Posted by: wrha | May 23, 2020

Memories of Riccarton Junction – Katherine Montgomery

I was one of the Riccarton Junction “Railway Children.” My Father, Willie Jardine was a signalman for many years. Other village children were the Richardsons – Ina, Moira, Campbell, Jim, Jeanette and Isobel, Sandra Grant, Addie Thompson, Shirley Gasgoine, to name but a few.

What a privilege to have spent the first twelve years of my life in that happy, caring community.

As children we were blissfully unaware of the practical problems of living in a village where, apart from a long walk across the hill, the only access was by railway. We only knew the joy and freedom of the surrounding hills and valleys, loving families and always plenty of fun, games and other activities.

riccarton houses3

On the days when we were not in the classroom being taught our three R’s by Mrs.Rhodes or Mrs.Grant (who succeeded Mrs.Rhodes in 1946) we could be found playing on the hillside, or, on hot summer days paddling in the crystal clear pools of the burn which meandered and gurgled its way down through the hills and fields next to the village. Occasionally we dammed a pool to make it deep enough to swim. How excited we were when one of us mastered our first strokes.

Sometimes we lazily read or picknicked on the lush green grass bank, the stillness only broken by the occasional splash of a jumping trout or the bleat of a sheep grazing peacefully. I can still picture Thomas Beattie the Shepherd walking along the ridge of the hill with Glen the collie trotting happily at his side.

riccarton from bell hill

Winter dramatically changed the scene! Howling gales and sudden snowstorms often made it impossible for the trains to get through. Sometimes we came downstairs in the morning to find that the snow had drifted to a depth of several feet. Dad spent hours digging through drifts as tall as himself to reach our hens and pigs housed near the allotments. How we children loved the snow and could be seen on sledges of all shapes and sizes hurtling “doon the brae.”

When the shed where the pigs were housed was not in use, we scrubbed and disinfected it and one year I remember holding a concert there to raise money for charity. We had a mention in the “Hawick News” which was a great thrill!

riccarton from phaupknowe

One of the highlights of our year was sports day, when young and old alike abandoned themselves to an afternoon of running, jumping, wheelbarrow and three-legged racing, usually followed by a picnic and music from Stu Milligan on the accordion. How important I felt one year when asked to play my accordion to lead the procession from the school to the field where the sports were held.

Easter time saw most of our mothers carefully hard-boiling fresh free-range eggs wrapped in various things like onion skins to create lovely patterns on the shells. There was always lively competition to see who could create the prettiest patterns. Then “Auntie” Sarah Richardson, who lived at number 21, used to take us to a favourite spot where we rolled our paste eggs down the hillside.

Christmas was a magical time! Santa Claus always managed to reach us in time for our party. Archie Hardy, who lived next door, had something to do with the arrangements for Santa, I think!

The village ladies once again showed their baking skills. There was always a lovely spread.


When an addition to one of the families was due, a special engine and guards van was sent to take the Mother-to-be to the Haig Maternity Home at Hawick.

When my brother Hamilton’s birth was imminent, he was almost born in the guards van. It was a very relieved Joe Lamb who handed my Mother, Lily, into a taxi at Hawick station that night. He was born moments after arriving at the Home.

Probably the biggest thrill of all was when we travelled on the train to Hawick. As the huge engine puffed and smoked its way along the track and up towards Whitrope Summit, the sound of the wheels on the lines seemed to be saying “A cannae dae it – A hettae dae it.” Then when it reached the top “A can dae it – A can dae it!”

On special occasions we were treated to high tea in Hawick, but usually it was fish ‘n’ chips (what a treat) just before boarding the train for home, tired but happy.

Riccarton Junction may be no more, but forgotten? NEVER!!

This article was originally published in The Waverley Issue 08, Autumn 2005. It has been reproduced here as part of our historical articles series during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Written by Katherine Montgomery. All photographs WRHA Archive Collection.

More tales from life at Riccarton Junction can be read about in Kit Milligan’s book ‘Riccarton Junction – Just a few lines’, available from the WRHA web shop at

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Copyright WRHA 2005 & 2020. No part of this article may be reproduced without express permission.