NEWSLETTER NO. 2 JANUARY 1993
WE'RE OFF TO A GOOD START
After a half year our Society is establishing itself as a significant addition to village life. We now have over 150 members. The September presentation "Clues to the Past" by Lorne Wallace was repeated, attracting 140 people in all. The lecture by Jack Stevenson on prehistory seen from the air was so well-attended that future meetings will be held in a larger room in the school. We had field trips to Perth Museum and Sandemann Library Archives and a coffee morning and photo sale (of pictures from the contemporary series on village life). Net income was over £300 and this, with a £285 grant from Perth and Kinross District Council, puts our finances in good shape. We were asked to organise 1992's village carol singing: turn out on a cold and snowy night was excellent and £207 was raised for St. Margaret's Hospital. And we find ourselves in a busy correspondence with out-of-town members. Excerpts from this correspondence are featured in this newsletter.
DONATIONS AND LOANS OF PHOTOGRAPHS AND OBJECTS
Since the Dunning Parish Historical Society was formed in the late Spring '92 quite a number of villagers and ex-Dunning residents have generously donated objects and photographs of historical value to the Society for preservation and display. Other people have loaned items or passed along valuable information. We'd like to thank Doreen Whytock, David and Pat McArthur, Cathy Dewar, Sheena and Peter Proff, David and Alyce Thomson, William and Ina Westwood (Perth), Mary Wallace (Winnipeg), Judi and Jim Slater, Isabella Duncan, Jim and Catherine Brown Mrs. Margaret Mackie (Dunblane), Molly and Duncan Allan, George Johnstone Dougall (Durban, South Africa), Bruce Henderson (Ayrshire), J. Cameron Rollo (Glasgow), Diane Matheson (Trafalgar, Australia), John McGill (Auckland, N.Z.), Trevor Fulton (Napier, N.Z.), R.G. Moir (Weston, Ontario), Mrs. Myra Andrews (Renfrewshire), Margaret Ferguson, Morna and John Lochtie, Gilda and Eric Cleary Shona and Albie Sinclair, Iain Smith.
If you have a photo or deed or other document which you think should be preserved for the future, please remember that we're always pleased to receive or copy old photographs or documents which would add to knowledge of Dunning's past.
And when you're doing your Spring clean-out, please keep us in mind! The Society is interested in receiving or borrowing any objects of particular historical value to the village. To that end, the Dunning Primary School has, for the present, allowed us some safe storage space.
LETTER FROM MR. HENRY CAMPBELL, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
"Being an old Dunning lad from away back I read your Society brochure with a great deal of interest. Of course there are a number of things I know about the village which may be of interest to the Society. "The lady's lengthy article on the Golf Club brought to mind that the clubhouse was once owned by the Cricket Club. They had a pitch in the old Coo Park opposite the Crofts. I remember it well. The pitch was about the size of half the size of the bowling green and ran north and south composed of nice short green grass and stood about 60 yards in front of the club house about the same distance from the Perth Road (this is to give you an idea where it was). "From the entrance to the park down to the old free Cowpark there was a wood fence and a number of small trees and in front of them stood the clubhouse. I remember looking in the window at the thick wooden bats, wickets, leg pads, gloves, etc. Being a very small lad and not interested in cricket I can't recall the names of any of the players. Anyway the clubhouse stood there for many years and was moved to the old Golf course up the hill. I don't know who moved it and how it was done because it was moved while we were in school. The bats, etc. just vanished."
"The lemonade factory is no mystery to me because I remember it very well. The Creightons lived up the Dragon at the corner of the little road which runs down to the burn, and behind the house and a short distance down the road stood a small shed and there he made his lemonade. He had a shed next to the burn near the old Fuller's Earth mill. There he had his stable, etc. The business folded when a very big spate somehow or other swept his lorry down haughs and broke it up. I really think some joker pushed it into the burn. One Summer Creighton let me ride on his lorry to Blackford to visit my mother's parents. He gave me a bottle of lemonade. He was a good man trying to make an honest living but most of the Dunning people made fun of him with stupid jokes about his produce and his house, etc. Truly a prophet is never honoured in his own land...."
"While thinking about the old days a vision of the Town Crier popped into my head. The last one was a Mr. Steele who was also the village Sanitary Engineer and hailed from Forteviot. When he died his next of kin very likely took the bell away with his things thinking that the bell belonged to Steele. The Dunning people presented the bell to the first Crier, Mrs Kettles, so it follows that the bell belonged to the village. I think an effort should be made to get that bell back. The old bell used to announce Concerts, Dances, Moving Pictures, Temperance, Political Roups and "A sale of excellent pork at Mailers".
"I don't know why they removed the old Mile Stones from the roads; they weren't eating anything and people from abroad liked to see them and at the same time find out what a mile was for the first time in their lives. On a visit to Dunning I came across a mile stone that had been overlooked. Now that would be an historical item. I hope some nut hasn't found it and hauled it away. It was located in the ditch in front of My Lady's Wood concealed behind a few pieces of broom about 100 yards from the west end of the wood. I would dig it up and move it to the Bowling Green, otherwise somebody will remove it and dump it into the sea or break it up for road repair."
"As a boy 85 odd years ago I know a great deal about the village. There are many things worth a little thought. Once the village depended a great deal on farmers and they, of course, depended on their farms and the old horse drawn plough was a very important item. I think it would be a good idea to get an old plough, fix it up, clean and repaint it. Nothing could be more historical. There are many things about the the town that have been forgotten such as:-
The Railway Station
(NOTE: Mr. Campbell's memory extends back to a time in the village which few other people will remember; he is now 93 years old. He lived on the Perth Road in the house now called Taigh Anna.)
LETTER FROM MRS. CATHERINE P. ROBB, PERTH
"My father was church officer of St. Serf's and was Bell Ringer. He rang the church bell at 6 each morning and 8 at night and never missed a day. He was bell ringer for many years, and was always there on time. My father and grandfather (both named John McLellan) were in the dairy business on Circus Street.
"Two Dunning worthies of long ago were Jean Sim of Smiddy Close. She lived next door to John Walker the Blacksmith. Also a woman called "Toddle Bonnie" who lived just off the top of Lower Granco Street, beside McPherson the woodcutter.
"I have 2 photos of Dunning Infant School taken around 1916 and 1918. Miss Philp and Miss Gray were teachers then. It was rather a long walk for 5-year-olds from the far end of the village to the Infant School. Mrs or Ma Dow's sweetie shop was on the way, at the foot of the Pendicle, and it had a big selection of lucky bags. Although we got only a penny a week then, we had to choose something during the week and buy it on Saturday.
"In my teen years I was in all the Gilbert and Sullivan operas in the village. We practised all winter then produced a show for a week in the Town Hall. I also got up many sketches for St. Serf's Church, when we donned old-fashioned clothes and hats, and these were much appreciated. No television in those days, so we had to make our own amusement."
(NOTE: Mrs. Robb, when she lived in Dunning, was known a Cathie or sometimes Katie McLellan, and resided on Circus Street).
LETTER FROM MR. BRUCE HENDERSON, SYMINGTON, AYRSHIRE.
"Here is some information which may assist your Historical Society. "My grandmother Isabella MacLeish (maiden surname, born c. 1880) was one of three sisters all born on an unknown farm at Dunning. Their mother died in childbirth and their father (name unknown) unable to cope with bringing up the children and the farmwork "fostered" them out to relatives. The other two sisters went to Findo Gask and Dunfermline but nothing is known of them since. (My source is an aunt who died this year aged 90 and my father, the last surviving member of the family.)
"Grandmother Isabella was taken in by an aunt and uncle who ran the saddlers shop in Dunning. Their name is not known but may have been MacLeish as it is thought that may be my grandmother's adoptive surname.
"Apparently they had no family of their own and were very strict with Isabella. Consequently she left home at the age of 14 or 15 and went to work as a maid in Glasgow, never to return to Dunning.
"Myself, I'm coming to do some camera-snapping this summer in Dunning."
(HOPEFULLY, MR. HENDERSON, TO STOP AT THE VISITOR CENTRE: SEE BELOW)
VISITOR CENTRE TO OPEN
Dunning Community Council has fingers crossed that the Session House at St. Serf's will open about April 1993 as a visitor centre. Members of the Society who'd like to volunteer an hour or two weekly as guides are asked to contact Ken Laing at 684 598 or Peter Duncan at 684 342. Don't hesitate because you're an incomer: training for guides is being arranged.
COMBING AND CLIPPING
Mrs. Rita Laing (The Granco) answered a request in our last newsletter and has become the Society's official "comber and clipper". Each week she combs the columns of the Dundee Courier and the Perthshire Advertiser and clips and saves all articles referring to Dunning (not just major stories saved by the Library, but all references). In this way, over time, Mrs. Laing and the Society hope to build up and catalogue an extensive reference record about the Parish which will be of increasing historic interest.
Another member, Mrs. Anne McCulloch (HIllview, Townhead), has since the mid 1930's saved newspaper clippings about weddings of Dunning folk. She reports it has often proved of historical use, being referred to by others "to help settle arguments".
We're still looking for an imaginative person with a collector's instinct willing to gather "ephemera". That just means collecting, once or twice a week, the various posters and handbills used in the village. The shopkeepers are willing to keep these as they expire, so all it needs is a dependable person who'll gather these up regularly. And who'll also collect all handbills coming their way. (We'll find the storage space).
Just think how fascinated we are now to see, say, a poster about the Dunning Highland Games of 1924 or an advert showing the goods on sale in the village a century ago and you'll realise why the Museum and the Society think it's invaluable to collect the "ephemera". Interested in helping out, or perhaps job-sharing?
DO YOU KNOW THESE NAMES?
Balchalk (nr. Cloan & Foswell)
The spelling you know may be different but similar, and the location may be a clue. If you know anything about these holdings, with approximate location, please drop a line to Angus Watson, Kildonan, Forgandenny PH2 9HP. Mr. Watson, guest speaker in January 1993 with the Dunning Parish Historical Society, is currently writing a book on the place-names of the Ochils.
SPECIAL THANKS go out to Colin Young for setting and printing of the Society's newsletters, and to Albert Sinclair for the artwork.
SPECIAL SPEAKERS FOR OUR A.G.M. THURSDAY, MAY 27, VILLAGE HALL
As you drive the Perth Road past Kincladie Wood you can sometimes glimpse, outlined in the snow, a ditch running through the Wood. That ditch is a visible remnant of a large marching camp constructed by the Romans. But when did the Romans use this camp? Is the theory correct that the camp was erected during the campaign of the commander Agricola? His troops crushed the natives at the famous battle of Mons Graupius in AD 83. Or does the camp date from a much later period? Last autumn a team from the University of Edinburgh Centre for Field Archaeology excavated the west entrance of the Roman Marching Camp, in a fiel lying between Ochil Gardens and Kincladie Wood. The investigation was sponsored by builders A. & J. Stephen Ltd. and was a condition of their proceeding with further house construction on the site. At our general meeting scheduled for May 27, members of the archaeological team (Andrew Dunwell, Richard Strachan, Indira Mann and Tim Neighbour) which conducted last autumn's excavation have agreed to attend to tell us what their dig revealed.
This meeting in Dunning will be a timely opportunity to question knowledgeable people about an historical investigation which took place on our doorstep. Because there will likely be considerable interest by other members of the public as well as DPHS members, the meeting is to be moved for this occasion only to the larger space of the Village Hall. Thursday, May 27 at 7.30 p.m.
OUR REVISED SPRING '93 PROGRAMME
Thursday Feb 18 VISIT TO SANDEMANN LOCAL HISTORY DEPT.
Thursday Mar 11 MEMBERS' NIGHT, SCHOOL 7.30 P.M.
Saturday Mar 20 WORKSHOP ON ORGANISED FIELD WALKING, SCHOOL 2.P.M.
April - June HILL-WALKING FOR HISTORY
A hill walk to record evidence of old crofts and other holdings in the Ochils near Dunning. If you're keen to suss out old farm holdings, field patterns, etc., phone Colin Young on 684 521.
Thursday May 27 A.G.M. VILLAGE HALL 7.30 P.M. - see previous page
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