Former Polegate ‘Lumberjill’ to celebrate 100th birthday

A former Polegate ‘Lumberjill’ is set to celebrate her 100th birthday.

A former Polegate ‘Lumberjill’ is set to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Molly Paterson, who was part of the Women’s Timber Corps, will turn 100-years-old on Wednesday, April 27.

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Joanna Foat, who wrote Lumberjills Britain’s Forgotten Army, said Mrs Paterson was originally a needlework apprentice in a large department store in Dundee, Scotland, where she had to sweep floors, make tea and learn the stitches.

Molly Paterson at Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Aberfoyle. Picture from Joanna Foat SUS-220422-115109001

The author said, “She then got a job at home which involved working for the timber section of the Ministry of Supply in Ardbrecknish Forest, Argyll.

“During the war she lived at home in Cladich, near Loch Awe, in Scotland and became a measurer and in charge of wages and knew the names of all the coal mines in the north of England as she dispatched pit props out to all of them by road and train.”

Mrs Peterson said, “Every morning I had to walk a mile-and-a-half into the forest to be at work for 7.30am and so I would get up at about six and set off at about seven.

“I walked along the road and remember the mist rising like puffs of cotton wool and floating up from the loch.”

Molly Paterson on the right above the dog. Picture from Joanna Foat SUS-220422-115120001

The Polegate woman explained that as timber measurers, they had to crawl around in mud under the trees.

Mrs Paterson also spoke about the journey she would have to take to go dancing with her friends.

She said, “To get to the dances from our cottage, I would walk the two miles on my own to meet the girls and then we would all walk another two miles to the Portsonachan Hotel at the loch side.

“Sometimes my brothers would come and would ride their bikes to the loch and throw them in the bushes.

Molly Paterson and her husband Edward Paterson. Picture from Joanna Foat SUS-220422-115131001

“Here we would all clamber into a rowing boat and row the half-a-mile across to the other side of Loch Awe at Taycreggan. There would be about eight of us in the boat.

“After that we walked another mile up the hill to Kilchrenan Village Hall, where we would dance from about 9pm–2am.

“After the dance we had to do it all over again to get home. It took about two hours each way and sometimes I would get home just in time to set out on the one-and-a-half-mile walk to work again, as we had to work on Saturday mornings.

“I think I must have been pretty fit in those days.”