The Big Steen
by: Glennie, James D.
Twis jist a big roun muckle steen
Fae a fun-mull so they say
Bit fegs it wis a magic steen
Fin we gid oot tae play.
We ne’er bit saa the half o’t
It steed up on its ein
A hunner yeer an mair ah’ll sweer
It bade at Aul Broomen.
Twis aye the favour’t dellie
Fan hide-an -seek we play’t
A hidie place or drivers seat
Fin imaginations strayed.
A meetin place for loons an quines
An aul wifes hae’en a claik
Sene lads an lasses trystet there
Fin the oor wis gettin late.
‘Big Ben” an “Hilly” in their yairds
Wid tak a weel won brak
O’nt hae a seat, smoke Bogey-Roll
An hae a langsim crack.
Wild Donal noo, the strippet cat
Files flappet on its edge
His caul roun ee’en,withoot a blink
Mairk’t Spurgies in the hedge.
Aul Clyde weel kent twis lowsin time
Fin the Big Steen cam in sicht
He’d snicher wi a frothy mou
An gie the steen a dicht.
Bit Aul Broomen is lang dang doon
An happet owre wi grun
The Big Steen’s in a gairden noo
Set up tae kep the Sun.
Aye, aft ah see in memrie’s ee’e
Thon happy days lang sene
An aa the fowkies fae the past
Gaither’t roon the aul Big Steen.
Old Broomend was a small group of houses close beside Inverurie paper mills. Sometime during the last quarter of the 19th century the steading buildings of Broomend Farm were converted into dwellings for worker at the nearby paper mills owned by the Tait family. Having at one time been a farm there was also a closs in front of the houses which, with its “Big Tree”, “Troch”, “Big Steen” and communal water pump, was a happy playground for the Broomend bairns. The “Big Steen” was an old millstone half buried in an upright position at the end of the closs and was a favourite plaything of the children. The stable, the “lavvies”and the “Big Tree”are all that survive of Broomend.The “Big Steen” is now in a private garden.
Old Broomend was so named because there was also a much younger row of workers houses near the Mill. These were called collectively, New Broomend
‘Big Ben’ was Mr Ben Groat, so called because a young nephew lived with him who was known as ‘Little Ben’. ‘Hilly’ was Mr James Smith. Both men were long serving employees at Inverurie Paper Mills and like all the Broomend men, expert gardeners.