My first recollection of the “Fair” goes back to the year that Queen Helen ( Nellie ) Young was crowned in 1934.

My involvement as a wee boy was memorable because I was allowed to accompany John Angus, who was the carter for the colliery, with horse and cart and collect boxwood from the nearby woods to decorate the arch. I also assisted Uncle Jimmy with the cables and lights. I then rode on the horses bare back to the “Lairds” Stables along the Dean, ( was I Tom Mix or was I Tom Mix!!)

Next I was at Primary School and in 1937 all the pupils were squeezed into Miss Shine’s classroom to cast your vote when Annie Spence was elected Queen! My big cousin Neil was Champion. I learned later that he and another cousin Ritchie were page boys in 1931, talk about the start of family connections.

Then in 1939 tall red-haired Jean Paterson, of Deanfield was elected Queen from Kinneil Primary School, for the first time. I could feel the excitement in the air that is the ” Fair ”

Little did we realise that War was looming in the near future and it would be 1946 before normal service was resumed. Men left as teenagers with the bloom of youth, and returned with ‘experience’ written all over their faces. Some didn’t come back!

By this time I was a teenager and working, so the interest in the Fair day was that it was the start of the Glasgow Fair holidays.

Castleloan had it’s share of Queen’s, Especially of course from Kinneil Primary. Dorothy Angus in 1950, Margaret Grant in 1955 and the June Grant in 1960.

By this time I was married and in business for myself, having taken over from my mother ( Minnies ). We enlarged her wee shop in the rows as the area grew around us. Our Staff were enthusiastic workers in raising money for charity, especially the Fair, for the next few years.

Then came our first Family representative. Our Oldest daughter, Carol-Anne was elected to be a presentee, Penelope of the “Magic Roundabout”. I enlisted the help of the grand master of building arches, Mr Bobby Heath and between us we designed a Carousel with the then “Town Clock” on top and won First Prize! Get the feeling CHUFFED!! Next came two fairies ( In the shape of Wilma and Helen ) and was it cold on that day! Next Carol-Anne was a flower girl and then the last member of the family, Richard, another presentee.

Time passes all too quickly.

When we moved to Stewart Avenue, the year was 1981 and it was then I came into contact with the children, teachers/stewards from Blackness primary. Their bus stopped at our door on the Fair morning, to take up their place for the walk to the park in the Public School’s playground. Helping them from their bus and across the road for their safety just seemed natural. The reception I got from these kids going from school and in procession was terrific! Thanks kids ( and Katie ) I miss you all.

So on to the year 1993, when a visit from chairman, David Brown and vice chairman, Andrew McFarlane, inviting my wife Margaret to crown Queen elect Maria McIntosh. What a compliment, here’s my girl born a ” Black Bitch,” though she’s stayed and worked longer in Bo’ness, given this honour – words are inadequate to describe the feeling. What a day it was, a whole 4 months of preparation for the big day. Never to be forgotten. Everybody who has had the opportunity will know what I mean. IT WAS OUR SPECIAL FAIR DAY – THANKS!

Skipping to 1998, our oldest Grandson, Bobby, was elected to be Champion to Queen Hannah. Once again joy was shared among us. Three years later Michael was a presentee. Another ‘day’ of excitement, every bit as special to him. What will the future hold we will wait and see.

Let me conclude. On this day, Friday 27th June in the year of our Lord 2003, may the sun shine, may a smile be on your lips and laughter in your heart and when you meet your neighbour, pass the time of day and say ” It’s the Fair Day.”

Always remember, it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice!

TOM MULHOLLAND

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