Old Bannockburn Snippets Series

by John Dreczkowski, website coordinator 5th April 2010

Snippet 1

Chartershall man: Mr. R.K.Starkey- “Big Bob”

Big Bob was born in 1888, and went on to serve in the First World War. He was chosen to be the shot putter on the front of the Scott’s Porridge oats packet. As Bob was a sergeant major at the time the army would not allow his face to be published. So we see Bobs 5 foot 10 inch frame and some one else’s head. This position remained for many years.

Bob was well known on the Scottish Highland Games amateur circuit winning many championship finals in the 1920’s and 30’s along with being one of the coaches to the British Olympic team 1924.

After leaving the army Bob become a travelling salesman for the Glasgow whisky firm “Bulloch Lade” with the kilt being worn on most of Bob’s business trips. He was well known for partaking and enjoying a wee nip of the product, this no doubt helped build a grand reputation and well deserved “a true local character much loved in the community”.


Some stories (confirmed by the older generation who knew him) are hilarious with high comic content. All confirm he was a real gentleman with a great sense of fun and humour. Bob enjoyed doing events in the community such as St Ninians fete. These events took up a lot of Bob’s free time, which he gave freely along many other community requests. Bob died in 1956, at the age of 68, after making his mark on his local community. Many tributes were paid to the great man from all in the local area who knew and loved him.

An ode from George to his friend Joyce Sparks and Goovie her dog, often seen in the Ladywell top park.

“Fae George Patterson to a frien”

Jist roon the corner “O” the lane
Dulcet voice rings loud an” clear
A minute tak” an” I’ll explain.
For weel ah” ken wha’ll sin appear

Sic merry laugh, ah” weel kent figure
Spreading cheer, wi” fine largesse
Wi” charm an” fervent vigour.
Her inner warmth, the grey disperse

Of aches an” pains, she gote her share
But carries “a” wi” few complaint
A word tae “a” she speaks wi” care
I’m glad to be of her acquaint

And folks aroon” should maist” rejoice
To know this lady,
I call “Joyce”

Snippet 2

Notice which appeared in Stirling Observer 5th July 1934

Hillpark Mansion House, Bannockburn

Demolition Sale

All demolished materials to be quickly and cheaply sold from site

Sarking, flooring, windows, doors, battens, plank, joists, closets, sinks, tubs, pipes, baths, rockery stones, crazy paving and a large quantity of free stone paving.

Must be sold at once.

Apply to foreman on job.

Contractor: Samuel.B.Allison Ltd: Dennistoun, Glasgow

Snippet 3

Accident to Bannockburn Bus, Advertiser August 20th 1887

On Saturday evening, Mr Stevenson’s Bannockburn Bus was proceeding through Newhouse, Stirling when one of the wheels collapsed, the spokes flying every in all directions. The vehicle was brought to a standstill without any damage. It was said that there were about 60 passengers on the bus.

Snippet 4

Ha Ha Ditch found at Pirnhall Roundabout

A ha-ha is a dry ditch or sunken fence which served to divide the formal landscaped garden of a country house from the wider landscaped park area without interrupting the view. As it was designed not to interrupt the view from the House or other garden viewpoints/features, a ha-ha was therefore invisible until seen from close by. It was an alternative to a wall, fence or hedge and consists of a trench, the inner side of which is vertical and is often faced with stone; with the outer slope face sloped and turfed, making the trench, in effect, a sunken fence or wall.

It functioned as a visually discreet means of keeping cattle and sheep in the pastures and out of the formal gardens, without the need for obtrusive fencing. It also kept wild animals such as deer out of the more manicured gardens. On occasions the ditch contained a hedge rather than a built wall. In this context they were first used as an element in early 18th century French formal landscape garden design as a discreet sunken fence.

However, the concept has its origins in military history where it was first used in fortifications as a blind ditch to surprise the enemy. Sunken ditches were also features of medieval deer parks where the ditch was designed to keep deer inside the park boundary.

With regard to the origin of the term ‘ha ha’ it has been anecdotally suggested that the name is derived from the surprise of ordinary folk on their access being suddenly prevented by a sunken obstacle that they called them Ha! Ha’s! Reflecting this surprise!

Most typically ha-has are still found in the grounds of grand country houses and recorded examples vary in depth from about 2 feet to 9 feet. Although ha-has are thought to still be a common feature of Country Estates across Britain not many have been formally recorded. 12 are noted across Scotland in various states of survival, four of which are in the Stirling Council area, namely Bannockburn, Mugdock, Airthrey and Keir.
Bannockburn has been divorced both physically and visually from the big hoose. The wall of the Bannockburn House ha-ha lies on the east side of the feature, concealed from the views west from Bannockburn House itself and keeping animals out of the formal gardens from that side.

It is an interesting, if short and detached survival of what was once presumably a more extensive estate feature. It was first noted during an archaeological survey of the site in 2003 as part of preparatory research undertaken at the request of the planning authority in relation to an earlier planning application on Pirnhall site.

Lorna Main
Archaeology Officer
Stirling Council
8th May 2009

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