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Newsletter 39April 2002


Runrig in
from a
village tour

and more

Gask watercolour
portrait of Ken

Dunning Parish's
northern neighbour
As portrayed in a
beautiful book by
Ken Murdoch


portrait of Marilyn

Coffee Morning Candids

The theme of last autumn's DPHS coffee morning was "Just Bring a Smile", the idea being to try out the Society's new digital stills camera, and to add to our photo archives.
Here are just a few of the fine smiles caught by photographers Alf Marshall, Liz Fletcher and David Halliday. From the top left, counter-clockwise: Marilyn Jamieson, Alan & Gladys Kindness, Kay Williams, Ronnie Taylor, Alison, Abby & Lewis Ross with Fiona Rushton in the b.g., Suzette Walker & Marion Smyth, Greta Laing, Catherine & Jim Dykes, Patricia Barnet, DPHS chair Raymond Young, Hazel and Kirsteen Scott, Elsie Crow.
Close to 150 pictures were taken. You'll be seeing more in our newsletter, on our website, or you can view them in our archives.

portrait of Elsie
portrait of Kindness portrait of Scotts
portrait of Kay portrait of Raymond
portrait of Ronnie portrait of Patricia Barnet
portrait of Alison, Abby & Lewis Ross portrait of Suzette & Marion portrait of Gretta portrait of Dykes



old photo of bridge

Last summer, four self-described 'sprightly Dunning natives' led DPHS members on a walking tour of parts of the village as remembered from their childhood.
No, those are not the four people pictured above in a photo of 1937. Most of our lot hadn't even made their first appearance in the village until then or later.
One of our guides, Elspeth Pentland nee Crow, was born in August 1940 in Steepleview, a house on the Perth Road just before it joins with Bridgend. The short section of the old village Elspeth described for us ran from the bridge along to the old Bankhouse and back. Here is her account:

The bridge in the centre of the village was much narrower in my childhood and on each side, excluding The Kirkstyle, there were rights of access to the Burn where there were bleaching greens.

As you looked downstream, to your right were large kennels with outside stone or concrete runs for the prize-winning cocker spaniels to exercise. People came from miles around to view these dogs from the bridge. Mr Ed Wilkie not only kept and bred the dogs but also had the draper's shop on the now empty corner of Bridgend and Perth Road. It was called Wilkie's corner. His large two storied house ran along Perth Road until the wide entrance to St Serf's Terrace, then called the Smiddy Close. There were two large windows on the bridge side and one on Perth Road. Mr Wilkie originated from Newport, Fife, where his family had draper shops, and besides the shop his building housed a laundry agency and a library exchange.

old photo of draper's shop

A glimpse at centre right of the draper shop at the corner of Perth Road and Bridgend

The Smiddy Close had four houses upstairs, all with two rooms, home to the Yules (from Aberdeen), the girl Douglas, the Miss Williamsons and Maggie Campbell (Peggy Calder's mother). Two houses were downstairs: the Walkers (he was the blacksmith), followed by Mr and Mrs Bett who had been at Leadketty and Mrs Ritchie (David McArthur's granny). They all drew water from the well situated on Perth Road outside the byre.

The blacksmith's large workshop ran alongside the burn and past the main stone building. As well as farm machinery, army vehicles including Bren gun carriers came and had work done on them there. Some time towards the end of the war the roof of The Smiddy fell in and Mr Walker managed to acquire other premises and house at Forteviot. (The Walkers had a son Cameron who had been posted 'missing' during the war. His story, written by Charlie Laing, appeared in newsletter 38).

Beyond the Smiddy was a long shed consisting of an earth floored corridor with six wooden cubicles complete with dry toilets and at the far end an open 'hole in the wall' window where 'everything' was thrown into the burn. This was not an unpleasant place, in fact it was where people liked to meet and have long conversations and where gossiping went on. There was another shed beyond this and as the ground went down there were remains of a crossing over the burn. The common drying green was slightly to the left and again sloped down towards this crossing.

On the other corner of the entrance to Smiddy Haugh on Perth Road was a byre and the gable end (now very visible) had a large double sliding door beneath and a single small door above for the hay. Mr Will McLeish did the excellent facing work. On the roadside the byre had only a single door. Inside were a cobbled floor and stalls, with a wooden floor upstairs.

The double storied house next is roughly the same except it used to be stone fronted. It had the use of the byre. Mr Watson who worked at McCash & Hunter, Perth, lived there with his mother and a Mrs Heggie. They had a little dog called Nipper and were always seen out walking in the evening.

Moving further along, we look at the houses on Perth Road across from the War Memorial and the village green. Nos 1 - 2 Perth Road used to be the Police Station hence the deep pool on the burn behind it was called "The Bobby's Linn". The cells were to the west of the building. It was no longer a police station in my day, and three families lived there.

old photo of green

Looking out at Perth Road on the right, Chalmer Street on left, before the building of the War Memorial in 1920

The house called Dunearn is the same as it was in my memory. Ashbank had a stone corridor down the middle with two families in it. As for the house now called Venlaw: a Mr Joe Walker lived there and he kept animals round the back, like a small smallholding. I have been told that milk was sold through a back window. At Taigh Anna, a Mr and Mrs Findlay lived. Annie Findlay's brother from Canada, Henry Campbell (whose memoirs appeared in early DPHS newsletters) donated one of the seats now on the green. Weavers Beam, I understand, was a butcher's shop.

The War Memorial was erected in 1920 and opened by Lord Rollo. The list of Second World War names list was added after 1945. On the adjacent green there were perhaps 5 or 6 large hardwood trees, sycamores, chestnut and maybe an oak, at least 60 ft high.

In the season a Hunt met at the Green with everyone in black velvet or tweed riding jackets with jodphurs. The Huntsman, dressed in red riding jacket and white breeches, led the hounds with his horn sounding. Lady Denby Roberts of Strathallan, a large woman in black velvet, headed the Hunt. Some of the women rode sidesaddle. The Hunt trotted through the village and out Auchterarder Road, possibly to Keltie and beyond. Villagers came out to watch and maybe as a bonus picked up the debris for their roses.

old photo of war memorial

The Bank on the Upper Granco, seen across the Green past the War Memorial, with Chalmers Street on the right.

There was a bus stop at the Green. A well kept path ran down the middle of the Green to the Bank which most people used.

The Bank, the Union Bank of Scotland and Dunning Branch of the Savings Bank of the county and city of Perth, eventually became the Bank of Scotland. The Savings Bank operated through the school. You saved like mad and when you had saved £1.00, you went to the bank and had your book stamped. There was big gold lettering above the door and window. On entering the bank there was to the left a bench for waiting. Mahogany partitions ran right around and there was a large curve upwards in the middle counter.

Tellers at the other side were always scratching away with their pens in books but the biggest ledger was on the counter and when you did a transaction it was entered by the teller at one side and shoved over to the other for you to sign. Some people took ages to sign but this was because they took the opportunity to read all the other entries.

old photo of the bank

The entrance to the Bank, with an unidentified gentleman standing by the front gates.

I do remember old Brown of the bank with his dark brown suits. His wife, whom I can never recall without a hat, had a daily woman and a gardener. Then came the Stephen family and the house became much more open, with Mr Stephen's meetings for the new Dunning Golf Course and singing rehearsals. Mrs Mary Stephen had famous ladies nights and tea parties and their son Douglas had first rate birthday and Halloween parties.

Across the Green from Perth Road is Chalmers Street, which is roughly the same today as sixty years ago except that Aitken's house (Dunglas) was divided into two flats. In what is presently Sneddon's house there was a lady called Meanie Chisholm and I understand that there was a shop there, hence the double window. In Dorothy Wilson's house (Linton) Harry and Nellie Duncan resided, who then eventually lived at 5 Leadketty. His father lived in Earnbank and Harry and he had a coal merchant's business with horses and carts. They must have supplied a large area because they brought up their coal from the station and bagged it in a big black shed at the back of their houses. I can remember stacks of different grades of coal.

Next to Earnbank was Tower View which was divided in two for the Boags and the Bowies. Both had vegetable gardens up in the middle of the Pendicle to the right and below the wee school house.

I stayed in the next house, Steeple View, hence with the window we could see what was going on down the Smiddy Close. My brother Johnnie and I were both born in the room above the front door. Corner House and Steeple View were once a byre, then a bicycle shop with the frontage on the gable owned by my uncle John Lindsay. There was a gravel front out from the gable, which extended much further than the pavement. Hillcrest next door on Bridgend, was the Post Office and the side door was the sorting office. The front door of Hillcrest led directly upstairs and the next door opened into the Post Office counter. At least three postmen and maybe a telegraph boy worked out of the Post Office.

old photo of a horse

Mr. Harry McCathie in his familiar bonnet gives John Crow a ride on Mab

The doctor's surgery was a saddler's and at night became the barber's, and was used quite often by the troops waiting to get their vehicles mended at the Smiddy. This property, along with Corshellach and the Post Office, was owned by Mr and Mrs Henry (Harry) McCathie from Laurieston near Falkirk. They had been in business there - something in the pub or drinks line and had been bought out and came to stay in Dunning.

Harry McCathie used to keep his pony in the public park and Johnnie, my brother, was allowed to help him to go up and bring the pony to the house, brush it down outside the stable at Corshellach, hitch it to the trap and tie it up to the ring at the front door. Johnnie would be brought home and Mr McCathie went in the back door in his rough tweed clothes with bonnet and came out the front door in his 'business clothes' with felt hat and up into the trap. He would go to the bank, visit the doctor's up Muckhart Road, pay the bills round the village and tie up at the front door when he returned, changed his clothes, out the back door, unhitch and feed the pony and back into the field.

Mrs McCathie was a very particular person - everything was immaculate. She had three kists (chests), two with pristine linen which had never been touched because she had been engaged three times in her life, each kist named by her ex-fiancee. Mrs. McCathie's life was disrupted one morning when Ray Neill (Fenton) driving her milk float, was struck side on by a vehicle coming out of Perth Road and all the milk and broken bottles went up the front of McCathies' house. I can remember neither Mrs McCathie or Mr Jimmy Neill (Ray's dad) were in very good humour at the scene.

In the 50's after both McCathie's had died (Mrs McCathie left to my father John M Crow in her will "the wooden barrow", which he was always borrowing), the properties were split up and a Mr and Mrs McGregor lived in and named Corshellach (she said it meant 'House of McGregor'). The other half eventually was sold to a Mr and Mrs Eric Bradbury, who converted one room into a shop with back workshop. It was a wooden front round the window and the door is still there as part of the main building, now the post office. Dunning then had a shop selling and serving TV's, possibly the first in the district.

I hope these recollections give a picture of how things have changed.
Elspeth Pentland (nee Crow), August 2001

photo of village

....constantly being added to


Dunning, Christmas 2002-Simon Warren


portrait of Ken

Not Far From Us

Many Society members will remember architect-artist Ken Murdoch from the talk he gave us in 1997 about Castle Methven, which he rebuilt and where he and his wife live. Later he conducted us on a tour of Methven Castle.

Between Methven and Dunning lies the Parish of Gask. In 1999 Ken Murdoch produced a wonderful hand-crafted book about Gask, and he has kindly allowed us to show you some excerpts from the book.

watercolour of Clathy

The village of Clathy today

George Graham was born in Clathy in 1922. His parents and grandparents lived in the village. First-hand impressions going back 70 years are interesting. Early memories are walking to school carrying a piece. The weather was never a reason for not setting off but some days there was pleasure in arriving to the comfort of the classroom. Perhaps 50 children made daily journeys and took it for granted.

old Stobie map

From the James Stobie map of Perthshire, 1783

His father worked in the timber trade as did many others. Horse power dragged the cut trees to loading points. Trees were felled by axe or by cross cut saw.

Horse drawn pole carts with iron clad wheels transported trees to the saw mill and sawn timbers to the railway stations at Balgowan and Dunning. Heavy loads had a 'thater' (extra horse at the front). There was a saw mill at the cross roads and where there is now a telephone exchange. The cut trees were rolled up skeeds onto the pole carts.

The industry was labour intensive employing a number of men.

The village had a carpenter's shop where there were wheel wright skills and in the adjacent blacksmith's the iron loops were made and fitted to the timber wheels.

sketch of bridge

An imaginative sketch (based on Kinkell Bridge) of the old Dalreoch Bridge once linking Gask and Dunning parishes

These important hand skills were handed from father to son, who started working life as a 12 year apprentice. Horseshoe replacement and repairs was an everyday task and the repair of cart wheels was a continuous activity. If harness repairs were needed this was done in either Bridge of Earn or Perth. "Casual repairs you did yourself".

Clathy had a small shop for the essentials up to about 1925. The doctor would cycle from Dunning: 10/- a visit. Walking and cycling were taken for granted.

Geordie Graham earned 7/- per week in 1935. For his keep his mother was given 2/6d (12½ p). When a second bicycle was acquired new tyres could not immediately be afforded.

By 1940 the weekly wage was 18/-. At this time the Balgowan marsh lands adjacent to the station were drained and an army camp of Nissen huts erected. The camp was a distribution point. Prisoners of war at Balgowan House, the aerodrome at Clathy and the Polish Army camp at Mayfield resulted in considerable army traffic.

sketch of phonebox sketch of kettle

The army camp was purchased in 1948 and became the McAinsh sawmill. Many were employed. The sawmill bus collected workers from Perth to Crieff. Two shifts were in operation, wages were under £20 per week. Hardwoods from Africa were imported to the Clyde and Baltic timber from the Dundee docks was machined to meet the needs of the post war building boom. The company ceased trading in 1970.

Copies of Ken Murdoch's 72 page A4 book, with its wonderful calligraphy, text and illustrations, are still available, Cost £10. Write to Methven Castle, Methven, Perthshire PH1 3SU, or call at the bookshop, A. K. Bell Library.

Some Dunning Picture Puzzlers

At our autumn coffee morning, pictures past and present were very much the motif. Simon Warren set up a picture quiz, especially aimed at the children present.
What he asked, were these Dunning historical objects?

The first one was tough, since it's not actually on public view.


photo of clock


The next was a dawdle for most of the entrants in the contest.


straw house photo


This next one was another cinch for almost everyone.


war memorial


But this caused most problems, even though it's seen every day.


school ventilator


Can you identify all these? Answers below the following article.

sketch of plough

The Ghost

of Runrig

in Dunning

-by Ian Philip

-sketch by Albie Sinclair

Does anyone when walking up over the Dunnock and down its eastern slope, looking towards the drive to Pitcairns House, notice the ridges and hollows in the recently tree-planted corner of the field below?

They're not easily seen during summer and autumn because of the lush plant growth but they are easily discernible during winter and spring when the foliage dies back.

It was Mike King, the former archaeologist at Perth and then at North Fife, who first pointed them out to us. He was preparing for an archaeological field walk on the west face of the Dunnock in 1997, and noticed the field marks on aerial photographs of the area taken by the Department of Ancient Monuments.

This small corner of the field beside the Dunnock is visible evidence of an early type of farming and land tenure system known as rig and furrow, or runrig. The arable ground was ploughed into strips of land raised in the middle and gradually sloping to a furrow on either side, creating a series of ridges and furrows. In wet years crops would grow best on the raised bed, with the low ground producing the better crops in dry years.

In the runrig system of joint landholding, each tenant had several detached rigs which were allocated annually in rotation by lot so that all would have a chance in turn of the more fertile land.

Over the years the land was drained and divided into enclosed fields. The ridges and furrows disappeared as the ground was levelled out to accommodate a different style of farming and tenancy.

runrig photo

The field beside the Dunnock looking south to Pitcairns
-digital photo by Simon Warren, Christmas 2001

Even now, in other parts of Dunning Parish, glimpses of the past occasionally appear. George Ritchie of Montalt Farm in the higher eastern part of Dunning Parish tells me of something he's noted after a heavy fall of snow. As the snow melts on parts of the hill ground which were cultivated in the distant past, he notices clear strips of ground between rows of snow, an indication of past rig and furrow cultivation now almost imperceptible and long forgotten.

--Ian Philip, Leadketty

Scroll clip art 802bytes This newsletter is published quarterly, January, April, July and October by the Dunning Parish Historical Society.
Editor: Lorne Wallace Contact us At The Old Schoolhouse, Newton of Pitcairns, Dunning, PH2 0SL (Telephone answer machine) 01764 684 448 or personal e-mail lornepat@hotmail.com

Answers to picture puzzles on page 13:
a. the clockworks in St. Serf's steeple, b. Dunning's oldest residence, the 'straw house',
c. the cross on the War Memorial, d. the ventilator atop Dunning Primary School.

photo of Ian

Ian Philip addresses the haggis at the January 2002 DPHS Burns Night

So what's been happening? And what's going to?

You can't beat a good Burns Night for fine Scottish entertainment, especially with a sellout audience, many enthusiastic helpers and an imaginative committee organising things. In January, our Dunning Society event featured great scenery purpose-built by David Wilson, portraits by Alf Marshall, and performances by the Blackford Fiddlers, Janet Crow, Grace McFarlane, Jean & Raymond Young. Liz & Willie Fletcher, Dougie Johnstone, Ian Philip, Ian Buick and Frances Minto.

In February, the Rev. Colin Williamson, the Dunning/Forteviot/Aberdalgie minister who has been at the heart of the prolonged community struggle to keep the Dupplin Cross in Strathearn, told our members about that struggle. One member of the audience reported that Colin told "the story superbly-with humour and some spleen." You can read more about the Cross and a big Society decision on Page 19.

Scheduled for our March meeting: a talk on 'Fantastic St. Pancras' by that London station's archaeologist, Calum Rollo, who lives at Keltie Castle, Dunning. More about that in a coming issue.

Our popular annual bus trip comes up on May 18th. This year intrepid organiser Peter Duncan has arranged for a trip to the Scottish Country Life museum near East Kilbride and to Summerlee Heritage park near Coatbridge, with high tea in Stirling. Total cost for members £16, concession £15. NT or NMS members £13.50. Non-members plus £2. Phone Peter Duncan now at 01764 684 243 to book your place, and meet in Tron Square at 9:30 am, Saturday, May 18th.


"Where were you when you heard that the late king had died?"

We'll give a prize to the written reply judged most interesting (any length you wish), and we'll be printing your answers in our next issue. Send by May 10/02 to the Jubilee Competition,

DPHS, Old Schoolhouse, Newton of Pitcairns, Dunning PH2 0SL.

With thanks to Liz Fletcher for the idea

The Women's Guild in Dunning.

By Betty Taylor, Lower Granco Street

I'd like to tell you about an often overlooked old village institution, the Women's Guild. By the way, nowadays we no longer discriminate and the title Women's Guild is changed to The Guild.

In 1888 Dr Archibald Hamilton Chanteris considered the idea of forming just such an organisation and the first Women's Guilds were formed in the Borders and Lothian churches. Dunning was the first to be formed in Perthshire and is amongst the first thirty three in Scotland.

photo Guild Members

At a Sale of Work by the Guild at the Manse.
Second from right is Betty Taylor's father.

Dr. Charteris's wife was the first editor of the Guild supplement of the Life and Work magazine.

My mother joined in 1922 when she married and came to live in Dunning. In those days the meetings were held in what is now Briar Ancient in Lower Granco Street. This was, as you might say, the St Serf's Church Hall. It was also the venue we used for Sunday School practices for our Christmas concerts. That might be another story!

The ladies met with their knitting. Miss Philp the schoolteacher played the harmonium for hymns. Rev. J. C. Mackinnon the minister joined the ladies and always enjoyed his cup of tea. No self-respecting Guild is ever without its cup of tea.

The ladies also did sewing but of course this had to be done at home. Now the lady who cut out the nightdresses, pinafores, underskirts etc. was of ample proportions. It followed therefore that her patterns, following today's trend, fitted all sizes.

Every alternate year a Sale of Work was held in the manse grounds. This was quite a gala day in the village and always a great success. Stalls were set up amongst the trees and all the work of the Guild was sold in aid of the church.

Entry to the manse grounds was off Muckhart Road. In what is now The Glebe we had pony rides. The Glebe of course stretched over to the existing wall between The Glebe and Latchburn.

For the sale Lady Wilson's personal maid gifted some beautiful sewing. This took the form of girls' dresses with knickers to match. My mother must have been first in the queue because I can remember wearing the dresses and knickers and feeling very stylish!

The Guild of course is still in existence at the Parish Church. The meetings are held once each month from September to March and we have a speaker at each meeting. We also organise fund raising such as Coffee Mornings and a Christmas Sale for Church Funds.

Contrary to popular belief we do not have founder members still attending. We try our best to keep up the long tradition of The Guild in Dunning, in the spirit of worship Fellowship and Service.

photo Guild Members

 Betty Taylor.
Treasurer of The Guild,
Dunning Stewartry of Strathearn.


St Serf's Tower

Photo by
Simon Warren

We Say No to Historic Scotland's Proposal

Here's the text of a letter sent to Dunning area members
by DPHS chair Raymond Young in early February

You may have heard that your Committee was considering a request from Historic Scotland that the Historical Society should take on the responsibility of managing the church after the return of the Dupplin Cross.

The Cross is due to be installed in the church around Easter of this year, and Historic Scotland have decided that the church should be open to visitors on the same basis as their other main properties - 9.30 am to 6.30 pm seven days a week from Easter to the end of September. In the winter access should be on the basis of a local 'key holder'. When this request was first made, the Committee agreed that it should not make the final decision, but that this would be the responsibility of the membership as a whole. Negotiations with Historic Scotland have taken a number of months. The final proposal was:

  • DPHS would enter into an agreement with Historic Scotland to manage the public presentation of the church and the Dupplin Cross

  • The Session House would be part of the package, and could be used to sell Society publications and other locally produced items.

  • DPHS would hire part-time staff to provide the service and provide a winter 'key keeper'. There was no age barrier for DPHS staff.

  • Historic Scotland would pay DPHS to cover the cost of the staff (at minimum wage levels), an honorarium for the 'key keeper', and a small amount of administrative overheads.

  • DPHS could use the church for a number of other activities, such as concerts

After much consideration, your Committee has decided to recommend that the Society does not enter into an agreement with Historic Scotland. Because of the shortage of time before the season starts, Historic Scotland has been notified, and they will themselves appoint staff and manage the building during 2002.

The Committee took the view that, while it would be good to have the church managed locally, it was not the kind of activity that the Society itself should undertake. Our main concern was playing the role of employer - the Society has depended solely on volunteers until now; becoming an employer would change the nature of the Society.

Historic Scotland understands the position, but has indicated that should a local organisation emerge, eg a 'Friends of St Serf's', they would be happy to take discussions forward on the possibility of local manning.

At the next meeting of the Society, on 14 February, the Rev Colin Williamson will be telling the story of how the Dupplin Cross came to Dunning. We will also take the opportunity to allow the membership to discuss the Committee's recommendation.

Yours sincerely, Raymond Young, Chairman

At the February 14 meeting, the members present heard the Committee's recommendation as outlined above, and approved it.

* This means there'll be no volunteer St. Serf guides required this year. *

rose clipart

The DPHS 2002
Spring/ Summer Programme

tree clipart
  • Thursday, April 11. 7:30pm Village Hall. Members' Night. From Japan a slide tour guided by Jean and Raymond Young.

  • Friday-Sunday April 19-21 Cairngorm Weekend. Now fully booked.

  • Thursday, May 9. 7:30pm Village Hall. Our agm, to be followed by "An Historic Revival of the Merrymakers".The Merrymakers were a vibrant Dunning group who performed here and in other parts of Perthshire in the early fifties. Surviving members are being reunited to entertain us. DPHS is one of the sponsors for a Merrymakers show on May 10th.

  • Saturday, May 18. Our annual bus trip. Details on page 16.

  • Saturday, June 22 "Roaming with the Romans. Meet in Tron Square at 9:15am to go in cars to visit three Roman sites, including Gask and Ardoch. Mark Hall of Perth Museum is our leader. Bring your own picnic. Expect to return about 3pm.

  • Coming up: A "Promise Auction", some expert tips on geneaology, an Antiques Road Show, a trip to Iceland, and a hill walk.

Book Clipart 3.19kb

Further details about events in our July newsletter.
Make sure you don't forget any of the above dates by
marking them now in your diary or calendar.


Next issue:

How Does

Art from the Brush
of Alf Marshall

Circus Street?

& Much More

"The Ochils from the Muckhart Road, south of
Blaeberry Toll" - acrylic study by Alf Marshall

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