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.