Poems about West Barns

Of Cobs and Pugs

by Ruth Gilchrist

Pug locomotive

Pug locomotive

If I were a boy

Id ride up there on the foot plate

all day getting covered in soot.

I`d pester the driver

let us fill the fire box

shine the maker’s plate

keep an eye on the pressure guage

I`d  don a cap , carry an oily rag in ma pocket,

stink o grease ,wrap black

hands round whitest of sandwiches

ma mam would moan at state of ma nails

girls ud giggle at ma blacked up face

an I`d wink at  jelous school boys

dream of letting that whistle holler.

An before the days over I`d go up by the shoulder

place ma hand on that great saddle

an feel the life of the Pug

regard the beast that keeps my world mooving.

But ,

I`m a girl

and  I`ve to bide in school

learnin arithmetic until the harvest time.

Then I`m allowed to

neglect the school work

tek ma eye of the wee ones

to dig ma hands into the soil

Rub off the muddy plugs

chuk the tatties in ma basket

whipe ma eyes an blacken the apron

Ma mam ul moan for me castin off the uglie bonnet

an tut at the tan aroun ma neck

but weel have a laugh an follow the cart

pause while the horse has a snicker

An before the days over I`ll go up by the shoulder

put ma ear to that great barrelled chest

feelin the life of the Cob

regard the  beast that keeps me dreaming.


by LesleyMay Miller

My mother, Sarah, never forgot that day;

when she was nineteen years old;

the squealing of rats escaping the fire,

the choking smoke and the men shouting,

Annadale Family, Bielside, West Barns

the Paper Mill burned down.

Black snow of ashes blew as far as Dunbar

and over the fields, the bulb fields where I work now.

In spring and summer tulips, daffodils, crocus, lilies

and dahlias colour the land.

She told me about my grandpa,

Annadale Family, Bielside, West Barns

Annadale Family, Bielside, West Barns

he was groom up at the House.

She showed me old photos;

school girls in their plain dresses

the boys with stiff white collars.

She felt sorry for her pal, Sandy,

wondered why they dressed him up so fancy,

sat him on Grandpa’s knee on a flowery chair

outside the house in the sun.

Why did he wear a feather in his bonnet,

have buttoned leggings, fur trim

on his coat, well polished shoes?

She was allowed to play

with Sandy from the Big House

He had a racquet for games.

Sometimes they took his sister’s dolls

for a ride in his toy barrow.

They even played dominoes

in the nursery, watched over by his Nanny.

Later they could go out by themselves

away from the clatter and roar

of the mills and brickworks.

They would run over the fields to the estuary,

the beach and hear lark-song.

My Grandma wanted her to pick samphire

but they ran into the woods to climb trees

Beltonford Paper Mill_West Barns

Beltonford Paper Mill, West Barns

and make up stories.

Sandy took over the Mills and needed servants

for the House. So until she married my Dad,

Mum was Sandy’s housemaid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *