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Sports and Leisure

A History

e-mail Rosie

Under construction

Updated 21 February 2010

More information in Past and Present Chap XXI

On this page:

Football

Boxing

Other Sports and Games

Armadale Parks / Recreation Areas

Theatre and Cinema

Samplers

Street Games

Organised Youth Groups: Guides, Scouts and Boys' Brigade

Drama: Performers and Teachers

Guising

Dance: Dancers and Dancing Teachers

Samplers

 

See the following links for other Armadale past-times:

Armadale Football History

 

Andy Anderson's History of Golf in Armadale

 

Armadale Bands and Performers

 

For Armadale Writers, see

Publications

 

Armadale Gala Days

FOOTBALL
Football Snippets: more information needed please!

Other information about Armadale Football History

1879: First Football Club in Armadale was formed.

1881: Committee members: Sprott, McKenzie, Russell, Goldie, Scott and White.

1887: Woodend Jubileeans FC founded, later becoming Woodend Athletic

1888: Armadale Star, which played in Volunteer Field - Armadale Rising Star?

c1902: Woodend Excelsior

Woodend Thistle and Armadale Athletic FC both played at junior level

Armadale Bluebell 1920

Armadale Thistle Football Club, 1939 - 1940, Winners of the Rosebery Cup and Midlothian League 1940.

 

Woodend United 1927 - 1928

"Well, mainly the boys played football - they played with a small ball of course (one that would cost aboot a tanner) and they played in the streets.  It was mostly horse and carts at that time so it was really quite safe - just the odd car.  You played there until the police came along and chased you.  Then we had guessing games - you know -  you would stand about the street corners and one person would ask 'What's in so and so's window, beginning with the letter...'.  In those days the shop windows were crammed full of everything under the sun.  Then, of course, we played marbles - cigarette cards in 'fag' packets.  We saved those up into collections and you did deals with your friends to get cards you didn't have.  The girls played netball and hockey."

Courtesy of HAA: Playtime extract interviewee: J. Thomson

West Church Boys' Club Football Team

1930s:

President: R. Easton; Secretary: A. Brown; Trainer: W. Sneddon

Players: Bailey, Gavin Dunn, Forrest?, Haddow, McNichol,  Neilson, Rankine, Danny Smith, Hugh Smith, Sneddon, Williams, Yardley

BOXING

If you are interested in West Lothian Boxers, see Jim Duffy's Memories of West Lothian Boxers and Their Times. Jim Duffy played a significant role in the development of Armadale Boxing Club.

If there are errors and omissions in this section, please let me know.  If you have any memories or photos of these men that you would be willing to share with our readers please e-mail Rosie

Here are some of the boxers associated with Armadale during their careers:

Don Carmichael, a Scottish Internationalist from Stoneyburn                                                                                                   

1949: won Eastern District Featherweight Championship with Foulshiels
1951: won Eastern District Lightweight titles with Leith Victoria
1952: won Eastern District Lightweight titles with Armadale ABC

D. Ford, Flyweight

Jim Harris,
1942: won the Scottish Amateur Middleweight title with Melbourne ABC

Frankie Jones,                                                                                                                                                                               

1955: won the Scottish Amateur Flyweight  title with Larkhall                                                                                                     

1957-60: won the British Professional Flyweight title                                                                                                                   

1957: won the British Empire title

D. Lamond, Middleweight

I. McDonald, Lightweight

Frank McLaughlin,
1952: won the RAF Bantamweight title
1952: one of the RAF team, which won the Britannia Shield

Jackie Peden, a crane slinger in the Atlas Foundry and courageous boxer.

Jim Prentice, first man to win the title below                                                                                                                                 

1951: Scottish Amateur Lightmiddleweight title                                                                                                                                    

He built the hut on South Street to house the boxing club (now used as a Scout hut)

J Welch, Featherweight and lightweight boxer in Scottish amateur championships in 1950s

Boxers included: James Allison, John Anderson, Davie Blake,  Kevin Connelly, Billie Henrie, Ricky McDonald, Gary Moffat, Willie MacKenzie, Frank Mclaughlin, who became an AIBA judge and referee, Bernard Noonan, Russell Meekson, Stuart Reilly, Charles Wilson, George and Frank Brodie, the latter two achieved European referee and judge status.

CLUBS

The South Street club

Armadale Boxing Club: started by Alex MacKenzie

George Brodie and Alan Hastie started a successful club in Armadale, but closed when they were unable to secure suitable premises.

The Rob Roy pub club, which had to be moved to the Community Centre after a fire.

Coaches at the club included:  Frank McLaughlin and Colin Riley

THE GEORGE BRODIE MEMORIAL SHIELD

In 2004 a charity boxing show raised £1,400 for the Eastern District Youth Boxing Association.  The West Lothian boxers fought for the George Brodie Memorial Shield, which was donated by Amateur Boxing Scotland in memory of George Brodie, latterly Bathgate Amateur Boxing Club member, former youth to senior boxer with Armadale boxing ABC who died in 2003, aged 39.

OTHER SPORTS AND GAMES

PIGEON RACING and William Anderson of Armadale

A HOMING CLUB for homing pigeons was established in Armadale in 1877 (?is this date correct).

1893: The Scottish National Flying Club was founded.

1894: 41 competitors sent 92 pigeons to Dublin, the winner being George Hamilton of Govan.

1897: At the age of 9, William Anderson bought racing pigeons, a blue cock and a black hen at 5 shillings each, from John Roberts of Armadale. The birds were descended from the Delmotte family, tracing back to Banner of Ainsdale's 23 and 24 and the blood of J.B. Clark of Bothwell.  At school in Glasgow, he met James Haddow of Govan, a member of Glasgow Clydesdale Club, who encouraged his interest in pigeons.

1905: William Anderson (from hereon referred to as 'WA') began racing young birds in the Armadale and District Homing Society (founded late 1890s?)and was second in his first race from Dumfries.

1906: A successful year of good positions for WA.

1907 - 1909: WA was a medical student and had to abandon racing while training.

1910: WA returned to Armadale to assist his father with the medical practice.

1911: WA resumed racing, joined the Scottish National Flying Club and was 14th Rennes.

1914: WA won 7th and 13th Rennes SNFC and 7th and 13th open in the Bournemouth East of Scotland race.  From this year John McAlpine became his loftman.  Later, John's son William also contributed his expertise and WA was keen to note his incredible memory for pigeons. WA bought John McAlpine's stock of birds which had a good race record.

Until 1914 the Scottish Fancy was a section of the National Homing Union. 

1914: The Scottish Homing Union was formed and WA became the first president of the Scottish National Flying Club.  

1914 -1918: Racing was restricted and WA was in Salonika in 1917 and 1918.

1919: WA resumed racing entering many races, gaining firsts in many Club races.

1920: WA won the 1st Rennes and the Gold Cup, Scottish National.  In the Open race from Bournemouth only two birds were timed on the day, the winners being the Watson brothers of Armadale and the Whitefield brothers of Armadale.  The parents of both winners were from WA's loft.

1921: The Watson brothers won the Scottish National from Rennes with the 1st Open Bournemouth winner.

1922 - 1948: The success of the Arnmadale and District Homing Society grew

1947: WA wrote The Sport of Pigeon Racing in which he showed his pride in the achievements of his local Society.

Members of the Armadale Society won the Rennes National on at least three occasions: William Anderson in 1920, the Watson brothers in 1921 and Hugh Park in 1938.  The Kerr brothers were second in 1920 and in 1939.  In his book on pigeons, WA talked of those who had been strong supporters of the Club:

Innumerable honours have also been won in the National races by other members.  Of the original founders, very few are still to the fore, but Abe Kerr (of Kerr brothers), Joseph Wilson and John McAlpine are still with us and all are as enthusiastic as ever. ....

Among other good fanciers who were members of the club and who helped to keep the flag flying were the late Robert Kerr, John Forsyth, John Roberts, Joseph McAlpine, Pat Hainey, John Sommerville (now in Fife) and Alex Muir (now in USA).

1948: WA moved to Bathgate and spent time settling his birds from their new position.

1949 - 1951: WA did not race seriously.

1952: WA achieved many wins: SNCF Rennes, 10th, 47th section, 50th, 150th Open.  Old Birds: Dumfries 7th, Maryport 12th, Millom 13th, Stafford 3rd, Worcester 12th, Cheltenham 7th, Swindon 4th and 5th, Rennes 1st and 4th, Weymouth 1st and 2nd Young Birds: Dumfries 5th, Maryport 6th, and 11th, Millom 12th, Kirkham 2nd and 3rd.  Winning Young Bird Cup, Morgan Cup for 3 longest races, Combined Average trophy, Kirkham £100 Cup.

1953  WA's expected continued success was cut short by his untimely death.

TENNIS

Tennis courts used to be situated at far end of East Main Street.

Nurses from Tippethill Hospital played tennis on courts at Polkemmet House.

DRAUGHTS   Billy Faulkner,

although only 4' 6'', was a strong man and World Champion wrestler who lived on the corner of Station Road and Bathville Road.

BESSIE BURNS CLUB

 

 

  Bulletting / Hainching: throwing stones along a road CURLING CLUB

At the start of the 1900s, a curling club played on the loch next to what is now Black Moss Park.  A simple club house was built of brick walls and a corrugated roof.  After WWI, the curling club was not as popular and eventually folded, even though local people liked to skate on the ice in the winter.

CRICKET:

In the 1860s Messrs Watson provided a cricket pitch in Bathville.

1907: John McNicol wrote on behalf of the Club, requesting the turfing of a suitable area for matches.

1935: Armadale Cricket Club beat Avonmills of Linlithgow

7 May 1936 The Atlas Cricket Club was formed: In 1937 a photo showed the following members: umpire: William Hunter; J McColl, Jim Lockhart, Jack Reid, Jim Campbell, John Dickson, Robert Gibb, Tommy Rankin, John Craig, Archie Craig, Sandy Rankin, Tom Coffield.

1937 The Atlas Cricket comprised: J McColl, Jim Lockhart, William Hunter, John Craig, J Campbell, J Dickson, G Walker (Umpire), Jack Reid, A Craig, Archie Craig, A Rankine, Robert Gibb

BOWLING

Armadale Bowling Club green, funded by concerts and subscriptions, was laid behind Monkland Cottage in 1867.  Permission was granted by the Laird of Barbauchlaw.  They were supported by the Gothenburg who supplied them with a Championship Cup in 1915.  A new hall was financed in 1923, and in 1955, a licence to sell alcohol allowed for further expansion. 

A Ladies Section was formed in 1962.

  QUOITS

SWIMMING

Armadale Swimming Pool

Built 1970, opened by Olympic Silver medallist Bobby McGregor

 

 

Colquhoun Postcard

Armadale Parks / Recreation Areas
Avondale Park Corrie Park
Wood Park

In October 1891, James Wood of Bathville House wrote to the Commissioners of Armadale, "During my residence here I have observed the want the town of Armadale, and neighbourhood has of a field of recreation and a hall for lectures, concerts and other public entertainment.  With a view to remedying this want [he offered] the field west of the bowling green for the purpose of a Public Park and recreation ground."

Drove Road
Watson Park Nelson Park
Black Moss Hardhill Wood

map        aerial view      area

A Tribute to the Scouts who planted Hardhill Millennium Wood

North of Stonerigg Farm and Wood Park

Curling Pond / South Pond (town reservoir c1863)

 

"...there were a big moss in Armadale at the back of the Public Park and a big quarry there.  When ah was a laddy all the wee laddies used to go doon the side of that quarry on a wire to get the birds' nests, ken, take the birds nests oot the side of the quarry....and there was a lovely big moss at the back o' it.  And it were lovely during the summer time.  With our wee short troosers on, you could jump in....right up to here....that was great fun there."

Courtesy of HAA: Playtime extract interviewee: John Mackinnon

Free or cheap entertainment: a walk up buttress road to Blackridge; a picnic in the Glen; skating on Binnie's pond; a train to Portobello for 6d

Barbauchlaw Glen

"We used to go for great walks when we were young, doon the Glen, Wallace's Cave.  We used to go down where the dog Track is and we always went to the brickwork Bing.  It was always hot, and we took tatties wi' us and we stuck them in and roasted them.................. [About going to the moss] we used to pick the bog reeds and make skirts...and we walked through a' the peat moss wi' our bare feet.  And there were sparrables... in the shoes, hanging roond your neck.  And we went right over on the old road and we used to pick berries."

Courtesy of HAA: Playtime extract interviewee: Mrs. McMillan

Queen Megan and her Court, Gala Day 2007

THEATRE and CINEMA

Star Theatre

Robert Easton (described below) also ran the Star Theatre (North Street). Like the Pavilion, the Star was able to generate its own electricity, but it only had two coke-burning stoves, one on each side of the stage, and so it was a chilly venue in winter.

Also, unlike the Pavilion when upgraded, it only had one projector and so films had to be seen in two parts with house lights coming up during the interval when the film reel was changed.

Live acts, which appeared at the Star included: Doctor Walford Bodie; Doun the Watter; The Largs Entertainers; The Logans; Martin and Holbein; The Rothesay Entertainers; York and Morgan

Tom Milne took over the Star from Bob Easton and he introduced much needed improvements such as semicircular balconies at each side of the stage and an enlarged projection room to house the second projector. In 1917, he was granted a licence after improvements had been made.

After Tom Milne's pub in East Main Street had been damaged by fire, and then rebuilt, he created an entrance to the Star from East Main Street also.

The Star was demolished eventually.

The penny matinee was popular at The Star Picture House:

"Aye, I remember going to the matinee.  It used to be the old Star picture-house then, when I was, oh, just about 5......It was the talking films at that time.  We did sometimes have the silent movies, you know.  You still maybe got a supporting programme with the silent movies, you know.  And Charlie Chaplin, of course, he was always silent, you know, but very, very funny.  And Laurel and Hardy, and then there was a serial on, they called it "The Clutching Hand" and it was never-ending.  It used to come to an awfy exciting bit and then it tellt you to come back next week.  And there you were, hangin', waitin', to see if it was gonna happen the next week, and of course you were back at the door before it was time to go in.  Aye, a penny to get in.  Aye, and we used to get our sweeties and go away to the pictures...I've seen some of them goin' with broon sugar in a poke and a stick of rhubarb, goin' in tae the pictures..."

Courtesy of HAA: Entertainment extract interviewee: Mrs McCrorty.

Pavilion Theatre

(later the site of the RC Primary School)

1914: Mr C B Wood applied for a licence to operate the Pavilion Theatre, managed by George Paddle.

1916: Robert Easton, manager, was granted a Cinema and Variety Licence for the Pavilion Theatre.

Robert Easton aka Wee Bob ran a plasterer's and slater's business in Lockerbie until he decided to return to Armadale.  He then ran the Pavilion Picture House behind the Masonic Public House.

Gas engines with large wheels coupled by belt to generators produced the electricity for the Pavilion and the Star.  As the theatre had a boiler house with hot water pipes running around the auditorium, it proved to be a comfortable and welcoming venue.

Before his take-over, the Pavilion had only had one projector, thereby preventing continuous films.  However, Easton introduced changes such as two projectors, to provide a continuous film show; a new gallery with stairs rather than one step and a slope to the back; a fire exit staircase; a larger stage for live acts; dressing rooms; and enough space for small four-piece bands.  Easton's shows were popular because of their varied content: Pathé News; a short film, two live acts, a main feature film, plus the ever-popular serial that would ensure attendance by fans every week.  When there were no live acts, he would run a full film programme and a Go as you please competition (on Thursday evening until 11.30pm).

Two boys were sent around Armadale every Monday (one as bell ringer and the other as announcer) to announce the contents of that week's shows.

The Pavilion was eventually destroyed by fire.

Farewell to the Regal
by Mrs McCrorty

Farewell tae the Regal.
It wis a fine place,
And mony's the young couple
Their first trysts it did grace.

They wid wait in the foyer
Jist tae see Charles Boyer,
And, aye, go back again
Tae see John Wayne.

We tried hard as we were able
Tae imitate Betty Grable.
We tried to dance like Fred Astaire,
And wha'ever saw us, well we didna care.

We selt jeely jaurs
Tae see awe the staurs,
And they came fae afaur
Tae see Dorothy Lamour.

And then there was Tarzan
Wha swung through the trees -
It wisna surprising
The boys had skint knees.

They tied ropes tae the lamp-posts
And swung there for days.
They goat many a thumping
For tearing their claithes.

Then came rock and roll,
And the racket the weans made
Was gey hard to thole.

The Manager run from the top
Tae the bottom,
And God help thae lads
If auld Murray cot them.

So farewell tae the Regal.
It is a disgrace,
There's nothing there noo
But a big empty space.

"Of course, that was the days of Tom Mix, ken, the cowboys.  Oh, happy days, happy days, the pictures.  Went to the matinee on a Saturday and you got a wee star on your card.  You got a wee card for good attendance and there'd be a star on it and at the end of the day, come Christmas, the one with the most stars got - everybody got it, ken, a wee prize.  If ye had nae stars at a' , they'd give ye a wee framed photograph or something....happy days, happy days."

Courtesy of HAA: Entertainment extract interviewee: J. Mackinnon.

A sufficient number of stamps would entitle the holder to free entrance and also an orange on the Saturday nearest Christmas Day.

For an indication of how Armadale's Regal would have looked in its prime,

see Bathgate's refurbished Regal

Photo (courtesy of Ron Dingwall) taken prior to The Regal's demolition in the 1980s.

Other photos

The sign that used to be on the canopy outside the Regal Theatre and Cinema in Armadale.  It had red perspex behind each letter, but only 3 pieces of the original have survived.  

Ron Dingwall managed to rescue the sign on the day the front of the building fell down.  Our thanks to him for this photo also.

Beginnings: The Regal Theatre, Armadale, was opened on Saturday, 4 December 1937 to replace The Star Theatre in North Street.  Mr Ivor Groves and the other directors of Star Theatre Armadale Ltd (later Lothian Star Theatres Ltd) invited Provost Calder to perform the opening ceremony.

Design: The Regal was designed by architect Andrew David Haxton (1878 - 1960) whose practice, well-known for cinema design as well as social housing. was at Commercial Road, Leven.  Examples of his cinemas include: Regal, Greendykes Road, Broxburn (1936, 1941); Regal, North Bridge Street, Bathgate (1937 - 1939, 1946); Regal, Main Street, West Calder (1938-1939; 1948-1955).  After the approval of the plans on 10 May 1937, building began and lasted only seven months until completion.  As one can imagine from the photos above, in its heyday the building looked striking with its name in neon lights and its entrance and foyer of simulated grey marble with red, black and chrome trim.

Audience Capacity: Its seating capacity was 1,250, 924 in the lower auditorium and 326 in the balcony. 

Entertainment: Although it housed the most modern lighting equipment of its time, it served not only as a cinema, but also as a theatre as it had dressing rooms.  Well-known performers such as Harry Gordon and Harry Lauder appeared at The Regal, but home-grown talent also entertained, such as the company of Armadale Co-operative Dramatic Club* and Armadale Choral Society.  It was a popular venue for all ages whether families on an evening out, courting couples watching the latest film, or children attending the ever-popular Children's Saturday and Christmas matinees (e.g. Elmo the Mighty, The Iron Man, Houdini).  The evening programme was changed twice weekly and, occasionally, it included live variety acts as well as films.

Staff: Three managers ran The Regal in succession: Leo Rippen, George Murray (25 years) and John Pow for most of its 35 years, and a handful of managers for its last few years.  The dozen or so people employed included cashiers, cleaners, projectionists (especially Chief Projectionist Alex (Sandy) Wardlaw), salesgirls and usherettes, although there was also a commissionaire in its earlier days.

Ian Ross told about life as a projectionist at the Regal Theatre in 'Behind the flickering spotlight', in HAA's Your magazine Issue No 9, June 1999:

"To become a projectionist you had to sign indenture papers and serve a three years' apprenticeship.  During this time you had to attend Bristo Technical Institute in Edinburgh, one day per week, where you were tutored to City and Guilds standard.

A  Projectionist is in charge of heating, lighting and showing the film.  The hours of work were from 9.00am to 12.00 noon, then in the evening, 4.00pm till 10.30pm. In the mornings your task was to take all the collected debris from the night before, including crisp packets, ice lolly wrappers, etc. and put them in the heating boiler.  You then had to go out to the back yard, barrow the amount of coal needed to replenish the bunker, and keep the boiler stoked up.  After this, the rest of the morning was spent cleaning light fittings, replacing bulbs and checking the wiring.  The boiler was replaced by an oil fired system in the mid 1960s and the coal system was not missed by me, I can tell you.  On Monday and Thursday mornings, time was spent unpacking and preparing the films for showing."

He commented about the cleanliness of Armadale's Regal Theatre in those days and then described his busy evenings.

"Each film that arrives is made up of anything from four to six or even more reels and each reel lasts about twenty minutes.  By the time you have laced up a new reel and rewound the one just used, it is time to change another one.  This is done by using two projectors, a series of cue marks and numbered leaders..... The first mark tells the projectionist to start the projector and the second one tells him to change over.  This is done by flicking one switch on the projector to open the shutter and another switch on the wall to transfer the sound.  The projectors were 'Gaumont Kalee 21'.   They were about six feet high and the arc lighting stretched back about four feet.  The projector arc lighting was controlled by two mercury bulbs in a transformer housed in a room of its own.  The light was created by two carbon rods about ½" apart, this gave off a light three times brighter than a welding rod."

Endings: The last film shown at The Regal was "That the way it is". The Regal closed on the 3 June 1972.  Although it was bought by Armadale Burgh Council, and many options were considered for its use, from 1977 onwards, demolition seemed inevitable.  In 1980, a local Action Group was formed in the hope that the building could be saved and restored for much-needed community use.  However, in 1983, the building was finally demolished.

Other Cinema Snippets

Empire Palace Theatre Armadale  c1909*,

aka 'Penny Geggie', George Street, formerly New Street

This theatre was named later as The Ruskin.  It was leased to Mickey Burns whose trademark was the large sombrero hat that he wore when out and about in Armadale. 1911: Mr Burns was granted a licence to hold a cinematograph exhibition in his hall in George Street.

Later, after the building had been standing empty for a considerable time, it  was converted as the site of the Ambulance Garage, which must have caused some problems as there was a steep slope for the ambulances to climb up to the street level.

1910: James Scott was given a certificate to allow him to stage a cinematograph exhibition.

1912: James and Thomas Smith received the certificate for their new hall in South Street in which to show films.

Mr J Bowden was given a 6-day cinema licence, 2 houses per night plus Saturday matinees.

Robert Boyd, representing Armadale Picturedrome Company Ltd, was given a variety licence for the South Street premises.  The licence was to be given in the name of John Smith, manager, of Mill Road.

SAMPLERS
 

The sampler above was made by Jeanie Walker from Tippethill in 1882, when she was twelve. It has a lovely example of a strawberry motif, a biblical quote and initials of family members.
Often produced by young children, these samplers give a valuable glimpse into another age. Religious quotes and biblical characters jostle for space with farmyard animals in the colourful designs. Most were produced in homes and schools as a way of learning valuable sewing skills – and keeping their young makers occupied and quiet! Helpfully for us, the young girls who produced the samplers often signed their work, and added the initials of their immediate family – using black thread if those shown had died.

A photo of Jeanie Walker with her seven daughters on the occasion of her Silver Wedding Anniversary can be seen in the Newsletter of West Lothian Heritage Services.  More about samplers

STREET GAMES

 

"I was born in Bathville and I wonder if the same distinction is still made between the Bathville inhabitants and those "doon the street".  As children, the various works in Bathville were our happy hunting ground - especially during the early thirties when so many works stood idle.  The "stoory laft" or where the clay was crushed in the pipe work held a fatal attraction for us, despite all manner of parental threats.  That poor brickwork pony, after its day's task of pulling bogeys to the bing, often had an even harder shift in the evening giving us free rides.  The packing cases and wooden patterns in one of the disused foundry shops were turned into all kinds of weird and wonderful places.  All this we claimed as our own - not that this notion was shared by the ever-vigilant Bathville policeman.  We were engaged in a continuous battle of wits with these custodians of the law - a battle which we invariably lost.  I wonder what our younger generation would think of the summary justice dispensed by these good gentlemen, in the shape of a well-aimed but restrained kick in the pants."  

"Were our summers really warmer then?  Can anything beat the pleasure of running barefoot and bursting the bubbles in the melted tar of the roads with your big toe?  And where are the whips and peeries, the girs and cleeks, the chuckie stanes - even peevers today?    ....................   In summer, then, we roamed further afield than our recognised territory which invariably gave rise to disputes with rival factions.  Our wanderings took us to such places as Blackberryhill, No. 7 Pit, the Moss, Binnie's Pond and if you were daring enough that sinister place - the Quarry."

Extracts from article A 'Dale of Days Gone By by R. G. Currie, Esq., M.A. in Armadale Gala Day Programme 1968

ORGANISED YOUTH GROUPS: Guides, Scouts and Boys' Brigade
Girl Guides in Armadale: The beginning
  • The Girl Guides began meeting in Armadale in January 1920, inaugurated by the County Commissioner, Mrs Hog of Newliston.  The first captains were: Miss Lindsay (Bathgate) and Miss A. Forsyth (Armadale).  In July that year, Miss Forysth and her lieutenants, Miss Nelly Aikman, Miss Wilson of Bedlormie, and Miss C Wylie, took 25 Armadale Girl Guides to North Berwick for a two-week stay.

First Armadale Boys' Brigade Company

formed 1937, attached to east Church.

Captain: Alex Notman

Armadale Scout Troop (28th West Lothian) was first registered in 1926.  In its early days, it was known as the Public School group and its sections were divided into three age groups: wolf cubs (age 8 years +); boy scouts (age 11 years +); Rover scouts (age 18 years - 25- technically!)

Later the sections were divided further to form: beaver scouts (age 6+); cub scouts (age 8+); scouts (10½+); venture scouts (age 15+ - 20).  Leaders had to retire at 65.

One of the troops early 'headquarters was a room behind Borza's café.

1st Armadale Boy Scout Pipe Band formed during WWII

Drum Section trainer: Drum Major Tom McDonald; Piper Trainers: Pipe Major Tom McGregor and Guy Dow; Jack Burgoyne; Charles Colquhoun; Tom Hudson; Harold Hutchison; Billy Inglis; Jimmy Kerr; Robert Kerr; David McCallum; Ian McCallum; Johnny McConnell; Billy McNeil; Basil Slater; Robert Turner; Willie Tweedie; Willie Walker; Jim Watson

2000: A photo tribute to the Scout Troops who planted Hardhill aka Millennium Wood

Scouts 2004 Awards: Silver Acorn 'In recognition of specially distinguished service' to Mrs Helen Stephen Hamilton ACSL / AAC (Cub Scouts), 28th West Lothian (1st Armadale), West Lothian

More information needed!

DRAMA  The Performers and Teachers

Dramatic Clubs

Catholic Dramatic Club: a popular club, which was an effective showcase for Armadale's talented performers.  Shows were performed at the Pavilion.

Ray Maxwell is remembered for shows, which involved the younger members of the 'Dale.

Armadale Dramatic Club performed "She Stoops to Conquer" in 1925.

The Dale Players (President and Treasurer - William Casey; Secretary - Mrs E Gorman):  Does anyone know what year the players performed Night Must Fall by Emlyn Williams?  Cast: The Lord Chief Justice - William Casey; Mrs Bramson - Betty Gorman; Olivia Grayne - Jan Connerton; Hubert - Joe Murray; Nurse Libby - Jean Olivier; Mrs Terence - Mary Glasgow; Detective Belsize - Ronnie Todd*; Dora - Aileen McLay; Dan - Alex Thom; Producer - Hal Todd; Stage Manager - Alex Gorman; Lighting Effects - Leonard Ezzi

* also a television performer

Comedienne

  • Nellie Walker, daughter of Jack Walker, pianist.  She performed as an amateur in Ray Maxwell's Armadale Christmas Productions, and professionally in venues outside Armadale.

GUISING

Guising at Hallowe'en

"You each had a party piece. My father had a wee play, based on Sir William Wallace and the traitor Sir John Monteith:
'Here comes in Sir William Wallace, Sir William Wallace is my name,
My sword and pistol by my side, I hope to win the game.
The game, sir, the game, sir, it lies within my power,
I'll cut you up in inches, in less than half an hour.'
And then in came Sir John Monteith and everybody booed - he was the traitor, you see. So he had a spiel, and then of course, the two of them fought. And they baith cut each other and they baith fell.
So here comes in wee Doctor Broon, the best wee doctor in the toun.
'What can you cure?'
'All sorts.'
'What's all sorts?'
'A wee bottle of inky pinky, with a he-he-phe and a ho-ho-ho that all the people fancy.'
'Give them a' a snuff!' everybody says. So he goes roond Wallace... and they spring up and then they sing the wee song. So that's how it goes on. The last bit was quite important. This wee boy comes in with his faither's long coat on:
'Here comes in wee Johnny Funny, the best wee man to get a' the money.
Lang hairy pooches doun to his knees, tuppence, or thruppence or three bawbees.' "

Davie Kerr's interview in Mair Tales Fae The 'Dale

DANCE

Dancers and Dancing Activities

See also Armadale Bands and Performers
Conductors and Impresarios

 

Dancers

There were many types of dancer in the area, many of whom performed wearing the medals that they had won in past contests.

  • Jessie Brodie

  • Walter Stewart

  • Mary McMillan

  • Joe Anderson

  • Jamie Wardrop of Armadale trained under Sheridan Nicole, and, when he was 12, he was accepted by the Royal Academy of ballet, Edinburgh, with whom he continued to train until he was 16.  He achieved all his Royal Academy of Dance qualifications and also became SDTA qualified (Scottish Dance Teachers Alliance)

    He worked on many television shows such as Thingamijig (STV) Royal Command Performance (LWT), Video Entertainers (ITV), Little and Large (ITV), and Tribute to the Falklands (LWT). He also worked on West End musicals and a number of videos and commercials, including Wild Boys (Duran Duran).

    Apart from working around the world, Jamie also toured the US as a member of a Scottish Ballet Company in their production of Gathering of the Clans.

    He is now co-director and co-owner of a very successful dance studio, Dance Arts Centre, in Georgia, USA, and he has received numerous awards for his choreography.

Dancing Teachers

  • Peter Gillespie (old style dances)

  • Alexander Gorman aka Wee Sanny and his wife Betty, gave dancing lessons, to young people as young as 14 twice a week at the Masonic Hall

  • John Banks of East Main Street, Armadale, attended Armadale Public School before continuing to Bathgate Academy and then Heriot Watt College, Edinburgh.  After army service, he trained initially with Mr and Mrs James Ellis at the Norbury School of Dancing before continuing to Edinburgh and London, and then on to considerable success in amateur competitions. After teaching in the Victor Sylvester School of Dancing, he set up his own establishment, the Adell Dance School, a name partly formed by using Ad of A'dale.  After qualification as a full professional, he travelled all over the world to judge competitions, especially those at major championships.  He served on the Official Board of Ballroom Dancing in London as well as on the Executive Committee, eventually becoming President of the British Association of Ballroom Dancing, a post he held for three years before retirement.

    Also, he ran a dance class at Armadale Welfare for some years while his parents were still living in Barbauchlaw Avenue.

"I mind, when I was young, I was awfy fond o' dancing.  And in the 1914 - 1918 War this Mr Morrison used to play an accordion and he always played over in the public park if it was a good day and the young 'uns always used to go over there and dance and of course I was always there dancing - I'm still dancing!  Always fond o' dancing.  So I used to go across there and watch them - I was only aboot 4 year old, 3 or 4 year old - I used to love to watch them."

Courtesy of HAA: Playtime extract interviewee:  Mrs Janet Walker

Colquhoun Postcard

The Miners Welfare Institute in East Main Street was built in 1923.  In 1929 a hall extension for functions and dances, with facilities underneath for billiards, was added by the Institute Committee.  After the disbandment of the committee, the building was sold many times, until, in 1996, it was acquired for housing development, and so the hall was demolished.  In its heyday, the Institute's hall was described being of 'grand proportions' , an impression probably created by its 17th century motifs, the crow-stepped central bay as well as the three-storied tower with its corbelled balustraded flat at the top.

The Dale Dance Club, formed 1934, disbanded shortly before WWII.  Secretary: Hugh (Paul) McKenna; Treasurer: Jimmy Connor.  It was the only Club for ballroom dancing in West Lothian at that time.

Resident Band: The Charleston Quartet Dance Band: William Smith on drums; Fossie aka Fossy Smith on piano; Bill Anthony on sax and Jack ('Bud') Wallace on cornet.

Times and venues: Wednesdays at Welfare Hall; Saturdays: Town Hall; popular Grand Ball in evening dress held at the Miners' institute every March.  Admission: 9d for men, 6d for women

"It was very good.  We used to love to watch a Masonic Ball.  We used to sneak in at the side door to watch them dancing.  The men all wore white gloves so that they wouldn't soil the ladies' dresses.  It was great watching them.  I used to go to 'wee Sannie's dancing' and on a Sunday we all went to Carruber Glen.  Mr Gorman had us all up dancing the Grand March on the grass.  We made our own music.  What a laugh - that's going back about 70 years of course."

Courtesy of HAA: Playtime extract interviewee: Isa Fleming

 

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