Twechar United F.C., East Dunbartonshire. by Paris-Roubaix

Set down in the middle of a patchwork quilt of green hills and fields, the wee village of Twechar is the last gem we’ll visit on our journey through Dunbartonshire. It’s a town with a long history, and a hard one, but with all that’s gone before there’s still a rich future ahead of it.

Antonine Wall, Twechar by electropod
Antonine Wall, Twechar, a photo by electropod on Flickr.
Hints of the past linger in the ruins of a Roman fort that sits above the village on Barhill. This fort is proof that the Twechar area has been inhabited for about 2,000 years. One local says, “It’s a hike up there, but you can see why emperor Antonine chose the location…the view down the Kelvin Valley is quite breathtaking.” The Romans valued their Barhill fort, outfitting it with “offices, barracks, and a large bathhouse.” It was one link in the long chain of the Antonine Wall which once guarded Romanized Britons from those vicious Caledonians.
The bone and blood of Twechar is in mining. While coal mining stretches far back into the village’s history, it did not begin in earnest until the infamous William Baird & Company came to town in the 1860s, sinking pits and building a community for the miners’ families. The popular opinion is that this company treated their workers more like slaves than employees, owning them “body and soul.” The miners’ housing, called “raws”, “had no sanitation and were lit by paraffin lamps. Communal wash houses were provided at intervals along each row (of houses).” Residents were practically obligated to shop at the company store, the Gartsherrie Co-operative shop, and even the local pub was owned by Baird & Co. 
NCB Twechar Locomotive Shed by Paris-Roubaix
NCB Twechar Locomotive Shed, a photo by Paris-Roubaix on Flickr.
Things got quite a bit better in 1925 when the miners finally put enough pressure on the company to build better houses. Life in Twechar carried on much the same as always until the 1960s when the mining industry finally went into a decline. Pits closed and with them died the lifestyle that had dominated the area for the last century. 

Memories of Twechar
from her past residents seem largely positive. Several scenes from childhood which still gleam bright in remembrance include the ever-present Campsies, Bedlay Castle, summers in the glen and woodlands, steam engines puffing to the collieries, interminable rain, swimming at nearby Kirkintilloch, looking out for kingfishers, and being able to play hard all day “on a couple of (burnt) spuds,” One former resident says, “I live far away now in a crowded hectic city, and even though I wouldn’t live anywhere else, I still miss the beautiful, quiet countryside around Twechar.”

Twechar Parish Church, East Dunbartonshire. by Paris-Roubaix
Twechar Parish Church, East Dunbartonshire., a photo by Paris-Roubaix on Flickr.  

Twechar is no longer dominated by a single industry. It is now home to a “major waste recycling plant, engineering, and a specialty producer of fine foods.” It’s small enough that children must go elsewhere for their secondary education, yet there are three churches to choose from. “The village is a friendly place, and locals are only too pleased to stop for a chat to the walker, cyclist, or canal boat mariner.” While the classic Twechar pub, the Antonine Arms (called the “Bully” due to its talent for relieving the miners of their wages), has now closed, tired visitors can stop at either the local Miners Welfare Club for a refreshment , or at the H.L.E.C ( Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre ) for a sit down and a snack. 

If you’re ever in Twechar, give a shout-out to the locals. Tell ’em The Britophile sent you.

Wheat Field by Ian....See
Wheat Field, a photo by Ian….See on Flickr.

First Photo: Twechar United F.C., East Dunbartonshire., a photo by Paris-Roubaix on Flickr.

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 7 comments

  1. Anonymous Reply

    The ‘ Bully ‘ – now closed 🙁 .

    The ‘ Bully ‘ ( pronounced with the ‘U’ as in ‘gulley’ )was called as such due to the fact the mine company owned it , and come a friday when the men had their wages in their hand – the ‘ Bully ‘ was often too good at relieving the miners of them, before any of it reached their wives hands.

    Tired visitors can stop at either the local Miners Welfare Club , for a refreshment , or at the H.L.E.C ( Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre ) for a sit down and a snack.

  2. Gilmour Menzies Reply

    Greetings from Canada! I’d love to know the names of the young men on the football team pictured as my father was born in Kilsyth and lived in Barrhill Rows, Twechar. My grandfather, George Menzies, was a miner, and his brother William, was a fireman at the mine. William died in an accident there 23 Dec 1889. He left a wife and nine children who emigrated to Australia. My grandfather, George Menzies, his wife, Maggie Bell, and four of eight children left for Canada in 1907. They left three Sarah Menzies (one 9 months, one 11 months, and one eleven years) in the Kilsyth cemetery, and John Bell remained in Scotland. I’d love to find out more about the family there. Perhaps you could point me in a direction to find out more.

  3. G. Picken Reply

    My father, Sammy Picken, is in this photograph, he is front row left.

    For those wanting to know the names, the full team is L/R. Back row: A. McAtee (Capt.), T. McMahon, W. Keegans, J. Waters, J. Whyte, S. Waddell.

    Front row: S. Picken, T. Kelly, A. Degnan, J. Thomson, G. Loudon, D. Crainie.

    • Paul Malone Reply

      hi my name is Paul Malone and I’m looking for information on the twechar utd team.. Also did your dad play with Patrick thistle?

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