Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cardross and A. J. Cronin Part 3

I have recently been in communication with Douglas Lockhart of Airdrie who actually lived in Rosebank Cottage as a child! His grandfather had bought the house for about £200 and continued a correspondence with A J Cronin for some time afterwards. Needless to say, Douglas has many memories (and a few photos) which he is kindly allowing me to reproduce here – which, I am sure, will be of great interest to many people.

In Douglas’s own words:

“Rosebank has a lot of significance for my family- some happy memories, some not so. We joke that it was haunted - my grandmother spoke often of seeing a 'tall man'!

My grandfather, Duncan Lockhart, who corresponded with A J Cronin

My grandmother

A distant view of my grandparents together in the garden at Rosebank

Rosebank about 1960 - maybe the first colour photo of the house!

“This photo shows me outside the house with my grandmother's labrador, Rannoch. He was a good pal and adored the bagpipes, usually howling along in sympathy. I'm wearing the uniform of the Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band (long gone). The photo was taken around 1961 or 1962, when I was 12 or 13 years old.

Just to the right of the bench you may be able to see a vertical line in the wall - this marks a room that was added to the house by my grandfather. At first it was roofed in corrugated iron, and you can still see the join. It was the posh room, so posh in fact that it was never really used after my grandfather's death. It was known as the 'End Room', and was reputedly the most haunted. I suspect I was told that story to discourage my expeditions there.

The large ornamental flower pots were important to me. I was interested in astronomy very young, and set up my first observatory by driving a post into the leftmost pot in the picture and fixing a set of binoculars on top of it. The binoculars were German Deinstglas instruments, in desert khaki finish as they had been scavenged from the corpse of an officer.

Other war relics: at the east end of the garden is an air raid shelter. My father built this by obtaining a gigantic water tank from the local farmer (Rennie at Geilston), rolling it into a hole in the garden and partially burying it. This was some years before the war started, and the villagers considered him mad. He was assured there would be no war, and even if there were, who would bomb Cardross? He was right of course, and Cardross got bombed more than once (they were aiming for the shipyards on the other side of the river). A large landmine came through the cottage roof and split my granny's big mahogany sideboard in half. Fortunately the landmine was a dud, and the damage to fabric and furniture was repaired, but always afterwards if you mentioned Germans or Germany, granny would scowl and tell the awful story of her sideboard.

The house was divided in two; we lived in end nearest the village and rented the other. The house was sold shortly after my father's death in 1967 and we moved into the village - to Barrs Road.

Taken from the 1901 census it appears that the Cronins had moved to 'Tighanachen Villas'. As the name has apparently been changed years ago, it is believed that this must be the villa adjacent to Cardross Station (shown below)."

Below: a copy of a letter written by A J Cronin to Douglas’s sister, (Mrs McInnis), written in 1979, two years before his death. Mrs McInnis had written to him about his time at Rosebank.

A newspaper obituary of A J Cronin from the Lennox Herald (click to enlarge)

I extend great thanks to Douglas Lockhart for all his help and time given to providing me with so much valuable information for this blog. I am sure there will be many people who would like to know more about him and his own life. His websites are therefore given below:


Airdrie Guitar School

(You can also find Part One of my previous A. J. Cronin blog here

and Part Two here)


Gerard Ward said...

Well done superb piece of work.


Jane said...

Thanks so much Gerry (any praise must go to Douglas who provided me with so much information)!

Michael MacDonald said...

Hi my name is Michael MacDonald. 37 years old, living in Glasgow but grew up in Cardross. Found you blog very interesting as I was looking at older history of my old home town.
Anyway I came across some old WWII archive photograph showing the bombing around rosebank. Thought you and Douglas would be interested. If so give me an email address I can send to. Keep up the good work!

Jane said...

Many thanks Michael - I have now sent you an email,
Best wishes,

Lomond Soap said...

Hi Jane, I know the old couple that live in Rosebank Cottage and visit them every couple of weeks. It's a very quirky house. The gardens are still beautiful if a little neglected. There's a bit on my blog about St Peters seminary (around apr - may 2008). Your blog is very informative.

Jane said...

Hi Corrie,
Thank you very much for your message - I was of course fascinated to know that you visit Rosebank Cottage and the couple who live there! If you ever take any photos of the cottage, the garden, or even the couple, I would love to have them for this website (with their consent of course!) I love your soaps - they are exquisite and I could almost smell them by the wonderful descriptions and photos!

Lomond Soap said...

Hi Jane,
I am going to see them tomorrow. I will take pics of the garden and house for you. I'm not sure the owners will want to have their pics taken though. I will ask!

Lomond Soap said...

I have some pics for you Jane. Where can I send them?

Jane said...
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