Alloa has a population of just over 20,000 people, but is the largest town and administrative centre in the Clackmannanshire area of Scotland.
Because the town is located on the north bank of the Forth, at the spot where some say it ceases to be the River Forth and becomes the Firth of Forth, shipping was to play an important part of its history.
The first steamboat started to operate out of Alloa harbour in 1813. Following improvements to the harbour during the 18th century, the port transported goods from the factories in Glasgow down to Continental Europe.
Locally, Alloa was known for its weaving, glassmaking and brewing industries, though manufacturing in the town dwindled over the early decades of the 20th century.
The Town Through Time
YouTube channel toursscotland created a wonderful slideshow of old photographs of the town and its harbour.
Ian Manzie pulled together almost 12 minutes of old photographs showing views around the town and harbour through many different decades. Nice clear titles to identify each location.
A quick and informative potted history of the lost gardens and the families which owned the land.
In the 1920s a British Pathé film was made about the town’s Highland Agricultural Show. Lots of people appear, displaying their animals.
In 1935 British Pathé filmed a man searching for mussels in the River Doon, to extract their pearls, known as Doon Pearls.
It looks cold, back breaking work, standing in bare feet looking at the river bed through a glass bottomed box.
Apparently experienced men could spot which mussels were likely to contain a pearl before they even picked them up with the tongs, although only once at the riverside could they open the mussels to see what was inside.
The Good Old Days of Bottle Making
An astonishing look at production in the Alloa Glass Work Co Ltd, which was established in 1750.
The beautiful designs on the bottles include “Tuberculin Tested Milk” – sounds delightful! There’s also a large consignment of milk bottles bound for Malta ready to go.
One factory worker showed the old manual way of stacking boxes. But lo! In this mechanised world, the narrator is proud to present the “fork lifting truck”.
Near the end of the 18 minute film, we see lorries bringing back crates full of empty milk bottles.
The Times They Are a-Changin’
In 1960 Bert Fullerton was a teenage apprentice draughtsman at the Harland Engineering Co, which employed over a thousand staff. In 1969 the company became Weir Pumps Alloa.
On 21st April 1960 a national strike of apprentices was called by the unions, so Bert found himself without pay or occupation for three weeks.
He wrote this song about the things he got up to during that time, and includes pictures showing how important the company’s engineering products were to major infrastructure at the time.
He notes that this was the same year The Beatles played at Alloa Town Hall.
Wonderful home movie of a steam train crossing over the Alloa Forth Crossing.
Gen X Nostalgia
This montage by robert ferguson mixes photos of iconic 70s products and cultural references with photos of the local townspeople at the time.
There’s just two and a half minutes of footage from the town, recorded on 18th October 1990. You’ll find it straight after the first segment, filmed in Edinburgh. Each segment has a title card with the location and date of filming.
In addition to the buses, plenty of pedestrians and cars also appear.
21st Century Drone
I realise this drone footage of the town in 2019 isn’t historic, but in twenty or thirty years it will be an important record of the way things were.