Bankhead Pond Memories

© Rutherglen Heritage Society

Manmade by the town council in 1936, Bankhead Pond was enjoyed by hundreds of Rutherglen children in the pre and post-war years. Here, Stuart McNab shares some of his memories of the pond with Carol Foreman.

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Above, Bankhead Pond in the 1950s

Image Credit: Carol Foreman

My first encounter with the pond was on the way to my first day at Bankhead Primary School.   At the pond, my mother took me to the water’s edge where she pointed out that the water was very deep and very dangerous and not to come here alone. In fact, the depth of the water was only twelve to eighteen inches. 

 

This warning however, was only heeded for about three weeks and then my pals talked me into visiting the pond most days. This resulted in me getting home later and later, and my mother started to ask lots of awkward questions.

 

Sorry to say, it had to happen.  Things got out of hand and I slipped into the water, soaking both feet.  It took me ages to get home and my ‘so called pals’ had all disappeared leaving me to face the music on my own. Two of them were neighbours who said they had not seen me coming out of school.

 

As you can imagine, I was in deep trouble when I squelched into the house.  The questions came thick and fast and I got my backside skelpt and was confined to barracks for almost two weeks.

 

Nevertheless, that was the start of lots of adventures at the pond. 

One winter’s day when the school’s heating system was not working efficiently, we were let out early.  As the outside temperature was below zero someone noticed that the pond was covered in ice, so, where did we go.  Yes!!!  The pond.  Once there, we had a discussion as to the thickness of the ice covering it and if it was thick enough to take our weight.

 

Volunteers (of course I was one) were found to try out the ice and after they had crossed the pond a few times there was a stampede onto the ice which wasn’t thick enough to carry the weight. Suddenly we were all knee deep in freezing water. Another punishment detail!!!

On another expedition, I had permission to go to the pond as I had been given a model sailboat.

However, after about thirty minutes three of my pals arrived and we asked the ‘Parkie’ to look after my boat, while the four of us took off up stream. This took us to a wooded area where there were overhanging branches perfect for swinging on. At the highest point of a swing I lost my grip and plunged feet first into a pool that was almost chest high. Predictably, this took some explaining when I got home, and my sailboat was confiscated for about six months.

Once when the gang of four sneaked off to the pond, we met two lads with a couple of jars with fish in them.   When we asked them where they got them from, they told us you had to go downstream to catch fish so, off we went.  To catch them however, we had to take our shoes and socks off and then stand very still with our hands in the water, cupped, so that we could scoop the fish out of the water.

After about an hour all we had caught were two sticklebacks, one minnow and we all had very cold sore feet.   Then one of the lads couldn’t find his shoes and started to get rather upset at the thought of going home minus them.  However, from the other side of the stream a lad called out that there were two shoes about to enter the rapids at the end of the pool.  Luckily, we managed to rescue the rather soggy shoes before they disappeared out of reach.  At least, ‘for a change’, I wasn’t in trouble.

Those were the days, and I will always have happy memories of Bankhead Pond.

Stuart Macnab, as told to Carol Foreman

July 2020

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Above, Bankhead Pond today

Image Credit: Carol Foreman

Links:

Rutherglen Reformer article from March 2012 about a Bankhead Pond exhibition at Rutherglen Heritage Centre.

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Rutherglen Reformer article from October 2014 about local residents' association efforts to regenerate the pond.

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Rutherglen Heritage Project website: photograph from 1946 of Bankhead Pond.

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