Ian Mitchell - Working In The Iron Foundry, Castle Douglas - A Look at 47 years service.
I remember the date well, It was the 6th of March, 1936 that I first started work at J & R Wallace's Foundry in Cotton Street, Castle Douglas. There was no suitable public transport in those days to get one to work at 7.45 so the only way was to cycle. If the wind wasn't too fresh I could cycle the eight miles in under half an hour. Then home again at 5.30. As apprentices we had five years to serve, starting off at 7s 1d per week and rising by half-a-crown (2s 6d) each year.
Everybody joined the foundry either as apprentice turner & fitters: wheelwrights; or moulders. The holidays were two and a half days per year, without-out pay! We didn't even have Christmas Day off in those days, but then that was common for many other jobs in Scotland. We always took a packed lunch because quite often we would be away from the foundry installing or repairing equipment. The foundry men, sometimes there were as many as 60 or 70 men, would always have an hour for lunch because some of the local men would go quite a long way home to get their dinner. During one such lunch hour one of the workmen tried out his camera on us and took the picture below. I am in the centre at the top. Others in the picture cycled in from Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright, and from all over the Stewartry. One man came from Kirkinner but it was too far to cycle daily so he lodged in town.
Eventually competition from Europe made our manufacture uneconomical and the foundry was turned into agencies for various firms, Massey-Ferguson, etc. It finally closed down about ten years ago and the Co-operative bought it for their new store.
A night out in the old days usually meant a trip to Castle Douglas to Billy Slaters' Cinema, which is now the King's Arms' Car Park. Later the Palace opened on Academy Street so we then had a choice. Once a fortnight in season we would go to watch Queen of the South who were in the First Division then. The highlight was when they beat Rangers 1-0. Before I left the company I was their Salesman and the photograph below shows (1. to r.) Mr J Wallace, Sam Wilson and myself. Sam has just bought this tractor from us.