Bridgend Toll House

The Toll

The Toll

Many years before John and Janet became the tenants of The Toll at Kilmacolm, it had indeed been a place where every fine carriage or humble farm cart would have had to pay a few coppers to pass by. Thus were the roads kept in decent order. The house probably consisted of two rooms separated by the front door and lobby where the payments would be made. There was a window on three sides of the house so there would be little chance of dodging the toll charge.

When John and Janet came in the early 1900s, they brought with them Christina (Teenie), Mary and Annabella (Annie). By then a scullery/kitchen, toilet and coal cellar had been added, plus a large wooden shed which housed all the roadmen’s tools. The steamroller was kept on a small piece of land a short distance from the house. How old the girls were I don’t know, but in time Annie worked in Struther’s the Grocer, and Mary in Doig’s the Fruiterer. Teenie had a fall on a grating which damaged her hip to the extent that splinters of bone came through her thigh leaving deep scars. She would help out at the fruit shop but mainly worked at home. From all accounts they had lots of friends plus sister Kate and her family in the village. In the Great War they knitted socks, balaclavas and scarves. The image below shows the certificate awarded to Christina Sinclair who “has helped to send some Comfort and Happiness to the brave Sailors and Soldiers of the British Empire, fighting to uphold Liberty, Justice, Honour and Freedom in the Great War.” On the back it is dated March 1915, Old Inn, Cumbernauld, Dunbartonshire.

Empire Day Certificate 1915

Empire Day Certificate 1915

In the Twenties, Teenie was first to meet her future husband, Percy Stroud, who was a turner in the Royal Naval Torpedo Factory (RNTF) in Greenock. Then Mary met Thomas Stevenson (Tom) who also was in the Torpedo Factory. Lastly Annie met Robert Maskell (Bob) and believe it or not he worked in the RNTF too! In the same order they married in 1925, 1927, 1931. They were all keen dancers and on many a Saturday a Dance was held in Kilmacolm Public Hall. Percy was a very good dancer and was prepared to travel. So he was the first to find Kilmacolm, and having met Teenie (although he called her Chris) and her sisters he brought his friends Tom and Bob and their fate was sealed.

In 1931, much against his will, John Sinclair had to retire from the roadwork. It was a sore point with him as he was still a strong, healthy man. The house wasn’t needed for his successor, so they were able to live there during his retirement. The older Sinclair children were also married and off into the world, some further than others.

Margaret (Meg) and her husband Donald McPhail sailed to Australia around 1924. They settled in Western Australia and brought up three sons, John, Donald (Donny) and Malcolm and two daughters Janet (Jenny) and Ann. All three boys served in the Aussie Army and survived the 39/46 war. Isabella (Belle) and Tom Gibson, who also was in the Army 1914/18, emigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada after the War with their son John who was born in 1912. A daughter, Peggy, came later. John served in the Canadian Army 1939/46 and spent some of his leaves with his Aunts in Scotland. Janet (Jen) and her husband Bob Andrew followed them to Canada in 1927. Both couples obtained sections of land in Saskatchewan and built their houses and farmed successfully. Catherine (Kate) married Stewart McClure some time before the Great War and he was in the army for years. He was awarded the MM but never spoke about it. Their children were Janet (Nettie) and Isabella (Isa). They settled in Kilmacolm after Stewart came home again. The only son of John and Janet was married to Mary and their children were Johnny, Duncan, Jim, Harry, Mary, Jenny, and Cathie.

Having now established the framework of the family, writing about times when I wasn’t yet on the scene, next time I’ll be able to dig into my own memories.

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