fp-1.11 History 1880 to 2000

General History 1880 to 2000

Researched by Findlay Pirie

Another set of  short snippets of news from times gone bye. This time including paupers, poems, and more famous sons – tarmacadam invented by a Portsoy man while living in the Caribbean!


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, August 25th 1883: -


Sir – The death of a pauper occurred this week of a young lad who had suffered for a considerable time from a pulmonary complaint.  For the past six months at least, it was seen that the case was a hopeless one.  No medical skill could check the progress of the disease, but much could be done to alleviate the sufferings of the lad, and to “husband out life’s taper to its close.”

The Parochial authorities performed THEIR part in the matter.  To enable the sufferer to procure a more generous diet, and with the object at the same time of putting a slight check on undue extravagance, a weekly dole of two shillings was allowed among three individuals.   To foster habits of cleanliness, the services of a washerwoman were employed once in six months.  And, to prove that favourable surroundings are by no means essential to the preservation of life, it has been conclusively shown that a pauper, even when his life is far spent, can exist with an insufficiency of clothing, with a bed to which the bare boards would be preferable, in a tainted atmosphere, and in a filthy room unfit for human habitation.

On Monday morning, the lad was found behind the door lying dead in a pool of blood.   For him the fret and fever of life was happily over.

The funeral took place on Wednesday.   The coarse coffin, with its nails distinctly visible, with no plate to tell either the name or the age of the deceased, and with the rope which was to lower the body into the grave, said to be fastened to the coffin be means of a couple of tacks, gave sufficient evidence that the funeral was that of a pauper.

I had imagined that a Parochial Board had to provide for the wants of the poor in a spirit not inconsistent with our ideas of the sacredness of life and in a manner which would not outrage the decencies of civilisation.   I may have been mistaken.  It certainly looks as if Mr. Bumble were still extant.   Of one thing, however, I am certain.  It does not tend to raise the proceedings of the parochial authorities in our estimation when we find that a poor boy whose sole crime was his poverty, was treated when in life with such callousness if not harshness, that at death he was buried very much in the spirit of: -

“Rattle his bones over the stones,

He’s only a pauper, whom nobody owns.”

I am, &c., A.  RATEPAYER


14th. June 1884: -

LOCAL NEWSPAPER CHANGES HANDS   – The Banffshire Reporter was taken over by the Calder brothers.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, 16th. August 1884: -


  • Wanted – A hand to hold my own,
  • As down life’s vale I glide;
  • Wanted – An arm to lean upon,
  • For ever by my side.
  • Wanted – A firm and steady foot,
  • With step secure and free,
  • To take its straight and onward pace,
  • Over life’s path with me.
  • Wanted – a form, erect and high,
  • A head above mine own,
  • So much, that I might walk beneath
  • Its shadow, o’er me thrown.
  • Wanted – an eye, within whose depth
  • Mine own might look, and see,
  • Uprising from a guileless heart,
  • O’erflown with love to me.
  • Wanted – a lip, whose kindest smile
  • Would speak for me alone;
  • A voice, whose richest melody
  • Would breath affection’s tone.
  • Wanted – a true religious soul,
  • To pious purpose given,
  • With whom mine own might pass along
  • The road that leads to Heaven.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, August 23rd 1884: -

PORTSOY BACHELORS  – We are pleased to know that Portsoy can boast of at least one feeling-heartened bachelor – that is of course speaking from a matrimonial point of view.   That he has not ere now entered the “thrice happy state” is doubtless due to the fact that (perhaps unknowingly), instead of directing his attention to the fair sex, he has evidently been all along “courting the muses” – to what good end we will leave our readers to decide for themselves.   In last week’s Reporter there appeared a poem, entitled “The Wish of a Young Lady;” and in regard to her express wishes this solitary bachelor has sent a reply, which would doubtless have been appreciated by the young lady but for the keen sarcasm displayed therein, more particularly in the last verse, where he would even exclude her from heaven.  Below we give the reply to “The Wish of a Young Lady: -”


  • My dear young lady friend.  I see
  • You’ve got seven wants in your life;
  • An eighth one tours above them a’ -
  • You want to be a wife!
  • Why, then, please send your card to me -
  • The unexpected happens -
  • And if you do not get the web,
  • Perhaps you’ll get the clippin’s.
  • If you get all you want in life,
  • Without one failure given,
  • Allow me whisper this, dear lass,
  • You’ve little chance o’ heaven.


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, 13th. September 1884: -


  • Poor, dear Joe, with your life of woe
  • You are not far wrong – so – so – so
  • Allow me, in love, to venture a cure -
  • Come wed me, and I will constantly lure
  • Away all your troubles and bring you joys
  • Your heart never dreamt of – girls and boys.
  • You need not then, go sit by the road
  • Alone like a hermit, or mope like a toad
  • You needn’t even bother with your ancient lore
  • A smile from mother, and your babe for an hour
  • To swing about or dance on your knee -
  • Oh! won’t he that be grand – hee, hee, hee !
  • You will get no attack of vixen fudge
  • You won’t have to look out for another lodge.
  • When you come home from work you’ll be welcomed, I trow
  • Oh! won’t that be grand, my own dear Joe
  • An evening stroll with you wife by your side
  • And a fine rosy boy hanging on by your leg
  • Referring his fairlies up to da, da -
  • Oh won’t that be grand – ha, ha, ha, ha!
  • Your shirt will be clean; yes, as white as the snow
  • Your front and your collar ill dressed – oh, no, no!
  • I’ll roll thee in comfort and surround you with love,
  • Distilled and pure as it comes from above.
  • Now this is your chance to get rid of your woe -
  • Take it up at the flood, and you’ll then be my Joe.
  • Grand Pa’s Pet


Banffshire Reporter, February 14th 1885: -

“DEATH OF MISS MARY PIRIE – Our obituary today contains the name of a lady who was much respected, and while her strength remained, was very active in all good works in Portsoy.   Miss Mary Pirie was the last member of a large family that came here about 45 years ago and have died out gradually without leaving any representatives.   The deceased was highly educated, and at one time conducted a ladies’ school in Old Cullen Street, which had however to be given up by her on account of ill health.

In earlier years she took much interest in natural history, the outcome of which may be seen in her two books, entitled “Flowers, Grasses and Shrubs” and “Pensioners of Air, Earth and Sea, or Familiar Teachings on Natural History.”  These with many other valuable contributions from her graceful pen appeared first in our columns.  She was one of the earliest and most energetic supporters of the Dorcas Society, which has done so much for our poor, and as long as she was able, acted as secretary and treasurer of this Society.  She was also a zealous member of St. John’s Church, and there, as well as among her many friends in town and country, her presence will be much missed.  Her kindly and cheerful manner and ready sympathy made her a valuable member of society, and her death causes a blank in our midst which will not be easily filled.

Her remains were taken by train from here to Aberdeen on Friday morning, and interred in St. Nicholas Cemetery.”


Banffshire Journal, January 25th. 1887: -

LOSS OF FISHING BOAT AND CREW.    A terrible disaster has overtaken a fishing boat and crew belonging to Portsoy.  The boat, “ANNIE”, was, during the night of Thursday, 20th. January, in collision with a steam trawler and sank, the whole of her crew being drowned.

The only intelligence of the disaster comes from the crew of the “ST. CLEMENT” of Aberdeen.  That vessel entered Aberdeen on Friday, and the master, Captain Stephen, reported that a collision had occurred about half past seven in the evening, at a point about thirty miles off Kinnaird head.   The sea was quiet, though there was a stiff south-west breeze.  The steamer was trawling and no boats were visible in the vicinity.  Suddenly came a crash, the steamer having run into, and cut down the boat.

It is stated that the captain of the trawler was at the time in his cabin putting on oilskins, the only one on deck being John Still, seaman, who was steering, and from his elevated position had a full view of the sea for some distance from the steamer.  No lights were visible before the collision, but after it a light was seen, and cries were heard.   The steamer was put about, and remained near the scene for some hours.  The steamer’s boat was swung off the davits over the side, but not lowered into the water, owing, it is said, to the state of the sea.  Nothing was learned by those on board the steamer as to what kind of craft had been run down.

The intimation of the collision caused a great deal of excitement among the fishing population along the coast of the Moray Firth.   In the course of Saturday, all the boats were accounted for, except the “ANNIE” of Portsoy, and it is beyond doubt now that she is the unfortunate boat whose crew have been drowned.   The “ANNIE” left Portsoy on Wednesday morning, and was in company with the boat “BONHEUR”, also of Portsoy, till five o’clock on Thursday afternoon.   At that time the two boats parted, and the “ANNIE” was about fifty miles off land, midway between Scarclet Head in Caithness, and the Buchaness.   At that time Skipper Mair of the “BONHEUR” reports, the sea was calm, the night clear, and the wind variable.  The “BONHEUR” returned home to Portsoy on Friday morning and subsequently went in search of the “ANNIE”, but to no purpose.

The “ANNIE” was a new boat, belonging to James Paterson, coal-merchant and fishcurer.  She was well found in all her furnishings, and the crew of eight men were all vigorous and active.  John Slater (Butney), the Skipper, was married and leaves a widow and four of a family.  James Slater, brother of the Skipper, was twenty-two years of age and unmarried.  Robert Slater, aged twenty-one years, cousin of the Skipper, was unmarried, but supported his mother.  William Pirie leaves a widow and eight children, one of them an infant of only ten days old.  George Currie leaves a widow and a family of seven children.  Alexander Wood leaves a widow and two children.   George Goodbrand, junior, aged twenty-four years and William Goodbrand, aged seventeen years, were brothers and both unmarried.  All these men belonged to Portsoy.  Thus, four widows and twenty-one children are left in bereavement.

The calamity has left a deep gloom over Portsoy.  It is the most serious event that has happened to the fishing community here for twenty years.   Mr. Paterson, and Mr. Henry Findlay, a relation of several of the crew, went to Aberdeen on hearing of the accident, and had an interview with the Customs authorities, by whom the occurrence will be reported to the Board of Trade.  A full investigation will be made into the circumstances attending the collision, until which time nothing further than what is stated above is likely to be known.

More …

(Notes: – See separate file for a full report.)


Banffshire Reporter, Saturday, March 5th 1887: -

WIDOW’S YOUNG SON DROWNED IN OLD HARBOUR – The startling announcement was made on Wednesday night (March 2nd) that William Slater (Botany), a boy of five years of age, had gone amissing.   Much excitement prevailed.  He left home about six o’clock in the evening, carrying his whip and top along with him for amusement.   Before leaving, his mother told him not to go far away, as supper would be ready shortly.  When wanted, however, it was found that he had wandered away, and as time passed, and he did not return, his friends got alarmed at his absence.  He had been seen and spoken to about seven o’clock, but after that hour no one seems to have come in contact with him.   Many enquiries were made, and many places visited in search of him, but without success.

Shortly after nine o’clock, however, on the old harbour being searched, the body was found in the water right under the bow of the schooner “Katherine” lying at the quay opposite Mr. Paterson’s fishcuring premises.  The tide was receding at the time, but there was still a depth of 4 or 5 feet of water.   A young man named Robert Macdonald lowered himself into the water by means of a chain and brought the body ashore, whence it was removed to the house of Mr. Hay Farquhar, in North High Street, where Dr. Stewart was soon in attendance.  With the assistance of Mr. James Clark, Druggist, and Messrs. Macleod and Davies of the Coastguard Station, every possible means were tried to restore animation.  From the first, little hopes were entertained for his recovery; in fact there is every reason to believe that life must have been extinct when the body was first recovered.

In the fall he must have come in contact with some ropes or chains, as the body was a good deal bruised across the breast.  Being thus stunned would doubtless stifle any cry for help he might otherwise be able to get up.   Of the circumstances which led to the untimely death of the unfortunate youth no one can tell.  It is supposed by some that he had been spinning his top along the breast of the harbour, and coming too near the edge of the quay had toppled over.   Others, again, suppose that he had gone on board the “Katherine” (which he had known to do before), had fallen asleep, and on wakening up had stumbled over the vessel into the harbour.

Strange to say the father of the boy left Portsoy on a Wednesday evening exactly six weeks previous and never returned, having shared the same fate as his son when the fishing boat “Annie” of this port, of which he was skipper, was run down off Kinnaird Head by the trawler, “St. Clement” of Aberdeen.  Much sympathy is felt for the mother of the deceased, who has now been bereaved of an only son ere yet the first outburst of sorrow for her late husband may be said to have abated.   The funeral takes place today.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, 9th. July 1887: -

COLONEL MOIR’S GIFT TO PORTSOY – SITE FOR NEW TOWN HALL – In our last issue we announced that Colonel Moir had offered to give over that property in Seafield Street, known as Peterkin’s property, as a site for a new Town Hall; now we have the pleasure of announcing that the gift has been accepted and taken over on behalf of the community by trustees at a meeting held in Minty’s Hall on Thursday evening.  The site now belongs to the inhabitants for all time coming, and the trustees in whom their interests are vested have full power to act in such a manner as to them seemeth best for the welfare of those they represent. Practically the property has been handed over unconditionally.

As a site for a hall no better could be obtained than that which has just been so generously presented to the town by Colonel Moir, whose interest in the prosperity and welfare of the Port knows no bounds.   To him the inhabitants owe a deep debt of gratitude, and we have no doubt the first expression that came to the lips of all on learning that he had made such a liberal offer was in accord with the feeling which prompted the donor to act as he had done. In common with other well wishers we trust that he may be spared to attend and enjoy many gatherings in the new building, for which he has provided, a most desirable site in one of the principle thoroughfares of the town.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, August 22nd. 1888: -

JOHN LEGG’S WELL – The rising generation do not take kindly to these “mineral waters.”   For what reason it is difficult to say.   We come to this conclusion after visiting and observing the wretched condition of the Well and its surroundings.   A walk in the morning along the sea braes to this spot forms a healthy recreation, and a draught of the waters of this famous spring is most refreshing.  To Portsonians abroad the mention of John Legg’s Well will bring up many pleasant memories; and should they revisit their native place and wend their way thither, they would be shocked to find it in a filthy condition, with broken chain, and ladle gone.

This Well could boast of a repair fund some years ago – we mention it for the second time – but what has become of it or who the “custodier” is, we have not been able to ascertain.   The place could be made approachable and respectable looking, at little cost.  It is to be hoped the treasurer of the fund will see to getting the necessary repairs and cleaning done by employing a workman and stumping up the cash.

Speaking of walks, the formation of an esplanade from Barbank along to the Well would be a decided improvement.   This in lieu of a public park, as to the acquisition of which all hope appears to given up.  This would prove an additional attraction to visitors, and would be much appreciated and frequently visited by the inhabitants of the town.


From the Book “In Leisure Hours” Printed privately in 1946 by John Cumming, M.D.  F.R.C.S.E. F.R.C.S.P.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT – The particular town that I knew best had no local governing body. That was represented by the local authority of the parish of Fordyce. In the late ‘eighties, however the populace began to stir, with the result that the Police Act was adopted. The movement was not accomplished without opposition. Increased taxation loomed in the near future and there is no more potent factor for action than touching the pocket.

In due course representatives were elected and a Council of Commissioners came into being. It consisted of a Chief Magistrate, two junior Magistrates, and six rank and file. It was not till 1893 that the Chief Magistrate assumed the title of Provost, and the two juniors, Bailies; the others were then termed councillors. These first representatives of the burgh held their opening meeting on November 26, 1889.

Before the important step of adopting the Police Act there had been no adequate water supply, and an indifferent drainage system. There was but one public well, “Charlie’s Well.” It had a storage tank of very small cubic space, apt to become dry when the need was greatest. All water had to be carried by hand, curtailing the full use of the precious liquid. I never heard that the fluid had been subjected to analysis. For all that, matters went swimmingly on and the general health quite the average.


1889 – PORTSOY’S FIRST PROVOST APPOINTED  – Mr. James Clark appointed as Provost.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, January 15th 1890: -

SAD CASE OF DROWNING  – Yesterday morning some half-dozen fisher lads left Portsoy for the rocks at the Boyne, there to collect limpets for bait.  It is not at all an unusual thing to undertake such journeys in order to procure shell-fish.  On this occasion a stiff breeze was blowing, the sea was agitated, and there was considerable motion along the rocks.  Apparently the boys had been engaged in collecting the limpets at a point called Old Hythe, in close proximity to the mouth of the Boyne, where the rocks are precipitous and dangerous to reach.

While engaged at the occupation referred to, a heavy sea struck the rock, breaking over the ledge occupied by the boys.   At this moment one of their number, a lad between 13 and 14 years of age, named James Sutherland, son of Mr. William Sutherland, fisherman, Shore, was washed off and carried to sea.  His companions at once returned home and gave information regarding the sad occurrence.  In a short time several small boats were got ready and set sail for the scene of the fatality.   James Lyon, one of the youths who witnessed the accident, went along with one of the crews to point out the spot.

The affair took place early in the forenoon, and considerable time necessarily elapsed before the news reached the town, owing to the distance of the locality.  Some of the boats returned without discovering any trace of the body.  The crews returned later on, and renewed the search, which was carried on from the outset for about two hours.  About two o’clock Mr. Reuben MacDonald, Back Green, succeeded in recovering the body, which had got in between two outlying rocks, a short distance from the place where the accident occurred.  The boat at once made for the harbour, which was reached about half-past two.  Strange to say, the father of the deceased, who had been at sea and therefore knew nothing of the sad affair, only reached the harbour when the boat containing the remains of his son was entering the channel.  At this time there were a good many people at the harbour and in the vicinity, and Mr. Sutherland must have felt keenly the sad intelligence which had to be imparted to him on his arrival.

The deceased’s remains were conveyed to the house of his parents, close by the Old Harbour.  Much sympathy is felt for the parents in the bereavement they have suddenly sustained by the untimely death of their son.

We understand that the lad’s companions did their utmost to render him assistance.  This they endeavoured to do by tying parts of their clothing together and casting it towards him.  It is said that at the time of his being washed off the rock, deceased well nigh caught hold of one of his companions.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, August 9th. 1893: -

PORTSOY’S PAST HISTORY – By the favour of Mr. John Sutherland, Druggist, we have got the use of some old manuscripts left to him by the late Dr. Greig, Portsoy, and as they were written fifty years ago their contents will be of considerable interest to Portsonians, both at home and abroad.  (See separate file “Manuscript of 1843” by Dr. George Greig)


9th. August 1895.

WATER SUPPLY  – Portsoy’s first piped supply of water officially brought into use.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, October 1st, 1895: -

PORTSOY IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE – A meeting of the town’s Improvement Committee was held in the Institute on Wednesday.  (25th Sept).  After some general conversation it was unanimously resolved to take immediate steps to provide a golf course, a bowling green, and tennis court for the town, and that for defraying expenses a bazaar is to be held at an early date, and that a subscription list be opened.  A sub-committee was appointed to confer with the ladies in the town on the question of a bazaar.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, July 14th, 1897: -

BOWLING CLUB  – At a meeting held in the Christian Institute on Monday evening (12th July) it was resolved to form a bowling club.  There was a good attendance at the meeting and a good many signified their intention of joining the club.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, July 21st 1897: -

MARRIAGE NOTICE – At 31 St. Catherine Street, Banff, on the 15th. inst., Marcus Calder to Georgina H.D. Edward ninth daughter of Thomas Edward A.L.S. Banff. (Well known naturalist)


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, June 19th 1901: -


Sir  – Everybody in the country will be wondering at this season of the year where they are to spend their holidays.  They want to go to the seaside for a fortnight, or it may be for a month, but the question arises, “Where shall we go?  Where to get a good view of the sea in the most inexpensive way?”    Why, you need not bother your head about that matter; go to Portsoy, that little town situated on the shores of the Moray Firth.

If you be a geologist, then you have a vast collection of specimens to claim your attention.  To the east of the town you have that rare specimen known as the Red Rock, the vein stretching across the bay to the Wick side, and having its twin sister in Arabia.  It contains hornblend, felspar, mica, etc.   Then to the west, are the famous marble quarries.  Many and varied are the colours of marble it contains.  For some time these quarries were worked, but being very soft could only be got in small pieces.  Many local people have made very beautiful ornaments, brooches, vases, beads, etc., with it.    Then again there is the soapstone, of which there is a vein running to Durn Hill in the distance.  This stone is used for enamelling china.   Near by is a cave which is said to be the entrance to an underground passage terminating in the Durn vicinity, where smuggling was carried on in days gone by to a great extent.  But the rocks are numerous and varied.

To the botanist the woods are within a stone’s throw, and contain many very beautiful specimens of wild flowers.  Even on the roadside these may be gathered, while on the braes may be culled the sea daisy and other sea plants.

An artist has only to take one summer holiday, and if he can put upon his canvas some of the scenery, be it attractive spots on the coast, ruins, harbour, or the great headlands that protect the town, both east and west, he will no doubt find himself an A.R.A. in a very short time.   I think I could almost term it the Spa of the Moray Firth, for I do not think there is another medicinal spring like John Legg’s well along the coast. Its attractions suit all visitors.

Portsoy is a very ancient town.  The first house that was built in it stands between the old and new harbours, with its foundations upon rock.  I forget the date, but it may be seen over the doorway.   It was built as a jointure house for the Dowager-Lady of the Boyne.    Boyne Castle is about a mile and a half distant.   It is now crumbling into ruins.   Mary Queen of Scots slept a night in it.  Two or three yards from this ancient pile is the pool known as the “Bottomless Pot,” and towards the mouth of the burn stands the remains of the fort.  Here smuggling was carried on to a great extent, and in the great chamber of the castle was held the meetings of a body known as the Hell Fire Club, a party of local gentlemen who bound themselves by oath to renounce the Bible, burning a leaf each night they met, and then revelling in drunkenness and gambling.  I should think this was the Alpha and Omega of the sect, as I never heard of anyone following their example.  In the damp dark vaults the late Mr. Thomas Edward, naturalist, used to lie for nights, his pockets stuffed with insects of all sorts, watching the habits of a polecat or some other creature.

At one time Portsoy exported large quantities of grain, and was a very important shipping port.   A company once offered to extend the old harbour right up to the Mill, now occupied by Mr. Ewing, but the offer was refused.  The town hadn’t a provost then.  However there was a new harbour built for the convenience of the fishing boats; and although everyone knows it was a huge blunder, which no one can in the meantime remedy, the best will be for the men to be content with what they have.  There are always two ways of looking at things.  Some see only the dark cloud, and predict rain; others see the “silver lining” and feel sure the sun that is shining behind the cloud and will soon reappear; and, as I believe, the directors are doing the best they can, and the time will come when the fishermen’s children will one day waken up to find a beautiful new harbour in place of the old one, where they may run in times of storm with perfect safety.

Visitors, however, have got nothing to do with the woes of harbours.   They can get a row in the bay if they wish it from experienced fishermen, or lounge about the braes; and if tired of the sea I am sure they will get a welcome at the Bowling Green, Tennis or Croquet, as one feels sure in this enlightened age that Portsoy ladies and gentlemen know how to welcome a visitor, and remember it is only among the lowest east-enders in London that the word “class” is used.  One hears the saying a hundred times a day, “Oh, she’s no class,” but if one was to hear this in Portsoy it would be put down as “ignorant pride.”   So, when the season for the visitors come round, give the strangers a welcome; invite them among you; make them feel at home. I do not mean the home people who revisit, as they get a welcome extended to them, and do not need outsiders.  Then will your town have visitors to overflowing, and they will not return to their home with the exclamation, “Oh, the people were like sticks!”



Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, 1st. October 1902: -

PRINCE OF WALES PASSES THROUGH – Passing Portsoy on Thursday on his way to Gordon Castle by what he called “a very pretty route round by the coast” the Prince of Wales was heartily greeted by the ladies and Gentlemen on the Bowling Green and the Tennis Courts, who waved hats and handkerchiefs, and cheered vociferously.  The Prince graciously recognised the salutations as he passed through.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, June 28th 1911: -

CORONATION CELEBRATIONS AND OPENING OF PUBLIC PARK – The inhabitants of Portsoy entered into the Coronation celebrations (on Thursday 22nd. July) with great interest and enthusiasm, and a loyalty that could not be mistaken.  The day dawned bright but breezy.   Later on the sun shone brightly.  Early in the afternoon rain attempted to fall once or twice, but it was simply mere attempts, for the afternoon was practically one of the best that could be desired, while a better evening could not have been wished for.  There was a glorious sunset.  The out-of-door proceedings were right heartily enjoyed.

Displays of flags and bunting of different kinds were general throughout the town, the inhabitants having generously responded to the request that houses, shops, etc., should be decorated.  Nowhere could one go but there was evidences of loyalty, and manifestations of rejoicing were evident on all hands among young and old.  Indeed the rejoicing may said to have begun on the previous afternoon, when the hearts of the poor of the town were gladdened by each of them receiving from Provost Sutherland a free gift in the shape of a handsome Coronation canister, filled with tea, along with a parcel of sugar.  Altogether 88 canisters were distributed.

Services were conducted in the Established Church, in the East U.F. Church (East and West congregations joining), in the Episcopal Church, and the Roman Catholic Church.   About one o’clock the town’s bell and school bell sent forth merry peals in honour of the Royal event that was being celebrated in London.

Before starting the children’s procession an interesting ceremony took place – the presentation of Coronation medals and badges to the scholars by Provost Sutherland.  No fewer than 500 beautiful and ornate medals and badges had been supplied.  Bailie Gray who performed the presentation ceremony intimated to the children that they were all to be supplied with medals through the kindness and generosity of their good friend Provost Sutherland.  (Applause).   He would now present the medals with the assistance of Father Slorach.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday, June 28th 1911: -

OPENING OF THE (SUTHERLAND) PUBLIC PARK – Here the important ceremony of opening the Public Park took place. (On Thursday, June 22nd. 1911)  The young people were arranged in rows, and the general public took up position around three sides of the square thus formed.  The Provost and members of the Town Council took their places on the platform, which was nicely arranged and decorated in readiness for the Coronation play.  There were some 1600 or 1700 people present. The party presented a gay and picturesque appearance when the opening ceremony was proceeded with by Provost Sutherland.

Provost Sutherland, on coming forward, met with a hearty reception.  He said – “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to be asked by the Town Council formally to open this Public Park.   It has been provided for the recreation of the inhabitants of Portsoy, and as a playground for children, and I trust they will take the full use of it.   It must be a great pleasure to the Town Council and especially to the Park Committee, who have wrought so well in this matter, to be able to see this Park opened as the result and reward of their labours.  (Applause).  Although not a native of Portsoy, I have spent the best part of my life here.  Portsoy occupies a warm place in my heart.  I should like to do something for our little town, and I think the present occasion is a fitting time to do it.  It is my intention now to arrange to give to the town a sum of £1,000. (Prolonged applause).  This sum will be invested, and the income from it will be expended as may hereafter be decided upon.  One of the provisions will be that so long as the present lease lasts, the rent will be paid from the income of the money.  (Applause).  In order that the Park may get a fair start, I propose also to clear off the present debt on the Park due to the bank.  (Prolonged applause).  I have only now formally to declare this Park open, and I hope it may be a source of enjoyment in the time to come to every man, woman and child in Portsoy.”  (Prolonged applause).


Banffshire Journal, Wednesday, June 28th, 1911: -

MUNIFICENT GIFT TO THE BURGH OF PORTSOY – Thursday (22nd. June 1911) was a red-letter day in the history of Portsoy, and the Coronation proceedings passed off with great eclat.  The enthusiasm was unbounded.  The poor of the town received handsome gifts of tea and sugar, and the children medals, through the generosity of Provost Sutherland.  The Provost formally opened the Town Park in the largest assemblage ever seen within the burgh.  In a speech full of dignity, self-restraint, and modesty, he intimated that out of his love for Portsoy he was to make a gift of £1,000 to the town.  There was no posturing, no flare of trumpets, and, what is rather unusual hereabouts; nothing could be read into it of an electioneering character.  The Provost’s remarks were a model of brevity, simplicity and directness. The announcement of so unexpected a gift came as a complete surprise, and his auditors, after they had realised the munificence of his bequest, cheered Provost Sutherland to the echo.  The secret had been well kept, as not a whisper of the Provost’s intentions had leaked out.

We congratulate the burgh on having as its civic head a man of such large hearted and liberal sympathies.  We voice the feeling of the great bulk of the community when we say that Portsoy appreciates to the full Provost Sutherland’s great generosity, and that he will always live in their grateful affections.  Baillie Gray aptly interpreted the feeling of the assembled crowd when he said that the park should be called the Sutherland Park.


November 11th 1918: – END OF WORLD WAR I


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, September 9th 1919: -

DEATH OF PRINCESS ALEXIS DOLGOROUKI  – There was reported in last issue the death of Princess Alexis Dolgorouki. Her father was Mr. Fleetwood Pellew Wilson, a native of Portsoy, who died in London in April 1888 aged 74. He was a successful businessman in Brazil.

Princess Alexis Dolgorouki inherited her father’s fortune and property and she died at Bayonne on the 23rd August 1919.


Banffshire Reporter, Wednesday May 15th. 1920: -

GERMAN GUN DUMPED IN SEA – On Monday night, the German field gun gifted to the town was taken from the Gasworks, where it was stored for safety, by a number of young men, who, after parading along several of the streets, proceeded to the rocks lying to the west of the Old Harbour and dumped it into the sea over the high ground there, known as the Dounie.   The water being deep at this point the gun quickly disappeared.    (Note:  – The spot where the gun was dumped is now known as the “Gun-hole”)


Banffshire Journal. Tuesday, January 31st. 1922: -

FIRE   – A serious outbreak of fire took place yesterday morning when the husk mill situated beside the old harbour and belonging to Mr. W. Ewing, miller and grain merchant was totally destroyed.   The fire was first seen by one of the coastguards about seven o’clock.   He gave the alarm and soon a large number of willing helpers were on the scene of the conflagration but owing to the poor supply of water and the faulty nature of the fire hose coupled with the inflammable nature of the material inside the building all efforts were futile.  As the mill has not been working for the past few days owing to a breakdown of the engine, the origin of the fire is unknown.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, March 7th. 1922: -

PROPOSED PUBLIC HALL – As an outcome of a recent advertisement by the trustees and managers of the U.F. Church, offering the old East Church, at present unoccupied, for sale, a public meeting of ratepayers was held on Wednesday.   Provost Rae, who presided over a large and representative meeting, said no doubt they had all seen the advertisement of the old United Presbyterian Church for sale.  They all knew about the state of disrepair it was falling into, with broken windows and broken railings, and it was fast becoming an eyesore in the town.

The Town Council were thinking of offering for it for the purpose of making it into a public hall for the town, but before doing so they had called this meeting, which he was pleased to see was such a large and representative one, to find out the mind of the ratepayers on the matter.  They might not be successful in getting it, but they would not move in the matter without the sanction of the ratepayers.  After some discussion, Ex-Provost Gray proposed that they authorise the Town Council to make an offer for the building.  This was seconded, and as there were no counter motion it was carried with acclamation.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, March 3rd. 1925 : -

NEW RESERVOIR BROUGHT INTO USE – An important improvement in one of the principal municipal services of Portsoy was publicly inaugurated on Wednesday when with a fitting little ceremony there was turned on to the town an augmented supply of water from a large new reservoir which has been erected on the Langside hill on the eastern outskirts of the burgh close by the Cowhythe road.


Banffshire Journal, March 19th 1925: -

MARTIN’S BRAE AND MARTIN’S BRIDGE  – Mr. Alex. McKay, cattle dealer, purchased the property on Aird Street, so long known as the Martin’s, and giving the name to the brae from the Aird Burn to the turnpike road, locally known as Martin’s Brae.”

Note: – The bridge was also known as Martin’s Bridge. This road is no longer in use – it becoming dangerous when part of the road slipped down the bank.)


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, April 16th, 1935: -

PORTSOY LAD’S TRAGIC END – Last week a gloom was cast over the community of Portsoy by a distressing fatality, the victim of which was Donald Ross the 17 year-old son of Mr. D.I. Ross, plumber and engineer, 19 The Square.  On Monday afternoon the lad, accompanied by a six years old boy, was seen making his way with a bag of rubbish in the direction of a place known locally as the Gun Hole, situated a short distance to the west of the old harbour.   Until about tea-time no notice was taken of the lad’s failure to return, and when the little boy was later interrogated as to where the young man was, the only words that could be got from him were, “Donald, water, bag.”    From this it was feared that in descending the rocks to dispose of the rubbish the lad missed his footing and fell into the water, or that in throwing in the bag he over-balanced and he was carried in along with it.  That evening, unfortunately, there was too much swell in the sea to allow a boat being brought round to the place, and although a constant look-out was kept by watchers on the shore no trace of the lad could be found.  On the following day when the force of the sea was somewhat abated, boats were procured and dragging operations were carried out by fishermen in the vicinity of the Gun Hole but all efforts were in vain.  Since leaving school a few years ago the lad had been working with his father.

The young lad’s body was recovered yesterday afternoon from the water near the point where he had fallen.  A number of fishermen had been keeping a lookout as usual, and one of them, Mr. Hugh Mair, Church Street, who had a marine glass, discovered the form of the body on looking through the glass into the water.   Steps were at once taken to bring the body up, the Police and the Doctor being summoned.   The body was entangled among seaware.  After removal of the body to a shed nearby, examination showed that the unfortunate lad had struck the rocks with his head in falling, there being a severe injury on the forehead.


Banffshire Journal Tuesday, November 30th. 1937: -

RESCUE AT PORTSOY  – Young Lad’s Heroic Act – A magnificent rescue was effected at Portsoy harbour on Sunday night by a gallant young local lad, Mr. Jeffrey Kelman, Seafield Street, who at great personal risk, saved a man from drowning in the sea.   His heroic act was witnessed by a number of people, who were filled with admiration of the great courage and determination he showed in the face of utmost danger to his own life in the darkness and in a heavy sea.

The incident took place about seven o’clock, when the motor fishing boat Flowing Stream was entering the new harbour.  A heavy swell was running at the entrance and the crew of the boat threw a line ashore to a number of men on the pier to help guide her round the outer head.  When pulling at the rope, a fisherman, Mr. Alex. Smith got entangled by a coil and at that moment a heavy sea caused the boat to rise and fall and the rope dragged Mr. Smith over the edge of the pier and he fell into the sea.   For a moment he was lost to view, but soon he was seen struggling in the water.

The alarm was raised, and without a moment’s hesitation Jeffrey Kelman, a lad of 17 years, rushed to the nearest quay ladder, plunged into the water and swam out into the channel in the vicinity of the boat.  In the darkness, however, and without anything to guide him, he had difficulty in locating the man, and he swam about strongly for a time trying to follow in the heavy sea the directions shouted from the pier.   Fortunately someone on the pier had an electric torch-light and shone it where Mr. Smith was struggling in the water to keep afloat.  At once the young man struck out towards him and caught him, and then he swam back supporting him all the way to the quay ladder, a fine feat considering the conditions and the distance that had to be covered.

The people on the quay helped rescued and rescuer to safety and congratulated the young man on his courageous act.   Mr. Smith was in an exhausted condition but was able with help to go home.  The young man was none the worse and made light of his action.

Mr. Kelman is a grandson of Mr. A. McHattie, Seafield Street, Portsoy, who for the past several seasons has devoted much of his time to the teaching of swimming and lifesaving in Portsoy Swimming Club, latterly at the new swimming pool.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, 8th February 1938: -

A VISITOR  – Captain George Osborne, who gained no small notice through the famous voyage of the “Girl Pat” is meantime on holiday in the town.   Mr. Osborne, who is a native of Buckie, is residing, along with his wife, with Mrs. Wright, Hill Street, who is an aunt of Mrs. Osborne’s.  Three weeks ago he was released after having served fifteen of the eighteen months imprisonment to which he was sentenced in connection with the “Girl Pat” exploit.   Mrs. Osborne is also a native of Banffshire, and they have come north for some measure of quietness.

CARDS  – An enjoyable evening was spent by members of the British Legion and the Freemason’s Club when they met on Wednesday in a return whist and bridge match.  In both games the Legion were the winners, scores being – Whist – Legion 1349, Freemasons – 1327; Bridge – Legion 939, Freemasons 599.   Tea was served, and the company were welcomed by Mr. C. Lindsay, R.W.M., who referred to the presence of Captain Osborne of the “Girl Pat” who played for the Legion.   The Freemasons’ Club were thanked for their hospitality on the call of Mr. John A. Bain, vice-president of the Legion.

(Note: – Captain Osborne’s appearances at local events caused considerable controversy in the town at the time.  Mrs Wright’s attempts to promote her guest as a “swashbuckling hero” was not well received by all members of the community as many regarded him as a common criminal recently released from prison.  It was said, rightly or wrongly, that Mrs. Wright was endeavouring to arrange for Captain Osborne to give a talk on his exploits to one of the women’s groups but, in the event, this did not materialise.)


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, 3rd. May 1938: -

A PORTSOY FATALITY – A distressing occurrence involving the death of a Portsoy lad, occurred at the rocks near Heathery on Sunday.   The victim was George Farquhar, the 14 year old son of Mr. James Farquhar, labourer, 25 Church Street, Portsoy.

The lad with three companions, left the town about 5.30 pm on a walk along the braes.  The tragedy occurred at the Bow Rock, which is in close proximity to Heathery, and which is a hundred feet in height.   The lad, who had been climbing the rock, fell to the beach, and from the nature of his injuries it is apparent that death was instantaneous.  No one saw what actually happened, his companions being at the time at other points in the vicinity.  The attention of one of them, however, was attracted by a rumbling sound, and the lad’s body was seen lying on the shore.

The alarm was raised, the boys rushing to the nearest house, the croft of Arnbath, at the opposite end of Heathery.   On their way they met Mr. George Peterkin, whom they informed of the accident, and at the croft medical aid was obtained as Dr. Macrae happened to be visiting them at the time.    The Doctor, accompanied by Mr. Peterkin and two others, Mr. Legge and Mr. Murray, was quickly on the scene, but found that the lad was dead.

As the tide was coming in, all haste had to be made to have the body removed.  This was no easy task, as it had to be taken some distance over rocks and boulders, and then up by a circuitous route to the top of the braes.

The lad, who was an apprentice electrical engineer, was employed, together with two brothers, by Mr. Wm. Davidson, Seafield Street, and had left school only at Christmas.  News of the accident soon spread, and quite a gloom was cast over the community, where the lad was well known.


Electricity was provided to Portsoy on Friday 20th May 1938


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday March 28th 1939: -

SON AND HEIR BORN TO THE COUNTESS OF SEAFIELD – The birth of a son and heir to the Countess of Seafield was celebrated throughout the extensive estates on Tuesday evening by a chain of bonfires around which gathered many people despite the wintry weather that prevailed.  In Portsoy a large bonfire which had been erected on the Durn Hill was lit by Mr. James Murdoch, Ground Officer.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, 23 May 1939: -

A PORTSOY ACCIDENT – An accident which occurred on Thursday morning (18th May) at the refuse dump at Portsoy resulted in the loss of a horse belonging to Mr. R.J. Gray, Cullen Street, and the destruction of a cart which was the property of the Town Council.

At this dump, which was constructed two or three years ago, the daily collections of household refuse are tipped into the sea, a distance of some 24 feet below.  On Thursday a load of refuse was being disposed of when the horse and cart went over the chute into the sea.  The horse, freed from the cart, came round to a creek where a rope was secured to its collar by a number of people who had hurried to the scene when the alarm was raised.  Owing to the steepness of the rocks in the vicinity, however, it was impossible to get the horse out at this point, and it was taken ashore by rope at the beach below Braeheads.  An examination showed that two of its legs had been broken, and it had accordingly to be destroyed.   Considerable difficulty was experienced in getting the carcass up the steep brae from the beach, and this work was completed on Friday.

Mr. Gray, to whom the horse belonged, had only begun the refuse collection contractor work the previous Tuesday, and at the time of the mishap the horse and cart was under the charge of Mr. James Farquhar, Aird Street.




Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, March 4th 1941: -

MODERN ROAD SURFACING – A PORTSOY PIONEER -   “Modern Transport” of Saturday, contains a very interesting article on the introduction of modern road surfacing and gives an honourable place to a son of Portsoy.   To Thomas London Macadam, it says, has been given the credit for devising a road construction sufficient to withstand the impact of heavy traffic, but hitherto – surprising enough – little thought has been given to the men who invented the important processes whereby roads were made fit to take the rubber-tyred fast-moving vehicle of the present day.

That the development of motor traffic has been dependant upon the structure of the roadway is true, and to that extent Macadam was the father of the modern road.   But it is equally true that the discovery and practices of Macadam have been transformed and enhanced in value by those who first conceived the idea by binding the rubble substance with liquid pitch or tar and who, on that account, deserved to be honoured no less than their famous precursor.   One such pioneer, we recently discovered, is Mr. Alexander Nicol who lives in retirement in his native town of Portsoy in Banffshire.

An Emigrant to Trinidad – It was to Trinidad that Nicol emigrated from Portsoy in 1898 at the age of 18.  Curiously enough, considering his discovery, he was neither engineer nor surveyor, but became one of the well known merchants of “Bonanza” fame in Port of Spain, and after twenty-two years trading had accumulated a fortune sufficient to enable him, at the early age of forty, to return to his native Banffshire.  Nicol who was evidently an observant and inquisitive young man, had not been long in Trinidad when he became obsessed with the idea of overcoming the dust nuisance in the streets of the island’s capital.

“I observed,” said he, “that the streets required much repair by the method then in use of the coolies tamping on the hard surface asphalt.  I came to the conclusion that La Brea Lake must be the outlet from springs of liquid pitch coming from a depth and bringing to the surface sand and grit and mineral matter so much impregnated that when the mass solidified and hardened it was too readily disintegrated when used for roadmaking on the streets, and that the method of breaking up the mass into small fragments and tamping and pounding it to make a surface was only disintegrating it more.”

Pitch from Venezuela  – With this in mind he heard in the course of his trading, of a spring of liquid pitch in Venezuela.  From this source he obtained a sample and finding that it derived from conditions very similar to those existing in Trinidad, commenced a search on the island and succeeded in discovering a similar spring near Pointe Fortin.   With his five-gallon, Nicol proceeded to carry out an experiment in the yard of his house at Cascade Valley, Port of Spain.  He was neither builder nor road-maker and so his own words have the interest of all primary records of experimental work.

“In the rainy season,” his narrative continued, “this part of the yard was always in a muddy condition.  At the end of the yard was a dry river-bed from which I got stones and tamped them in like macadam with a wooden pole, then with a hard broom.  I painted in the liquid pitch or asphalt.  This made a waterproof binder, but it remained a sticky mass for some time.   It was then I got the idea of small stone chips and not sand, which would only disintegrate it, might be the required medium.   After considerable trouble, I found a jut of rotting rock which I was able to break up easily with a hammer, and this I threw over the mess with an ordinary shovel.  The result surprised me, in that one was able to walk over the experimental part immediately and, in a short time, the surface became like a linoleum which remained permanent.”

Official Recognition.  -  Simple enough in the light of latter-day experience but it should be remembered that this record goes back to nearly forty years ago, well before the tarmacadam industry was thought of.   The results obtained by Nicol soon engaged the attention of Mr. Acton, the then city engineer of Port of Spain, who carried out a first trial on the upper part of Chancery Lane, alongside Knowsley in that city, in consultation with Nicol.   Such was the success of Mr. Acton’s first trial of Nicol’s method that it was immediately used on the Savannah sidewalk, the road round the Savannah, other streets, and Marine Square.

A chief trouble of this period was to obtain the surface covering chips, only meagre quantities of which were produced by penal labour at the Government quarries, but when Mr. Bell the Director of Public Works of Trinidad decided, in 1911, to adopt Nicol’s method in resurfacing of the Eastern Main Road, the introduction of crushing and screening machinery into the island followed.

A City Engineer’s Testimony.  -   Nicol’s interest in roadmaking in relation to his business as a merchant was in the supply of the liquid pitch, but the authorities in Trinidad never questioned the superiority of Nicol’s methods of binding macadam.    In proof of this and of the correctness of the statements made in this sketch of the genesis of a great industry there is a letter from the city engineer of Port of Spain.  This document states that the saving in road maintenance resulting from the early applications of Nicol’s discovery in Trinidad amounted to a figure from 75 to 80 per cent below the costs under the methods formerly employed, and we believe it is probable that Port of Spain was the first public authority to use macadam surfacing bound in the modern manner on anything like the same scale.   It is well known that asphaltmacadam and tarmacadam are now an orthodox feature of road construction, and their application has been the means of encouraging the use and development of motor traffic throughout the world.

Road engineers will, therefore, welcome this record of early experiment and will join in congratulating the Scotsman whose enterprise and resource assisted to create a process which while facilitating transport, has relieved the inhabitants of towns and cities of the dust nuisance which prevailed when the internal-combustion-engined vehicle was first put on to the roads.


April 1943.  -  BANFF AIRFIELD OPENS.   Airfield at Boyndie opened by 17 Group, Coastal Command and named Banff Airfield.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, Sept 21st 1943: -

TRIPLETS FOR PORTSOY COUPLE  – Portsoy is not to be behind in the matter of addition to the population.   There were born in Chalmers Hospital, Banff, last week (16th. Sept) the first triplets of the town to Mrs. James Sutherland, Culbert Rig, Portsoy, whose husband is a sergeant in the Pioneer Corps.  The children, two girls and a boy, are making good progress.   The grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. William Sutherland, Park Road, Portsoy, who have been receiving congratulations all round.

Note: – The children were named Brian, Helen and Mary.


October 13th. 1943: -

AIRCRAFT CRASH.    A number of bodies from a crashed seaplane were taken ashore at Portsoy by Henry and Joel McDonald in their small fishing vessel “White Wings” and removed to the airfield at RAF Banff.   The airmen were from a Sunderland seaplane of 4(C) OTU Alness, which crashed in the sea 4 miles off Portsoy at 2100 hours on October 12th.   All 15 crew missing or drowned.




January 1953 – GREAT STORM


Monday, August 14th. 1961

ROYAL VISIT -Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth made a brief stop at Portsoy and met some members of the community.


Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, July 21st 1970:

£132,000 “HAVEN” OPENS AT PORTSOY – Banff County Council’s new £132,000 eventide home at Durn Road, Portsoy, was officially opened last Tuesday (14th. July) by Mrs. T.R. Gordon-Duff, Drummuir Castle, Keith.    (extract from a much larger report)


1970  – Administrations of Burghs of Aberchirder, Portsoy, Cullen and Portknockie amalgamated.


The Scotsman, Friday 31st. December 1999: -

MELTDOWN FOR FIERY IRON AGE DISPLAY – Scotland’s most bizarre millennium spectacle was abandoned yesterday after a medieval siege engine, being used to help symbolise the end of the Iron Age, was damaged beyond repair during a test.  It was a devastating end to three years of planning by a leading American artist, a group of Scottish sculptors and the people of the fishing town of Portsoy.

Thousands of people had been expecting to flock to the town tonight to join in Portsoy’s Hogmanay celebrations as the giant catapult was used to throw 400 lb of molten metal into the North Sea to symbolise the end of the Iron Age and the dawn of a new era for mankind.  But the project, which has cost an estimated £10,000, had to be called off after the huge arm of the trebuchet snapped in two while being tested for the spectacle, wrecking the base of the structure.

The artist behind the project, Professor George Beasley, one of America’s foremost performance artists, was said to be inconsolable.  The event’s organiser, the Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden, Aberdeenshire, is planning simply to tip some of the molten metal into the sea before midnight as a token gesture.  Professor Beasley the head of sculpture at the School of Art and Design at Georgia State University began planning the event three years ago, enlisting the help of the artists at the sculpture workshops.  It took almost two months to build the replica of the trebuchet which was sited at Dounie Point, the small headland overlooking Portsoy harbour.

The plan was to smelt 400 lb. of iron on Hogmanay in a wood and stone furnace at the site. The molten metal, at a temperature of 2,800F. would then be transferred to the throwing arm of the siege engine, via a timber-formed trough, before being launched into the North Sea below.  But the siege engine fell apart during a test on Wednesday.

Chris. Freemantle the manager of the sculpture workshops, said: “Everyone involved in the project is completely devastated. It’s like a funeral around here.  But we will go ahead and smelt the iron on site and it will be simply tipped into the sea, rather than hurled in.  It won’t be the spectacle that was hoped for and it is no longer something we would be recommending everyone to see as the unmissable event it would have been.”   He explained: “While we sought expert advice on building the trebuchet, it’s not something where all the tolerances are understood completely.  We tested it for the first time yesterday with the weight box loaded, but without a load on the other end of the arm, and unfortunately the machine couldn’t stand the stress of the three-ton weight without a counterweight at the other end.  The arm came away from the grips on either side of the pivot, broke in two and came down on the base structure, breaking it in a number of places.  The weight box is now sitting in a gully below the site.”

Mr. Freemantle admitted: “Unfortunately, it was only after the event we realised we had made a mistake.  If the catapult, had had a load to throw, it would not have broken.”

It was he said impossible to rebuild the machine in the time available.  Mr Freemantle added: “The main thing is that nobody was standing anywhere near the trebuchet and nobody had been hurt.  But we are obviously very disappointed for the people of Portsoy.  We are all gutted.  It really would have been quite a spectacle.”

Stanley Wood the secretary of the Portsoy Millennium Committee, said the town’s other Hogmanay celebrations, including a fireworks display and the burning of a replica Viking longship, would go ahead as planned and the site would remain a focal point for the celebration.


The Banffshire Journal, Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Exiled Photos Come Home

Among the items likely to attract most interest at the Salmon House Exhibition is a lost hoard of photos of the town, all taken at the turn of the century.  They recently returned from Canada where they had been in the possession of a lady who left Portsoy in the 1920’s, and this is the first time they have been on public display.

Salmon House trustee Sinclair Broomfield explained the story of the family’s photographs to the “Journal”.   They were taken by Mr. Broomfield’s grandfather, Portsoy man Alexander Anderson, a commercial photographer who lived in Roseacre Street.  The bulk of the photographs in the collection were taken in and around Portsoy between the 1890s and the early 1900s.

When Anderson’s daughter, Elna, emigrated to Vancouver in the 1920’s she took around 70-80 pictures with her. A few years ago, a visit to Vancouver by Sinclair’s sister, Elna Angus, and cousin Aileen Burnett, prompted Alexander Anderson’s grand-daughters to give them the photographs to take home to Portsoy.  “They include local scenes, characters and family members,” explains Mr. Broomfield. “It is just the kind of stuff which could eventually be held in the Salmon House, as a social history of the town.  They were passed to me and put onto disk by local man Roddy Drummond.”

“A number of them are being blown up and will be on the display boards” he promised.

Alexander Anderson, supplied a number of photographs to Calder, the Portsoy printer who published postcards of the area.


(Book 1.11/General History1880-2000

4 Responses to fp-1.11 History 1880 to 2000

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