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.