Ref NoSBA/158/15
TitleOral history project file, Isobel Scott [Scottish Borders Memory Bank]
DescriptionInterviewed by Andrew Dixon.

Release (Waiver) Form held by Scottish Borders Archives.

WORK: SERVICES: Hotels and catering
LEISURE: EXPRESSIVE ARTS: Music, Dance, Events, Occasions and places
COMMUNITY: SOCIAL CUSTOMS: Community events, ( Civic Week )

Transcript of interview with Isobel Scott, with photograph and 9 No. audio recordings [MP3].

I'm Isobel Scott and, along with my husband, we owned The Border Hotel in Kelso in Woodmarket which was almost opposite the Corn Exchange, during the years 1962 to 1968.
What bands did you have staying there?

Well we did have quite a few bands, some of which I don't really remember them. But the most famous one was Fred, Freddie and the Dreamers and they were quite a lot of characters when they were up there and when they came he noticed a portrait of Freddie the Horse, owned by the Tweedies from Middle Third, hanging in the hallway. So he decided he would like to go up and see the Tweedies and offer to buy Freddie from them.
And I did, directed them where to go. But, I said, "You've got absolutely no chance." But, "Oh, oh", he says, "Oh, I'll just offer them whatever they want and I'll buy Freddie today." But of course, he went up there and came back, and I said, "Well?". "No. Not for sale. Not at any price." Which did not surprise us at all.
We had quite a carry on. My son was about five years old at the time and they had quite a bit of ... playing games with him. Trying to be shooting and all that sort of thing so the children quite enjoyed them because obviously they were quite young themselves then. And, not yet famous.
Another band that we had was Beau Brummel. I think they came from the Carlisle area but I'm just not too sure about that. But they were a different kettle of fish altogether. They were, they were quieter and ...not just quite with it most of the time from what we could make out.
Another person that we had staying was Helen Shapiro's cousin, but I can't remember her name. But she was singing with a band in the, in the Corn Exchange that night and her voice was very, very similar to her cousins. So, she was quite interesting as well. But that's really, that's the bands that I remember that stayed with us at the time.
Did you have much trouble from any of the bands?
No. We didn't have any trouble at all, ever. Wee bit trouble getting some of them out of their beds in the morning but that was ...the only problem but, apart from that they were really fine, yes. They were really well behaved. Mmm uhuh.
And did, did Duncan ever stay over if he was a bit below par or ... [Mackinnon; Duncan (1916-1969); dance promoter]

I'm not sure if he did. Not to my knowledge did he ever stay over at that time. I mean I knew the Corn Exchange obviously when I was a teenager because that was my night out and we couldn't wait for the Saturday night to come along. But that was ... during my teenage years.
What bands did you all see at the Corn Exchange when you were young?
Well, there was, we used, Acker Bilk was there which was an extremely popular one. Doctor Crock and his Crackpots and Ivy Benson and the girls that had to take their dresses off to go to the loo because they were so tight. They couldn't go without taking them off. Oh. And, well, there's just so many other, the usual favourites like Monty Strachan from Duns and that sort of thing. They were always the favourite there. Mmm huh.
What, what would you say was your best night at the Corn Exchange?

Oh well, that would probably be a very personal night at the Corn Exchange. It would be the night that, in these days you didn't go with your boyfriends to the dances. You had various boyfriends taking you home so my best night was probably when the one I really wanted took me home. But they were all good nights. It was our life, really, the Corn Exchange. It's just a pity that it couldn't still be there today because I'm sure it would be well supported. Of course, no alcohol in these days which did make a difference. Mmm huh.
And did you ever get across to other ... Duncan's dances?
Melrose. Yes, been to Melrose. Galashiels. Places like that. Yes.
Did, did you, further away across to Carlisle, no?
No. Oh no. We didn't stray very far. We, we liked the Border boys.
And can you remember, was, did the Beatles ever come across here at all?
I don't know. I don't think so. I think we definitely would have known that. I could almost very safely say they definitely didn't or we would have known about that. That would have been, what year would that have been, they were, when did they start up?
Well, Duncan arranged that Scottish tour for 1960.
Yes, yes.
And so ...
Mmm huh, so, and that was once they were on the go? yeahh, yeah.
Yes. Yes. See most of the time at Kelso, well a lot of them, you got them just before they got a wee bit more famous. And George Melly of course. He was another one that came to Kelso.
Did he stay in the hotel?
N ... I don't know because I don't think I would be in there then. I think that would be before. I think.
Can you remember any of the other local Kelso bands who used to play in the Exchange?

Now, what was the band, Bob Telford and Tommy Riddell, what was their name? Do you remember that one or ... ?
I can't remember the full name of that one.
That's ridiculous. I should remember that one. Because I used to work beside Tommy Riddell. He played the double bass. yeah, they played quite a, a lot there and the Dixie Six used to play there. That was another favourite, when they were coming. Can't think of any other local ones right now. You probably know a few of them.
I'm getting to know them.
Yes, yes.
And did you have any trouble from any fans when the big bands were staying in the hotel?

No. Never had any trouble at all, full stop. No trouble. No. They were very good. I mean the dances when, you know, when I was going to dances in my teens ...a fight was an occasion and it was usually just a quite a small skirmish. You know. There's nothing got away, really heavy. Very, very seldom occasions.
And have you got any pictures of the bands at that time who stayed there?
I'm afraid not. No.
A picture of the hotel at all?
I might have a, yes, I could let you see, not all that brilliant but, maybe just the front of it or something like that.
Oh that'd be good, yeah, yeah.
Right, I can get that for you.
So you owned it till 1968?
I think it was around that time. I think it was about 1968.
And that was around the same time the dances were just about stopping ... ?

That's right, yes. They were just starting to wind down then, mmm huh. yeah. When did McKinnon start in Kelso, do you know?
Oh he must have start, well he started in Melrose in '47 so, it must have been '48/'49.
Right, yeah.
Because ...he got too big too soon really/
Is that right? yeahh. And he couldn't control it after that.
All the way up from Thurso and Wick down to Manchester.
He even had connections in London.
Isn't that excellent. Really. You just never knew that. I mean, we just saw him in the Borders here and then Adam of course with his, at the door.
Can you ... remember any of the other doormen?
Aye, but I don't know their names. Was there somebody Fleming, I think?
Yes. That's right. We knew them all well enough but ...rushing up the stairs with the coats, mm huh. All the girls on their own and the boys on their own. One at, one lot at one side and one at the other. All good fun.
And did Acker Bilk stay in the Hotel?
No, not so we'd know, no. Don't think so. I'm not sure what year he was there.
Think it might have been earlier.
Mmm, I think it might have been. Him and Duncan were good friends though.
Were they really? yeahh.
Oh right. uh-huh. Was Duncan musical. Did he sing or play music or ...

He played the bagpipes but he was injured in the Second World War so, but he, I'm still trying to piece it together but he couldn't really play after that.
Oh right.
After he was injured.
Injured. Oh dear. Mmm huh.
And did you have any locals stay in the hotel as well?
How do you mean, locals? Like for the dances and that? yeahh, yeah.
Occasionally ... there'd be some fellows if they were courting in Kelso. Come through from Gorebridge and places like that. I remember they used to, some of them used to come on a regular basis and see the girlfriends. Mmm huh. yeah. They were no trouble either. Fine. Mmm huh.
And how, was the hotel packed during the Civic Week as well?

Yes. It was very busy but at that time it was a different clientele. We had a lot of fishers. There was a lot of coarse fishing in Kelso at that time and we were very busy with that July/August.
How did Duncan arrange the clash between the, his dances and the Kelso Civic Week. Did they, did they keep having them on during the Civic Week or ...

Now, there used to this special dance on the Friday night in the Tait Hall for the Civic Week. But there would be one on the Saturday night I would, I would almost certainly think. Yes, I'm sure there was, mmm huh. Because it obviously was needed on that night. Very much so.
And do you know any other people who might could help my research?
I wonder. Have you still got that tape on?
(Tape stopped at this point) [END]
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