Jan 162014

Glenrinnes Dufftown Fountain duncan harleyBy Duncan Harley.

Scotland once had an abundance of roadside fountains. Predating the public water supplies of the Industrial Revolution, they provided drinking water to travellers and as often as not their beasts of burden.

Many roadside wells are sited above natural springs and most are situated where both man and beast would require re-hydration after having toiled up some rural one in five slope or down some twisted and slippery coastal track.

Cairnie near Huntly has one such well.

Situated on a bend of the A96 north of Huntly, it would have been a welcome rest for all who used the road between Inverness and Aberdeen in Victorian times.

Dated 1897 and with a Gothic style fountain complete with a lion mask spout over a stone trough this roadside well is inscribed ‘Victoria diamond jubilee fountain 1897’. Few records remain as to its provenance however its position on a loop of an old General Wade military road may indicate that the present triangular structure replaced an earlier roadside drinking fountain or well.

The Cairnie fountain seems typical of the breed. Similar designs can be found in other locations around the north east of Scotland.

A few miles further north from Cairnie, on the road to Drumuir, is an almost overgrown concrete fountain near the old Mill of Botary.

Dated 1883 and with a with a missing spout over a stone trough this roadside well is inscribed with the lines from Psalm 104.10

He sendeth the springs into the valleys
Of my store take thou freely
And rest thee at need
Then onward true hearted
I bid thee God Speed
But thank Him who sends me
Ere thou leavest my side
That thy water is sure
And thy bread He’ll provide.

James Pirie’s ‘The Parish of Cairnie’ of 1906 describes the structure as being of concrete construction with lines composed by Rev James Wilson M.A. former headmaster of the Central School of Keith.

According to Google however, the author of Psalm 104.10 was none other than the biblical King David of Israel who was known for his diverse skills as both a warrior and a writer of psalms. It is difficult to decide which source to believe.

On the road from Keith to Tomintoul lies perhaps one of the most iconic of all of those triangular concrete roadside fountains.

Glenrinnes War Memorial duncan harleyThe B9009 runs from Keith to Tommintoul and skirts the iconic Ben Rinnes. Some 15 miles from Keith lies the Glenrinnes estate. Apart from a few isolated farms, some fine views of Ben Rinness and occasional red squirrels crossing the highway there is not much to see at the roadside. There is the obligatory war memorial at Glenrinnes of course and a fine one it is indeed!

Many Scottish First War Memorials are in town centres, some are on roadsides but this one sits in the churchyard where, no doubt, the young men whose names are carved on the front would have worshipped of a Sunday.

All would have died in the mud and squalor of some unworthy French or Belgian battlefield and none are buried here at the foot of the mountain which they would have seen each day as they left their front door to work on the farms and crofts of their native Banffshire.

The inscription below the satire reads ‘In memory of the men of Glenrinnes who died in distant and glorious fields’ and there are eighteen names written below.

In these times of fast travel and no time to spare, the eighteen young men of Glenrinnes might be all but forgotten were it not for James Eadie.

James was a brewer who made his fortune in Burton on Trent and Glenrinnes was his Scottish Estate.

He had started off in the tea trade but quickly diversified into supplying malt to brewing houses before moving into the brewing of ale on a previously unheard of industrial scale and thus making his fortune. Born in 1827 he became Deputy Lieutenant of the county of Banffshire in 1900 just a year before the death of Queen Victoria and died in 1904 just 6 years after buying the estate and taking on the title.

Meanwhile of course a war in Europe was brewing. It was not to break out until nine years after James Eadies death of course but one cannot help but feel that the landed classes would have been at least in part aware of the impending slaughter which was soon to decimate the youth of Scotland.

James Eadie was born in Blackford, Perthshire in 1827. He was one of 14 children born to William Eadie and Mary Stewart. His father was owner of a small brew house in Blackford and both parents ran a hotel and livery stable business in the town.

In 1842, James was sent to live with an uncle in Staffordshire where he learned business skills and began supplying malt to brewers in Burton on Trent. In 1864 he established a brewery in Burton. The rest is of course history. The brewery, despite several ups and downs flourished and survives to this day as Bass.

James Eadie became quite rich. As a benefactor of Burton and several other towns, he funded chapels and public buildings including a rather fine commemorative well at the foot of Ben Rinness. In his later years he became a Justice of the Peace and a Depute Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire. He died in 1904 at Glenrinnes House not quite six years after buying Glenrinnes Estate.

The roadside fountain was commissioned in 1902 and built of grey and polished pink granite for the occasion of the coronation of Victoria’s successor, King Edward the Seventh.

Situated some 17 miles from Tomintoul, it is somewhat overgrown today. In fact a pair of shears and some stout nettle proof gloves might be useful should you decide to stop and view.

The inscription on the front reads:

“Erected by James Eadie Esquire of Glenrinnes, DL Banffshire, in Commemoration of the Coronation of their Majesties King Edward the Seventh and Queen Alexandra, 9th August 1902”

The fountain contrasts sharply with that memorial to the eighteen young men of Glenrinnes who left the glen to fight and die for their country all those years ago.

In a way though, both the roadside fountain and the Glenrinnes War Memorial combine to enable the present generation to maintain a sense of history since James Eadie’s drinking fountain sits beside a small lay-by and provides a reason to stop on the journey from Keith to Tomintoul and at least a chance to find the names of those lost men in the churchyard on the opposite side of the highway.

With the 100th anniversary of the 1914-18 war fast approaching and having virtually passed from living memory it may serve us well to stop at such roadside places to reflect for a short while on those distant events.

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Aug 082013

Turriff’s resident population of 5,743 received a welcome boost over the weekend of 4 and 5 August when the 149th annual Turriff Show was held at The Haughs, just outside the town centre. The Turra Show as it is called locally, is one of the highlights of the farming and agricultural year in NE Scotland, and quite rightly so, writes Duncan Harley.

Farming folk from all over the UK descend on the town during the show weekend seeking livestock prizes, farming machinery and, quite frankly, lots of fun. Bargains are struck, tractors and combines are purchased and, just occasionally, wedding matches are made – just as they have been for the last century and a half of the Show’s history.

With a claimed entries total of over 802 horses and ponies plus some 43 goats on the Sunday, over 450 cattle and 580 sheep, including the return of the Bluefaced Leicester Progeny Show sheep, Turra Show is perhaps the biggest show of its kind in Scotland still going strong after 150 years of traditional agricultural shows.

The Open Dog Show on the Sunday, complete with the ever popular rabbit and cavy sections, is now affiliated and upgraded to 2-star official status. Added to this, the poultry show and the popular Companion Dog event on the Monday makes this a completely irresistible event for the non-agricultural breeders and pet fanciers of the area.

The quite exciting sideshows, funfair and extreme catering franchises also make Turra a Mecca for those seeking a weekend of bacchanalian beer and wine-soaked revelry.

With over 249 trade stands, a very well attended food fayre plus the indoor shopping mall to tour around, Turra Show is a family fun-filled affair indeed. The show exhibition hall with its lifestyle theme and the ever popular home cookery demonstrations will, as ever, attract the homemakers.

And why not?

Those seeking extreme fun should head for that Special Forestry Area and the Special Educational Area to entertain and even educate the children amongst us.

The Industrial Marquee at Turra Show is one of the largest in the country with over 1745 home-based craft exhibits and an excellent horticultural show featuring large turnips and a few enormous marrows to salivate over.

The Turriff Show is always a veritable feast and a huge fun weekend for all the family. Each of the two show days has an extensive ringside entertainment programme with many special attractions including in 2013, the awesome Quad and Motorcycle Flying Daredevil Stunt Show by Jason Smythe’s Adrenaline Tour.

Jason comes from a professional racing background in Motocross. He started competing when he was seven, progressing from multiple regional champion to British schoolboy champion, British amateur support class winner before turning pro at eighteen.

In the professional ranks he has competed in all three classes at World Championship, 125cc, 250cc and 500cc and the World Supercross Tour as well as becoming Luxembourg national champion.

At Turriff, Jason thrilled the crowd by powering his quad bike over 31ft in the air above his articulated rig before landing safely, to loud applause.

On Sunday, Turra’s family day featured some exciting Terrier Racing with Cyril the Squirrel, fine sulky-trotting, pony carriage driving and of course the famous Turriff Pipe Band.

The same day’s Showground grand finale was, as always, the Vintage Tractor and Vehicle Parade featuring agricultural vehicles from the past century, including vintage Fergusons and the local Anderson collection of Field Marshall Tractors.

A sight to salivate over indeed!

On Turra Monday the Parade of Champions was, as is fitting, a splendid climax to what must be the finest surviving agricultural show in NE Scotland.

Norman Christie of Woodside Croft, Kinnellar, Aberdeenshire came best of show in the 2012 Turra Show with his Clydesdale Anguston Amber and in this years show Norman’s quite majestic Amber Anguston came show best reserve.

This year’s best of show was Arradoul Ellie May from Buckie owned by Ian Young. The cattle “Aberdeen Angus” section was headed by Idevies Kollar of Ellon and the British Blonde champian was Whistley Dollar entered by former Turra Show chief Eric Mutch. The sheep and goats also won prizes but were unnamed as were the cavies.

Turriff, of course gained international fame almost 100 years ago as the Scottish town which stubbornly resisted Lloyd George’s National Insurance Act and its provisions for medical and unemployment benefits for farm workers and their families.

Both Lloyd George’s Liberal government and the Marxists of the time rallied against the stance of Robert Patterson of Lendrum Farm who, perhaps unwittingly, became both the focus and the willing local hero of this often humorous but politically quite sad affair. That of course is another side of the Turriff of years gone by.

The anniversary of the Turra Coo is fast approaching though, but that’s another story.

Further Reading.

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