Fruits of their labours album and oral histories
Lanarkshire Songwriters celebrate the forgotten men and women of the Fruit Basket of Scotland
Fruits of their Labours was a project led by the Lanarkshire Songwriters, celebrating the forgotten men and women who had once worked in the historic fruit growing and nursery trade in the Clyde and Avon Valley, through oral histories and songs.
Apple Day was written and recorded in collaboration with three local schools – Underbank Primary School, Kirkfieldbank Primary School and Overtown Primary School, as a result of workshops exploring the history with pupils. Inspired by the fruit-growing social history surrounding each school, the ten songs tell the story of the industry through the eyes of young people who never had the chance to see the splendour of the fruit growing heyday. They vary from the light-hearted and playful ‘Dung’ to the more serious ‘Lest we forget’. Listen to the songs below, and find out more here.
12 oral histories were also collected from people who remember the fruit growing trade – people who were either directly involved themselves, or whose families had been involved. The stories provide an important record of the day-to-day family and working life of the industry, which would otherwise be lost forever as time marches on. Stories include having to water tomatoes on the morning of Mura’s own wedding, attending the local Kerswell Agricultural College where tools of the trade were outdated, and how nursery men would know their own spades by the touch.
The oral histories were recorded by Lanarkshire Songwriter Billy Stewart, son of a fruit grower and nurseryman at Upper Callendar, Overtown. Oral histories were collected from Bob Bradford, Tom Clelland, Jamie Craig, Mura Davidson, Chris McCulloch, Jim Naismith, Gordon Neil, John and Chris Scott, Ken Scott, Billy Stewart, David Stewart and William Stewart. Listen to the abridged version of the oral histories below.
Listen to the full version of the oral histories here. Click into each oral history for biographical information on each interviewee.
The jewel in the crown of the Fruits of their labours project is the album of the same name, written by the Lanarkshire Songwriters. Some songs were created from the oral histories whilst others were written from personal experience. Many of the songwriters had no previous knowledge of the Clyde Valley and came to the project with a completely blank canvas. Through research and listening to the interviews, they found the inspiration for their songs. For others, talking about the past reminded them of previous involvement either personally or from family members.
Songs were written by Rab Armour, Bob Bradford, Martin Coffield, Robin Laing, Ian Mairs, John Malcolm, Chris McCulloch, Gordon Neil, Frank Rae, Dougie Semple, Billy Stewart, Ian Walker and John Young. Information on the background of each song can be found here, and you can listen to the album below.
In the past, a “trip down the Clydeside”, meant picking plums, tomatoes or strawberries, in what was once known as the Fruitbasket of Scotland for its abundant apples, plums and pears. Although there are traces of the past industry in the landscape left today, these may go undetected by day trippers to the garden centres and coffee shops, who don’t realise the intrinsic role that the Clyde Valley played in Scotland’s history.
The Fruits of their labours oral histories and songs create a record of these times gone by for all to enjoy, making sure that the Clyde Valley fruit growing industry stakes its claim in history. The project was delivered by Lanarkshire Songwriters and supported by Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) and Renewable Energy Fund managed by South Lanarkshire Council.
Much work has been made on regenerating the Clyde Valley orchards by the Clyde Valley Orchards Co-operative recently, who now press, bottle and sell their very own Clyde Valley apple juice. A report by the National Orchard Inventory Scotland has also revealed that, although diminished, the Clyde Valley orchards are still the largest and most concentrated area of orchards in Scotland. CAVLP Heritage have also carried out archaeological surveys of remnants of the fruit growing industry including glasshouses and packing sheds. Find out more on the links below.