Archive for the ‘Kinross’ Category

My grandad, David George WATSON, was the third son and seventh child of William and Ann Mitchell (nee BALFOUR) WATSON. He was born in Montgomery Street, Kinross. You can see a photo of Montgomery Street here.

David was just three years old when he moved, in 1897, to Mayfield House, Cowdenbeath with his family.

Foulford School, Cowdenbeath opened in May 1896 with 391 pupils and only four teachers plus the headmaster. The building was very distinctive and was built with bricks produced in the local brickworks at Hill o’ Beath. The photo below shows the main gates. There was a smaller playground with its own access gate at the rear of the school. An unusual feature was a tunnel under the school linking the two playgrounds. A door halfway along the tunnel led up into the main building. The school was demolished in 1976. This was the school David George and his brother William Balfour attended.

In The Dunfermline Journal, Saturday 9 May 1896, a reporter wrote about the opening of the school:

… Meanwhile there are six class rooms, two of which can be made into one room by means of a movable glass screen. Separate entrances are provided for the boys and girls. Suitable hat and cloak rooms and lavatory accommodation are provided, and special attention has been paid to the corridor – the lighting being perfect, and the glazed tiles of the side walls white, instead of the dirty brown tiles which are stupidly adopted in some schools. The building is of brick, with white brick corners. The wash hand basins are marble, and the basins are surrounded by an artistic arrangement of pretty tiles. The furniture all through is neat, and is quite in keeping with the surroundings. The school, when finished, will cost upwards of 4,000 pounds. The cost of the portion already finished will be about 1,000 pounds. The playground accommodation is simple and some shrubs have been planted in front of the building.

Foulford School, Cowdenbeath. Photo from "Old Cowdenbeath" by Jim Hutcheson

There are no dates on the following photos. In the first photo David George is in the front row, third from left as you look at the photo. [Click on the images to enlarge.]

David George cropped school photoIn this photo David George is in the centre of the back row. If you click on the image to enlarge it you will see the “glazed tiles of the side walls” as reported in The Dunfermline Journal.

Here’s a close up view of David. Doesn’t that look like the face of a mischievous little boy?


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Just in case we needed more proof that William was a great fisherman, here’s a newspaper report from 1901.

The Dunfermline Journal - 10 August 1901





Good sport was again got on Wednesday forenoon when a drizzling rain fell till noon, with a good breeze from the south-west. The wind freshened when the rain ceased, and with a deal of sunshine. In the afternoon, and squally wind, fish did not take. The Dunfermline Club competed, when 14 members took part, and captured 111 trout, 83lb. 12oz. Prize-winners:-

1. Mr Wm. Watson, Cowdenbeath………… 19 trout 17lb 8 ozs

2. Mr N. Nasmyth……………………………… 15 trout   9lb 8 ozs

3. Mr G. Whyte …………………………………. 14 trout    8lb 5 ozs

4. Mr J. Fortune, Cowdenbeath …………..    6 trout  7lb 6 ozs

For heaviest trout –

Mr J. Fortune…………………………………… 1 trout    2lb 11 ozs

Mr Watson’s catch was the heaviest in a competition this season. The best fished boats were out with:-

Messrs W. and G. Watson………………………24 trout  21lb 2 ozs

Messrs G. Whyte and N. Nasmyth………….. 20 trout 17lb 13 ozs

Messrs J.S. Stenhouse and J.T. Smith ……..14 trout 12lb 12 ozs

Mrssrs J. Fortune and J. Dick ………………..10 trout  10lb 7 ozs

This being the best competition by the club this season, the following special prizes fell to be decided:- Patron’s prizes for four heaviest trout at any one of the four competitions – Won by Mr W. Watson with 7lb 2 1/2 ozs caught at Wednesday’s competition. Second, Mr J Morris, 5lb 7 ozs, caught at July competition – President’s prize for heaviest basket of trout caught with fly during season – Mr W. Watson with 17lb 8 ozs, got at Wednesday’s competition. For greatest number of trout caught with fly at any of the four competitions, was gained by Mr W. Watson with 30, caught at the June competition. Mr W. Watson will represent the club at the national and championship competitions, having the highest aggregate with 44lb over the season. Among the private parties on the loch were Mr Williamson, Dunfermline and Mr G. Watson, Kelty, who had a catch of 9 trout, weighing 6lbs.

And here’s the report from his Angling Register.

Angling register belonging to William WATSON

This postcard shows a group of fishermen on Loch Leven. Loch Leven Castle is shown in the background, on an island in the centre of the loch.

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William WATSON loved fishing. And by all accounts he was a great fisherman. While we do not know exactly when William began fishing, a reference to his prowess was reported on Saturday 12 August 1899 in The Dunfermline Journal. He won the Dunfermline Angling Club’s President’s prize for ‘greatest number of trout caught with fly at any competition (13)’. By 1901 he had purchased an Angling Register to record his catches.

Here’s an article from The Dunfermline Journal, Saturday August 12, 1905.

The Dunfermline Journal, Saturday 12 August 1905

And, yes, the Mr G. Watson from Kelty was William’s younger brother George.

This is the page from William’s Angling Register that records the results in the above newspaper article.

Page from William WATSON's Angling Register

The next article is from The Kinross-shire Advertiser, Saturday 7 September 1905 – reporting on the championship competition referred to in the previous article. The loch the article refers to is Loch Leven in Kinross.

The Kinross-shire Advertiser, Saturday 7 September 1905

And, again, William recorded the results in his Angling Register.

Page from William WATSON's Angling Register

I found a book called “A Lay of Loch Leven” by William O’ Ye West [published in 1887] in the Dunfermline Carnegie Library.  In it was this great poem about fishing on Loch Leven. I can just picture William as one of those anglers with ‘hopes swelled high, Bright gleaming in each eager eye;’

In jocund mood the Club drew near;

The boatmen busied on the pier;

The glistening rods in morning sun,

The glee, the banter, and the fun;

Kind greetings thrown from boat to boat,

Ere yet they from the pier had shot;

Sights such as these, too seldom seen,

So bright, so brief; too rare, I ween –

Fain would I linger o’er this scene.


The air was warm, and hopes swelled high,

Bright gleaming in each eager eye;

The gilding sun ‘mong clouds arrayed,

Lent to the Loch a softened shade;

Mild eastern breezes gently blew,

Slight ripples o’er the waters threw;


Light fleecy clouds of sober grey –

Auspicious promise for the day –

Hung high o’erhead, o’erspread the lift,

Lent to each bay, each bank and drift,

That sheen so dear to angler’s eyes –

A sheen which only anglers prize.

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Extract from register of births - Christina Deas Watson (left mouse click image to enlarge)

Christina was the fourth child born to William and Ann Mitchell (nee BALFOUR) WATSON. She was just 13 months old when she died at Lochleven Place, Kinross on December 8 1885 at 5.20pm. The cause of death noted on her death certificate was pyaemic sore throat – 1 month.  My dictionary describes pyaemia as: a form of blood poisoning caused by bacteria that produce pus in the blood and characterised by the formation of multiple abscesses in different parts of the body. Poor Christina. How hard it must have been for William and Ann to watch their wee daughter suffer. Their three year old daughter, Jane Ann,  had whooping cough at the same time. She died just six weeks after Christina Deas.

In 2000 I spent several hours at the Kinross Council offices viewing various registers for burial grounds. These registers are amazing books – you actually get to view the original record books – filled with an incredible amount of information. Once I found the records required the very helpful staff photocopied them for me free of charge.

The record shown below is from  page 16 of the ‘Cash Book Burial Grounds – Kirkgate cemetery Kinross’ register. Click on image to enlarge.

Kirkgate Cemetery cash book showing purchase of lair 244 and 245 and sexton's fees paid by William WATSON in December 1885 and January 1886

Christina’s’ funeral notice is shown below. Click on image to enlarge.

Funeral notice for Christina Deas WATSON

Christina is buried next to her sister Jane in the Kirkgate Cemetery, Kinross (also known as the New Cemetery). There are no headstones for the little girls.

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Extract from register of births - Jane Ann Watson (left mouse click image to enlarge)

Today is the 129th anniversary of Jane Ann WATSON’s birth.  Jane was the third child of William and Ann (nee BALFOUR) WATSON.  Some time after November 1884  the Watson family moved to Lochleven Place, Kinross and it was here, three and a half years after her birth, that Jane contracted whooping cough.  She died two months later at 3.05am on 23 January 1886.  Her death certificate states cause of death as ‘disease of spine – some years; whooping cough – two months’.

Jane’s funeral was held on Tuesday 26 January 1886.    A copy of her funeral notice is shown below.

Funeral notice for Jane Ann Watson

William would have sent these notices inviting relatives and close family friends to the funeral. Traditionally funeral processions were held in the afternoon and on foot, although sometimes caskets were transported to the cemetery on a horse-drawn funeral carriage. Women would follow the casket only to the entrance of the cemetery or church gate or would stay behind at the house to look after the children and prepare the food for the after-funeral feast.  Only the men attended the burial at the cemetery.

Jane is buried in Kirkgate Cemetery, Kinross (also known as the New Cemetery) next to her younger sister Christina Deas who had died six weeks earlier. What hard times those must have been for the Watson family. As a mum who has lost a child I know something of what Ann must have been feeling, but to lose two young children within the space of six weeks must have been almost unbearable. How fortunate we are now to have such things as immunisations and antibiotics!

The photo below shows a general view of the Kirkgate Cemetery.  I was unable to find a headstone for Jane when I visited the cemetery in 2000.

Kirkgate Cemetery, Kinross

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Advertisement in The Kinross-Shire Advertiser

This advertisement appeared in The Kinross-Shire Advertiser on Saturday 27 March 1897, page 1.

William and Ann WATSON had moved to Kinross from Ferryport on Craig some time after the 1881 census was held (on 4th April). They were living in Kinross when their daughter Jane was born on 15 May 1882.  During their time in Kinross the Watson family moved several times.  The Kinross Survey Book of Valuation of Lands and Heritable show that in 1884-85 William Watson, fireman for North British Rail, rented a house in Lochleven Place.  It was owned by David Marshall and William paid a lease of 6 pound per year.

During the years 1886-87 William, who by now had become a coal agent, rented a house and garden in Main Street for 7 pound per year.  This house was one of several owned by Walter Forsyth and had previously been rented by William’s father John and brothers John and George in the years 1884-85.

By 1888 William had moved to a house in High Street, owned by Mrs Christian Ritchie.  He paid 6 pound per year lease for this house.  He also rented a stable in Main Street from Mrs Jane Cumming for the sum of  1 pound 10 shillings.

The 1892-93 and 1893-94 valuations saw the family living in Montgomery Street in a house owned by Robert Cumming, builder. Ann and William’s son David George was born here on 21 January 1894.  The yearly lease was for 6 pound 5 shillings, slightly less than the 7 pound yearly lease he paid for the stable and byre in Montgomery Street, also owned by Mr Cumming.

In addition to yearly rentals properties were also charged water and animal assessments according to the amount of water used and number of animals owned. At a meeting of Police Commissioners of the Burgh of Kinross on Friday 19 October 1894 William appealed against the water assessment on his stable and also against the number of pigs charged for.  Both appeals were sustained with a special rate for horses and pigs being agreed as follows, 2 horses and 2 pigs.  The rate for horses was 4/- each and for pigs 1/- each. [AK Bell Library, Perth]

Montgomery Street, Kinross

Montgomery Street, Kinross

To see a larger version of these photos left mouse click on the photo. The stone on the building is shown in much greater detail.

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