The Present (1966)

This section is just as it was written in 1966.

“Ta-ran-ta-ra! The world is coming - on black and yellow wheels with a guard red coated who bugles through the glen. It is coming behind black horses with thundering hooves.”

This quotation from Neil Munro, written many years ago, could almost be applied to Eckford today. With a rush of wheels, the roar of twin carburettors, the seductive lure of television, the world has come to Eckford. The financial and emotional dependence on the soil is weakening.

Buses daily collect the young women and carry them off to the clutter and bustle of the mills in Hawick. Few men are thirled to the farm but drive themselves to Kelso and the engineer’s bench.

The changes in many spheres are too subtle to be noticed. Eckford church was linked with Crailing in 1960 and while each remains a separate entity with its own Kirk Session, Women’s Guild and Sunday School, they share a minister. Eckford Women’s Guild, ever a source of refreshment of spirit and strong in well-doing, keeps its members in touch with the church at home and abroad. They have added a new field to their labours, the adoption of a refugee family in West Germany, to whom not only gifts of food and clothing are sent, but letters of encouragement and friendship.

The Kirk Session has tried an experiment in what is really Home Mission and provided each Sunday a bus to bring Sunday School children in from the more distant parts of the parish. The result is a flourishing Sunday School of about fifty children but in the absence of a church hall (the village hall being a mile away) the classes are scattered. One meets in the vestry, one in another side room at the church and three or sometimes four classes hurry across to various rooms in the Manse.

The newest business venture in Eckford is the sand quarry. Originally opened in 1925 near the Morebattle road, that area has been exhausted and a new working started eighteen months ago (that would have been early 1965) in the field opposite the Manse. This is sand of good quality, of glacial origin and is used for building and for the making of concrete and asphalt. Sand from Eckford is now used in places as far apart as Tighnabruaich and Berwick -on -Tweed. Between 40,000and 50,000 tons have already been removed and it is estimated that the working could last another five years.

This history is being written in August 1966 and the scene is one of ripening grain. Freshly sheared sheep are white on the green background of the fields and in the distance the Cheviots show blue, green and grey, flickering with colour as sunlight chases shadow.

The combine will move in to the harvest but no sooner will winter have stripped the leaves than the thoughts will be on the lambing bields and the fresh start of another season. The world may have come but the peace of this place is ever lasting.

After the sacrament on each Communion Sunday in Eckford two verses of the Twentythird Psalm are sung, as always from the heart. There could be no better closing to this narrative:

“My table thou has furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me:
And in God’s house forever more
My dwelling place shall be.”