Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Book: 'To Follow the Dogs and Carry the Stick', by Bob Jaffray

We've published a new book, 'To Follow the Dogs and Carry the Stick', written by one of our members, Bob Jaffray.

The book's subtitle is 'Glimpses of the Herding Life over Thirty Years in Lammermuir 1935-1965', and as a retired shepherd with a family connection to herding in the Lammermuirs going back to shortly after World War I, Bob recalls his memories of living in remote cottages high up in the hills and his subsequent life as a shepherd.

As he writes, ‘by the 1980s, a new mode of herding came into being with economic considerations dictating much larger farms and higher flock numbers ....’. Thus a whole way of life changed and herding techniques and skills which had evolved over hundreds of years are in danger of being forgotten. Bob's aim in the book is to preserve them for posterity.

Times were certainly difficult by today’s standards, all provisions and essentials being left at a neighbouring farm as the track to the cottage was effectively impassable, certainly in the wet. Remote as it was not though forgotten by the church, it being written into the minister's’ contract that he should hold an open air sermon on the top of an adjoining hill; Windy Law ‘to bring the gospel to the heathens of Rawburn’.

Bob recalls his life at Longformacus Village School with memories of fellow pupils and teachers. Most interestingly, he has included a full list of all who attended the school between the years 1937 and 1945. The figures themselves reflect the period, the number of new admissions (normally 6 or 7 per year), triplicating in the years 1939 and 1940 because of evacuees from the cities.

There are recollections of the effects of World War II on such a rural community and how the effect of rationing was not as severe as elsewhere. In 1943, Polish troops were billeted at Longformacus House and the youngsters of the day seem to have mingled freely with the troops, been given access to the vehicles and shown their weapons.

After the War, working as shepherd with particular recollections of the harsh winter and the hardships caused. There is a detail of day to day life with all sorts of anecdotes and personal recollections thrown in as well as recalling the practices and methods employed in shepherding, now mostly overtaken.

Also included are Jaffray and Welsh (the author’s mother’s name) family trees and well as different maps of the Lammermuirs with copies of charts produced by the Blackface Sheep Breeders Association containing the names of different farms and occupiers, a glossary and more than 40 photographs.

 An enthralling read, even for people like me, whose knowledge of sheep is barely more than the taste on my dinner plate - certainly a must for anyone connected with farming, shepherding or the Scottish Borders.

The book is 94 pages long on heavy paper within card covers and costs £7.50 plus postage. It can be bought at our premises in Galashiels or by choosing the appropriate delivery option and pressing the button below.
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Free Access to FindMyPast this Weekend

From 12:00pm on Friday 22 to 12:00pm on Monday 25 January, FindMyPast are offering free access to everything except the electoral rolls and the 1939 Register.

Also, from 16 February 2016, they'll be giving unlimited access to the 1939 Register in their 12 annual World and Britain subscription packages.

Search the FindMyPast records.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Berwick Journal and General Advertiser on British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive has just announced a new newspaper in their archive.

It's the Illustrated Berwick Journal also known as the Berwick Journal and General Advertiser.

The first issue was published in 1855. The archive's first issue seems to be Saturday 16 June 1855 and their most recent, Friday 29 December 1871.

There are plenty of stories about the Scottish Borders in the Berwick Journal, even though Berwick is in England.

There's also a special offer:
"For a great Christmas gift idea, we're still offering 20% off our 12 month gift subscription. Just click and use the code VIXEN. Make sure the "It's a gift" box is ticked. Hurry - offer expires on 24th December.", however the newspaper's also available on FindMyPast.