It is believed by some that the weekly Fair started around 1068, in the time of King Malcolm III and his Queen, Margaret (whose visits to Dunfermline Abbey via ferry boat, gave ‘Queensferry’ its name). It was a civic duty to walk the boundaries of Queensferry, which were fiercely guarded. Through the course of time, it became a social duty to celebrate the day with feasting and dancing and so the Ferry Fair was born.
In the 14th century the Burgh of Queensferry was granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. This right was shown materially with a Mercat Cross (no longer exists) which determined the head place of the town, now the area known as Bellstane. The bell stane was probably a stone on which sat the handbell used by the Town Officer (for a sum of 4d) to herald the coming of the weekly market or the annual fair. There is a carving on the wall at Bellstane (above the dentist) which shows a Bird and a Bell. The bell is believed to represent the bell rung to herald the markets and Fair (the original bell is now in Queensferry Museum). We are unsure of the history of the bird, however people born and bred in Queensferry are locally known as ‘Bellstane Birds’.
You can read more about the history of the Ferry Fair here in our Blog – Blog Archives (weebly.com)
The Hawes Inn and Garage
The Hawes Garage has always played an important part in the life of the Hawes Inn. Now a class C listed building it originally consisted of stables, Queensferry’s first garage and a taxi service, it also provided cars for weddings and funerals and supported the Ferry Fair Court by providing cars.
During the eighteenth-century, the Hawes Inn was used as a change house for stagecoaches using the Newhalls Ferry and the adjacent ‘Hawes Garage’ used to be the stables and coach-house. In September 1844, the ferry operators proposed through the council, that the Hawes stables be enlarged and give more horses to the stagecoach. James Campbell was proprietor of the stables at this time.
The Faichen Family
The Faichen family, hailed from Prestonkirk and are first mentioned in Queensferry in the 1881 census, John Faichen is a Cab Proprietor at Newhalls. From 1884, a Coach Hirer, he is listed as tenant of house and stables at The Hawes on land owned by Lord Rosebery. In 1891, John is still a Coach Hirer and son Robert is now a Carter. John died in 1910 aged 68. Son Robert (known as Bob), born in Prestonkirk, took over the running of things. His coaches and horses continued to be used for weddings and funerals.
By 1940, Robert, now a Motor Hirer, is listed as Proprietor of Petrol Pumps and Hut at The Hawes, Newhalls. By 1945 the petrol pumps were run by Harry Johnston, a nephew of Robert Faichen.
Robert died at the Hawes, unmarried, in 1948, aged 82, and the Johnston family continued to run the garage until the late 1950’s.
The McTeague Family
Gerard (Gerry) McTeague (senior) moved to Queensferry from Ireland in 1945, bringing his wife and 4 children over. He was 32 and a trained Engineer. He was in full time employment but often visited the Hawes Garage, getting to know Robert Faichen. The Hawes Garage, mainly a shed and petrol pumps, was known locally as Faichen’s Garage. After a few years, in the early 50s, Gerard rented a small lock up at the Hawes and started fixing cars to earn more income, along with his full-time job. In 1962, he and all the family moved into the house and garage, taking over the garage from the Faichen family. Gerry Snr built a big workshop at the rear of the garage and later revamped the forecourt. The whole family became involved in the running of the garage. Gerry snr looked after the petrol side of things and taxi runs, while Gerry Jnr was instrumental in running the workshop side of the garage, and the serviceability of the garage cars, breakdown callouts and other duties. The 3 daughters helped with selling petrol, driving taxis etc, and one of them with the accounts with Gerry Snr.
Hawes Garage Cars
Traditionally the Ferry fair Queen and her retinue parade along Queensferry High Street, after touring the burgh, towards the crowning celebration, in beautiful cars such as Lagondas, Rolls Royce and others. Between the late 1950’s and 1977 most of these cars came from the Hawes garage. Horse and carriages were also used, possibly hired from places such as the Co-op.
Gerry McTeague Snr sold petrol, did car repairs, and acquired a few cars to be used for weddings etc in the town, Fords, Austins and Armstrong Sidley amongst them. With business picking up, some of the cars got bigger and better, all used for the business. At some point in the mid-60s, at different times and places, he bought 2 black Lagonda saloons, reg no: ENN999, and reg no: GPG473, the pride of his fleet. The Lagonda V12 limousine reg: ENN999 was used frequently for weddings. It was purchased by Gerard McTeague Snr, in 1965. Built in 1938, was one of only 9 to be made with its specifications, with possibly only 4 still surviving in theiroriginal form,also the only one to have been bought in 1938 by Coachbuilders Windover, who put the body on it before selling on. Truly a one of its type.
This car, later traced to Massachusetts, in 1988, was being restored by its then owner and is registered with the Lagonda Club.
The other Lagonda, reg no: GPG473 purchased in 1965, was one of around 80 to 100 made, but she was a prototype, with a special chassis number, and was used to exhibit and show off the new car design in 1937 and after. This car was sold on in 1977 and was traced to Surrey in 1996. Both cars were registered in 1938, both one offs in their specifications, and special to the history of Lagonda and Queensferry.
The Armstrong Sidley, reg no: SSG430 was traced to Portsmouth in 1989 as a wedding car with colour changed to white. It was fully restored between 2002 and 2010, bought by a wedding car hire in Alva, near Alloa and used there until 2019, with a new number plate, changed to RAS510 and new colours of blue and white. It is currently in Switzerland with new owners and undergoing restoration to its original form. (Research on the cars kindly donated)
In addition, Gerry Snr. bought 2 new Zephyr 6s, mostly used as taxis, but also in the Fair and at weddings. The use of these cars with possible others, were his contribution to the fair procession.
There was also an open topped green Lagonda, used for the Ferry Fair Queen, which was borrowed from a friend, for the Fair. The last time it was used was in 1976. Image below.
This image, circa early 70’s, shows ……left to right as you look at it. Kenny Sinclair, local carpenter and a member of the fair committee before he passed away. Next to him, his father Jack, those at the garage called him “biscuit”, as his occupation was driving a lorry delivering biscuits. Next to him, Gerry McTeague senior. Next to him, Liam Boyle, or “O’Boyle”. He was Gerry’s cousin, who came over from Ireland to help Gerry Snr. in the workshop, he was also eventually the garages top Lagonda engineer. Next is Gerry Jnr. who took over when his father died. The man on the right is Frank Ross, the driver in the photo below, he was also the driver who drove Princess Margaret, in the Lagonda ENN999, in 1970 on one of her visits to Queensferry and not forgetting Shan the Golden Labrador in the foreground. All the drivers drove the cars when needed and were family friends and locals. They all gathered around the garage in their spare time and helped around the workshops.
For years, from around 1960’s, the garage played a big part in saving lives. The lifeboat station being unmanned and crewed by local volunteers, so the garage kiosk held the key to the lifeboat station and the flares. When there was an emergency in the river, the coastguard would ring the garage and the house to let them know. The flares were held in the garage, and they would set off two, which made a loud bang over Queensferry. This alerted the Lifeboatmen. The garage personnel then took over the Land Rover and got the lifeboat out of the shed, down to the pier and into the water, ready for the men who only had to turn up. Their waterproofs were always in the boat ready for them, and sometimes the garage was responsible for passing on the nature of the incident to the crew.
The last time any of these cars were used was 1977, and that year, the Ferry fair Queen had the privilege of riding in a 1936 Rolls Royce Landaulette, no: WS5959, the one and only time it was used. This had been in storage at the garage and the owner never returned to claim it.
Gerard McTeague was proprietor of the Hawes Garage until his untimely death in December 1976, aged 64 when his son Gerard junior (Gerry) took over the business. The cars were last seen at the Fair of 1977 then sold on to raise funds for improvements to the garage. The business was then sold on, in 1985.
(In order not to make this article too long, we have kept it to 1977, the end of an era. More information may be added later, and a follow up article may be added as information uncovers about the following years, to present day.)
If anyone has any information or images they would like to share with us, to keep in our archives and use on our website, please contact us at email@example.com Either in relation to this article, or on any other Queensferry related, historical topic. Thank you.
© Queensferry History Group – 2022