The Ardross-man


June 2016

Paint remover


That’s all the painting done – well, at least that’s all the painting I’m going to do, done. ūüėÉ

Now I need to remove all the paint, brushes, trays, rollers and dust sheets from the hall and kitchen and then comes the job of cleaning the hall, unpacking and putting out the equipment.

I’m getting there. ūüĎć

Kitchen / Reception

The kitchen area was a huge eyesore with 1950’s style peeling wallpaper, 1970’s ripped lino, mould everywhere, a broken water boiler and walls so damp and rotten you could stick your hand straight through them.

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It also had a reception / service desk which stuck out half way across corridor partially blocking the doorway. This meant that if we ever got a wheelchair user visiting our Centre, they couldn’t get past the kitchen area for the desk and would have to enter the side door of the hall room and come out of the middle door to get past it.

The problem wasDSC01765, when I took off the wallpaper, it also took a lot of the plaster walls with it – so the whole room had to be re-plastered.

The leaks in the roof had to be repaired.

The ceiling had to cleaned then painted – four times!

The walls had to be painted – four times!

The woodwork then had to be painted in undercoat and the again in matt paint.

I managed to get a fridge freezer for free but we had to get a socket added to plug it in. LOL

The floor then had to be uplifted, cleaned and a new lino put down.

Lastly, a new reception desk was built and a swivel chair added so we can work at the desk whilst inviting people into the Centre.

I hope you like the finished look.



New look corridor

For the last week, I’ve been plastering, sanding, cleaning, painting and repairing the corridor leading into our hall area. See what you think with these before and after shots;

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Admittedly, these photos only look like a colour change but I can assure you, this was a hell of a job.

Thanks must go again to Paul Marchetti and his team for taking down and replacing the corridor ceiling – a job I just couldn’t do myself – and for a fraction of his usual fees. You’re a gentleman, sir.

Watch out for some more ‘Before & After’ posts coming soon as I finish work on the storage entrance, kitchen/reception area and the hall itself………’s getting exciting. ūüėÄ


Famous fags

Now before any American readers get upset about the title of this post – a fag in the UK is a slang term for a cigarette. ūüėÄ

You see, I found this old empty packet of Capstan Navy Cut cigarettes in the attic of the hall at Barony St. John in Ardrossan.

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And I was keen to find a date for this packet, so I searched the internet to try to match it (if any readers remember smoking these and this particular packet design, please let me know).

There were a few advertising signs showing a Capstan cigarette packet with slightly different wording or a completely different design –

capstan capstan1

And a number of different posters and newspaper adverts, again showing slightly different packets –

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Old advertising sign for "Capstan cigarettes, around 1950, Armscote, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe

It seems that a lot of actors advertised these cigarettes from Evelyn Laye (an English theatre and musical actress popular in the 1920’s) to British Hollywood star David Niven.

This packet from the 1950’s is almost identical to the one I found with only the wording at the top different – “Medium Strength” instead of just “Medium”.

1960 capstan

But this one, which is in the Owaka Museum in New Zealand, is identical.

museum capstan

This specimen is from the collection at Owaka Museum – Wahi Kahuika / The Meeting Place “a rest on your journey” and is labelled as follows;

About this object:¬†Cigarette packet; a cardboard ‘Capstan Navy Cut’ cigarette packet. Made in New Zealand by W.D. and H.O. Wills (New Zealand) Ltd.

Medium and Materials: processed material, paper, cardboard.

Inscription and Marks:¬†Printed on the front of the packet: ‘MEDIUM / CAPSTAN / NAVY CUT / CIGARETTES / W.D. & H.O. WILLS / BRISTOL & LONDON’

Measurements: h 76mm x l 47mm x w 18mm

Unfortunately, the display does not have a date for the specimen. ūüė¶

It seems that W.D & H.O. Wills manufactured these cigarettes using Virginia leaf tobacco grown in New Zealand – which reminded me of one of my earlier posts “Clipper Ships” where I found out about Ardrossan’s ship building past and the clipper ships which used to bring tobacco back to the UK from Australia and New Zealand.

So although we cannot say which era this cigarette packet comes from, at least we can take satisfaction in knowing that it is so old that an identical packet is on display in a New Zealand museum.

Thank goodness this packet never went up in a puff of smoke – like the contents. ūüėÄ

Another era

DSC01774As I mentioned in a previous post, I found another piece of history in the form of an old sheaf of paper from 1908 titled “New Ardrossan Parish Magazine“.

Dates and money of the time often seem irrelevant until they are put into perspective or compared with modern day living so when I read that the total collection for November 1908 was ¬£27, 17 shillings and 2 1/2 pence, this prompted me to find out what this would equate to in today’s money i.e. how much would this equate to if the collection took place now.

The result was surprising;

The collection for November in New Ardrossan Church was the equivalent of £1,475.48  ($2,136.37 US Dollars). That seems to me to be a huge sum for a relatively poor parish.

So this roused my curiosity even further. Now I was keen to find out

How much money did people have in 1908 and what did / could they spend it on? Here is what I came up with;

  • The average worker in the UK made ¬£70 per year (compared to the average¬†worker in the USA who made between $200 and $400 per year).
  • A pint of beer in the pub cost a penny.
  • Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo (Borax was a multi-purpose household cleaner which was actually mildly toxic to children and pets if consumed. It could also kill plants in high doses and in humans caused skin, eye and respiratory irritation.)
  • 2 out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write.
  • More than 95% of all births took place at home.
  • Only 14% of homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8% of homes had a telephone.
  • The average life expectancy in 1908 was 47 years.¬†The five leading causes of death were:
    1. Pneumonia and influenza
    2. Tuberculosis
    3. Diarrhea
    4. Heart disease
    5. Stroke
  • The 1908 Olympic Games were held in London and you could see the Opening Day Ceremony for Nimrodas little as 12p.
  • Ernest Shackleton set sail from New Zealand on the Nimrod (pictured setting sail) for Antarctica in January of this year.
  • In September of this year, Henry Ford produced his first Model T car in Detroit, Michigan. Around 50,000 people owned a car in the UK in 1908 (an average car cost around ¬£400) and petrol cost just 4.7p per litre.¬†The maximum speed¬†limit in most cities was 10mph.
  • The first ever long-distance radio message was sent from the Eiffel Tower – the tallest structure in the world at the time.
  • The American flag still only had 46 stars (after Oklahoma joined the USA on November 16, 1907 there came New Mexico on January 6, 1912 making 47 stars;¬†Arizona on February 14, 1912 making 48 stars; Alaska on January 3, 1959 making 49 stars and finally Hawaii on August 21, 1959 making the 50th star / state – hence the “Hawaii 50” title of the TV series).
  • Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at the local pharmacy. Pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the butchmind, regulates the stomach and bowels and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.
  • There were about 230 reported murders in the whole of America in 1908, despite it still being known for its ‘Wild West’ (although technically, the West coast of America wacrime_duos_02s relatively tamed by the turn of the century).
  • In November of 1908, Wild West bandits Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (pictured in real life and in¬†the movie blockbuster) were reported as being killed in Bolivia after being surrounded by a large group of¬†soldiers.

Changed days, eh?

Given the Boot

As I mentioned in a previous post, I found another piece of history in the form of a sheaf of paper from 1908 titled “New Ardrossan Parish Magazine“.

DSC01769The back of this leaflet has several notices with headings such as Sale of Work, Service of Praise,  Social, Preachers and Collections but there were a few headings and notices which revealed more about the period;

Poor Fund – “In course of this month we expect to send out to the poor our supply of coals. The¬†interest of the Crawford legacy has been apportioned by the Poor Fund Committee and given to widows in necessitous circumstances. The annual collection for the poor will be taken as usual in January.

Deaths – “At 10 Stewart’s Place, on 30th November, Jane Galbraith, infant daughter of of Mr and Mrs James Mackay.

There is no mention of what age little Jane Galbraith was or what she died of but the top two leading causes of death in 1908 were;

1. Pneumonia / influenza
2. Tuberculosis

And finally, under the heading of¬†Charity Concert¬†– “As we are all aware, there is a great deal of poverty in the town at the present time. It is arranged that a Miscellaneous Concert will be given in the Assembly Hall on Wednesday evening, 23rd December. It is hoped that a sufficient sum may be realised so that the deserving children in the town may be supplied with boots. Kindly keep the concert in mind.

shoelessAs this photo of Ardrossan’s Princes Street confirms, a lot of local children simply didn’t have footwear so I hope they all got their boots as many of them would be working in the shipyard, cleaning chimneys, working in local factories and shops, and generally labouring from a very young age (as can be seen by the shoeless young boy with a wheel barrow at the forefront of the photo).

mills2I also wonder what the phrase “so that the deserving children in the town may be supplied with boots” meant. Did it simply mean all the children in the town who didn’t have footwear were deserving? Or did it mean, those attending church were deserving of footwear and those who weren’t were not?

Who knows – but if you think you have the answer, please comment.

Aren’t you glad you live in this era though? Times (and lives) were tough then.

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