The lochgelly tawse
As everyone who’s visited Carisbrook or read much of my blog I’m a big gear head and love collecting different pieces of equipment. Including all sorts of different discipline implements from all around the world – perhaps the most special simply because of how hard they are to acquire now are my selection of authentic vintage Scottish school tawses.
I made a range of educational videos last year with the wonderful people at Kink Academy and two of them specifically feature the Lochgelly – “The Leather Strap and Lochgelly Tawse” and “Discipline to the Hands”. I’ve received some nice feedback from people who’ve watched these videos as it seems as if this style of very traditional discipline is becoming something of a lost art!
Severe tawses are certainly on the endangered list – there really is no comparison between a modern reproduction and an authentic vintage Lochgelly… mostly this is because of modern farming practices strange though that may seem – different breeds of cattle combined with a much shorter lifespan means that it’s almost impossible to get the same grade of heavy dense leather that made up the very best (from the disciplinarian’s side at least) tawses. I was recently give a very good reproduction to join my collection – it has three tails and is surprisingly dense and heavy compared to most modern tawses – I believe the maker was very lucky in finding a particularly dense hide. I haven’t had a chance to test it out yet – perhaps there’s a naughty lad willing to step forward
Someone asked me for a picture of me holding one – so here it is – taken a few minutes ago in my schoolroom at Carisbrook. That tawse is my first one – it’s stamped as a M (for medium) but is actually more severe than the H I have even though it’s not quite as heavy. This tawse has an interesting story – it was given to me by a sub who found it curled up in a drawer of an old house he bought on Sydney’s North Shore – I wonder how many naughty palms it was laid across in the days before it found it’s way to me!
Some of my other tawses are a Lochgelly Heavy and another Lochgelly Medium. The Lochgelly’s are stamped “John J Dick – maker – Lochgelly” I have an unstamped three tail tawse as well as a two tailer that’s marked “T. Wilson – maker – Falkirk” which is interesting because while quite a large number of saddlers made tawses for sale to teachers not many achieved the same level of notoriety… Missing from my Lochgelly collection is an XH grade and a three tail tawse – but they’re extremely hard to track down these days and are prohibitively expensive.
I recently read a book leant to me by a naughty (adult) boy – The Rule of the Strap – Memories of a Scottish Girls’ Reform School by Mary McKenzie. A very interesting account of the sort of discipline that was meted out in the days when every Scottish teacher kept a “belt” or two curled in their desk drawer to be brought out at need.
Traditionally and as documented extensively in this book school children most often received punishment across the palms instead of on the bare bottom – I was interested to find when I made the Kink Academy video that this style of play is very rare in the US… I love disciplining the palms – the eye contact is always very intense and it’s so very intimidating to watch the tawse raised over my shoulder to come smacking down on the palm!
Of course I also will use them across bare bottoms on occasion – and many subs have said that the tawse can be as painful as the cane – but marks far less time as it doesn’t leave the same distinct track marks as the cane…