Archive for Family

How the B939 got its Spot

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Could it be that this Scottish Connection known as St Andrew’s Road, the B939 which connects St Andrews to Ceres (and beyond), was constructed at the behest of one Oliver Gourlay (1740-1819)? According to this snippet (of which there is more here) from “Memorials of the Scottish House of Gourlay“:

In acquiring these and other lands, Oliver Gourlay was led to believe that by a course of high farming he would attain opulence. Ardent in his enterprises, he in 1780 invited the Town Council of St Andrews to construct a superior road between their city and his estate, assuring them that thereby they “would eternize their names.” Impressed by his agricultural activities, capitalists extended to him a large credit, so that prior to 1803 he was enabled to purchase the estate of Kilmaron, near Cupar-Fife, of which the modern rental was upwards of £3000. But Mr Gourlay failed in his agricultural adventures, and disposing of his lands, he retired from public concerns. He died on the 10th October 1819 in his eightieth year.

Though the estate mentioned (Kilmaron) is not in Ceres but is a little north of Cupar, there’s no road from St Andrew’s to Kilmaron. And the road from St Andrew’s through Cupar is a fairly important A road which needs no excuse to be there anyway.

So who was Oliver Gourlay but a distant (and severally-removed) cousin of mine. His grandfather John Gourlay (1678-1723) was (take a breath) my mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father. Oliver was also the father of Robert Fleming Gourlay – rather well known in Scotland, England and Canada.

Seems Like Old Times

A gentleman friend Photos from the summer of 1928, from my Great Aunt Lily’s album. She was born on the 20th August 1902 and so is nearly 26 in the four pictures in which she appears. Which are the one with the gentleman friend, the one on the beach with the young lady friend, the one in a quartet aseat on a wall and the one with a gentleman friend on what looks to be a rather dreary day in July,

We’re all goin’ …


On the back of this photo is noted Saltwell Park, Bank Holiday 1956 – when the subject was four months old. From this scrap of information (assuming it’s correct) we discover – with a little help from google (date of aug bank holiday 1956) and a handy website, that it was August 6, 1956. If anything untoward happened on that day at least this kid has an alibi for part of it.

Here’s what the day was like (and I quote):

Notably cold, with severe thunderstorms for some.

The weather pattern was very disturbed. Bank Holiday Monday was a notably poor day – regarded at the time as ‘one of the worst on record’! The day was dominated by a cool northerly airflow (though it’s strength had eased from the previous days). There were some spectacular (& slow-moving) thunderstorms, with large hail and some 4ft (over 1m) of water causing flooding in Tunbridge Wells (Kent). The storm started mid-morning, with heavy rain and the hail started just before midday. At one point, the centre of the town was buried under a foot (~30cm) of hail-ice, with drifts of hailstones up to 4ft (~1m) deep. In other areas, 62mm of rain fell in one hour at Swanage (Dorset) & Arundel (Sussex); 80mm of rain at Faversham (Kent). The midday temperature in central London was just 13degC (c.f. the average day maximum of 22degC). On this measure, it was regarded as the coldest Bank Holiday Monday in the capital since 1880. [ This August was one of the coldest and wettest of the 20th century. ]

But meanwhile, up in the north, maybe the weather wasn’t quite so bad?

It’s also (moderately) interesting that the August Bank Holidays back then were at the beginning of the month rather than, as now, at the end.


Had an idea to find my dad’s Bacon Number. Though not in the film business, he had featured (as half of the double act ‘Johnnie and Ronnie’)- playing the accordion alongside his drummer chum – in Stewart Mackinnon’s 1993 film Border Crossing. This is a difficult film to track down. Amber Styles was in that, so she’s the obvious link, and indeed it turns out that her Bacon Number is three and so his is four.

However, Gerhard Garbers – also in Border Crossing – was in a 1990 film called Werner – Beinhart!, which also featured Ludger Pistor, who was in this year’s X-Men First Class with the man himself, old Kev. So Gerhard (also in the highly enjoyable Run Lola Run) beats Amber (sorry Amber) with a Bacon Number of two, so my dad’s is three.

Except – there’s a route with even more cachet. Border Crossing’s Les Wilde was in Stormy Monday with Tommy Lee Jones, who was of course with ‘the Bake’ in JFK. So, though my dad’s Bacon Number is still three (which is pretty good for a non-player), that’s a fairly decent path.

But whoa hang on there and hold your horses just a cotton’ pickin’ minuteStormy Monday? My sister was in that! OK, it was a bar scene and she didn’t say anything and she’s uncredited, but still – that means she’s got a Bacon Number of two.