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    WORK: PRIMARY INDUSTRIES: Animal rearing



    Track 1 Listen to 1st track of interview
    Right. Ive come this morning to Earlston, to meet Mr Willie Anderson. Im gong to start by asking Mr Anderson where he was born.

    Where were you born Mr Anderson?


    I was born in a lone shepherds cottage on the farm of Middle Toon(?) on the 17th of August, 1917.

    And where is Middle Toon, where . .

    Its up from the Gala Waters Road, from Fountainhall.

    Six miles (. . . . . .) isnt it?

    Right. Mmm huh.

    And its, the, this cottage where I was born is within a mile of the source of the River Leader.

    Oh right. Right.

    At the source of the Leader.

    Track 2 Listen to 2nd track of interview
    Uhu. And had your parents lived there for a long time?


    They were married in 1909 and they set up house. Well, theyd set up house together there.


    Father was shepherd.

    Uhu. And, and where did they come from originally?

    Well, well say the Scottish Borders mainly.

    Yes, yes, uhu. So, and your, your father was the shepherd . .


    . . . there. Uhu. And, and who owned Middletown?

    It was people the name of Steadman in these days.

    Right. Mmm huh. Now, you were, you were obviously up there, it was quite far out so . . . .

    It was a mile up from the farm steading.

    Right. And what was that from the nearest town? What did the nearest town . .


    Stow. And thatd be quite a few miles from Stow then?

    Quite a way.

    Track 3 Listen to 3rd track of interview

    Mmm huh. So, where did you go to school?

    (. . . .) being about four miles to walk.

    Mmm huh. And you actually walked . .

    I wasnt, we all walked, aye.

    Mmm huh.

    It was . . down to Fountainhall.

    Fountainhall. Mmm huh. And even when you were five years old, did you have to . .

    I didnt need to go until I was six because it was such a long journey and I wasnt sent off till I was getting nearer to six.

    Yes. But even so, thats a long . .

    It was down to the, the village school at Fountainhall.

    Mmm huh. And in those days how many teachers can you remember?


    Two teachers at Fountainhall.

    Headmaster and . .

    Right, uhu. And . . all the children from the farm, did they all, did you walk down . . .

    (. . . ) Aye.

    . . . to the farm? Mmm huh.

    (. . . .) there.

    And then, uhu . .

    Down together, aye.

    My goodness. Its along distance for a, for a five or six year old to walk.

    Now, how long were you at Fountainhall school? Were you there until you were twelve, or . .

    No. We left that Middletown shepherds cottage in 1924.

    Track 4 Listen to 4th track of interview
    And when, where did you go?


    Came right into the Leader Valley.

    Right, uhu.

    To Upper Blainslie.

    Oh yes, mmm huh. So you would go to Blainslie school then?

    Blainslie school.

    That would be a bit handier?

    Oh it was smashing . .

    And, and what did they have in teachers there? Was there just . .


    The two as well.

    Two, two ladies.

    Were two ladies?

    Uhu. Young one and one a bit older.

    Uhu. And . . so you went to Blainslie school until you were twelve? Would it be twelve? No?

    No. Went to Blainslie school in 1924 and we left there and went back into Gala Water to Cathpair.

    Oh yes, mmm huh.

    The farm that marches with Lauder Hill on the Mid Lothian boundary.

    Right, right. So you would go to Stow school then, did you?

    Went to Stow. Walked to Stow from there.

    Track 5 Listen to 5th track of interview
    And, was that, did you move house again or did you finish your education?


    That was me finished.

    Right and, and what did, what did you do?

    I left before I was, before my fourteenth birthday.

    Oh right. Uhu. And what . . .

    The school holidays would start in July but my birthday wouldnt be till August, but I didnt go back.

    Track 6 Listen to 6th track of interview
    Right, right. So that was it. So you were, and what, what did you do when you left school?


    Sort of wee casual jobs. My first job that I was paid for was shawing turnips.

    Oh right.

    A neighbouring farm.

    Right, uhu. Kind of cold job that usually, isnt it? But . . and you just . .

    And three pence a hundred yards.

    Track 7 Listen to 7th track of interview
    Oh my goodness! Not a lot in todays values. Right. And you just went on from that? And, and did you work, when you got your first job proper, was that on the same farm.


    The next thing was to, go to a lambing . .

    Oh right.

    . . for eight weeks.

    Mm huh.

    And that was . . .

    And was that with your father?

    No, no. Away from home. A big farm near Heriot, called Corshope for eight weeks.

    Mmm huh.

    And my pay for eight weeks was eight pounds.

    Right. And did, apart from your pay, did you, did you lodge on the farm?

    Yes. With the shepherds people.


    They must have thought I was alright because the next year they took me back.

    Oh very good. Very good. And what, I mean and what . .

    I got a rise in pay.

    Track 8 Listen to 8th track of interview
    Oh well, you must have been good. When, what did you do between one lambing and the next?


    Between these lambings, I did casual shepherding down in Berwickshire.

    Oh right, mmm huh.

    A place called Blackadder Mains, during the summer and parts of the autumn.

    Mmm huh.

    Then there was into this lambing time and after that it was 1933 and were all going away from Cathpair because my parents had taken the farm of Headshaw(?).

    Right. At?

    The top of the Leader Valley.

    Mmm huh.

    Track 9 Listen to 9th track of interview

    From then on it was, most of my time was spent in the Leader Valley.

    Yes. Right. So, what Im going to do now, Im going to ask Bill Walker here who, who knows you . . . better than I do, Im going to ask Bill to ask you some questions.

    Yes, right.

    Track 10 Listen to 10th track of interview
    Well, particularly Willie, the, the . . questions I want to ask are about the Oxton Dog Trials . .



    . . . I understand that you were involved with? Now the, when exactly did it start?

    I think Im right in saying 1937.


    Mmm huh. August 37 and it was started by the late Andrew Brown of Rigside. Down in one of his own fields. He had that farm at Carfraemill, farm. And he, he supplied the field. The sheep would come from Longcroft and Tollishill for the trial.

    And was it held every year then?


    Was it held every year during the war?

    Yes. The answer to that is, by that time, it had been moved to a bigger venue, to Headshaw. I dont know what year it would go there, but in the war years it was being held at, in a field at Headshaw. below the steading.

    Mmm huh.

    Track 11 Listen to 11st track of interview

    And that kept me very much involved there too. But during the war years we ran a sheep show along with it, to make money for the Red Cross.

    Mmm huh.

    Along with the dog trial and the whole thing went on there, through the years of the war you see. Owing to the fact they were doing something for the Red Cross.

    And it, I would assume that it has, youve changed the venues. You know, its not always been in the Headshaw field, is that right?

    It was there till about 19. . just give me a wee second here . . . . round about 1971.

    Mmm huh.

    Track 12 Listen to 12nd track of interview

    And the sheep still came, most often from Tollishill, with Willie Renwick the shepherd there driving them down from, maybe partly down the day before to, with a, a staying over place at Hillhouse. And he brought them down the following morning with his dogs. Willie Renwick.

    And . . . forgot what I was going to ask you!

    Track 13 Listen to 13rd track of interview

    Now, that lasted till 1971 or 72 at Headshaw, when my nephew thought he would maybe either plough the field or make some change. We ran out of that good field. By that time, I was working for Andrew Sharp Harvest Limited, managing the farm of Carfrae, Kelphope and Tollishill, which mounted up to six thousand acres in all. But for one year, we held it at Carfrae again. It had maybe one time been held there afore, but one year we held it in the Carfrae Haugh.

    (few people speak at once)

    The low road.

    Yes, mmm huh.

    And after that, I need to watch my dates here. I should have had a wee bit of writing in this. I had it scribbled down somewhere, years ago.

    So, the ideal field of course was the Headshaw field, wasnt it (. . . . .)

    Aye, there was a (all speak at once)

    . . . . the dogs working, thats right.


    Do you want to take a break just for a minute?

    Just give me a wee minute to work this one out because . . weve always got George Gilchrist that knows this about as well as me, where it was held. Because its been often helping at the dog trials.


    I dont want him to come and tell me Im awfi far wrong!


    Track 14 Listen to 14th track of interview

    He still helps with the trial you see.


    On the committee. As I say, I think the easiest way is to, just say that, you know, it was held at, at various fields, round about the Oxton area.


    For a number of years. And then after 1966, I had the tenancy of the farm of Addinston and we came to Addinston to hold the trial there.

    (ladys voice saying Excuse me and short background chat follows)

    Oh maybe aye. I went to Addinston 1966. We held it at Addison for quite a number of years there until 1982, when I left there, and we moved it to Lauder Hill after that.

    And has it been Lauder hill since then?

    All the time, with the exception of two years when we had it at Bowerhouse when Andrew Dickman was on the committee. Andrew was the shepherd at Bourhouse and we had it there twice. But then he was made redundant after two years running it there and we were back to Lauder Hill.

    And is it still held there yet?

    Mmm huh.

    Still held there. Right.

    Track 15 Listen to 15th track of interview

    Its held in a part of Lauder hill known as The Racecourse.

    Now where exactly is that then Will? That puzzles me that, because I had never known . .

    This is part of the history of Lauder. The Racecourse, a lot of the people dont even know . . where the Racecourse is at Lauder and its a flat piece of land to the south side of the grid, going onto the Common.


    I read . . .

    On the left hand side?

    Left hand side.

    Left hand side. Just above the farm steading

    Mmm huh. Right above the farm. And . . I read in old records, this part of Lauder, Im maybe on the wrong thing, but do this in here, was known as the Racecourse because in the days after the Common Riding, way back many years ago, when there were celebrations, sports, anything that was held after the Common Riding in these early days, was . . the horse racing would be held there on this flat piece of land. It, it extends to about forty five acres probably.

    How far back are you talking about here? This cen, this last century?

    Its no, its no been, theres no been anything in connection, it would be before 1944 anyway. Before my time of being farm manager. Before, and quite a bit before, I would guess.

    Right. Okay. Well go back to Lauder Hill in a minute, but just to finish off with the dog trials . . .


    Track 16 Listen to 16th track of interview
    . . . has there been any interesting folk competing at the dog trials?

    Oh absolutely. Uhu. When the very top handlers always come to us.

    Always come.


    Such as Johnny Wilson that has twice won International Sheepdog Trials. Bobby Dalziel comes there and hes, hes of, hes won the internationals, International Sheepdog Trials, at least two times. Bobby Henderson from Heriot competes there. Hes been an International winner.

    Course the, the Gilchrist brothers, they would be, they were both . .

    Willie - Weve missed a wee bit of this dog trial), well need to go back here because weve missed out a bit and its quite important.

    I wonder how were going to break back to this dog trial, because after the lead, Andrew Brown that started the trial, a committee was, a committee was formed with the late James Gilchrist as Chairman and he ran that trial very, very successfully. He formed a committee with Willie Nisbet, the late Willie Nisbet and George Nisbet and maybe other people, maybe other members of his family. And that went on until as long as he was able, until maybe his death, and then Willie Nisbet took it on. Right.

    Bill - Anything, any . . . anything apart from individuals, anything of note or interest that happened, you know, that you can remember, you know, that would, people would remember about, that happened any time during a dog trial.

    Yes, aye. Well, you see, its a wee bit difficult to tread on some of it because the late J L Wilson, the sort of expert handler, whos been the doing of all this dog work would come and maybe give a demonstration, or maybe even take part in the early years of it. And then, through the years, after it was, he would put, as long as he was able, he would always come and see the trial and see the dogs that were being run there.

    Track 17 Listen to 17th track of interview

    And then we had very, very high class judges such as . . the late George Brown who had been an international winner. And he sometimes, he had one, maybe oftener(?) than once, judged that trial.

    Could I just pause at this point. Where did, did the likes of Mr Brown come from?

    When he won the international he was a shepherd at Moorcroft(?).

    Was he related to . . .

    Andrew Browns brother.

    His brother, who started the dog trials?

    Mmm huh.


    Theres so much goes along with it when you go into this, and then he, he sometimes judged it but, but by that time he had a small holding, a holding at Lindean which Neil, maybe youll have heard about?

    Yes, of course.

    Being connected with the Gilchrist family and . . .then a man that came from Inverness and judged the trial oftener than once his name was Bill Merchant and he has often been the man on the microphone at the Scottish National Sheepdog Trials and he announced the competitors as they came on and he came there through Jimmy Gilchrist and judged that trial, when it was held at Headshaw. Hes been a good friend of mine, that man, because I got to know him through that trial.

    Right. Who, do you know who the present office bearers are?

    Track 18 Listen to 18th track of interview

    Well Im chairman.

    Youre chairman. And . . the girl up at . .




    Whats her Christian name again?

    Give me a minute. Tracy.

    Tracy Paterson from . .


    . . . hill, is secretary?

    Mmm huh.

    And, and the, Andrew Dickmans wife is . .

    The treasurer?


    She would be. She works in the Bank of Scotland, Lauder of course. Mmm huh.

    And then, the members of the committee are J. J. Paterson, Kirkhill, John Gil, George Gilchrist and his son, David Gilchrist. Andrew Dickman. Derek Taylor, the shepherd at Lauder hill. Who else have we on the committee Nancy?

    Mrs Dickman.

    Aye. She, shes treasurer. Andrew, and the two Gilchrists, George and David.

    I can always check with George, you know, just to confirm.

    Aye. Check with George.

    Thats fine. I think thats what we need about the, the dog trials.

    Aye, aye.

    Track 19 Listen to 19th track of interview
    I just ask what time of year were the dog trials held?


    About the 20, (. . .) round about the 20th of June nowadays. It used to, when it started away, it was held in August time but its been moved a wee bit (all speak at once)

    Aye, theres, theres so many trials now, you cant change the date. Last year they kind of wanted to take it away to Kirktonhill and change the day. I says, Youll never get in if you change the date you see. Just keep this date. So they couldnt hold it, the Patersons couldnt hold it at Kirktonhill because they hadnt had their silage cut.

    Very good, thats, that should be okay. Fay?

    Mmm huh. Is that all (. . . .)?

    For the dog trial. I think that covers it pretty well.

    The dog trial, aye.

    Is there anything else that you want to ask (. . . . .)

    Not about that. Lauder hill maybe.

    Mmm huh.

    Track 20 Listen to 20th track of interview

    When, when did, when would, did you become involved with Lauder hill Willie?

    February 1944.

    44. And you became . . .

    The manager of the sheep, for the sheep company.

    For the sheep company. And are you still there?


    Still there yet.

    Track 21 Listen to 21st track of interview

    All these years. And when I started, in 1944, there were fourteen Burgesses had shares. Its run as a company now. There were fourteen shareholders. And now were down to three. . . . 1944 . . . .

    Track 22 Listen to 22nd track of interview
    Have you seen a lot of change. . . in that time?


    Oh Ive seen an awful lot of change. And the thing that Ive seen change, when I started to manage it, it was in the war years and wed a whole . . . I dont know how to, a unit of Polish soldiers . .

    With the tanks?

    With tanks, training.

    Up on the hill?

    Mmm huh. And they just went through, through all the stone walls and fences were all down and it was very, very difficult undertaking to get a shepherd on to come an shepherd these sheep in that state.

    I remember the, the condition of that road over the hill to Stow . .


    (all speak at once)


    Track 23 Listen to 23rd track of interview

    Tanks just tear it up, aye. And the hill was all churned up. So, we put up with that through the years till the end of the war, complaining to the War Department, and at one stage, a note back from the War Department to the then secretary, the late James Martin, a letter back to him telling him that if there were more complaints about this common land, they would just (coughs). . . sorry, they would just relieve us of the thing and take it over themselves and we would have no stock and rights . . so, we had to pull in our horns there.

    Mmm huh. Well, they wouldnt be the first lot that tried to take over the common from Lauder of course, throughout history, I wouldnt think.

    The thing that went on there was, after the war years, Id to employ stone wall dykers to rebuild the dykes and . . the interior dykes the March Dykes was alright and then we were, that payment all went through from these dykers, through the secretary, through the company to the War Department and they paid for all that. The War Department also paid for charters and escavators to level out the ground but we didnt think it would be beneficial to re-seed it, so we only left it, levelled out, and hoped the heather would establish again.

    Which it did

    Track 24 Listen to 24th track of interview

    It did. And the heather landed its first roots because we keep it well burnt and weve maybe the, best managed heather moors in the Lammermoors, because the heathers burnt in rotation and its good for the sheep. The march dykes were all complete, they were alright after the tanks. Sheep pens were very badly pulled down at the, where the existing pens are at the wood and they were all to rebuild. But that was all paid by the War Department.

    We had no dipper for to dip the sheep the first year I was there. They had a new shepherd that came at the May term.

    Track 25 Listen to 25th track of interview
    What was his name?


    Jackie McDonald.

    Was that the same Jackie McDonald that went to Gairsmuir?

    Thee Jackie McDonald. And I was very fortunate with him because his dogs were so good, they could handle the sheep on this . . . .

    Open wilderness?


    You had to take them to Whitlaw to dip them, hadnt you?

    Yes. Took all these sheep up to Whitlaw and dipped them the first year. Some were dipping in the autumn and by the next year, we had kind of got the pens built up and rigged up the dippers or something quite an ordeal.

    How long was Jackie there?

    Two years.

    Two years. And who followed him?

    Man named Tom Young. Came in the, Jackie McDonald was there, he came in 1944 the May term and he stayed till 1946. Id a casual shepherd for six months, until we got in a man came in at the November term called Tom Young, in 1946, and from then . .

    Thats Joanne Youngs father (. . . . .)

    Right, right.

    Aye. The lassie Youngs were brought up at Lauder Hill and . . . the thing was there, all these years weve had, and fortunate wed very first rate shepherds. All the time.

    How long was Tom Young there?

    I think he was there about fourteen years. And then Tom Aitchison came after that. And he was there quite a few years and then Wattie Nichol.

    Wattie, yeh, he lives in Lauder.

    Mmm huh.

    Wattie retired and lives in Lauder. He was fourteen years with me. Till I retired.

    And was that when the chap Taylor came?

    Mmm huh. I think Derek came in 1998. The present day shepherd.

    So, apart from, from Jackie McDonald, theyve all stayed for quite a long time then (. . .)

    Thats right. Uhu. Till, till the age run out on some of them. Well, Tom Aitchison anyway.


    He had to retire and come into Lauder you see. And then . .

    And Wattie as well.

    But the, the very best of shepherds.

    Right, really, Ive run out of questions Fay.

    Yes, . . . I dont have anything else at the minute either. Ill say thank you very much Mr Anderson.

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