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).


Alice K said...

Where was Kelso station ?

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I look forward to seeing the other pictures.

Will Mr McCartney be converting the cine films ?

Where is or was the foundry ?

Kenneth said...

“D W K C C” might be somebody with the initials 'D W' and Kelso Ciné Club.

Peter Munro said...

If you look at the map on our Kelso parish page,, you'll see the red dot representing the station at Maxwellheugh, just below (south) of Kelso. Kelso Sainsbury's now occupies the site.

Peter Munro said...

The foundry was at Maxwellheugh, near the station.

Peter Munro said...

Thanks for your suggestion.

Peter Munro said...

Bruce tells me that to convert the ciné films commercially would be very costly and he doesn't know whether the subject matter (probably about Kelso) would interest him, so he's not going to do it.

However, if you would be interested in doing the conversion as a hobby or as a project for a local organisation, we would be very pleased to hear from you.

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