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And so William McMasters part in this little tale comes to an end, now I, Alastair Dunsmore will endeavour to try and relate some of my personal experiences, as to Williams I will break it down into different categories that of, Education, Religion, Sport and Leisure, and a general update of the town in my time. Like William, I also began my education at Blythswood Testimonial, in 1946 just after the end of the second World War, of which I have very little recollection, but reflecting back to these days, the summers seemed to be always warm and the winters bitterly cold, and going to school either meant wearing the “Tackity Buits” or your “Sannies” depending on the season.
This was a time when you formed what you imagined would be a lifelong relationship with your pals, and many a friendship has continued over the years, founded in trust in these bygone years. Primary School education led inevitably to you sitting your “Qually” or qualifying examination as it was properly called, which determined the starting point you would attain when you progressed to High School. This having been accomplished, it was with heavy heart you left the safe sanctuary of Primary, whether it be Blythswood or Moorpark, and head for the great unknown “The High”.
I would like to point out at this time, that due to Government education cuts, Blythswood Testimonial School was closed down and the children attending were relocated in other schools within the town. After lying neglected for numerous years and vandals destroying the entire building, it was finally demolished. After lying derelict for years, a company named the Thistle Foundation completely rebuilt the property as a home for disabled people and renamed it Blythswood House, this innovation at the time seemed marvellous for those who could afford the fees, but unfortunately, like most things in life unless you can pay for your luxuries they become far beyond ones reach.
Therefore in 1998 Blythswood House ceased to operate as a home and I feared it would suffer a similar fate as the old school, but due to an internal war being carried out in the Balkan States, refugees from Kosova were transported to Scotland, and Blythswood House became the home for approx. 70 unfortunate souls. As I write this (Feb 2000) the home is still occupied, but I fear the worse for the building should it ever again become unoccupied. And so to continue with my education I progressed to the Renfrew High, where I was joined by other pupils from the Primary schools in the district, namely Moorpark and Inchinnan.
The High or Glebe School as it was sometimes known, was a large foreboding red sandstone building, and even in those days of the early 1950’s was inadequate in size for the number of pupils it had to accommodate, and small annexe buildings were erected around the perimeter to house the Art, Home Economics, Woodwork, and Metalwork etc, Even in those days as in William McMasters, the “Belt” was still used as a form of punishment for misbehaviour, and was administered I think at times with undue pleasure by teachers whom I recall went by names like, The Hawk, Wee Bally, Crepsole Charlie etc, and I am sure the girls of that era will fondly remember or otherwise the likes of Jetta Yuill, Teenie Smith, and Miss Clarke.
The major difference being at High School, was the opportunity to participate in sporting activities, and both sexes were encouraged to take part in football, netball, swimming, hockey etc, and the boys were given the opportunity to exercise their skills in basic woodwork and metalwork whilst the girls were given the opportunity at typing and home economics. It was not long before the years rolled by, and with my school education complete, I managed to gain an apprenticeship with Babcock and Wilcox, whom at that time employed approximately 14,000 workers, a far cry from the present workforce of 400. If William McMaster could look back in time would he deem me to be middle class?.
The churches were still playing a big part in the social calendar of the teenager, mostly all of which had either, Lifeboys and Boys Brigade, or Cubs and Boy Scouts, and for the girls Brownies and Girl Guies. As the economy had not taken an upward trend after the war it was a real treat to get to summer camp, and I believe a welcomed relief to many a frustrated parent to be offloaded of their children, albeit for only two weeks. The parents were not entirely left out as there were mens clubs, the womans guild, and young mothers groups to take up their time, that was if they had any. But there still remained the weekly ritual of dressing in ones Sunday Best and attending Church, Chapel, or Mission, depending on which denomination you followed, and even in those days the Sunday School Trip was still a yearly occasion to look forward to.
The King George V Parks as in the past, still provided us with the facilities for both football and hockey, and in the fifties and sixties every Saturday morning and afternoon would witness the pent up energy of weekly toil expounded out on the fields. As was mentioned earlier, Renfrew has its fair share of sporting facilities, with two Bowling Greens in the Robertson Park which are open to the public, and two private ones. It also has a championship golf course which although being private, any time you called in, there was always someone there who recognised you and you had no difficulty being signed in. I would like to point out at this time, that this is not the original course that was mentioned earlier, that one being sited at the top end of Haining Road and occupying the ground now taken up by the Dean Park Estate. The new course is situated in what was once part of the Blythswood Estate, the club house being part of the old stables.