Looking good the picnic spot “roon the shore” at Havoc. Picture by Robert Beacon
Top, Brucehill, the Cliff, the Havoc Meadow, the Coos’ Park, the Shore and volunteers who are doing a tremendous job turning the wilderness into a biodiversity meadow.
By Bill Heaney
The Fair is no more. Who remembers Dumbarton Fair, Glasgow Fair, Paisley Fair or even Greenock and Kilmarnock Fair?
More people than you think. Of course, there were memorable Doon the Watter days on the Clyde steamers.
Rothesay was the capital of the Kyles of Bute. Dunoon and Innellan were where the boats called in – the Jeanie Deans and the Waverley – and Largs was where the toffs bought their pokey hats in Nardini’s.
They went home on the Duchess of Breadalbane.
But what about the rest of us, the folk who could seldom afford a boat trip, who were skint from Fair Friday until the men went back to work in the shipyards and got their pay?
The two weeks’ lying time pay had been well and truly blown by that time. Holiday pay no more, pee-d up against a wall or blown in the shuffle betting.
The rest of us went “roon the Shore”.
A brambling we will go – blackberries growing in the bushes at Havoc Shore. Picture by Iain McLaren
Given the time of year that is in it, lots of people have been recalling those days.
Men in their shirt sleeves wearing braces to keep their rolled up trousers up around their knobbly knees; hankies knotted in the corners to keep the sunburn off their baldy heid; women so modest they wouldn’t bare an ankle to the sun, and weans in their “bare scud” diving off the concrete sewage pipe at Havoc.
Who knew? No one ever said it was a sewage pipe.
The recollections this weekend have been many and various while the rain has lashed down and the wind has blown like stink around the Scottish Rocks. The holidays here have been anything but “fair”.
Pauline Stephen told her pals: “Spent many a good time doon the Havoc when l was young with all of my family, from morning till dusk. Oh those were the days!”
Richard O’Malley recalled: “I remember the days when families would cover the whole shore line from Levengrove as far along to bottom of Westcliff. Those were happy days.”
But he added: “You couldn’t spend a full day down there now. The shore line is all overgrown. I remember the days when families would cover the whole shore line from Levengrove as far along to bottom of Westcliff. Those were happy days.”
However, there are those who beg to differ including Zoe Were, an ecologist, which was something none of us had heard of when I was being brought up in Brucehill.
And biodiversity was the guy who played left back for Sweden in the World Cup.
She told Richard: “I should explain that ecosystems evolve over time. A multitude of beautiful photographs on this site demonstrate that the shore is lovelier than ever. It is indeed now at this moment abundantly rich in wildflowers.
Curlew at Havoc. Picture by Iain McLaren
“The Glasgow Natural History Society survey it regularly and found 377 species of plant here and in Havoc Meadow [locally known as The Coos’ Park. It is considered one of the best coastal grasslands in Scotland and is truly a gem. Happily, recognition of its extraordinary value is becoming widespread.
“You can go to Ayr if a wide expanse of dead, empty golden sand is your thing. But can you see rare sand leeks there? Curlews? Sandpipers? The earth is not a disposable item. We must protect this very special place.”
Richard agreed but insisted: “All I said is factual. You couldn’t spend a day at Clydeshore because of the state of the place, nothing else.”
He added: “Being brought up in Brucehill, the Shore was always busy with people from all over the town. There was plenty of greenery in those days along the Shore, but it was maintained.
“As lads, we played on the cliff and at bottom of cliff at football for hours.
“Now, the greenery is out of control and my point was those days for families. It was their family day out you couldn’t do it now.”
on the cliff and at bottom of cliff at football for hours the greenery on the shore is out of control and my point was those days for families it was their family day out you couldn’t do it now.”
The way we were at Dumbarton Fair. Families enjoying their summer holidays between Keil School and the Whale’s Back in the old days.