In 1985 a lady by the name of Diana Woford was married in Dalserf Church to Charles O’Niell; both were from Houston Texas, the guests were mostly the residents of Dalserf community. Diana’s grandfather Andrew Shaw had originated from Dalserf leaving there in 1905 to settle in Indiana USA. Since then Diana has periodically returned to Scotland including Dalserf sometimes with her mother and occasionally with Charles. She has maintained friendships with the minister and his wife as well as a number of the wedding guests and other folk she has met since. Around 2002 she decided to compile a booklet – giving an account of her Dalserf roots, the wedding and the gift of stained glass windows they gave to Dalserf Church in 1999. The “booklet” kept expanding and eventually became largely a record of life in Dalserf at the turn of the century.
Diana approached a variety of people beginning with the minister and his wife but also some very eminent in their field (e.g. Professor David Munro former director of the Royal Geographical Society of Scotland, broadcaster and writer ) to write a chapter on some aspect of life in Dalserf or at least the Clyde Valley at the turn of the century. There are chapters on coal mining, fruit growing, Clydesdale horses, Mauldslie Castle (written by Diana herself), architecture, music and natural history – these are just a random selection. There is a chapter containing the recollections of the late Janet Murray (born 1899) regarding various aspects of life in Dalserf in the early part of the twentieth century. She paints a vivid picture of the simplicity (some would say hardship!) which characterised life in Dalserf village in the early 1900’s – all water for drinking and cooking having “to be carried from a spring …. about a quarter of a mile away”; toilets were “dry closets located outside the house” and “electricity did not come to Dalserf until the 1930’s. The Laird of Dalserf – Christopher Henderson-Hamilton has also written a fascinating chapter about his family and the lairds of Dalserf. The late Duke of Hamilton wrote the Foreword.
On 9 March 2011 about 650 copies of “Hands across the Sea” arrived in Dalserf village. This privately published book is of very high quality. It is substantial – 33.5 cm x 25 cm with 344 pages and many photographs in full colour.
Copies were sent directly to friends and acquaintances of Diana and to libraries and schools etc. Since it is primarily a gift to the people of Dalserf it seemed appropriate to offer copies to members and adherents of Dalserf Church – one for each household and Diana was happy with this.
“Hands Across the Sea” was a wonderful gift to Dalserf Church and community gathering together in one publication a great treasure trove of social history.
A few copies still remain. If you have a connection with Dalserf or particular interest in its history and would be interested in having a copy of the book contact the minister who has been given discretion in the distribution of additional copies to interested parties.