The Wayfarer - Streets of London are really lined with gold

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WE ALL know that life is full of strange but interesting stories and searching round I come across quite a few. However I do try to find stories that are suitable for a local family newspaper and hope that they are not only interesting but also amusing.

One I came across relates to Dundonald Castle which still stands in Ayrshire proudly defying anyone to knock it down. Historically it was the seat of King Robert ll who died there in 1390. However the castle is reputed to have been originally built by Donald Din or Din Donald and constructed entirely of stone without the use of any wood. It is three stories high with the roof of one story acting as the floor of the one above which must have been some job in those early days to do this without any roof timbers.

The builder Donald started out as a poor man, but he used to dream of great wealth. One such dream which kept recurring was that he had to travel London Bridge where he would find a pot of gold making him a very rich man.

Despite the difficulty in travelling such a distance Donald hastened down to London Bridge, which in those days was crowded with dwellings and shops. Poor Donald did not know where to look and eventually fell into conversation with a man who was sadly looking over the parapet of the bridge.

Donald told him his story to which the other man advised that he had come to London on a fool’s errand as he himself had had a similar dream in which he had to travel to Ayrshire in Scotland to find a pot of gold. The man said that he was a Londoner and did not have the funds or the inclination to wander the Ayrshire countryside looking for the gold, but as Donald was an Ayrshire man he would gladly give him the directions as he may recognise the area concerned.

Donald was interested then became aghast as it transpired that these directions led straight to his own back yard. He hastened home and much to his wife’s displeasure -she thought him mad - he dug up her cabbages and lo and behold there he found a very large pot of gold.

With the proceeds he built a big castle in which to bring up a healthy family, and of course laid out a very handsome cabbage patch to assuage his wife, as if she cared about a few cabbages with all that gold to hand. Mind you as the castle was built entirely of stone, so it would be strong but very cold, and he no doubt burned a lot of wood in the winter to keep warm - but he could afford it.

London Bridge had became a focal point for dreamers and visionaries who were all convinced that they would find riches beyond their wildest dreams and if they could possibly get to the bridge all would become clear. But it seems that most lost what little money they had to the inhabitants of the bridge, only Donald seems to have been successful and it was not on London Bridge that his treasure lay but in his own back yard. Mind you he had to travel to London to find this out. Perhaps this is why so many stories attribute London streets to be paved in gold.

Interestingly the first London Bridge is thought to have been built by the Romans and some of the subsequent bridges - there were five in all - were built to carry shops and businesses as well as house people, and it must have been a very wealthy part of the city in those days long ago.

The latest bridge was opened by the Queen in 1973, entirely devoid of any shops or housing, with its immediate predecessor having been sold for a million pounds, dismantled and shipped to America where it was reconstructed in Arizona.

I do believe that the purchaser of the bridge thought that London Bridge was Tower Bridge but this is purely a theory of mine and not based on fact. Still the real London Bridge had been purchased and as it must have cost a small fortune not only to purchase but to transport to America it could truthfully be said that there was gold to be found at London Bridge.

A nice little tale and when next you pass by Dundonald Castle you can look at it with more interest than before and appreciate its connection with London Bridge.

I hope you found this of interest and realise that not all the streets of London are paved with gold, just a few to those who are fortunate to dream the right dreams and are prepared to follow their predictions. See you next week.