Jun 112015
Killiecrankie (2)

Alan Larsen as one of Bonny Dundee’s Cavalry with a captured French Standard from the Battle of Waterloo.

With thanks to James Rattray.

What does the 1689 Battle of Killiecrankie have in common with the 1815 Battle of Waterloo? The two battles set 120 years apart have one thing in common in the 2015 commemorations and that is New Zealander called Alan Larsen.

Alan Larsen grew up in New Zealand, at a very early age he discovered he had a passion for history.

At the age of 13 years old, when all his friends wanted to ride motor bikes, he decided he needed to learn to ride a horse. Being from Invercargill farming stock, his Aunty Isobel McIntyre provided him with his first horse.

At the age of 17 years he was in communications with Brigadier Peter Young, the founder of the Sealed Knot, the UK‘s oldest re-enactment society, formed in 1968. Alan says:

“Brigadier Peter Young said, come to England and join my Life Guard of Horse. So I did just that. I started my re-enacting journey in 1977.”

His passion for his hobby has led to an unusual career path, Cavalry consultant, advisor to English Heritage, historical event manager, the partial recreation of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the list goes on.

At this year’s June 15th Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, ‘the most impressive reconstructions ever seen in Europe, with 5,000 re-enactors, 300 horses and 100 canons.’ Alan Larsen plays the Duke of Wellington.

Five weeks later at the Soldiers of Killiecrankie on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th July, Alan is one of Bonnie Dundee’s Gentlemen of Horse or cavalry.

James Rattray Chairman of Soldiers of Killiecrankie said:

“Alan Larsen was instrumental in starting the Soldiers of Killiecrankie, his enthusiasm is infectious. He said he would bring Bonnie Dundee’s cavalry back. So with the support of the Killiecrankie Battlefield owners and local farmer, last July we organised our first large event.” 

He continued:

“We had lots of really good feedback and non-more so than from the re-enacting world, word went out that Killiecrankie is a great event to take part in. This year we are anticipating even larger numbers of re-enactors, with a contingent travelling from Ireland who are going to tell us why the Irish were at the 1689 Battle.”

The Soldiers of Killiecrankie weekend has cavalry and infantry displays, battlefield tours, a living history camp that gives a unique glimpse behind the scenes of the daily life of the government troops as they wait to go into battle, showing the way in which lives are lived, how the weapons are maintained, the mealtimes, the care of the wounded, the making of musket balls.

There are also ‘period sensitive’ events from traditional storytelling, waulking cloth, dressing up for the whole family in traditional highland clothing for men, women and children, stalls, food, traditional crafts and other activities from targe and sword making for the youngsters, archery, golf, basket weaving, Battlefield Horse stunts, Executions through the Ages, and a popular Saturday night Battlefield Ceilidh.

Soldiers of Killiecrankie is on the Saturday and Sunday 25th and 26th July 2015, 11am to 5pm. Entry is £6 adult, £5 Concessions, £3 children under 16 years, family of four £16 and free car parking.

For further information – www.SoldiersOfKilliecrankie.co.uk
or contact: – James Rattray james@explorescotland.net or 01796 473335.

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Jun 052015

With thanks to Rhonda Reekie.

Strathcona House Facebook

“A little like Hogwarts” – Under revised plans, Strathcona will now be demolished.

Strathcona House is the large, red sandstone building sited on the A96 just before the airport roundabout. Recent plans to relocate the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre will see the demolition of the Rowett Institute site at Bucksburn. We were led to believe that Strathcona House would be spared and integrated in to the plans thus leaving us with some history intact, but under the revised plan this is not the case and the building will now be demolished.

The Rowett Institute has a proud history dating back over 90 years the legacy of this history such as devising food rationing in WWII and producing several Nobel prize winners.

No doubt many folks have passed by Strathcona House, some may have even been inside and admired its grand stairwell, 100ft oak clad hall and six large stained glass windows. Folk describe it as ‘a little like Hogwarts’.

The House was built in 1930 as a centre for visiting scientists from the commonwealth and as a dining room for staff. In the war years it was used as a base for serving RAF personnel stationed at Dyce airport. Latterly it is still used as a canteen for Rowett staff but is much appreciated as a function hall, for local pipe band practice and even the sees the odd wedding.

It would be a tragedy to lose such an iconic building and an important piece of our local history forever. With a bit of foresight and imagination Strathcona could provide a wonderful venue for all sorts of events and be the real ‘jewel in the crown’ of any development.

The new plans now require the house it to be flattened to make way for a service yard for the AECC!

If you would like to help persuade the council that this may not be the best course of action please join us on Facebook.

View photos here.

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Jun 052015

GrampianTransportMuseumImage1With thanks to Martyn Smith.

The Grampian Transport Museum in Alford is looking for surviving examples from the Scottish Motor Industry to take part in a one off event which is taking place in July.

Vehicles produced, designed or with major components manufactured in Scotland will be eligible to enter Made in Scotland – an event which will bring alive an exhibition of the same name in the museum building.

Made in Scotland tells the fascinating story of the Scottish motor industry.

Having had a great start with the famous 3 A’s (Albion, Argyll and Arrol-Johnston) the industry was once considered the envy of the motoring world, in fact Argyll’s factory in Alexandria was often referred to as ‘Palatial’. Sadly the fortunes of the three manufacturers took a turn for the worse in the depression years between the first and second world wars.

There was a brief revival in the 1960s thanks to the volume production of the Hillman Imp at the Rootes plant at Linwood, Paisley. It is anticipated that the largest number of preserved vehicles at Made in Scotland will be Imps, or their derivatives.

One of these will be a 1973 Davrian Imp racing car, owned by Dave Cooper from Midhurst in West Sussex. Dave plans to drive up for the event and will also be giving a talk to the museum’s Young Engineers club and advising them on how best to restore the museums own 1965 Hillman Imp.

It is also hoped that commercial and specialist vehicles, for which Scotland is well known, will be in attendance in large numbers.

Pride of the museums collection is a Glasgow built 1914 Sentinel Steam Waggon – the oldest fully operational example remaining – which will play a key role in the event, offering museum visitors a rare chance to ride onboard this venerable veteran! The Sentinel will also demonstrate the difference between steam and motor lorries of its era, with the results likely to surprise a few onlookers!

Mike Ward, museum curator, explains the rationale behind the event.

“Grampian Transport Museum pursues a policy of ‘ringing the changes’ with seasonal exhibits, in order to constantly engage with its catchment audience. We often take the opportunity to bring exhibits to life by building an event around the same subject.

“One of the main themes this season only is Made in Scotland which looks at the fascinating story of the Scottish motor industry and this new event echoes the indoor exhibition. It gives us the chance to show these amazing vehicles on our specially developed site.“

There is no vehicle entry fee for Made in Scotland, however entrants will receive complimentary museum admission and 2 vouchers for a special entrants BBQ. Entry forms for Made in Scotland can be downloaded from the museums website – www.gtm.org.uk/whatson

Made in Scotland.
Grampian Transport Museum
Sunday 19th July 2015 from 12noon – 4pm

May 292015
Alison Burke stands before ‘Gallowgate Lard’ by Ken Currie

Alison Burke stands before ‘Gallowgate Lard’ by Ken Currie

With thanks to Esther Green.

As ancient buildings with intriguing pasts, castles have a reputation for being places where things go bump in the night and that raise unexpected goosebumps.
Visitors to Drum Castle at Drumoak could be forgiven for thinking they are coming face to face with a ghoulish spectre after an art display has brought a ghost-like presence to the historic venue.

The haunting image ‘Gallowgate Lard’ by Ken Currie is one of the significant pieces in the Aberdeenshire castle’s exhibition of key works on loan from Aberdeen Art Gallery, now closed for a £30m refurbishment.

It is one of 20 artworks loaned from the city gallery that form the opening display at the castle’s new exhibition area, which has seen an entire floor redeveloped to create a museum-standard exhibition space showcasing important artworks now and in years to come.

‘Human Presence’ explores how artists capture a human figurative presence where the approach may be aesthetic, witty, playful or sinister and brings mid to late 20th Century paintings and contemporary installation works to the historic setting.

Property manager Alison Burke says that artworks like ‘Gallowgate Lard’ look stunning in the castle environment.

She says:

“Drum is very much the people’s castle, and I don’t like to think of the castle as haunted as I work here in the evenings but there are sometimes some unexplained occurrences.

“Things like ladies’ laughter in the garden when there is no one there, servants’ bells suddenly ringing when there is no one upstairs, the temperature suddenly dropping in the green closet for no reason, but the oddest one was when I came in and found all the tankards had been swapped around on the dining room mantelpiece and categorically no one had been in the Castle from when I had closed it the night before.

“I am not a superstitious person and always look for the reasonable explanation, but that had me completely flummoxed!

“The nicest mysterious happening at Drum though, is when the fairy doors appeared all over the estate, and we think we caught a fairy on camera; a mysterious mist was photographed on our swallow-cam.

“Now that we have opened up the upper floor, we are curious to see if there are mysterious happenings up there as well!”

Drum Castle dates back to the 1300s and was the seat of the Irvines, a clan who supported the Stuarts during the Jacobite uprisings.

It became part of the National Trust for Scotland in 1975 and transforming the second floor manager’s accommodation into the gallery has opened up an area of the castle previously unseen by the public.

Other works on show include ‘Highly Sprung’ by Julia Douglas, a dress made from 12,000 clothes peg springs, and ‘Restraining Coat II (Female)’ by Julie Roberts, a painting which implies a human presence with no body in it.

Located 10 miles west of Aberdeen off the A93, Drum is set in extensive grounds with walks, picnic area, an historic rose garden, adventure play area, tearoom and shop. Normal castle admission charges apply.

More Info:

Drum Castle, Garden and Estate is owned and operated by the National Trust for Scotland and is one of more than 100 properties which the conservation charity promotes and conserves, for the benefit of the nation.

The building is part Jacobean mansion, with a 700 year old medieval tower attached. The castle has long connections with the Irvine family who maintain close links with the property and live nearby. It has a fine collection of art, music and provides a fascinating insight into the life of one of Aberdeenshire’s most historic families, their staff and a way of life which is now almost extinct. Drum also has extensive gardens, including a famous rose garden, woodland and walks.

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Feb 122015

A new event, celebrating the ‘not quite classics’ of the motoring world, will take place at the Grampian Transport Museum on Sunday 24th May. With thanks to Martyn Smith.

GrampianTransportMuseumImage1‘How Many Left?’ is open to any mass-produced car from the 1960s onwards, which has less than 500 licensed examples left.

The criteria relate to any given vehicle model – taking, for example, the humble Austin Allegro.
The 1100DL model had around 3,000 examples on the roads as recently as 1994, today however that number has reduced considerably to just 18!

Vehicle owners can check eligibility of their pride and joy online, using the How Many Left website, www.howmanyleft.co.uk.

The website is an independently run database and search engine of vehicle statistics, created by web developer Olly Smith, and provides information on cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles registered with the DVLA.

How Many Left? will feature static displays, allowing owners to display these forgotten gems for the public to see. There will also be a number of track based activities taking place, including parades and demonstrations, auto tests and the ever popular public passenger rides. Prizes will be awarded on the day to the rarest vehicles on show, taking initial production numbers into account.

Museum curator, Mike Ward, is looking forward to the May event.

“Some cars are considered rare because few were produced initially. These may be technically and socially interesting but affect few people’s lives. Others are rare because they were expensive and aimed at a small elite market. These too did not affect many people’s lives. Genuinely rare are those cars that were made for every day use in large numbers but few have been saved or preserved.

“These affected many people’s lives. ‘How Many Left’ will consider the rarity of cars using a special formula that compares the production run with how many there are left and we will award prizes accordingly. This way we can recognised the role fondly (or not so fondly!) remembered popular classics had in peoples lives. It promises to be a really interesting exercise!”

Entry forms for How Many Left? can now be downloaded from the museums website – www.gtm.org.uk. There is no entry charge for vehicles, public admission on the day is £5 for adults with children under 16 and gtm+ members admitted free of charge.

Oct 172014

By Andrew Macgregor.

protestA new website which aims to tell the history of protest in Aberdeen has been launched.
The resource features potted histories of individuals, groups, community spaces and co-operatives which have campaigned on various issues – economic, military, political or religious.

Most of the individuals and groups are from the left of the political spectrum but others have been non-political and protested about specific local issues.

There are groups which are branches of Scottish or British organisations, yet others which are just local to Aberdeen. Lastly, the groups are not just historical as current groups are included as well. The website also has a directory of active local groups, a list of further web and printed resources and information on a current campaign for an Aberdeen Social Centre.

This resource has been created in order that these campaigns are not forgotten. The stories are part of Aberdeen’s history and although individuals and groups may be long gone, their influence still lives on in their writings, speeches and actions. The importance of the documentary record is emphasised as well, as any archival sources created by the campaigns are noted in the histories.

Currently around 40 histories, ranging from the 19th century to current, have been added to the website and just one example is:

“The Aberdeen University Peace Society existed between 1912 and 1914 with the aim of encouraging critical debate on the subject of war and the possible ways it could be prevented. Lectures and discussions included topics such as war and social evolution, international courts and how economic ties could bind nations together. The life and death of the Society’s secretary, William Henry Sutherland, illustrates at once the fate of the Society and the tragedy of war. In March 1913 he had enlisted in the 4th Gordon Highlanders and in October 1917 after many years fighting at the front, he was mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the Military Cross. He tragically fell in action soon after, on the 23rd March 1918.”

– Sources: papers held at University of Aberdeen Library. Minute book from 1912 – 1914 and a journal called ‘Concordia’ from 1913.

There will no doubt be gaps in information as research on this type of subject is very difficult due to the paucity of documentary sources. If it is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to trace the existence of the more radical political groups farther back in time (due to government suppression as just one example) and it can be just as difficult to capture the protest groups of today as they organise via social media and often leave no record.

I hope though that this resource will grow as others (perhaps those who were involved in the campaigns) fill in the gaps in the research.

The website address is – http://aberdeenprotest.wordpress.com/

If you were involved in some of these campaigns or have more information which you think would help me please get in touch. Also if you are interested in helping in the setting up of the social centre please contact Andrew MacGregor

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Aug 292014

They don't like it up em 7 Credit Duncan HarleyBy Duncan Harley.

Venues all around Aberdeen hosted historical events recently as city centre group Aberdeen Inspired wowed onlookers of all ages with recreations of historical events in a signature event entitled Bon Accord to Bayonets.

In Queens Terrace Gardens the First World War was solemnly remembered by the by the war re-creation group  “The Gordon Highlanders” who re-enacted scenes from the Battle of Mons which began on August 23rd 1914 and became the first major action seen by the British Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

Aberdeenshire’s Battle of Harlaw was re-fought by the locally based Medieval Real Re-enactment Group who staged battle scenes complete with period knights in full 15th century armour and with the re-assuringly predicable outcome that, even 700 years on, Aberdeen won the battle yet again but in this case with no serious injuries.

Marischal College quadrangle was the scene of a Mary Queen of Scots performance where the queen and her ladies in waiting met all comers to share the secrets of medieval royal court dress etiquette.

A falconry display at Union Terrace Gardens and a display of juggling for all the family completed the weekend which was well attended by folk from far and wide.

Photo and words by Duncan Harley

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Aug 152014

The Land Rover and Diorama are moving on at the end of August. With thanks to Martyn Smith, Marketing & Events Organiser, Grampian transport Museum.

Train robbery 3aTime is running out for members of the public to catch a glimpse of history at the Grampian Transport Museum.

As part of this year’s Great Train Robbery exhibit, a Series 1 Land Rover and Austin Loadstar truck – two of the actual vehicles used in the raid – have been reunited for what is believed to be the first time since the night of the robbery.

The first serious exhibit of its kind, The Great Train Robbery provides an accurate and balanced insight into the events which took place in the early hours of 8th August 1963.

Still billed as the ‘Crime of the Century’ the temporary exhibition, produced by the British Postal Museum and Archive, is further complimented with evidence from Scotland Yard and private collectors.

To help set the scene an absolutely accurate Son et Lumiere model, showing the Bridego Railway Bridge in Ledburn, arrived at the museum in June having been kindly loaned by the Luton Model Railway Club. However at the end of this month both the scale model and Land Rover will be returning to their respective owners.

Mike Ward, museum curator, explains what having the diorama means for museum visitors:

“The robbery took place in the days before rolling news channels and social media meaning there weren’t any pictures taken at the time of the raid. However the Luton Model Railway Club has done a fantastic job of recreating such a detailed scene from the Police photography taken in hours after the event. Our Great Train Robbery exhibition is a fair and accurate account of the raid and its effects on all those involved. We’ve been very fortunate to have such a powerful and topical exhibition this season.”

The Austin Loadstar truck, along with the British Postal Museum & Archive exhibits, will remain at the museum until the end of the 2014 season.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Jul 312014

Grampian Transport Museum’s Marketing & Events Organiser, Martyn Smith  brings news of upcoming events over the next

Sentinel GTM

The oldest surviving complete and original Sentinel Steam Waggon will once again take to the roads this Sunday to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War.

Built at Polmadie in Glasgow in 1914, the Sentinel will be in attendance at a number of events around Alford, as the community reflects on the outbreak of the war.

A special service will be held at Howe Trinity Church in Alford at 9.30am after which the waggon will make its way to commemorative events, starting at the Alford War memorial at 10.50am, before moving on to Tullynessle & Forbes War memorial at 11.30am and Keig War memorial at 12noon.

A team of volunteers at the popular Alford visitor attraction have been putting the finishing touches to the waggon, to ensure it is ready to take part in such an important engagement. The Sentinel was brand new and a state of the art road haulage vehicle when the First World War broke out. It was actually working through the entire period and forms a great living link with the past.

Interestingly, the wartime austerity measures meant that trips and excursions for children were discontinued. However, the museum’s Sentinel in the hands of Sandy Runcie of Inverurie, a local carrier, began to offer trips to school groups to local picnic spots, like Bennachie, in order to boost morale and lighten the mood.

Speaking of the Sentinel as it approaches its 100th birthday, curator Mike Ward explains:

“The Grampian Transport Museum has numerous photos of the occasions, and in the centenary year intend to recreate some of the outings. The traditions continue as the Sentinel frequently offers rides both at the museum and at local events – it is an extremely sociable Sentinel!

“In fact, we will be marking the Sentinels actual birthday on the 13th August by providing rides around our circuit at our Family Fun Day event”

The summer fun continues in Alford when an interesting array of American cars will take to the circuit at the Grampian Transport Museum on Thursday 7th August for the next ‘rides’ event – American Car Rides.

The day will be a celebration of American motoring with vehicles already confirmed including a 1995 Pontiac Trans AM, a pair of American engined AC Cobras, a 1993 Dodge Ram Charger truck plus a stunning replica of the iconic A-Team van, kindly provided by Celebrity Car Hire of Aberdeen.

This unique event is an ‘added value’ extra and is available to museum visitors as part of the standard admission, which is £9.50 for adults, £7.50 for concessions and two children are admitted FREE with every adult ticket.

Following the American Car Rides event is the annual Lotus Day, which takes place on Sunday 10th August. This gives museum visitors the chance to climb aboard a number of Lotus examples as they take to the museum’s circuit.

A family fun day follows on Wednesday 13th, featuring Balloon Maker, Face Painting, Puppet Show and rides around the circuit on the museum’s fantastic Sentinel Steam Waggon. Again, these events are included in the museum’s standard admission.

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Jul 162014

gtm_classic_vintage_gatheringWith thanks to Martyn Smith.

A wide selection of cars, commercial vehicles and motorcycles will descend on the village of Alford for the annual Classic and Vintage Gathering, this Sunday at the Grampian Transport Museum, from 1pm until 4pm

Visitors will be able to view displays of pre-1990 vehicles, including cars from the likes of Austin, Ferrari, Triumph and MG, as well as a selection of vintage buses and other commercial vehicles.

Anyone interested in entering a pre-1990 vehicle can do so on the day, simply by turning up between 11.30 and 12.45. For just £15 the driver and one guest will get entry to the event, complimentary access to the museum, and light refreshments.

Visitor admission to the event is included in the standard museum admission fee. Adult admission is £9.50, concessions are £7.50 and two children are admitted free with every adult.

Further information on the museum and all its outdoor events is available online at www.gtm.org.uk