ARCH BUILDING has long been a traditional part of the Bo’ness Fair. I would like to share some of my memories of this with you.
My father, Charlie Hunter made six arches for the Bo’ness Fair, starting from humble beginnings to splendid creations.
The first arch he built was in 1965 for my brother Charles who was Ruth Frank’s page boy. His arch was a fern and paper roses job. I am still a dab hand at making paper flowers. To make the flowers a production line was needed. It consisted of – a strip cutter, a petal shaper, a petal curler, one stretcher and finally it was my mother’s job to try and create a flower from our efforts. We used crepe paper which was one colour on one side, with a contrasting shade on the other, to give a better effect! Our fern and paper roses arch as entered into the small arch category. Unfortunately no prize was awarded.
I was a fairy in 1967. We borrowed the toadstool from the Craigmailen Brownies for a fairy scene which included various dolls dressed as fairies and pixies. Fluorescent butterflies with bodies cut from mt granny’s old fur coat were hung along the fence and between our house and next door. This time a special prize was given. I think it was the butterflies that did it.
1970 I was a Lady in Waiting, he was really going to try this time. He built a windmill with my name in the school colours going down one side and Lady in Waiting on the other side. The sails turned, he had a few near misses with the speed of them. A few times they were really going so fast they nearly took off. He was on the way up A Third Prize.
In 1972 my sister Lesley was chosen to be a presentee. The theme that year was China. Charlie decided to build a pagoda. Well, this thing grew arms and legs, it was enormous, It was fantastic. In blue and yellow the same colours as the presentee outfits, with dragons and lanterns hanging from the corners. His friend Jock Anderson, made him a tubular fountain with fairy lights to sit on the top. My brother, John, stuck the loose wires into the mains, while holding the metal fountain. The voltage was to high and the thing exploded. It was like fireworks going off, I do not know how he was not killed. Another friend, Danny McLean, made a wooden bridge, river and a Chinese lady for the front garden. After everyone’s effort a second prise was givem. He felt he was done.
Gypsy Lesley was his real project. A Gypsy caravan was built. My mother sacrificed her curtains from the kitchen for the caravan windows. But there was a lot of steep competition that year and no prize.
After voting for herself for many years Barbara Ann was eventually chosen to be a Flowergirl This was his last chance for a first prize. He was going to build a Cuckoo clock. Someone I worked beside said that her boyfriend would design it, but my father said no. Uncle Hugh would do it, but it was too late for Uncle Hugh, the couple were already in the drive with their measuring tape and notebook. The drawings arrived and after a few adjustments production commenced.
My dad wanted the Cuckoo to come out the door, a small hatch had to lift and the bird would appear, easier said than done. We had a Busby puppet for the cuckoo. On the Fair E’en they couldn’t get it to work. There was a small boy crying because he couldn’t see Busby, so my brother John, climbed inside, stuck the puppet on his hand, operated the door and waved to the youngster. The kid went away quie happy. They eventually got it operational. The Fair morning, and clock on the cuckoo clock was set for 11am. Everything was ready for Mr Pollock and his team to arrive. Hurrah, a First Prize.
This still sits in pride of place in my mother’s display cabinet.