Johnshaven Jottings

Welcoming the New Year

A large and joyful crowd gathered at the harbour on Hogmanay, in anticipation of the “Chaiplie” bell ringing in the New Year.

When the former St David’s Chapel was destroyed by fire, in March 2011, it looked as if a long-established tradition might end. However, the bell has been, temporarily at least, fixed to a stand and so the custom has continued and fireworks added to the enjoyment of the occasion.

Otherwise, the streets in the village were quiet and the tradition of first-footing seems to have become largely a thing of the past.

Ten years ago, the Bowling Club initiated a midday outing at the green and usually they have been blessed by reasonable weather.

Unfortunately, this year it was wet and miserable and so members were unable to “enjoy” their eight ends.

Nevertheless, two hours were pleasantly spent over warm food reminiscing over the events of 2014 and looking forward to the year ahead.

A full house of 120 attended the New Year’s dance in the Village Hall on Saturday night enjoying themselves to the music of Johnshaven bands, Odium, Standby, Radar, Kinell and Tangleha.’

A spokesman for the event said: “It was a brilliant night with a nice mix of young and old and a great way to start the New Year.”

Stovies were provided by the Anchor Hotel and, with the help of a raffle, the fantastic total of £1145 was raised which, after expenses, will be shared between pancreatic cancer research and the Village Hall.

The dance was organised by volunteer members of the participating bands and the Village Hall committee and they would like to thank all who contributed to the success of such a wonderful occasion.

Community Fund

In 2007, when the Johnshaven Fish Festival Management Group (JFFMG) took over the running of the annual Fish Festival from the Heritage Society, it was ‘on behalf of the village with the sole aim to sustain it and share the proceeds amongst local organisations and community projects’.

To put this objective into practice the group established a community fund to which organisations were invited to apply for grants and in the seven years since the fund was set up many groups have benefited.

This year, surprisingly, there were only two applications.

One was unsuccessful but the Guides were awarded £180 towards the cost of a 1st Johnshaven Guide flag and flag-bearer carrier.

There is, therefore, still some money in the kitty.

So, when the JFFMG next meets, on January 28, it is likely that they will decide to invite further applications to the fund..

Masonic Lodge

Constituted in 1769 and breaking with many, many years of tradition, Lodge St John 119 held their annual installation of office-bearers last Saturday afternoon instead of the customary Friday night.

The installation was carried out by Bro Martin Tinkler, PM of Lodge St John 19, assisted by members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Kincardineshire as follows: RWM Bro Stuart Morrice, WSW Bro Grant Morrice, WJW Bro Martin Tinkler, Secretary Bro William Williamson, Treasurer Bro Donald Marr, Almoner Bro Clark Simpson, SD Bro Alick J. Smith.

After the installation, the brethren retired to the Village Hall where an excellent dinner was enjoyed and all the usual toasts observed.

Community council


At a recent meeting, the community council discussed a planning application to replace a former and derelict coachman’s house at Benholm with a new dwelling-house and garage.

The building in question lies in a shallow den between Benholm Castle and the Mains of Benholm farm and at the time of their meeting, councillors could see no reason to object.

However, soon afterwards they came to realise that the application was not as simple as at first thought.

The original Benholm tower dates from the 15th century and, with is later Georgian mansion, stands impressively above a deep ravine.

Having passed through the hands of several owners, by the 1950s both the tower and mansion house had become uninhabitable.

In the 1990s the property was bought by Mr and Mrs Roddy and Fiona Strachan who, over many years, restored the mansion house and made the storm damaged tower secure.

Within the curtilage of the castle, an A Listed building, sits the “coachman’s house”, and while at one time it may well have been occupied by the laird’s coachman, because the ruin has clearly been altered over the years, it had once been a private chapel, a detail which seemed to have been missed by Aberdeenshire Council planners.

Having, consequently, arranged a site meeting, the community council decided to register an objection to the application in its present form on the grounds that on the website of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland the building is designated as Benholm Castle Private Chapel and the Aberdeenshire Council website for Benholm Castle also refers to it as a Private Chapel.

On a positive note, the community council has suggested that “developers be instructed to review the design of the proposed building, with the aim of retaining more of the original features with emphasis on the Gothic windows” and “that any retained windows should be glazed rather than bricked up and retained as an outline feature”.

Councillors also requested the right to speak at the appropriate meeting of the Area Committee and now await the outcome.

The community council was pleased to receive a letter from the estates and project manager at Lathallan School, supporting the suggested imposition of a speed restriction on the road past the rear exit of the school.

With the co-option of Mr Wayne James Evans, the Community Council is now only one short of its full complement of nine.


The AGM of SHARK will take place in the Ship Hotel this Sunday, January 18, at 7 pm. All welcome.

Mearns Coastal Church Guild

The Guild will hold their first meeting of 2015 in the Church Hall on Monday, January 19, at 2.30 pm when Dr Orr will speak on Bamse, the famous Norwegian St Bernard dog.