February began quietly, especially after the shock (and excitement) of Queen Victoria’s funeral, and a number of social functions were cancelled.
One event that went ahead was the ‘Store Social’ (the Store being the Co-op). The Advertiser said “an attractive program” and “a well filled poke” was available for 6d, and it drew a larger crowd than expected. Well before the appointed hour, the Forrester’s Hall (now the Bingo Hall) was packed, and there was scarcely enough food to go round. You can imagine the popularity of the event when I tell you the Hall held 800 people. Of those who couldn’t get in, most withdrew gracefully, but an obstreperous minority gave the manager and committee a good ear-bashing. One particularly loud female said “It’s disgraceful. Ah’ve been a member o’ the store for 18 years and bought tickets for masel’ and ma 6 weans, and Ah cannae get in”, whilst there were hundreds of non-members comfortably seated inside. She said she “Wadnae move a fit till she was let in!”
As a child of World War Two, I always thought that the Poles in Scotland had come across during the War and stayed behind. I was interested to see that, at a Miner’s Union meeting on February 1, the number of Polish miners working in Scotland was discussed. There was a feeling that they took jobs away from local men.
In 1900 there were 2,000 Poles working in the mines in Scotland, 100 of these being in Midlothian.
Alan Mason’s full feature appears in this week’s Advertiser. On sale now.