Galashiels sculpture tribute to lullaby writer now complete

A tribute to a famous Borders confectioner is now the finished article.

Monday, 30th December 2019, 10:31 am
There for the unveiling of her statues of Little Jock and Wee Jeannie are sulptor Angela Hunter with husband Brunton, Sandy Aitchison, Pamela Kelly and Graeme McIver.
There for the unveiling of her statues of Little Jock and Wee Jeannie are sulptor Angela Hunter with husband Brunton, Sandy Aitchison, Pamela Kelly and Graeme McIver.

The Coulter’s Candy sculpture arrangement in Galashiels Market Square has been completed by the installation of depictions of two of the characters named in the lullaby-cum-advertising ditty, also known as Ally Bally Bee.

The bronze statue of Robert Coltart unveiled in September by Glaswegian folk singer Jimmie Macgregor has been joined by ones of a boy and girl named Little Jock and Wee Jeannie.

Like that of Galashiels weaver-turned-confectioner Coltart, the new statues were made by Innerleithen sculptor Angela Hunter.

Angela Hunter and husband Brunton with Sandy Aitchison, Pamela Kelly and Graeme McIver alongside the statue of Wee Jeannie in Galashiels.

She was commissioned to produce them by Scottish Borders Council as part of the regeneration project now under way in Galashiels.

The idea for a statue as a tribute to Coltart, alive from 1832 to 1880, was suggested by local historians Graeme McIver, of Galashiels, and Mary Craig, of Stow, and later taken up by town councillor Sandy Aitchison and the Energise Galashiels Trust’s Helen Calder.

The statue is part of a town trail created by the council also including a plaque at Coltart’s former home in nearby Overhaugh Street.

Mrs Hunter, originally from Galashiels, said: “It is wonderful to see the figures of Wee Jeannie and Little Jock in place.

“This completes the scenario honouring Robert Coltart which I hope will appeal to all ages and become an added attraction to Galashiels.”

Mr McIver said: “The song Coulter’s Candy is arguably Scotland’s most loved children’s song, so it is wonderful and appropriate to see Wee Jeannie and Little Jock, names lifted from verses, join the statue of Robert Coltart to complete Angela Hunter’s vision.

“Angela has managed to capture perfectly both the anticipation of the little boy rushing to purchase the sweets as well as the wee girl sitting eating the famous candy. You can see the pleasure in the faces of what would have been poor mill workers’ children.

“The Coulter’s Candy statue has proved very popular since its unveiling back in September, and I’m sure the addition of both children will make it an even more loved attraction that will delight young and old alike and visitors to the town as well as residents of Galashiels.”

Mrs Calder, also a community councillor, said: “The additions of the children Jock and Jeannie will help tell the story of the much-loved candy man Robert Coltart.

“Since the Coulter’s Candy statue was installed in September, the Market Square is rarely without children and adults taking photos and reading the story, all with smiling faces.

“I am very proud to have been involved in this wonderful project.”

Mr Aitchison added: “This whole project has now culminated in a unique children-centred sculpture which will have a lasting influence on how Galashiels is seen in other places.

“It shows that history can be reflected in ordinary people, not just the famous or the infamous.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with so many people on this to see it through.”

The verses from the Coulter’s Candy lullaby referencing the youngsters now immortalised in bronze are: “Poor wee Jeannie’s looking awfy thin, a rickle of bones covered o’er wi’ skin, but soon she’ll hae a wee double chin frae sooking Coulter’s Candy

“Little Jock an errand ran, an’ got a penny frae the man, which ne’er again did leave his han’ till he coft Coulter’s Candy.”