IT’S official! The Stonehaven Folk Festival Ceilidh Band is a Guinness World Record Holder.
It took months of planning to meet the stringent requirements for last year’s attempt to set a new record for the world’s largest ceilidh band. Forms had to be filled and strict evidence protocols followed. Stewards, counters, dancers, video photographers and even Aberdeenshire’s Lord Provost were needed to ensure the event met the challenge.
Nerves were taut as the July attempt date approached. Guinness World Records require a minimum of 250 participants for any mass participation record to be set.
Liz Johnstone was so determined to recruit, that no musician was safe.
“I would accost people anywhere,” she said.
“I was standing in a queue in Glasgow and spotted a woman carrying a violin case, so I asked her if she could play. It turned out she was a member of the National Fiddle Orchestra.”
Meanwhile Scottish Culture and Tradition tutor Sandy Tweddle, who was musical director on the day, was teaching all his pupils the tunes for the ceilidh dance sets.
There was the usual last minute panic. T-shirts had been ordered both to identify the musicians and, cunningly, had music printed on the back to help the rows of players. But they did not arrive until literally minutes before the non-stop procession of tin whistles, guitars, bodhrans, banjos and fiddles appeared at the Mackie Academy school hall.
Jubilation at a faultless performance by the 288-strong band was followed by
frustration over the following months: new records are not declared without rigorous vetting of the evidence provided.
Meg Findlay said: “You can imagine how I felt when they came back and said they needed a list of names and instruments of all the participants.”
So it is with absolute triumph that the committee of Stonehaven Folk Festival now declare themselves ‘officially amazing’. And they have the certificate to prove it.
CAPTION: MUSIC to their ears. The delighted ceilidh band organisers celebrate hearing they have set a new world record.
Stonehaven’s Bay Walk sculptures are an interesting addition to the very pleasant seaside walk that can be enjoyed from one end of the bay to the other, at any time of the year. The majority are the work of a local man who prefers to keep a low profile. None of the sculptures that he has produced have any signature or logo which would identify them as his work, although the more recent group of boats and the lighthouse all have a very similar style to the ‘crew’ that work in them. All of the sculptures are made of stainless steel which will weather in the salty air but not rust.
The first of the sculptures appeared on the 6th of May 2006 and was an open metal framework showing a salmon on rocks standing 60cm high.
The next was a Cormorant with a salmon in its beak. This one went up in May 2007 and again was an open framework sculpture.
2008 had two sculptures erected, both open framework constructions. One was a Sea Eagle with a salmon in its claws (it has since flown away to a new home). The other was the seal with a fish’s skeleton in its belly. This one is now in the picnic area beside the beach pavilion.
All of the sculptures up to this point had been created in response to events in the sculptor’s life.
A stainless steel plant appeared on the rocks in May 2010. It was produced in response to the UK general election that was being held that year. It showed the national flowers of the four countries in the United Kingdom.
May 2011 was when the first boat sculpture appeared. It was the trawler with nets and a fish ‘crew’ on board. The detail in the superstructure and on-board equipment makes the sculpture very interesting to look over. During a bad storm this creation was torn off its mounting and washed up beside the wooden foot-bridge. It was repaired and remounted with a ‘lookout’ for any more bad weather in the shape of a hammerhead shark with binoculars!
After a break of 2 years it was 2014 when a Dolphin was produced for the Outdoor Swimming Pool.
The small Seine Netter boat was next to be installed on the 18th of June 2015. Again there is an amazing amount of detail on the vessel with lots of visual humour involved, Hammerhead is reading his paper in the hold! The boat is called the James & Seth after the sculptors’ grandsons.
The second last day of 2016 saw the light shine from the lighthouse as it was installed complete with ‘crew’ in their quarters reading the papers and watching TV.
A year later the Viking boat was launched – 28th December 2017. Hammerhead with his battle-axe appears again in the bows along with Skate or Ray. The ‘crew’ in this case are fish and seahorses.
The Rose was launched on the 19th of December 2018. The ‘crew’ in this boat are Seth the crab and James the lobster. The catch in the boxes is human skeletons.
Despite the recent attention from the media the Sculptor wants to keep his profile low and just enjoy doing what he likes most – creating the wonderful sculptures.
PLANS passed today for 91 affordable homes in Ury Estate, were branded as ‘Carmageddon’ – by a councillor unhappy at the layout and design of the development.
The original planning permissions for both the restoration of Ury House and the building of a golf course on the estate were enabling permissions i.e. they came with permission for a total of 320 homes to finance the projects. This included the requirement for 82 affordable homes.
Today, the Infrastructure Services Committee considered plans for 33 houses and 58 flats, in two phases, in what is called Mackie Village.
The proposals were a resubmission of a previous application withdrawn by Ury Estates due to technical issues. The new proposals had to address constraints including the nearby pipeline, impact on the River Cowie, nearby ancient woodland, a former landfill and quarry.
But not all the members were happy with the developers’ efforts. Councillor Wendy Agnew said she feared the buildings were not sympathetic with Ury House. And Cllr Paul Johnston branded the whole development ‘Carmaggedon’ and ‘a monument to the motor vehicle’, as the homes would all look onto a car park, and were adjacent to both the proposed supermarket car park and the A90.
Cllr Johnston, the member for Mid Formartine, called for the plans to be refused and was seconded by Mrs Agnew. But the application was passed by 11 votes to three.
I thought you may be interested to hear of a recent Stonehaven adventure. You will be aware that the Stonehaven area is the homeland of Robert Burns’ father, William, who was born in the Mearns in 1721. He moved to Edinburgh in 1748 and latterly on to Ayrshire where he married Agnes Bourne who gave birth to the poet Robert on the 25th January 1759. We do also have an active Club here: Stonehaven (Fatherland) Burns club. Anyway, my wife was sure the town had two statues of Robert Burns and we went to track down the ‘other’.
Even as we found it, tucked away in the corner of a front garden, we bumped into the householder, Lesley Hampton. She spoke of her home and its family connection, the bust in her garden of Robert Burns, and the gargoyles on her house.
Lesley’s home was built in 1901 by her great great uncle, Robert Taylor, a monumental mason, who was known locally as ‘Ghostie Bob’. As he had a passion for Burns, he adorned the gable ends of his home with heads, gargoyle style, of Tam O’Shanter and Souter Johnnie – as well as sculpting the bust of the Bard for his garden.
Lesley told us the Robbie Burns bust along in the Burns Memorial Garden is in fact a copy of the one in her garden. It was commissioned by an American tourist, who had spotted and admired the original. He never returned to collect it though and the stone mason was unpaid.
Undaunted, Ghostie Bob, who was a leading light in The Burns Fatherland Society, gifted his unpaid-for work to the town. The Burns Memorial garden is at the foot of Belmont Brae (next to Kwik Fit).
WHO would have thought our boys in blue would become on-line media hits?
At today’s meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee councillors were hearing from Chief Inspector Stewart Drummond, who was discussing driving safety – and the number of people looking to Facebook for road updates and advice.
He said such was the success of Police Scotland North East Division’s Facebook page that it has a greater number of followers than the Press and Journal.
Never one to report fake news, The Bellman – who is a bit of an old duffer and new to Facebook – has verified this claim. The Press and Journal has 65,921 followers while the stream of comment and reports from the North East Division has 91,167.
Have a look. You ‘donut’ have to be Sherlock Holmes to spot good information coupled with a great sense of humour.
CHANGES in technology have brought changes in the nature of crime – councillors heard today at the meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee.
While recorded crime figures were down in six out of nine areas, Chief Inspector Stewart Drummond said one category on the increase was crimes of indecency. There were 14 such crimes reported between April and September 2018.
But these are not rapes or sexual assaults, he said. Instead, what is being recorded is an increase in crimes using technology, ie the taking and sharing of images.
Chief Inspector Drummond said young people now had better awareness and confidence in coming forward to the police.
He added, ‘They will get the advice and support they need.’
And, later in the meeting, in reply to a question from Councillor George Carr, Chief Inspector Drummond said drugs were now being supplied online, via a ‘dark web’. He said this was an issue that was very hard to combat.
Event to Coincide with Opening of New Swimming Pool
How County Town’s Playground Has Grown
First posted December 21, 1933
The jubilee of Stonehaven’s Recreation Grounds falls next year, and the opening of the new swimming pool will add to the interest in the event. The growth of the Recreation Grounds during the past fifty years is traced in this article.
It is particularly appropriate that the inauguration of Stonehaven’s latest development in open-air recreation – the new swimming pool – should come in the jubilee year of the County Town’s Recreation Grounds.
Since ever Stonehaven became known as a seaside summer resort these grounds have been in the first rank of her amenities, and they still hold that place to-day. Never has their attraction been more appreciated as a magnet for visitors than in 1933.
Fifty years of progress, backed by courage, foresight and enterprise – that is their story. Few of the younger people who spring with light steps across the tennis courts, wrestle with the intricacies of the pitching and putting course, or join their elders on the bowling greens realise what an interesting story this playground represents.Picture this spot as it was in the seventies of last century. The River Cowie made its way to the sea, as to-day, but on its north bank just before it entered the sea were a farm steading approached by a rough road from the beach, and a salmon pond.
In going back to the beginnings of the Recreation Grounds we must remember, first of all, that at the time this part of Stonehaven did not come under the jurisdiction of a burgh council. The New Town had sprung up as an off-shoot of the older part of the town lying to the south of the River Carron; but its expansion was rapid and steady, and the inhabitants soon began to think about some organised means of protecting their interests and promoting communal welfare in this new colony which was to become the Stonehaven of to-day.
They were shrewd, far-seeing men
At a public meeting in June 1856, an association of feuars and householders in the New Town was formed, and one of the first functions of this body was to set about improving the amenities of the town. They were shrewd, far-seeing men at the head of affairs in these days, and to them a debt of gratitude is owed by Stonehaven and by all who enjoy her charms year by year. About 1882, a piece of ground on the north bank of the River Cowie was secured from Sir Alexander Baird of Ury for the formation of a tennis court and bowling green and croquet greens. In 1884, the grounds were formally opened by William Disney Innes, Esq., of Cowie.
The bowling green – now the lower green – was then much smaller than it is now – accommodating only four rinks. Its extension to the present size was carried out with a sum of £70, raised by voluntary subscription among the bowlers and their friends.
The salmon ponds were gradually filled in, and with their disappearance the grounds expanded and tennis courts were added.
The first full season’s drawings from the grounds amounted to £77, and to give some idea of the immense strides which have been made one need only mention that the record touched a few years ago was well over £1000.
A notable citizen who took a leading part in this pioneer work was Mr A. Kinnear, who was chairman of the Grounds Committee for the first 23 years of its existence. He was followed by Mr James Mowat, who was chairman for 17 years.
A new phase of Recreation Grounds management began in 1893, when Stonehaven was formed into a Police Burgh, and the Feuars’ Association was superseded by the Town Council. But the Grounds were not simply handed over to the care of the new municipal body. With the approval of the Town Council, application was made to Parliament, and in due course the Stonehaven Provisional Order brought into being the body of trustees as it remains to-day. It provided for the annual election of nine trustees – three by the Town Council, and six by the subscribers to the grounds for the full period of the preceding year. The first election took place in 1903, when the trustees appointed were: – Messrs A. W. Kinnear, Robert Falconer, James Mowat, D. C. Booth, Charles George, James Ogg, George Sorrie, D. Clerk, and Dr W. A. MacNaughton.
Under the new regime rapid progress was made in the development of the Grounds. The pace of life was increasing and with it the pace of tennis. The demand for hard courts was met by the laying down of what are now the three front courts.
The three principal courts were supplemented by six others to the seaward side of the Grounds, and the circumstances in which these courts were lost is a typical example of the way in which those concerned with the Recreation Grounds have always acted with a sense of the deepest concern for their best interests of the town. Making stride after stride along the path of progress, the trustees planned a second bowling green, and contemplated placing it between the first green and the sea. But just at this time the sea, against which Stonehaven waged continual warfare, destroyed the promenade, and, far from extending their bowling greens in this direction, the trustees were asked by the Council to give up some of the ground occupied by the tennis courts , so that it might be used for making a new promenade. Not only did the trustees agree to this, but they gave up the six hard courts without receiving a penny of compensation, or even a reduction of rent.
Meanwhile, however, a great improvement had been carried out at the opposite side of the grounds by the erection of a new pailion, at a cost of £500. It was opened in 1909.
In spite of generous donations for such schemes as this, the trustees did not have their financial troubles to seek. In 1910 the debt on the Grounds was nearly £300, but they faced the situation with courage and determination, and gradually the debt was reduced.
The grounds had now definitely come to the fore as one of Stonehaven’s greatest assets, and no opportunity was lost in widening their scope and appeal. The secret of their successful management all along has been that the trustees never shrank from expenditure on a generous scale, if such was necessary to keep the Grounds up to date as a first-class attraction to the town. A private water supply was laid out in 1912, at a cost of about £200, and it was about this time that the desirability for a second bowling green began to be discussed.
The curtailment of further development on the seaward side of the grounds, in the circumstances already mentioned, turned the trustees’ attention to the possibility of expansion in another direction. You will notice a distinct ridge running from the pavilion directly eastward to the beach. Up till this time this had been the track of a road leading to the beach, and the grounds had so far been confined to that part between this road and the River Cowie.
In 1913, however, the trustees acquired four acres to the north of the road. The road itself disappeared, and in its stead there were made what is still known as the ‘New Road’ – the only means of access to the beach for vehicular traffic – at the northern extremity of the extended grounds, and the footpath along the north bank of the river.
In a short time the rumble of cart wheels along the old farm road had been replaced by the smooth, silent run of the ‘woods’ on Stonehaven’s second bowling green. Financial difficulties were again encountered, however, before this came about, but once again these were overcome by a splendid ‘rally-round’ on the part of Stonehaven people. Before the contract for the turf for the green was placed, an appeal was issued to all bowlers for financial assistance. The result was that 23 men came forward offering between them sums totalling £250, free of interest for five years.
It is well-known that the County Town’s two bowling greens are among the best in the North-East of Scotland, and the way in which they stood up to the devastating drought of 1933 was one more proof of their superiority.
At this stage no definite plans have been made for the anniversary celebrations, but the jubilee cannot be allowed to pass without being appropriately marked. The suggestion that the trustees should co-operate with the Town Council and organise something special in conjunction with the opening of the new swimming pool seems to be a happy one. But whatever form the celebrations may take, 1934 will certainly be a big year for Stonehaven’s Recreation Grounds.
This article appeared in a ‘special number’ of the Mearns Leader and Kincardineshire Mail.
If you use the agenda links, you can skip to the car park discussion – it’s item 6 on the agenda. Stonehaven Business Association petitioned against the move. If you use the time line you can hear their representative Ian Philip raise their concerns at 53 minutes.
The matter will now be passed to the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee for final ratification.
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