A Short “Tail” of Coal and Cones

A couple of weeks ago The Fatdog and I took her brother, Murphy, on a Friday evening geocaching wander to Fallin Bing.  Yep…we went for a walk around an old colliery spoil heap.  It may be an old coal waste heap but it’s an old coal waste heap with crackin’ views…and someone very kindly put a geocache up there.  For me it was a “trip up memory bing”.

I remember it well from my boyhood days as one set of grandparents stayed in Fallin and the other in Throsk, the next village a mile to the east.  My Fallin grandpa worked in the pit until he lost an arm and became the mine watchman.  From time to time I would be taken on a tour around the pit head machinery.  It was in the crushing plant I lost my marbles; well…my prize marble anyway.  I howled as it slipped out my hand into the hoppers below  to become fine silica dust.

It felt strange to be back in the same spot after all those years.  All the workings have now gone as has a lot of the spoil with the old bing landscaped and planted with native trees and shrubs.

From the top there is a superb view to the west taking in Fallin, Stirling Castle, Wallace’s Monument and the mountains beyond.

Stirling Castle (left) Wallace's Monument (right)

Looking east the view takes in the Forth valley and the Ochil Hills.

The Fatdogs and the Ochil Hills beyond

When I was 3 I stayed in Throsk for about a year or so with my mum and grandparents while my dad was in Canada setting up a new home for us.  Only a month or so before mum and I were due to go out to join him he came back.  We stayed.  I still have my Canadian identity card somewhere.

The two neighbouring villages couldn’t have been more different.  Fallin was a rough, mining village where football was the game of choice.  Throsk was an enigma.  Built by the admiralty to serve the adjacent munitions depot on the south  shore of the Forth it was more like an English country village in nature.  In fact many of the inhabitants in the 1950’s were English.  In Throsk cricket was the game of choice.  In the centre of the photo below there is asmall,  bright green, area of parkland.  This is the site of what was the cricket pitch.

Throsk - with the "cricket pitch" centre of photo

The unifying factor between these two disparate villages was the church at the Throsk end of Fallin and the adjacent Tony’s.  A visit to Tony Tortolano’s ice cream factory for a cone was the highlight of any walk from Throsk to Fallin.  The Tortolano “Snow White” ice cream vans roamed the surrounding towns, a firm favourite with kids of my generation.

Tony's ice-cream factory

The old ice cream factory has been empty for many years but I’d been waiting for a sunny evening to photograph the family sign above the door.  Of such things are memories made.


10 thoughts on “A Short “Tail” of Coal and Cones”

  1. “Grandad. When I grow up I’m going to get a Space Receiver like Dan Dare and I’m going to climb to the top of the bing and there will be these metal balls rotating around the world and they will tell me where to find the hidden treasure ”
    “Aye, Kenneth, thats a rerr imagination you’ve got on ye. Now off to bed. I’m away oot tae The Goth.”

    Slightly different generation but some of this may ring bells
    Blevinss, Ryans, McPhees, Bones, Torrances. Hazels
    The Flying Doctor
    Bruce Mavor’s bakers van
    Crossing the railway bridge to Alloa (illegally)
    Fields along the road with no fences

    I had a holiday job at the RNAD, but it was always “the Throsk” never Bandeath. You can still see the layout of the shell stores from Dumyat etc ( but you know that)

    I seem to remember there was some subtle social distinction between the Fallin end of Throsk and the South Alloa end but no idea what it was.

    My dad’s side were from the next village down Airth ( Dunmore)

    It’ll take a few generations to get all that shiny black stuff out of the genes !

  2. We searched for the treasure…found it…but no sign of the marble 😦 .

    No Goth for Grandpa…didn’t drink – they were somewhat presbyterian. Didn’t like cheese either…but I don’t know if that was due to some religious conviction or not.

    The Bones…my uncle stayed next to Jimmy’s folks – him that became a football player/manager. And my granny stayed next to another of the Bone clan.

    Vivid memories of Mavers van calling into Throsk. There were others but I can’t remember whose they were. Remember playing in the fenceless field next to the bus stop – making dens in the (wheat?). Remember the Polis Sergeant calling into granny’s to advise her of my shortcomings.

    I remember the rail bridge…just…I expect my Grandpa crossed it quite a lot as his parents lived in Alloa.

    My grandpa drove the wee train in the depot. Remember walking around the place a few years back and saw what remains of the rail track. I still have a shell casing…my granpa made a pencil holder out of it filling the base with an old penny.

    I think you’re right about the Throsk social divide…but like you I’ve no idea what the background was.

    I imagined Dunmore to be agricultural estate houses…were they something else?

  3. Ploomen and pitmen with cooks and domestic servants as far back as I can be arsed finding out,

    Sinclair’s the butchers van ?
    The Fallin GP in the early 60s had a Triumph TR3 – hence flying doctor
    If there was a wedding Brice Maver would do “the purvey”

  4. Butcher’s van – nope…not familiar. I was pretty young though when i stayed at Throsk.

    Never heard that one about the Fallin GP either though I feel I should remember his name.

    1. Hi Ken. My wife was brought up in Fallin. The two doctors were Dr King and Dr Milne. My wife doesn’t remember the “Flying Doctor” nickname. My late mother-in-law came from Germany and taught Dr King German. His son, Douglas, is also a doctor and my wife bumps into him now and again in Stirling.
      My late father-in-law was a pal of Jimmy [“Junior”] Bone’s dad.
      Since moving to Stirling in 1989 I have met many people living in Fallin or who lived in Fallin. It is amazing how many of them have been incredibly successful in life. For example, my wife reckons that Jim Leishman, the footballer / manager was from Fallin. Oldmortality would know.

  5. I think Jim Leishman is a Fifer through and through. Junior Bone of course had to make a difficult choice between becoming a footballer or a male model !. And John hazel played briefly for Hibs. As did Hibs”legend” Joe Tortolano.
    But the best footballer to come out of Fallin was Jim Ryan. He had lots of sisters and his dad worked at Polmaise. Jim went to Stirling High and signed for Manchesterr United straight from school.He played a few games for the big team, but suffered from playing the same position as a young guy from Belfast with long hair !.He went on to Luton and then Dallas in the new US league (where he led a players strike) He returned to manage Luton and then went back to ManU as assistant manager and then head of youth development where he still is unless he has retired in the last year or two.

    1. You’re right, Oldmortality. Jim Leishman was born in Lochgelly and was brought up in Fife. – I’ve just checked up on internet. However, my wife insists there was a Leishman family in Fallin and that one of them, Jim Leishman was a good footballer. I didn’t know about Jim Ryan.

  6. Amazing what comes out of the woodwork!

    Thanks for the doctors names Russell – looked familiar as soon as I saw them…I remember both grans talking about them.

    Must admit I don’t know much about the Fallin families…me being a “visitor” although I spent a few of my summer holidays from school there staying with one of my grans in the 1960’s.

    Remember the name Morton coming up re football – but that might just have been at local level.

    Regarding the name Leishman, there was a family in Denny late 60’s I think there was a Jim Leishman about my age – but I’m sure he came from a footballing tradition. But my memory is a bit suspect 😦 .

  7. King and Milne, indeed. Dr Kings oldest son, Peter was at school with me. As I understand all three of them went into the medical profession.
    I remember playing against Jimmy Bone over in the park on a Sunday and getting ‘rolled’ by him – painful! He was playing for Celtic at the time. His Dad was our ‘next door’, neighbour. Mavers, Tortalano, the horse and cart ‘shop’ (McQuillan?). Thanks for jarring the memory guys! I loved the old place even though it was a bit rough on the unsuspecting. By the way, I’m told Toots Bone was the better player than his brother but it’s s aid he couldn’t get signed pro after a ‘run in’.

    1. Ah ha! A Brown from Fallin. Welcome to the blog Rab. 😀 Glad you enjoyed the post. Now…are we related? My grandpa was a Robert Brown who lived in Hawthorn Drive. Given you’re talking about the 60’s (I think) there’s a good chance we’re talking about old Fallin families here – before the pit closed and the whole nature of the village changed.

      My uncle stayed next door to Jimmy Bone and my Gran, who moved up from Throsk in the mid 60’s stayed beside a Bone in Polmaise Crescent. Mind you…most of Fallin stayed beside a Bone! 😆

      Tortolano’s has just been demolished! 😦 Glad I took the photo when I did.

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