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The Day of the Flitting – 4 February 1939

 

Saturday 4 February dawned bright and cold. Along the Pleasance Road, which was barely more than a track, there was a carefully cleaned farm lorry pulled up in front of a cottage.

Three young men, brothers by the shade of their fiery red hair, and one older man whose hair had gone pure white, were loading chairs into the back of the vehicle. Most of the large bits of furniture were already carefully stowed inside and anchored by several mattresses.

“So are you going to the football after this?” said the youngest brother.

The middle brother replied, “No. I think I’ll give it a miss. I’m meeting Cissie. Should win anyways. It’s just against Duns. We are in a bad way if we can’t beat a non-league team.”

“Don’t jinx us now. You can never tell what will happen in a cup tie. Why I remember,,,” but the sentence was never finished. The father called them to order.

“C’mon you two. It’s on to the tea chests now. Two of us for each chest – we daren’t risk dropping one. Especially be careful with the ones with china on the top.”

Inside, two women were mopping the floors. One was middle aged, and her mother-in-law was over eighty but still able to wield a brush or a mop.

“An extra bedroom. Can you imagine it. Three good size bedrooms. And an inside toilet and bathroom. Brand new,” said the younger women, mopping furiously, with a wrap around pinafore over her blouse and skirt. “ Just wonderful.”

“ Well as long as the Council doesn’t start to increase the rents. They say there is a war coming and no doubt we’ll all be short of money then,” opined the older women. But then she laughed “But don’t let me put you off flitting. It is a wonderful house. The boys will be able to get some space at last.

“Not just that,” the younger lady confided, “but we can give a bed to yourself at last. Jack is too old to be sleeping with his Granny. And Johnny and I can sleep in a bedroom at last rather than on a bed sittee in the parlour. I never realised how over-crowded we were until these new houses came along.” With one last flourish, the last mopping of the kitchen floor was completed.

Half an hour later, the van was ready to move off . The neighbours were out to say good-bye, and several of them would be moving up to the new council houses shortly. There was a wave from Davie and Margaret Seaman, not to mention their wee laddie, Wullie, who had been assured three times that Jack Adamson would indeed be back at two o’clock to take him to East End Park.

The driver was the middle son who had learnt to drive on lorries belonging to the LNER railway company. Twenty years old and confident of his newly acquired skill. The two women went with him. The other menfolk walked. Past Halbeath Farm they went, over the level crossing, up the slope to the new Halbeath. This was rising above the part of the village known as Morningside, on the land of North Fod Farm. Varying size blocks of Council flats formed a double loop, and this was Fod Street. They were headed for a ground floor flat, which was No 17. This was part of a block of four flats in one large building. Two front doors faced the street, including their own, and the other two front doors were on either side.

The flat came with gardens both front and back, although at present builder’s rubble promised some hard gardening work for the next few months.

Bob and Maggie Watson and their family who lived in the flat above, No 19, were there to welcome them having moved in the previous week.

“Good to see the Adamsons coming up in the world Johnny,” said Bob Watson with a smile.

Maggie leaned across and waved, “I’ll bring some tea round in about an hour’s time Liz.”

Notes

1. According to the Scots Dictionary, the verb to ‘flit’ is derived from Old Middle English and can be traced in literature as far back as 1300. It refers to goods that are carried from one place to another. It is most commonly used in Scots to refer to removing from one place of residence to another.

2. The house that the Adamsons were leaving is today No 1 Pleasance Road. This was the first in a row of four farm cottages. It now has an upper floor, and thus has four bedrooms, which would have been undreamt of luxury to Liz Adamson.

3. The people moving were John (Johnny) Adamson (52), his wife Elizabeth (Liz) (47), his mother Christina (Kirsty) Adamson (82) and his three sons, Alexander (Alec) (22), David (20) and John (Jack) (17).

4. The Seamans and the Watsons really were the neighbours in The Pleasance Road and at Fod Street respectively. This is confirmed by the 1939 voters roll.

5. From 1 June 1935, it was compulsory to pass a driving test in the UK.

6. Jack Adamson regularly took young Wullie Seaman to see Dunfermline Athletic play. Eighty years later, in 2019, Wullie Seaman (a retired coal miner) was still attending East End Park. On Saturday 4 February 1939, Dunfermline Athletic beat Duns in the Scottish Cup 2-0. The final game before WWII broke out was played on September 2, 1939. Dunfermline Athletic beat Brechin City 5-2 in the old Scottish Second Division. Jack Adamson was there to see it.

7. David Adamson married Jessie Mitchell (known as Cissie) on 3 November 1939 in Dunfermline. His older brother, Alex married Cissie’s sister, May Mitchell, in 1941. Jack Adamson married Sheila Thomson in 1949.

8. Christina Adamson nee Hunter died in October 1939. She is buried in the Adamson plot in the old part of Dunfermline cemetery, at the rear of East End Park.

 

 

A screenshot of the new Council House at 17 Fod Street, Halbeath

Kirsty Adamson at Farm Row, Halbeath (now The Pleasance Road)

Alexander Adamson , aged 22 , in 1938 at Halbeath

David Adamson, aged 20, in 1938 at Halbeath

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