Having fallen out with the School Board over so-called damage to the new school it wasn’t long before local worthies set about raising funds to build a new village hall. The first fund-raising concert was held in 1890

Falkirk Herald April 2, 1890

CONCERT – A very successful concert took place in the public school on Wednesday evening, for the purpose of assisting the funds of the proposed hall to be built in the Southern District. Councillor John Longwill occupied the chair. The attendance was large and appreciative. The comic singing and sketches of Mr J. C. MacDonald, Glasgow, were the chief part of the concert. Mr Carlton Brown, tenor, Glasgow, sang with very great taste. Possessed of a light thrilling voice he chose songs quite within his compass and certainly left little to be desired in the execution. In every respect the concern was a success.

It appears that raising funds and building the new hall took three years. It’s not clear if the one below is the first.

Falkirk Herald April 15, 1893

CONCERT – A concert, which was successful in all respects, took place in Southern Hall, on the evening of Friday last. The hall was filled, and Dr Love occupied the chair. The proceeds go towards the funds of the ambulance class which is conducted with so much acceptance by Mr Thomas Dunnachie, of the brickwork.

Concerts were obviously very popular and there are various news reports down through the years.

Falkirk Herald Dec 1, 1894

CONCERT – The first in a series of Saturday evening concerts took place in Southern District Hall, last Saturday. Mr Noah Smith of Devonport House occupied the chair, and briefly explained the object of these fortnightly entertainments. The proceedings were opened by excellently executed selections on the pianoforte by Miss Buddha Kay, Glasgow. Mr Gibson, another Glasgow amateur, followed with a solo, “The Death of Nelson.” It was effectively rendered, and quite within his compass. A fantasia on the violin by Miss Tina Heron was successful. Mr Ingram, who possesses a rich and cultivated bass voice, made capital appearance in the “Skipper” and “The Mighty Deep.” The lady soloist was Miss Webster, who sang “I couldn’t, could I” and “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls.” In both songs she acquitted herself well. The latter part of the programme was sustained by Mr Allan Meikle (bass), and Mr Menzies (tenor). Both gentlemen were suffering from cold, and consequently were not at their best. They sang the “Army and Navy” (duet). A little emote animation would have been an improvement in what was otherwise successfully done. Mr Meikle gave a good rendering of “Plymouth Sound”, and Mr Menzies was equally successful in a beautifully tender solo, “Alice, where art Thou?” The latter gentleman is a well-known Vale of Leven tenor, of sweet voice, but, as has been already said, he was handicapped by hoarseness. A pleasing variety in the programme was banjo selections by some of the Glasgow party. Two gentlemen of the same party gave the “Office Scene” from “Still Waters Run Deep.” This was pretty well done, and much appreciated by the audience. Altogether the entertainment was highly successful. 

I was intrigued by the song title: ALICE, WHERE ART THOU? It’s a song from 1861 by Wellington Guernsey and Joseph Ascher. Click the YouTube link below to hear the tune played and read the words below. Strangely this tune is now the signature music for “Still Open All Hours” on BBC TV. To hear the song as it might have sounded in 1894 listen to Derek B Scott as he sings this popular Victorian song.


The birds sleeping gently, sweet lyra gleameth bright;
Her rays tinge the forest, and all seems glad to-night.
The wind’s sighing by me, cooling my fever’d brow;
The stream flows as ever, yet, Alice, where art thou?
One year back this even, and thou wert by my side.
And thou wert by my side, vowing to love me.
One year past this even, and thou wert by my side.
Vowing to love me, Alice, whate’er might betide.

The silver rain falling, Just as it falleth now;
And all things slept gently-ah! Alice, where art thou?
I’ve sought thee by lakelet. I’ve sought thee on the hill.
And in the pleasant wildwood, when Winds blew cold and chill;
I’ve sought thee in forest, I’m looking heavenward now,
I’m looking heavenward now; oh: there ‘mid the star shine,
I’ve sought thee in forest, I’m looking heavenward now;
Oh! there amid the star-shine, Alice, I know art thou.

* lyra – a star constellation

Another popular song was: I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls recently made popular by Enya. It’s also known as The Gipsy Girl’s Dream from The Bohemian Girl – an opera in three acts by Michael W. Balfe, with a libretto by Alfred Bunn. It was first performed at Drury Lane Theatre in London on November 27, 1843, with Elizabeth Rainforth and William Harrison in the main roles, and ran for over 100 nights. The first American performance in New York followed in 1844.

The Gipsy Girl’s Dream (sung by the character of Arline in the opera)

I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls,
With vassals and serfs at my side,
And of all who assembled within those walls,
That I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches too great to count, could boast
Of a high ancestral name;
But I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
That you lov’d me still the same…

That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same,
That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same.

I dreamt that suitors sought my hand;
That knights upon bended knee,
And with vows no maiden heart could withstand,
They pledg’d their faith to me;
And I dreamt that one of that noble host
Came forth my hand to claim.
But I also dreamt, which charmed me most,
That you lov’d me still the same…

That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same,
That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same.

Falkirk Herald Jan 9, 1897

SOIREE – The annual soiree of the Southern District Sabbath School was held in the hall on Tuesday evening. Mr Robert Stirling, superintendent, presided, and was supported on the platform by Mr Charles MacGregor, Cumbernauld; Mr J. Hamilton, Luggie Bank, and others. Appropriate speeches were given in the course of the evening, and the children were suitably entertained  with tea, buns, and fruit. Solos and recitations were effectively rendered, and the meeting passed off most successfully.

Kirkintilloch Gazette Dec 2, 1899

Grand Concert: the second of the series of concerts arranged for the winter season was held in the Southern Hall, Cumbernauld on Saturday the 25th, before a good attendance, Mr Longwill presiding The programme was undertaken by the Saint Vincent Musical Society of Glasgow, Mr William Gibson conductor, and was of a highly entertaining character. Opening with “Hail, Smiling Morn”, a capital selection of part songs and solos was given. Mrs Prentice gave an admirable rendering of “The Holy City” supplementing this later by “Auntie”, “Jessie’s Dream” and “Star o’ Rabbie Burns” were sung with excellent taste by Miss Shaw. Another lady soloist, Miss Arkley, was heard to much advantage in that old favourite, “Killarney.” Among the gentlemen Mr James Gossman stands out for special mention. Opening with “Let Me Like a Soldier Fall,” he charmed the house with further contributions of “O’ a’ the Airts,” “My Love is Like a Redo Red Rose,’ and Marguerite,” the two latter being extras in response to encores. Mr Raeside, possessed of a splendid voice, gave “Queen of the Earth” and “The Old Brigade” with excellent effect, while Mr John Livingstone added to the evenings entertainment and extra, “The Country I’m Leaving Behind.” The whole company may be said to have given an excellent account of themselves, the choir as a whole being in splendid voice. Mr Samuels acted as accompanist with much acceptance. Much of the credit is due to the conductor who was untiring in his efforts to make the concert a success. The usual votes of thanks being given, the company dispersed on singing the National Anthem.

* ‘LET ME LIKE A SOLDIER FALL’ from William Vincent Wallace’s opera “MARITANA”.

As I’ve researched these events, it has brought to life the people and the community around the Station. In many ways life was hard and yet these concerts were uplifting and inspiring. The railway put them in touch with the wider world and musicians and other artistes could easily travel out from Glasgow.

In my day, the Hall was still being used for community events. The 1953 Coronation was watched by many on a television loaned by Willie Bell. We were more interested in running around outside, but I remember briefly looking in on the ceremony. Afterwards there were games and celebrations in a field nearby. During primary school days various Christmas parties were held there and on a Sunday afternoon it was the venue for Sunday School, led by Miss Catriona McLeod, one of our teachers from school.

So that’s the history of Southern Hall. What’s your story?

Here’s another version of “Alice, Where Art Thou?” played on a mechanical piano.

Here’s a traditional rendering of “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls”