Day 14: Kilmacolm, Port Glasgow & Cardross

1st April 2022 | Visiting friends and family

This is very much a personal day for myself and one of my two travelling companions. Kilmacolm is the Anderson family home on my fathers side. My grandmother was the last Anderson in the village when she died in 1978, and I can remember being at her funeral. The village cemetery is – like most Scottish cemeteries – very well kept, unlike most of their English counterparts. The image at the top of the page was taken in November 2021 and shows Kilmacolm cemetery.

I like to visit the Anderson ‘home village’ every time I come to Scotland, and of course this trip would not be complete without a stopover, if only for a few hours. I like the village immensely and I remain convinced that I could quite happily live here.

I was born and grew up in Devon and went to university in London, staying for many years before returning home in 2004. I love Devon and in particular the landscape, and for some decades I have come to embrace what I consider to be my celtic cultural background, having relatives in Devon and Cornwall on my mothers side and Scotland on my fathers. Whilst Devon is where I live and feel pretty much at home I have also always felt a strong attachment to Kilmacolm which was, after all, the first place I went to school. I have vivid memories of that school, which can be seen in some of the pictures below. It is not a school anymore but the building itself has changed little since I remember it in the early 60’s.

I have always said that I could quite happily live in Kilmacolm but that will never happen. House prices are high and well beyond my reach, especially as I am a tenant and have no home to sell!

The visit to Port Glasgow is also very personal as the last surviving members of my branch of the Anderson family – so far as I know – live in the town. I have many mixed memories of Greenock and Port Glasgow from a young age, and many stories to tell, including a number of experiences that shaped who I am today, especially in terms of politics and thoughts about organised religion. I am very much looking forward to meeting up with my last remaining relatives later today.

Today’s trip will also be very important – and personal – for my neighbour, who grew up in Cardross and who has many fond memories of the village and the surrounding area. His brother still lives in Cardross and his sister is living in Dumbarton: we will be visiting both. I have no doubt that today will be a memorable and very personal trip for both of us.

Above are two street signs that mean a great deal to me, both in Kilmacolm. Leperstone Avenue is where my grandmother lived until she died in 1978, and Smithy Brae (not Bpae as it appears on the sign!) is where my father was born in 1933.

The photo below shows the site of the house where my father was born; a rather ugly building of little or no architectural value now stands on the spot – St. Colm’s Church.

The photograph below shows the school I attended at the age of 6. I have few memories of this school other than a very high wall that separated the boys from the girls playground, and which was demolished presumably at the time the building was converted into a Community Centre. The position of the wall can clearly be seen in the photo: it was where the chimney stack rises.

I can also remember getting the strap across my knuckles until they almost bled, simply for losing my place in a reading exercise. I could not understand the broad accent of the pupil who read the section before I was called upon to continue. I had lost where we were and stuttered, feeling acutely embarrassed.

The village has, like all places, changed a great deal over the years. I have visited Kilmacolm many times over the years but never thought to photograph the main parade of shops, thinking it actually changed little. I was wrong, so today took a panorama of the parade as it is now.

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