The Old Manse
Tarbrax village history started around 1866 with the Shale mining industry.
Between 1904 and 1910, two blocks of forty additional miners cottages were built by the Tarbrax Oil company. These five 'top' and five 'bottom' rows had eight houses in each rows. By 1926 a series of strikes had closed the mine and oil works permanently, the village started to shrink from its maximum of 300 houses and the company, then 'Scottish Oil' sold house numbers 225 and 226 in 1931 to the Church of Scotland for use as a manse. The remainder of the top and bottom rows were demolished and most of the materials taken away for salvage and to repair other houses.
The Church later sold the manse and it came into the hands of Charlie Towler along with the area previously occupied by the rest of the Top rows. He called it Rumah Cottages, the garden being the space occupied by the other six of that original end row. The other four rows were allowed to go wild, he had bought them to stop anybody else building on them, and now serve as a place to grow trees, walk, contemplate the generosity of dog owners, and provide heat for the ground source heat pump.
We were living in 234 Woodside Terrace when we bought 'Rumah' (225,226), it was semi derelict and the roof was starting to go. The banks decided not to lend us any money on a mortgage, although several of the surveyors, while turning us down, said that they would be very happy to buy it from us, the price being very reasonable for such a large plot, mainly because the banks wouldn't mortgage it.
The episode may have something to do with my opinion of bankers, which I shall not print here for fear of frightening small children.
Fortunately my Mother was downsizing and so we borrowed from her at a mutually acceptable rate of interest. It took a couple of years to get the house back into a habitable state, at which point we sold 234 to Grace and Johnny, Most of the old photographs of Tarbrax here are provided courtesy of Johnny who has been here and hereabouts since Adam was a lad.
The convenience of the move lay partly in the fact that we could carry our furniture by hand, and curiously we were never sent a bill by the solicitors, presumably because we did much of the arranging ourselves. Still a nice gesture though, notably, since the banks were quite happy to charge us for their quite useless and somewhat erroneous opinions. Especially the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Woolwich. (Amoral, thieving, illegitimate sons of unclean lineage that they are sometimes likened unto, by persons of my acquaintance.)