[1996:] [Glasgow omnibus entrepreneur Andrew] Menzies realised that laying tram lines over cobblestones would make for quicker, smoother journeys and when Glasgow Corporation laid the rails in 1869 for the company he formed, "The Glasgow Tramway and Omnibus Co", it was one of the most important milestones in the city's history. Bedecked appropriately in the Menzies tartan, the first tram ran from St. George's Cross to Eglinton Toll on 19th August, 1872. The fare - 2d for the whole journey or 1d from either end to Union Street.
Andrew Menzies did not live to see the results of the revolutionary development as he died in 1873.However to him, Glaswegians can say thanks for giving them their much loved and nostalgically remembered "Trams". In 1894, [the Council] decided to operate the service itself. When formed, Glasgow Corporation Tramways was the first major municipal tramway system in the world. The first regular tram from Dalmarnock Depot, destination Finnieston, ran on1st July, 1894 at 4.53 am. [...] From the beginning Glaswegians immediately developed a strong attachment to their new tramcars, over 6 million passengers carried in the first four weeks. [...] By 1902, the changeover [to electricity] was complete - electric haulage had totally taken over - horse trams vanished from the streets forever. Conductresses - "Clippies" were introduced during the First World War. Glasgow was the first city to do so and tartan was seen again, this time in their long uniform skirts.
4th September 1962 saw the sad demise of Glasgow's tramway system - the "CAURS" had gone. (Carol Foreman, Did You Know?, Glasgow City Libraries and Archives, Glasgow, p61 f.)
[1998:] In the middle '50s I was seeing a girl called Frankie Grey who lived in Markinch, Fife. My mother had a Morris 1000 which I used to borrow to go up and see her. Around this time there was a petrol crisis and in fact petrol became rationed and coupons were printed for essential use only. Thus, I reverted to becoming again a bus traveller. Alexanders buses in those days were not the warm, comfortable, quiet vehicles of today. They were dirty, littered with fag ends, draughty, noisy and smelly and were to be avoided if possible. Often, the one thing that made them tolerable were the gum-chewing, bright eyed, quick witted bus conductresses or clippies as they were known. There were sloppy ones, but in the main, they were very smart, with minuscule knots in their ties, shiny white collars and bright black shining cross belts festooned with badges, and lots of make-up. The black hat was often squeezed into a 'non regulation' fashion statement and they did not take any 'lip' from anyone.
The last bus from Markinch to Dunfermline was the one I travelled on. It called at all the miners' clubs on the way home and was thus an extremely jolly affair. Downstairs was the place to be. Would be entertainers stood against the partition behind the driver and launched into their acts. Singers, joke tellers, reciters, even a juggler one night, each did their bit. At Markinch a fish supper would be bought. If it was the cheery clippie she got the supper. If it was the crabbit one, someone else would get it.
I used to be very quiet in those days and would sit at the back, usually reading a book. [...] A few years later when I was interested in song writing I used to think of these times on the buses and I read somewhere the phrase "I'll punch your ticket twice!" - it set something going. Being brought up in Dunfermline, I knew all about pits and mines, 'pitch and toss', the mining areas and that sort of thing, so the song came pretty quickly.
Up until 1970 I used to sing it unaccompanied, quite slowly, not the country style / music hall way it is done today. It was the formation of the Great Fife Road Show in 1969 which changed the whole mood of the song with country style fiddling from Davy Craig, Rab Noakes on guitar and harmonies from Barbara Dickson - we did the song every night on a 23 night tour of Scotland.
In 1976 Davey Stewart and myself recorded "Kelty" on the Springthyme label on an album entitled "Shores of the Forth" which was very successful for us, remaining in the folk charts for two years. Gerry MacKenzie, the "Tartan Terror", played "Kelty Clippie" every week on Radio Forth for six months and there is no doubt that it helped to sell the record.
There were weird off-shoots to "Kelty". One day a guy knocked on my door. He wanted "Kelty" to play at the crematorium in Kirkcaldy as his pal's coffin slid into the flames, it had been his friend's favourite song and "he was always singing it"! A deck officer in the Ben Line told me he had heard it rocketing over the tannoy in some "God forsaken post in the Persian Gulf". One day I went to the Churchill Theatre in Edinburgh to see "Kelty" danced in a ballet performed by the Basic Space Dance Company, choreographed by Royston Maldoon, the dance artist in residence in Fife. The dancers were all American, they had never heard of Kelty!
Springthyme issued a single of "Kelty" and it began to appear on jukeboxes in pubs. When I asked the bar lady in Deacon Brodie's pub in Edinburgh why it was listed under "House Music", she said "Oh, that's because it has trombones in it".
After the single came out I stood all day at the stall of a friend in Kinross Sunday Market flogging "Kelty". A woman said to me "Gie me wan o' they Kelty Clippies son". I said "Would you like me to sign it for you?" She said "No thanks son" and walked off! [...]
Although no masterpiece "Kelty" has done well for me though I do get a bit fed up with it sometimes. There are currently fourteen recordings of it available including groups from Canada and Denmark. Nowadays it does best in Denmark although it still gets radio play here after twenty-eight years. People doing it nowadays are mainly in the commercial scene and of course it gets big licks in Fife as a party piece. [...] The tune by the way isn't mine. It is in fact a mixture of "Maggie Cockabendie" and Woody Guthrie's "Grand Rancoolie Dam" [sic!]. I steal all my tunes. Although it's in at least three books that I know of, people still get the words wrong!
Pyramids - Pit bings. Slag heaps of waste now no more, having been landscaped.
Buckhaven's Gold Sand - Buckhaven, Fife, once a pretty fishing and popular holiday place after the 1900s degenerated into a coal dust oriented industrialised area. The disappearance of the mining industry is again changing these places.
Happy Land - This was an area of "Miners Raws" (Rows) in Lochgelly. Women would be seen sitting outside their houses knitting and chatting on summers days. The menfolk would be blethering to each other. You still see this in some rural continental places in the cool of the evening.
Pitch and Toss - Miners' gambling game with two pennies played all over Britain. "The babbers (tossers) made plenty money". [...]
Barbara Dickson was 'The Kelty Clippie' In The Great Fife Road Show which kicked off their Scottish tour on the 10th July 1970 at the new Picture House, St. Andrews in a late night show.
At one point in the evening Barbara sauntered across the stage wearing this bus conductress uniform, hat, skirt, top, etc. I then said to her "Babs, do you fancy a bit nookie down by the bus shelters?" At which she hits me on the jaw saying "How dare you speak to me like that, I'll bet you get plenty hits on the jaw if you speak to girls like that". To which I reply, "Yes, but I get plenty nookie too!" We all thought this was hilarious but after one performance no-one in the audience laughed and the "sketch" was hastily dropped! (John Watt, Living Tradition 26, 37f.)