Dad’s Plot

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Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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Slater Family – Dad’s Plot

1937 Merry's Row Dad Slater with Major the Collie, Sadie, Mum Slater holding Duncan (Aged 74 in 2011) and Alex

1937 Merry’s Row
Dad Slater with Major the Collie, Sadie, Mum Slater holding Duncan (Aged 74 in 2011) and Alex.

Dad used this B.S.A. motor bike as his transportation to and from Coatbridge; Dad then added a side-car to protect Mum from the weather.

One story that Dad told, he took mum on the back of the bike with Gran Slater in the side-car on a visit to Muirkirk to see Gran’s sister Maggie, on the way home at a sharp right hand turn in East Kilbride, the bike with Mum and Dad went right, while the side car and Gran continued straight into the farmers field.

Dad used this B.S.A. motor bike as his transportation to and from Coatbridge

In future years, when we would come to this corner in the car, Dad would call:

”READY” and we would YELL “all turn right”.


One of Dad’s favorite stories; a few months after Robert and Mary married, Uncle Boab (as we came to know him), wanted to clean the chimney; in these times, the houses were heated by coal fires, which gave off a lot of black smoke, this coated the ‘lums’ (chimney’s) and was highly inflammable, so it had to be removed once a year to stop the threat of a chimney fire.

Uncle Boag asked Dad the best way of removing the soot, Dad suggested the following method.

Cover the fireplace with a bed sheet and fire a rocket up the lum ,the theory was this would cause a updraft and all the soot would come flying out the top.

Uncle Boab followed the instructions to the letter, but when he lit the firework it started up the lum hit the bend in the chimney came back down through the bed sheet and all the soot followed. Aunt Mary blamed Dad for all the mess; he had suggested the firework method as a joke.

While some of the many tales told had some embellishments, the basic facts were all true.

This is only two of the many stories Dad told


In June of 1945, Dad purchased a small army truck at an army surplus auction; it had an open back, covered with a canvas top; to test it, he organized an all-boys camping week, Dad, Alex, Duncan, plus two friends of Alex’s, Danny Paterson and Jimmy Robertson, loaded up the truck with our bell-tent, plus other items that Dad had purchased at the auction, and then headed for Balloch, on the sides of Loch Lomond.

We were the envy of the campers around! Dad, at the auctions, had got a large pressure type cooker, it had three layers, with two sections in each, first you put water to the level mark, then add one layer, on this, he would place soup, on the next, potatoes and vegetables, on the last, the meat, this was then placed on the fire and it would all be cooked by steam from the water in the bottom. Advantage was, ’no pile of dirty pots and pans’; we could go swimming or hiking and when we returned the supper was ready.

On Saturday night, people played musical instruments while the remainder danced on the road; there were so many people, that cars could not pass; the police were called and raided the party, this caused a panic, people ran every way; while Dad, Duncan, Alex, and Jimmy, climbed the fence, Danny decided to take it in full stride, as if in a hurdle race, he cleared the fence but slipped in the wet grass and fell head first into a cow-paddy; needless to say, he had a very cold bath in the loch before he was allowed into the tent. While the rest used sleeping bags that Dad had purchased at the auction, Duncan was too small, so he used the tent bag.

During the summer, Gran Boag would come with us on many picnics up the moors or down the coast. Dad sometimes after working night shift, would take us on a picnic, while he would sleep on the grass, but Gran would always worry that Dad would fall asleep while driving, she would always sit behind him, and every ten or fifteen minutes, poke him in the back and ask if he was sleeping; to the amusement of us, Dad would sometimes yawn and pretend to be asleep. Gran Boag never changed all the time we knew her, unlike Gran Slater, who would sit and tell you stories and had time for you, Gran Boag believed that children were to be seen and not heard.

With the help of his brother, John, Dad removed the canvas and supports from the back of the army truck and added shelves to it. Alex then started a fruit and vegetable business; with the acute housing shortage, families had moved into the now empty army barracks, in the surrounding area. With no mode of transportation, they relied on the traveling stores; Alex worked hard at trying to build a clientele base, the trouble was, retailers had to have a special permit to purchase fruit not grown in Britain, and with Alex due for military service within the next year, his application was denied, the consequence was, people supported the retailers with the permits, as they could offer two or three bananas to each customer who made a purchase from them, while Alex could offer no such bonus.

By this time Alex was frustrated by the fact that he was unable to secure tropical fruit for his customers, and in 1947 he volunteered for the Royal Air Force.

(Right) Alex, December 1947

Alex Slater
 Slater Truck

With Alex now In the R.A.F., Dad once again turned to his Brother and Mum’s brother David (who was a welder by trade), to help turn the truck into a ‘shooting Brake’ (station wagon), and as usual, they did a great job; this was to be our wheels for picnics and holidays for a few years. While a reliable car, we did have one scary moment; in July 1948, we were due to go to Scrabster in the north of Scotland on holiday, then a few days before going, Dad heard a grinding sound from the back wheel. 

With limited time, Dad was unable to check out the noise, so he took it to the local garage, the trouble was in one half of the back axle, it comes in two halves, so he had them replace it. On the day of departure, we all took our places, Mum and Dad in front, Gran Boag in the back ‘behind Dad’, with Sadie and Duncan. First stop, Fort William, at uncle Franks, and from there, we headed north. We were going up a steep hill on the outskirts of Dingwall, when to our utter surprise, the wheel that was repaired, fell off, the trouble was, they had installed the wrong part, and as the car was moving, the wheel nuts were very slowly loosening off. Dad called Uncle Frank, who came and took us back to Fort William, while the car was towed into Dingwall for repair. After two days we were on our way again and had a great holiday. The first stop for Dad after the holidays was the local garage to make a claim for the expenses we had incurred.

In May of 1949, dad had the first of two serious accidents he had, during his working years in the coal mines; coal hutches were filled with the coal, pulled to the mines cage and hoist to the surface; up until the 1940’s, small ponies were used for the task; later, a chain running in the middle of the steel tracks that the bogeys ran on, was used; in dad’s case, the hook used to secure the wagon to the chain, broke, when it was going up an incline, then the hutch ran down the tracks, trapping dad underneath it. The prognosis was that he would be off work for six to nine months and would need extra rehabilitation if he hoped to return to the same job.

With the prospect of the car sitting the garage for so long, dad sold our station wagon.

Sent in by Duncan Slater 


If you have any Photos… Send them to Bill

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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