It Happened in the Mearns

Members of Stonehavens Ury Players theatre group preparing for the final of the Scottish Community Drama Associations one-act play competition.
Members of Stonehavens Ury Players theatre group preparing for the final of the Scottish Community Drama Associations one-act play competition.

We take a look back at what was making this headlines locally on this week in 1992, 1967 and 1917:

25 YEARS AGO

Friday May 15th, 1992

Lewis Grassic Gibbon is already assured an immortal place in the ranks of Scottish literature, but affection and admiration for one of the Mearns’ most famous sons, was rekindled this week with the official opening - on Wednesday - of a Centre dedicated to the hugely popular author.

Set deep in the Mearns countryside which inspired his greatest novels, and only a short distance from the writer’s resting place at Arbuthnott Church, the Grassic Gibbon Centre is the culmination of nearly four years’ supreme effort by the local community.

For three people in particular - Lord Arbuthnott, John Briggs, and Isabella Williamson - this moment marked the crowning achievement in their crusade to have Gibbon’s memory enshrined in a building which has proved as much a testament to the Mearns continuing spirit as to the writer himself.

The Centre has already received the blessing of Gibbon’s children, Mrs Rhea Martin and Daryll Mitchell, who unveiled the completed building last November.

So prestigious and highly-regarded has been this project, that financial backing has been given by the Scottish Tourist Board (£64,000) and Grampian Region and Kincardine/Deeside District Council (£16,000 each) - apart from a commendable £40,000or so raised by the local community itself.

50 YEARS AGO

Friday May 19th, 1967

With help from the town’s Common Good Fund, Provost J. H. Stewart is determmined to clear off the £2,000 defecit on the ancient Tolbooth at Stonehaven harbour within the next seven years.

The restored Tolbooth, which was opened by the Queen Mother in 1963, was made into a tearoom, but this has made little impression on the capital account defecit. In view of this, Stonehaven Town Council has decided to reduce the defecit by £300 a year. Provost Stewart explained that this would be done by using the Common Good Fund to boost the profits of the tearoom and other Tolbooth revenue to a total of £300 a year.

Provost Stewart, who is Convenor of the Tolbooth Committee, said that the town council under Provost T. Christie gave the townspeople an undertaking that the cost of the restoration of the historic building would not fall on the ratepayers, and this promise would not be broken. Provost Stewart, whose proposals have been accepted by the council, put forward several ideas which had been considered by the Tolbooth Committee. He suggested that the tearoom might be used for functions and possibly as a community centre, and Mr W.A. Will, burgh surveyor, is to enquire intot he cost of heating the building for these purposes.

Additional revenue is being obtained from rent of the ground floor.

Provost Stewart said that the original idea of establishing a museum at the Tolbooth was still in the distance, but the question of cost was an important one.

100 YEARS AGO

Thursday May 17th 1917

Stonehaven District War Savings Committee are to take active steps to prosecute the Food Economy Campaign in the district with great vigour.

It must be obvious to every thinking person, after the frequent warnings issued by the authroities, that our food supply is so far short that a serious situation will arise before the harvest is ready unless the consumption of food is greatly reduced.

To bring this fact home the public at large the various Associations are to distribute leaflets, to hold public meetings, and to organise demonstrations of economical war-time cookery.

***

The first military funeral held locally of a soldier killed in the present war took place in Stonehaven yesterday.

Pte. J. Russell, of the local Gordons, was severely wounded at the front about six weeks ago and he died from his wounds in a hospital in England, and his body was brought home for burial to his father’s house in Allardice Street, Stonehaven. The funeral took place yesterday afternoon, and was held with full military honours.

The Rev. P.B. Crowley, minister of the North U.F. Church, conducted the service at the house and at Cowie churchyard, where the internent took place. The procession was headed by a firing party of the Royal Defence Corps on duty in the vicinity, and two other detachments from the two companies of the Defence Corps stationed locally were also present. There was also a party composed of local army and navy men on leave and local discharged soldiers, a considerable number of whom were members of the late Pte Russell’s company in the Territorials.

There was also a party of wounded soldiers from St Leonard’s Hospital, and a large turnout of the local troop of Boy Scouts. Pte. Russell’s father, Mr Albert Russell, town bellman, was the chief mourner, and the cortege was accompanied to the churchyard by a large number of civilians, including representatives of the Town Council and other public bodies. There were many beautiful floral tributes.

A large and sympathetic crowd had assembled in Allardice Street, and the scene, as the firing party with reversed arms preceded the hearse slowly up to the churchyard was a very impressive one.

After the burial service, the firing party fired the customary three volleys over the grave and two buglers from the Scouts sounded the “Last Post”.