that year.
[398] And er it was interesting to the point of view of their attitude to Britain then and er you know they were isolationists of course, you see.
[399] And er of course er their newspapers told an awful lot that ours [laughing] didn't tell you see [] .
[400] And their impression er of Germany well you can imagine a big country like America, there's quite a lot of them Germans and the, the German angle was er played up as well you see.
[401] And of course er they knew that there was gonna be a war whereas we put it out of our mind, we thought, well we'll be prepared but it'll never come.
[402] You know, and that's our sot of attitude.
[403] But they knew of course it'll happen.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [404] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [405] If it doesn't happen this year it'll happen next spring you see, and of course er one lady who had been with her aunty er over in the Germany, she says when they went into, she knew they were accumulating theirs, she had some friends in Germany and of course they, she said they were hoarding up just at the borders of Poland I think it would be then.
[406] And er she, we had some very interesting insights you know into the, just from various people, what the situation was.
[407] And then of course er when I got to New York we were quite friendly with all the people on the boat you know that [...] made great friends with some of them and er I had two or three places to go, I had spent a few days at the World Fair and then I flew down to Washington and er then I came [...] back again.
[408] Er then I went on to Buffalo and Niagara falls and crossed over to Canada which I had a few friends there.
[409] And erm stayed in Ottawa and Toronto.
[410] And er Montreal.
[411] And then sailed from Montreal, I was going to go back [...] my, it was my intention to go back to New York, but I changed my mind at Montreal and sailed down the St Lawrence from Montreal, back to Glasgow.
[412] Well we'd, the, the trip back we didn't go into [...] Quay, we stayed off the tail at the back and we came ashore.
[413] [...] and it was a magnificent sail up the Clyde.
[414] Everybody was impressed, it was a glorious day like this you know [...] so the Clyde looks so beautiful when you see it in the, in, in a, in weather like this you know.
[415] [...] S and er ... two or three friends, oh I, I had been on a number of cruises before that, to Germany, to Norway and Sweden, to Denmark.
[416] I had been on all the northern capitals.
[417] And I had been once in a, a cruise liner to the Canary Islands and Madeira in nineteen thirty five.
[418] And er some of these ships, this one was the Empress of Australia.
[419] They had been old German hulks you know ta brought over to this country after the First World War as part of the reparations and they had been finished off in Liverpool and Glasgow somewhere.
[420] And er they were, a lot of them were sunk of course in the Second World War.
[421] One of the finest ones I was ever on, which we enjoyed, it wasn't a new ship by any means, but it was the Lancastrian
Malcolm (PS2A4) [422] Mm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [423] and it was sunk at Dunkirk.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [424] Mhm.
[425] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [426] and er ... these are things you never forget you know.
[427] I was once going to go on a trip, my mate and I we [...] go a trip to er a train cruise down from er down through Italy and of course
Malcolm (PS2A4) [428] Mm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [429] here the Ethio Ethiopian experiment was
Malcolm (PS2A4) [430] Oh.
Swinton (PS2A5) [431] the thing [...] you know with the, the Italians.
[432] Of course that was cancelled.
[433] And he cancelled his er trip but I'd I booked up for one to go to Norway
Malcolm (PS2A4) [434] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [435] and at that time so
Malcolm (PS2A4) [436] So bringing you back to after the war, er how did the business continue er then or for, from that time forward?
Swinton (PS2A5) [437] Well we had er the business was quite good er we had er we could do, of course at the end of the war, we could have done with an awful lot more cars, but we couldn't get them.
[438] I was just remarking the other day, I think I brought one of the first Land Rovers to the borders from Edinburgh.
[439] And I can always remember it was in the middle of winter and [...] put on the, the four that bit [...] circular bit [...] put it into the four wheel drive and it came up there wonderful and the, yet er going in we were and the other car was swaying all over the place.
[440] But in, in the impression was that we'd a Land Rover then it's funny.
[441] Er we could have done with cars, he says, what are they bringing out this silly thing when we could have done with more cars you know.
[442] And who will we ever sell it to?
[443] And of course Mr our salesman er he took it up to that big estate and er Mr had got too old to go up to the shooting on the horse you know.
[444] And of course er w wondered if this Land Rover would go up there with the four wheel drive.
[445] So Mr went up and er he went a way up the hill, places that never a car or anything like that had been before because there were gullies and everything and he could have sank in the middle of a gully or something.
[446] However he, he must of chosen the right place to go and er he went right up onto the hill and Mr got his shooting er and he bought the thing on the spot.
[447] I don't know if it's the sa I don't think it's the same one they have today but it was the first Land Rover that I can ever remember coming to the borders.
[448] And then we took on [...] every farmer got one after that.
[449] But it did at the time appear rather a, the last thing
Malcolm (PS2A4) [450] The last thing that anybody would want.
Swinton (PS2A5) [451] was anybody thinking on you know, [...] to have er cars you know.
[452] However it was a winner.
[453] And er we went on er for a few ye at, at that time we had agencies for Jaguar, Rover, M G, er Riley, Wolsley, erm Humber.
[454] We had all these er and Austin of course and Morris, we had all these agencies at the end of the war, and yet we couldn't get enough cars.
[455] But er however things went on and er we, we've had very bad years some years when the we, stuck too much I think to some of the Morris of course er they had their troubles of course and, and then eventually we, it was funny we were the only two people in the whole of Britain who h ho held the agencies for Austin and Morris together and we were at times we were thinking we must lose one of them.
[456] And er we never lost them, they joined together eventually and [laughing] we [] [laugh] that's all the position.
[457] And er we, we didn't do an awful lot on commercial later on, we gave up that er thing we, we mostly [...] concentrated on the private cars.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [458] Going back to your trip in America
Swinton (PS2A5) [459] But going, yes.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [460] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [461] Now one of the things that was on the you know there was the great Radio City Music Hall.
[462] And er oh glamorous shows they had on there.
[463] And they had a what they called the [...] twenty four girls dancing you know, and also they, they had the, a film in the show which probably I think it was a Bing Crosby film that was on.
[464] V very good show.
[465] But another one, they had in another cinema across off it was just off Broadway, the Roxy I think it was, and they had Goodbye Mr Chips.
[466] That was with Robert Donat.
[467] And you know I went into that film it was just being launched in America, and there was a sort of prologue to the film and er I didn't know whether to, to become terribly angry or, or just about cry because the prologue was as if Britain was a sinking ship you know, this was the last we would see of this great thing and they made the most of it you know, like er i the g the film was the old private schools you know the old w well the public schools in England.
[468] And er this was a thing that would die out you know.
[469] They always had in America that sort of er something er that against colonialism you see.
[470] Although there were more colonialism [laughing] in, in America than [...] than we were in [] well are now anyway but er in, in a way that was the sort of impression.
[471] And that gave me a terrible feeling, I just didn't know what to, whether to you know, you was sad and yet you felt wild at them putting it that way.
[472] And yet they were right of course, they were right enough it, it never came again completely as it,noth nothing stay the same.
[473] But er some of the exhibitions at the great er World Fair were really, there were some splendid things, although the main er theme of the thing wasn't so grandio well it was grandiose in a way but just too much so.
[474] It was the commercialism that struck me.
[475] The railways of America, the different l er railways, they had a huge pavilion well a huge er arena open air, with a huge stage and it was the presentation of the history of the railway engine ... [break in recording]
Malcolm (PS2A4) [476] Oops.
[477] Sorry about that. ... [break in recording]
Swinton (PS2A5) [478] Rocket and so forth.
[479] Something similar and er they came up to the, the great Pacific engines that came on and they, two of them came down in front of the stage, two of them were just a little bit higher up, and on the stage itself, there were scenes done like the hall in the Grand Central Station, New York and er they were, it was either the Ink Spots or some of these dancers that gave a performance, and it was so well put on that you couldn't help being impressed by
Malcolm (PS2A4) [480] Mm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [481] them you know.
[482] And then they had that great Aquatade Aquacade in another place.
[483] It was er you [...] paid to get into it, but this railway show was all free.
[484] And of course there was er [...] with engines from all the different countries including the, the Flying Scotsman and, and different German trains and, and Italian trains and so on.
[485] And then they, the one where Johnny Weismuller was, it was a lake in front of a great arena which they did a lot of you know, swimming about in the lake and the different formations.
[486] And they, then the other ones er there was one with General Motors and it was a, a huge thing, you were ten, it was a huge building, modern building but you just couldn't tell what it was from the outside.
[487] But you went on to a nameless belt of chairs and it took you it was Highways and Horizons they called it.
[488] And you went on to these chairs and you went through a, a scenic part which showed you the roads of the future.
[489] Now they're what we have today, the motorways you know.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [490] Mm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [491] But it, it was so varied that you went through the, the cities and the highland scenes where they went through the highlands and in the country and then you ended up with coming on to a crossroads in a modern, a futuristic city, where if you look down you, the pavements were elevated and you walked down to where all the models of General Motors were displayed as if they were crossing roads.
[492] And er I thought it was, what a money it must have cost to put that one commercial firm doing that.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [493] Mm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [494] And Ford was the same, you could have a run round in a, up and down you know in a sort of, in any of the latest models and oh there were some great commercial er pavilions in the, in the place really.
[495] The British one wasn't too bad either in the New York World Fair. ... [break in recording]
Malcolm (PS2A4) [496] Could you tell me now Mr as to some of your experiences as a town councillor please?
Swinton (PS2A5) [497] Well I, I was sitting in my house one night on the, I think it would be er nineteen fifty four, and a deputation came up from the ward committee to see me and wondered if I would join the council.
[498] I hadn't thought about it before then, and I said well I would need a day or two to think about it.
[499] So they said they would come back the next week and see what I thought.
[500] So I decided to go on to the council.
[501] At the time er I did various things, I was in the [...]
Malcolm (PS2A4) [502] I wh could you, sorry to interrupt you, could you could you tell me what year this was Mr ?
Swinton (PS2A5) [503] Nineteen fifty four it would be I think.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [504] Right.
Swinton (PS2A5) [505] And er
Malcolm (PS2A4) [506] You were in the opera company [...]
Swinton (PS2A5) [507] I, I had been er just in the chorus of the opera company and er you know, [...] various [...] the church choir and things like that I was in.
[508] But er of course I gave up that and went er when I went on to the council.
[509] I, er first of all I was a kind of shy wee laddie [laughing] as it were on the council.
[510] Because at that time the council was er men very much older than me and er very few young people on it really.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [511] How did you come, how was the election managed then?
Swinton (PS2A5) [512] Well they were, the ward committee had been seeking for a, a candidate, but I had no opposition at that time at all.
[513] I was the only one who stood.
[514] In that second ward.
[515] Which was a ward which I would say it was built about the ninet the eighteen seventies.
[516] And er a lot of the people, the families had grown up and the housing was in a poor state.
[517] But the old people preferred to remain there instead of moving to properties which might be a bit far away for them.
[518] Now er when I w went on the council,o of course I was first put on the parks and recreation committee.
[519] The one that I would really like to have got onto was the, the building h the hous housing committee.
[520] Which er I did eventually get on to and was a convenor for quite a number of years.
[521] And then I got on to the, I was convenor of the housing allocation committee for very many years.
[522] I served under five different provosts.
[523] Whom er the last one that I can r the last [...] who was alive died just about a fortnight ago.
[524] It was Colin .
[525] The first one I was on was, was under John .
[526] I was under er Lindsey Provost Lindsey .
[527] Provost Archie , Provost Colin and Provost , William .
[528] Er now William of course was on more than one term at the end.
[529] And I think I, I would just needed to say the word and I could have been Provost myself but I didn't really feel that I would be able to control the council, I think that was my impression at this.
[530] [laugh] Although I believe I would.
[531] But er later on when the council er after the new set up came on, I didn't s join the new set up, like the region a and the, the district councils.
[532] I, I didn't I came off the council at that time and er I became the president of the [...] gathering.
[533] It was a three year appointment.
[534] I was the first president of the [...] gathering.
[535] Now the duties I had to do there was to take the place of what the Provost of the town did before you see.
[536] And er introduce the candidates to the public you know, over the balcony when they're elected.
[537] And take part in all the ceremonies. [...]
Malcolm (PS2A4) [538] But there isn't now a Ga a provost in Gala?
Swinton (PS2A5) [539] No it's a district provost now.
[540] Provost is for the district.
[541] You see now if anything happened er it could be a provost who'd [...] the district who hasn't anything to do with the Galashiels you see, the next one in every probability.
[542] Now er we had, I had followed the gathering [...] well since it was instituted in nineteen thirty.
[543] And had known, took, took part in every one, right up I'd never been away out of the town in the time the [...] was on.
[544] All through these years [...] took part in every one for the last fifty years.
[545] And er in some way or other you know, not always in the same position but I'd always er had something to do with it.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [546] Going back to your
Swinton (PS2A5) [...]
Malcolm (PS2A4) [547] erm er council experience, erm what er you said that you were first put on the parks and recreation department.
[548] Erm what sort of duties did you have to deal with in that?
Swinton (PS2A5) [549] Well we had the parks to look after, we had the baths, the public baths and the playing fields to er they were administered through a parks superintendent.
[550] The, we did er our baths were dating from the nineteen fourteen period and they were getting rather old the, the, the boiler wasn't too good and we were afraid that it might burst at some time.
[551] We did erm get estimates for, to change the system.
[552] Of course when the baths were made there were ladies days and gents days, mixed bathing was considered not the thing in these days, but it did come in in the twenty or the, or the late twenties.
[553] And of course the, with the boxes being all round the side, the dressing boxes, this was outmoded, we needed a building at the side, which there was sufficient room to build something at the side because we had a park at the side of it then.
[554] And er we had a plan for to build a building with er dressing accommodation and er this was gonna cost seven thousand pound when we couldn't face it, we thought that there were far more important things to deal with than that when we had housing, we had just had a housing report which said that two thousand houses in the town were not up to the modern standard.
[555] And that meant in many cases, that the toilets were out in the garden and one toilet was serving about four houses.
[556] And that was the traditional sort of way in Galashiels, it was rather more like the rural areas than what the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow are, the toilets were just outside where the old dry toilets had been.
[557] And er they didn't spend the money when the sewage scheme was put into the town, the, the landlords didn't spend the money on bui rebuilding bits of the houses.
[558] For some reason or other, the money would be scarce at the time.
[559] It, it came or it or it would be one of the depressions that the town has suffered from many times during the last fifty or sixty years.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [560] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [561] Well we began to tackle the housing problem because this was a very big problem.
[562] And the result was of course that we couldn't build the centre of the town.
[563] We would have liked to rebuild it but then we had to find places for the people to go and being a narrow valley it, most of the housing was put at the [...] end of the town.
[564] And er some of the schemes have been criticized but it was a blessing in a way that we got them done when we did and er we were able to house a lot of people out there and release ground in the centre of the town to be redeveloped and er brought up to modern standards.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [565] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [566] And er there was a stage when we came to the, where we really decided we'd have to earmark different streets, how far we were gonna go in the centre of the town, because people were beginning to get grants for altering houses, and then in another five years time the council, the council were having to buy back these houses to redevelop the area.
[567] So there was a stage where we did say, this scheme is going so far and anybody that buys a house out with that area, they're free to apply for grants.
[568] But if they, we will, we will not allow them within this area which we intend to demolish and rebuild.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [569] Mhm.
Swinton (PS2A5) [570] And so it went on and the town today has er practically been either reconstructed, the centre has been reconstructed or the older buildings have been brought up to modern standards.
[571] Er there, there'll be a very small number of houses now which are substandard, compared with what there was in nineteen fifty four when I first went on the council.
[572] And er of course on the coun town council I was also er on the county council because the proportional representation of the area Galashiels held the whole, fifteen councillors were on the county council.
[573] And er there was only one who couldn't take part and he was in the fire brigade and couldn't take part because they were er his employers.
[574] So er when I was, I was on the county council I was on the welfare committee and er in later years I was on the planning committee.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [575] Mhm.
Malcolm (PS2A4) [576] But er the welfare one was my er secret love as it were it was [] .
[577] Because er I knew the area very well, I was er we had two committees which were composed of two counties, we had the Priory Committee th that was a home at Selkirk, a children's home, and we had in cooperation with Berwickshire, Berwickshire and Selkirkshire were the owners of the Priory children's home.
[578] And I was chairman of it for about six years or so before the council broke up.
[579] We also had another one which was er which had been a poorhouse, turned into an old folks home and it was er Peebleshire and Selkirkshire.
[580] It had been at one time, going back over a hundred and fifty years, it had been what they called a combination poorhouse.
[581] And Galashiels being placed where it was on the between four counties,th you had Berwickshire, Peebleshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire all having a part.
[582] But Roxburghshire and Berwickshire came out of it and it was a Peebleshire and Selkirkshire home.
[583] And er it was er we had to develop it from a poorhouse into an old folks' home.
[584] Which took a very long time.
[585] We, we tackled it without putting a great lot on the rates, we were a, we were able to tackle it year by year by altering some of the rooms.
[586] Adding er dining rooms and er sitting rooms for the old folk, and er also trying to break up the wards into s smaller units.
[587] But er this place er was called View and it's now been er vacated and a new home has been built at the in the Park.
[588] And it's
Malcolm (PS2A4) [589] And what was it what were these homes for Mr ?
Swinton (PS2A5) [590] Well er old folk who couldn't look after themselves.
[591] But originally I can remember that View in the days of the, when it was a poorhouse, and I visited with my mother who used to visit a woman up there.
[592] And it was a very bare place then, wooden seats and wooden tables and long trestle tables and er tha that's, I have very faint memories of it [...] .
[593] But when we took it over the, one of the first things we did was to redesign the kitchen because the soup was made in these great [...] boiler and it was probably heated up every day of the week and [...] can imagine what it would be like being in [...] prison.
[594] [laughing] [...] [] . However that was all changed and er that was the first thing we changed and erm then we erm, during the period we, the staff were changed, Mr and Mrs who are in charge of now, they came as a young couple to View and er I think with their coming, they had different ideas and the place did seem to change. [...]
Malcolm (PS2A4) [595] That's, this, are we talking about the, the late fifties?
[596] Or later on?
Swinton (PS2A5) [597] Yes.
[598] Er the late fifties early sixties I should say, yes.
[599] They just, the early sixties I would say probably sixty two or sixty three when they, they came I think.
[600] And er of course we took away all the iron beds, put wooden beds, we put little wardrobes in the rooms and these thi tackling it bit by bit each year you see.
[601] Not without throwing a great lot onto the rates because the rates were just Selkirkshire, and Peebleshire had to keep it up then and er we didn't er get grants for it in these days.
[602] And er so Peebles had their separate homes, we also had a separate one at Side and then we also built the, the one at er Lodge which is another part of the Park.
[603] These were er built in between the th that long period that I was on the council.
[604] Er I was chairman of that committee as well, View when, when, during quite a long period, until the whole system was changed to the council system like and went onto er and er there was one of our, our er officer who was in charge of welfare was a Mr who had a great knowledge of both Selkirk and Galashiels and the country and er he was known by everybody.
[605] And a very great man he was and he, before he ret he had died, he didn't reach retirement, he died before he retired which, and we missed him very much indeed.
[606] And er ... I didn't have a lot to do with roads or anything like that or education, it was mainly welfare that was my, the, the [...]