Thursday, February 25, 2010

The whisky railway at Cas Chaolas

Cas Chaolas is the original Gaelic name for the area that later became a ferryport for an Anglo queen. Apart from Gaelic toponomy which can be seen in other local placenames such as Echline, Dalmeny and Duntarvie, South Queensferry used have its own monument to the pinnacle of Scots' culture, the uisge-beatha.

This was where VAT 69 once had its blending plant. Immortalised in Iain Banks' 'The Bridge', this once local landmark and employer fell victim to the whisky cuts of the 80s. Below is a photo of the last corner standing. Today this area of The Loan is where you find a Scotmid and the local GP. The wall in the bottom left of the pic is the auld railway bridge. This was the railway which once left the plant and took the sùgh an eorna out to the wider world. Nowadays, its a cycle track which begins/ends in the glorious Scotmid carpark.

Apparently, the Glenesk distillery of Montrose supplied the major component of VAT 69, of which more information can be found on this Wiki page. More info on the background to the closures can be found at the excellent Pseudipigrapha blog here, which funnily enough seems to be banned from the Scotsman/ Northern Daily Mail comment forums! Speaking of Johnson Press - the people responsible for recycling Labour Party press releases - one of their other organs, Eastbourne Today, (??!!) informs us that in 1983, "Queensferry woman Teresa Brogan won the Miss VAT 69 title at the firm's annual dance."

The nearby St Magdalene distillery in Linlithgow also went during the same period. More info on that and other closed distilleries can be found here at Malt Maniacs.

Is it overly sentimental to mourn these icons of our culture? I don't know, but are football clubs any different? Even the likes of Airdrie who are often thought of as 'unfashionable' when folk are being polite to them, have survived. More to the point, is it wrong to be 'sentimental', if the other side of the coin is to be so obsessed with short-term profits that people, their families and livelihoods just become stepping stones?