The village of Wallacestone stands high above sea level and is situated three miles south of Falkirk. It is so named after the Scottish patriot William Wallace, who is reputed to have commanded his troops from this spot at the Battle of Falkirk on the 22nd July, 1298.
The commemorative stone, erected in 1810, and containing a Latin inscription “Here he stood”, is the focal point in the village and the site provides a panoramic view of the Forth Valley and beyond.
In his book, “Memories of Wallacestone”, written many years ago, David Thomson wrote:-
“In eighteen hundred years and ten They raised his memory here And now they show they’re Wallace men In each succeeding year”
Because of its historical and geographical location, the village became a focal point for many organisations. In 1826, a Lodge of the Ancient Order of Shepherds was founded and played a leading part in community life.
Equally so another craft, the Wallace Lodge of Gardeners was an active group in the village and held an annual march.
In 1842 the Methodist Church was established when a poor and almost blind preacher, Alexander Patrick from Airdrie, was invited to come to the village. For a year or so the Sunday Service was held at the Wallace Stone before moving to premises at the Square. The Church was built some years later at Reddingmuirhead.
The Co-operative Movement was making its presence felt in the mid nineteenth century and the local Co-op was established at Reddingmuirhead in 1861. The Co-operative Hall was at Wallacestone and was the scene of many lively Co-op meetings.
It was only a matter of time before Grocery and Drapery branches appeared in the surrounding mining communities and the Co-op was to play an important part in their lives for the next hundred years.
In 1863, the Sir William Wallace Lodge of Free Colliers was the first lodge to e established in Scotland, and thereafter lodges appeared in most mining communities. They were established to protect the rights and freedom of the Scottish miners and they linked their fight for freedom with that of the Scottish patriot, Sir William Wallace. Each year their annual walk brings them to the Stone and in 1988 they celebrated their 125th anniversary.
Associated with the walk was the Wallacestone Fair, known as the Hairy Berry Fair. Prominent amongst the various stalls were the fruit ones, selling large and attractive gooseberries.
Photo of Wallacestone Fair taken by Robert Gray, a Wallacestone miner, (1855 – 1941)
While the village has enjoyed its moments of gladness, it has equally experienced its times of sadness. Associated with the colliers are memories of the Redding Pit Disaster of 1923 when forty miners lost their lives. The cause of the disaster was an inrush of water at a spot underground about fifty yards from the monument.
In 1887 the Wallacestone Pipe Band was formed. Some years earlier a Brass Band was formed but its life was short-lived.
Jim Anderson (Former Convener of Central Regional Council)