Back in early 2015, Sirens Cinematic made this video about us based on our plans at the time.
Phase 1 was completed by 2016 with most of Phase 2 now nearing completion in 2017.
Let’s see what our feasibility study says we should do now. 😀
I’ve often been asked where our neighbouring town of Saltcoats got its name from –
Well, back in the 1500s, King James V paid for a salt panning industry to be established here. The “salt cots” were on the seashore and gathered the sea water, which was then boiled dry to leave behind sea salt, which was then used to cure fish – a godsend for a small fishing village as this was.
As we Scots speak with quite a broad accent, the “salt cots” name used to identify the village that sprung up around them was pronounced “salt coats” and so when it came to writing the name down, the English wrote it as it was pronounced and the anglicised name stuck – Saltcoats.
Today, Saltcoats is part of the”Three Towns” alongside Ardrossan and Stevenston (see my post Omen 5 – The SAS Omen).
The daughter of a ship’s captain, Betsy became a proficient sailor and, at the age of 46, took command of her father’s ship, the Clytus, when he died. She was then listed in the British Register of Tonnage as a Sea Captain.
She spent the next 22 years shipping coal and limestone between Scotland and Ireland (50 years in total if you count her time working with her father).
The ‘Clytus’ was a coaling brig made from the wreck of a French man-o’-war, bearing the same name and differed from other vessels in the coal trade by having a poop deck with a cabin on it which was used by Betsy as her Captain’s Quarters.
The only other person allowed into Betsy’s quarters was, according to http://www.ayrshireroots.co.uk, “her first mate who was single, handsome and came from the same seafaring background. Captain and mate slept there together, which didn’t raise an eyebrow either at sea or on land, because Betsy’s mate (and chaperone) was her sister Hannah.” 😀
Betsy, known for sailing in the most atrocious of weathers and for dressing as a lady at all times, retired in 1861 aged 69 as one of the wealthiest women in Ayrshire. She died three years later in 1864.
The plaque shown above is situated in Saltcoats harbour and honours this extraordinary lady of the seas.
This is my 150th post since starting writing last November (2015) about my discoveries and escapades as I try to save two old church buildings in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, Scotland. Thank you for reading them and I hope you continue to enjoy my posts.
Anyway, as mentioned in a previous post, I found a wonderful pamphlet titled “Life & Work” with the sub-heading “Ardrossan New Parish Church” which had been hidden beneath floorboard of the Barony St. John Church since 1893.
Inside the pamphlet were some fantastic advertisements including the following for Pears Soap;
Initially, I was excited to see the drawings – the front cover featured a tin bath of a shape I hadn’t seen before (I always thought tin baths were oval shaped but this one is like a keyhole – a bigger end for sitting in and a longer end for your legs) and two ladies dressed in beautiful Victorian dresses of the day. 🙂
The inside of the advert declared that the soap was by special appointment to Her Majesty the Queen (who would have been Queen Victoria) and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
But as I thought about writing this post and telling you all about my find, I thought I’d like to know more about Pears Soap – and my investigations revealed a darker side to what was the nation’s favourite soap;
Pears transparent soap was first produced and sold in 1807 by Andrew Pears at a London based factory. It was the world’s first mass-market transparent soap and Pears’ clientele included many wealthy socialites who took pride in their appearance.
In a change from current trends, the fashion among the wealthy of the period was for pristine white complexions (tanned faces were associated with the lower classes who laboured outdoors).
Andrew Pears found that his powders and creams were frequently being used to cover up damage caused by soaps and other beauty products, many of which contained arsenic or lead, so he began to experiment with soap purification and eventually managed to produce a gentle soap based on glycerine and other natural products.
The clarity of his soap gave it a novel transparent appearance and its floral scent, which reminded people of their gardens, gave Andrew Pears a huge marketing advantage especially overseas in America (not yet united as the Civil War was fought from 1861 – 1865).
Thomas J. Barratt, sometimes referred to as the father of modern advertising, married Mary Pears (Andrew’s granddaughter) in 1864 and he began a worldwide sales campaign for Pears Soaps – part of which were these removable advertisements (not just printed in newspaper and pamphlets but adverts which could be removed and taken to your shopkeeper or chemist where orders could be placed).
The first Pears soap advert (below) would be deemed racist nowadays and would never be allowed to be printed but back in Christmas 1884 it was seen in publications throughout the British Empire.
It would seem a lot of their advertising centred around turning black skinned people white or at the very least trying to improve their hygiene as on the reverse of the advert I found was this rather racist advert;
It may be difficult to make out as it is water damaged but it features a black native complete with feather headband staring at an apparently naked white woman who is coming out of a giant clam shell on the beach. The heading reads;
“Good Morning! Have you used Pears Soap?“
I’m not sure if this is supposed to be the black native asking if the white woman had used Pears Soap perhaps trying to explain how she had turned white (as in the previous advert) – or is it the white woman asking the black native if he had used Pears Soap as a nod towards his lack of hygiene? What do YOU think?
Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, search for us on Facebook or peruse our website at www.ScotCPS.org.uk
Goodbye for now – and here’s to the 150 posts. 😀
I find it hard to believe, but I’ve been teaching personal safety and self defence for 20 years now.
Back in 1997, myself and my brother, David Bell, went on a course in London and qualified as instructors with The National Federation for Personal Safety. David brought his experience of bar stewarding (bouncing) and I brought my military and Close Protection (bodyguarding) experience.
We soon developed our own style of self defence training based on hard hitting techniques, realistic scenarios and absolutely no flowery moves.
We provided personal safety courses and workshops as a not-for-profit social enterprise called “Security And Safety” with our main client base being Women’s Aid groups and Domestic Violence forums throughout the United Kingdom as well as Rape Crisis Scotland and Victim Support Scotland.
To enhance the not-for-profit nature of our business, we set about becoming a charity and achieved this in 2013. Under our new name, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, we moved to our new premises in the former Barony St. John church hall building on Princes Street in Ardrossan and last year saw the official opening of the Centre by Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. (See my Official Opening – the return of William Wallace post.)
So, to mark 20 years in the personal safety business, we held a small photo ceremony during one of our bi-annual Instructor Training Days in the Barony St. John Centre.
A tally of the number of people we have trained over the years comes to nearly 4,300 people, many of whom have been victims of violence.
We’ve trained all over the UK from Wick to London and we’ve also ran specific courses for children in various schools and nurseries throughout Scotland. But I have to say, my proudest achievement is developing a personal safety course specifically for the blind and visually impaired, which we have just completed.
And although we are clear that we provide personal safety and self defence training, what we actually provide is self confidence and self esteem.
Here’s to the next 20 years. 😀
It’s an exact replica of the Barony St. John and all they could tell me was that the model was made by Jim Miller and was on display in the Parish Centre of the Church of Saint Peter in Chains as part of their Doors Open Day on 2nd September 2007.
Well, you know me by now, I love a mystery so I had to set to work finding out – “Who is Jim Miller?”, “What was the model made of?” and “Where was it now?”
The local newspaper, The Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, came to my aid, running an article asking for help from their readership and I soon got an email address for Jim.
The model itself is made of matches – about 15-20,000 matches in all!!
And this was not the only model Jim has made. In fact, Jim has made a matchstick replica of almost every church in Ayrshire!
So, some background details on Jim – he currently resides in Kilwinning but originally hailed from Dalry. He took up the hobby of matchstick model making around 1994/5 when he became a volunteer in the Abbey Tower Heritage Centre in Kilwinning.
Before then, he had been making a number of small matchstick model kits when he was the Crafts Class Officer with 1st Dalry Boys’ Brigade in the 1970s – 1990s.
However, his first serious model was of the stunningly beautiful Eglington Castle (shown below).
By 1995, Jim had developed an interest in making models of churches and when the Church of Scotland told the congregation of Mansefield Church in Kilwinning that they would be moving to another location, Jim decided he would build a matchstick model of the church as a memento (in case it was to be sold or demolished).
Once complete, Jim gifted the model to the church congregation, as he has done with every church model since.
The Barony St. John church model was Jim’s 13th church model (my lucky number) and was built around 1998/99, taking three – four months to complete.
It currently resides in the Kirkgate Parish Church in Saltcoats alongside the model of Kirkgate that Jim made (the congregation having moved to Kirkgate when the Barony St. John closed).
Jim’s models, as well as being incredibly detailed, also contain a little white dove somewhere on the building as can be seen with the closeup of the parapet in the Barony St. John model (above).
And this Kirkgate church model complete with stained glass windows, looks equally impressive (below).
The plan is to put both these models on display in the upper gallery of Kirkgate church in Saltcoats.
To date, Jim has completed 83 church models – all of which have been gifted to the congregation of the particular church he has made.
The congregations of churches all over Ayrshire, Pennal in Wales and even Berlin in Germany have been fortunate enough to receive a replica of their church made by Jim Miller. And he has also made 19 other non-church models including a couple of schools, three castles, two Masonic lodges and a Community Centre.
It’s no wonder he is known locally as The Matchstick Man.
For the past year now, myself and other instructors in my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety – take a peak at our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ScotCPS/ or our website https://www.ScotCPS.org.uk) have been developing a Personal Safety course specifically for the Blind and Visually Impaired which includes self defence training.
This weekend should see the culmination of that training as we put two blind people through our Instructor exam and test day – including a Pressure Test where they will be attacked by two “attackers” over a five minute period.
Michael has been making his way over to our Centre, in the former church hall of Barony St. John in Ardrossan for this training and, you know me by now, I like my omens……..I was walking him back to his train when I noticed the name of the train operator –
Fate? omen? Or just a coincidence? You decide.
The Ardross-man 😀