Mrs Isobel Friell and Mr William Friell talk about the telegraph

Mrs Isobel Friell

Mr Willam Friell

Telegraph: Mrs Isobel Friell and Mr William Friell, each 92 years of age, interviewed in Langholm by their niece Mairi Telford Jammeh. Mr and Mrs Friell are native residents of Langholm.

  • Interviewed: May 2012.
  • Ref: DG3/2/1/2.
  • © Photo: Mairi Telford Jammeh.
  • © European Ethnological Research Centre, 2012.

WF: Aye, ah left the school when I wis 14 and ah got a job as telegraph boy there wasn’t many telephones in them days you see? So my job was to deliver telegrams, telephone messages – like telexes, nowadays they telex them but in my day they were telegram. And ah had a uniform – a pill-box hat, a leather belt wi a pouch.

IF: And a bike.

WF: And a bike. A big double bike wi a double bar – a super bike ah fair enjoyed it. And ah was, we sheltered, ah lived in a little office above the postal room. Billy Barber’s shop, that’s where, that wis the Post Office then and ah had a little room above. And if a telegram come in they’d whistle ‘come on’ an I would jump on the bike and deliver. Arthur Bell got a fair wee bit, that’s where Isa [his wife to be] worked.

At the mill?


WF:At the mill, mill office. And Isa worked there he used to say ‘Isa [unclear]’ often then.

MT-J: So did you give her a whistle?

WF: Oh aye (laughter). And then ah had to deliver telegrams right over Whita away to, Oh Middlemoss,


IF: Middlemoss, an, what, eh? What’s that there, further up?

WF: On right on the back o the hill, all then kinda places.

IF: Tarras Lodge.

WF: Way up there.

IF: The Coombs.

WF: The Coombs, aye. Oh, I went to the Coombs one morning early- telegram came in at night, six O’clock. Winter night, pouring of rain, black. Nae lights anything, just had a little oil lamp, fir me bike an they’re said, the Post-Master said, ‘Oh we’ll no send you out the night son. Come oot a six O’clock in the morning when the office opens.’ Takes it then you see?  So I did.  It was still dark, but I knew the road and by the time I got there it was daylight. And, the, the cottage was on the other side o this burn you see. And a woman welcomed me in. Ah wis soaked. Naturally she gave us bacon and egg besides a big hot fire. I was sitting there fair enjoyin meesel. And the fact, the telegram telt the farmer tae come down to the 10.15 train tae get the chickens (laughter). So he said to me, he said, ‘Boy, you’ll hev to help me get me car across this bridge.’ Cos he had a little car, I think a Baby Austin, or something. And then there’s a little wooden bridge up above the main road bridge and he kept his car obviously at the wooden bridge. Well it was on the wrong side o the river. The river’s on a right russle, so I’d tae help him tae push the car across this bridge and get it onto the road. And I wis laughin and sayin tae masel, ‘I’ll get a lift hame – grand.’ So ah said,

‘Will ah tie me bike on the spare wheel then and just get in beside ye?’

‘Neh, neh laddie. That spare wheel widna hud your bike. Look at the size o your bike! It’d break it. Neh, neh, you’ll just need tae cycle hame’. (laughter)

Oh, I wis terribly let doon.