Scottish Working People's History Trust


The Trust, through the good offices of volunteer Veronica Hartwich, is preparing an online access project to bring some of the substantial archive of interviews held by the Trust into publicly accessible format. Veronica is working with the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN) on a pilot project, to publish online reminiscences of a sample of the interviews conducted over the years. The first will be with shipyard workers, Onion Johnnies and Peeblesshire textile workers. The work of the Trust will also be highlighted through an information page on the site, which will incorporate an interview with the late Dr Ian MacDougall about his recording of working people's testimony for the Trust over some 20 years. There have been considerable delays to this project, due to Covid, and we hope the material will now go live in 2023.

This will be the first time that the Trust has adopted an open online delivery method to increase accessibility to its collection of several hundred interviews, and will inform our plans for developing further remote access to the wealth of oral history material in our archive.

The late Ian MacDougall, the long serving Research Worker for the Trust had published an independent oral history of the village of Lilliesleaf where he spent some time as an evacuee during the war.

Voices from Lilliesleaf: Life and Work in a Scottish Borders Village During the Twentieth Century


Published by Birlinn. . £20 paperback

This book is an oral history of life and work in the Scottish Borders village of Lilliesleaf, based on interviews recorded in 1991-4 with 24 of its oldest inhabitants. They include farm, forestry and sawmill workers, shopworkers and domestic servants, the main local landowner, wartime Land Girls and a wartime evacuee. In their own words they describe daily life and work; social, political, religious and cultural activities; changes in farming practices; the huge impact of two World Wars; the closure of village shops as car ownership and supermarkets spread; and the rising cost of village housing, pushing younger villagers into the towns. Popular local practices, such as poaching and the annual Ball Day are discussed, as are issues such as hiring fairs and flittings, large families, schooling, overcrowding, poverty, unemployment, food and drink. There are also colourful tales of local characters such as Bobby the Banesetter, 'Dr' Blythe (a carter, dustman and sportsman who was often locked in a shed by his wife until he sobered up), tramps Bet the Boar, Sailor Jack and Big Bella Robertson (a 'holy terror and strong as any man') who lifted the village policeman and laid him down on the road 'on the bane o' his back' when he came to arrest her for being drunk. The book gives a vivid portrayal of country and village life in Scotland during a century of great change.