'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Pedlars, Hawkers and Salesmen-Carrying Coals to Newcastle?

Throughout the 1960s the source of heating and hot water in each house in The Stair was the small open fire in the sitting room. It was at the fireplace that we would dry our sodden socks n wellies after playing out in the snow or from getting wet jumping the burn. On late autumn tea times and cold winter nights we would gather around the fire. Many's the tea time when my grandfather dropped by most week days for a cuppa and to slip us some pocket money or on Tuesdays a box of fruit and veg.

There was more than one coal-man who came to The Stair. The Hoffmanns' coal-man was Veitch. He used to come to the house each Friday lunchtime. On many occasions it would be me who hosted the visit. It was either Alex Veitch and/or the second man on the lorry, who may have been his brother-certainly there has been a Veitch Brothers Transport business at Loanhead for many years. I assume they got their coal from Monktonhall Colliery? In the quieter summer months I wonder if they did other types of transport to maintain an income?

I always found the 'coal-man' gruff and unrecognisable under their sooty faces-although one would have thought that after years of delivery there would be a relationship, instead it was only ever a transaction for me. We used to get a bag of coal and a bag of something called 'chirles'-although I haven't been able to track that word down-basically it was very small pieces of coal-I suspect it was cheaper, and it was also good for getting the fire going, before larger lumps were put on the glowing fire later.

The Coalman Mike Jones

I wouldn't have recognised him, but Mrs Anne Hoffmann knew and liked Alex Veitch. She said he used to scrub up well when she saw him at the dancing at The Plaza at Morningside. She also spoke of his kindness too. On occasions when we had run out of money and couldn't buy coal in the winter months he would have a look at the empty coal bunker and put in a free bag of coal.

Plaza, Morningside Road, Edinburgh

In later years I may even have come across him when I worked in Midlothian where the Council used to help out the Loanhead Gala Day.


Unknown said...

I remember on quite a few occasions my dad putting the "chimney up" in his drunken stupor because he put too much coal on the fire and the firemen coming to put it out! was always very amusing.....

Peter Hoffmann said... that is where the term Firewater comes from!