Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Last Freight Train to Kelso - Information Wanted

Some years ago, I gave a talk to Borders Family History Society about the Waverley Route.

My interest in Border railways hasn't diminished and I've watched original photographs of locations sell for jaw-dropping prices on an internet auction site. Sadly, these historic shots seem to disappear into a black hole never to appear again.

Recently, there was a negative of Kelso station. The description said it was part of a collection; I suspected that in the normal course of events the usual bidders would win and the collection disappear.

I contacted the vendor and after some to-ing and fro-ing of emails, agreed on a price and I went to pick up the collection. After blethering for a while, he told me to take away a sports bag containing not just the negatives but some 25 reels of ciné film. For all the world, the 'collection' has the hallmarks of a house clearance.

It was, and still is, my intention to make sure that the railway negatives will be available to view once they are scanned and locations identified properly; some 70 of them are easily identified as taken around Kelso station.

I have no facility to watch 8mm ciné, however a friend produced a viewer which was hand-powered. One of the films was, intriguingly, labelled, 'St Boswells – Kelso – Tweedmouth' - a prime candidate for watching. Part of the way through the film were shots of the last freight train to Kelso in 1968. I had had permission to travel on it, and there, on the flickering ciné was a glimpse of me!

Although it was almost 50 years ago, I can recall quite clearly a gent waiting the arrival of the last freight. He had a couple of cameras and I think, perhaps, he was wearing a brown warehousecoat. On speaking to him, he said that he worked at the foundry.

From the locations, many taken between Kelso and Sprouston, and from the subjects of the negatives, I would hazard a guess that he lived and probably worked not far from the station.

However, not only is there 8mm ciné but also 9.5mm ciné. I have only looked at the white lead-in for clues; there are obviously several reels of Kelso and one of a foundry. I would guess a date around late 1960s. I'm hesitant at watching the other reels as I could damage the ciné.

One of the reel containers has “D W K C C” on it could this be DWK and Ciné Club ?

Can you suggest a name for a pretty prolific ciné enthusiast from Kelso and who possibly worked at the foundry? I'd like to make contact with any family members.

By Bruce McCartney

Just to clarify matters, the picture shown above was taken by Bruce and appears here with his permission.

Responses below, please, or via our Contacts page (choosing Contact the Chairman).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Berwick 900 Festival - Our Families Project

As part of the Berwick 900 Festival, there will be a complementary project called “Our Families” which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This project will focus on finding out information about various families who lived in Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal in the past, particularly ones connected with the various themes represented in the overall Festival. 

The Berwick Record Office plays an important part in this project and is looking for volunteers to help it undertake the research required. We are looking for two types of volunteers – experienced family history researchers who can help us undertake the research straight away and those who have not done any family history before and want to learn how to do it. Training will be provided for both groups on types of sources for research, particularly in relation to different themes – Guild; maritime etc.

If you would be interested in getting involved in the project, there will be a short introductory meeting in the Council Chamber of the Guildhall, Berwick on Saturday 24th January @ 11.30 am where you can find out more about what is involved. On the same day you can also find out about other projects and elements of the Berwick 900. 
If you can’t attend the meeting and would like to know more about the project, please contact Linda Bankier on (01289) 301865 or e-mail

This is a very exciting 16 month  project which will help increase our knowledge about Berwick people in the past. 

Watch out for news about the Bygone Borderlands event on 2nd and 3rd May.