Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Anstruther exhibition honours fishermen killed in the First World War

submarine

World War I was not confined to the more well known venue of The Front, but also extended into the sea, with German submarines deployed in order to disrupt supplies – fishermen working off the coast were potential targets:

A new exhibition has been launched to honour the fishermen who died in service during the First World War.

Anstruther was one of the fishing communities affected when war broke out, as fishermen were called to fight.

Many men from Scotland’s fishing industry went to fight in the conflict, and fishing regions were highly affected by the injuries and casualties they suffered.

David Christie from Anstruther sank a German U-boat in 1918. His granddaughter Davina Knox has the casing of the shell and his medal.

She said: “They were on a drifter patrolling the Irish Channel and they only had one gun on board the ship and this U-boat must have come up and they had a wee battle seemingly and they fired a direct hit and they took the 36 men prisoner. There was no loss of life.”

David Christie’s story features in a new exhibition at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in the town.

via Anstruther exhibition honours fishermen killed in the First World War | Dundee & Tayside | News.

The First World War had both personal and collective impacts on those involved, whether they were away fighting or at home.  In this exhibition we explore the specific effects that the war had on those who made their living from the sea.  Using objects from our collections and individual stories of those affected we paint a national picture of the war in Scotland’s coastal communities.

At the beginning of the war many fishermen entered the services and swapped the familiar hazards of life at sea for the dangers of the trenches or naval work.  For those who stayed at home fishing became severely restricted.  Fishermen were left with very small areas left to fish in and many boats were requisitioned for the Navy.

Exhibition Dates:

28th June – 26th October

Entry : included in museum admission, accompanied children FREE

A Shared Experience · What’s on · Scottish Fisheries Museum

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, Transport, World War I | , | Leave a comment

Britain From Above – Scotland’s Industrial Might at The Lighthouse 14 Feb – 27 Apr 2014

I only came across this exhibition a few days ago (but doubt I’ll be in Glasgow before it ends), and there’s still time to catch it at The Lighthouse in Glasgow’s Mitchell Lane, as it runs from 14 February to 27 April, 2014.

Drawing on many rare and previously unseen aerial images, this exhibition traces the histories of factories, shipyards, mills, ironworks and their surrounding communities over three decades, from 1919 to 1953. Industries are shown operating at peak and also in decline, as the ‘bird’s eye view’ tracks the impact of social, political and economic change on the urban fabric of Scotland, from the Great Depression to reconstruction in the aftermath of the Second World War. While many buildings are now gone, they live on in the memories of workers and their families – the economic powerhouse of the past is the heritage of today.

Via The Lighthouse – Glasgow : Visit : Exhibitions : Britain From Above – Scotland’s Industrial Might

There a bit of a coincidence with this, as I recently found a little shop selling assorted bric-à-brac (ok, junk) and other items, probably collected from house clearances and similar.

First time I passed, I noticed a dish full of mounted (but not framed) B&W pics of Glasgow. They looked to be largely industrial, but I didn’t have time to take a closer look.

Next time I was there, they had migrated to the wall, and I could see they originated from a well-known Scottish archive. I even recognised some of them, and knew where to download them (for personal use, of course.)

I thought they were just a single collection, but while discussing them, learned they were £2 each, or could be bought in sets for a reduced amount – and I didn’t ask any more.

I’m being deliberately vague, as I don’t want to make the guy in shop grumpy by affecting his sales (the prints are high quality and nicely mounted), not do I want to end up in the midst of some copyright nonsense involving the archive, which I know gets a little ‘nippy’ if it finds its material being used in a way it does not approve of.

April 26, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, photography, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Great Train Robbery at the Grampian Transport Museum

The Grampian Transport Museum is set to open its 2014 season on Sunday, 30 March 2014.

The Past & Future of Transport in the North East – Grampian Transport Museum

This will include a brand new exhibition for 2014 produce with support from the British Postal Museum & Archive. The Great Train Robbery is a new temporary exhibition for the museum, and reunites two of the three vehicles used on the night of the raid: an Austin Loadstar lorry and an ex-Army Land Rover. Additional material for the exhibition has been loaned by New Scotland Yard and private collectors.

First ever Great Train Robbery exhibition to open in Aberdeenshire | Aberdeen & North | News

Although it now falls into the category of “a few years ago”, I do have quite a few visits to this museum under my belt, and can thoroughly recommend it as a destination and somewhere to get lost for a few hours, especially if you like to examine the exhibits in detail. While it doesn’t look like a vast museum that cover a great deal of area, it does contain many items, and has (or at least had, when I was there) properly composed stories behind the exhibits. I have to say that, since there is a disturbing trend to ‘dumb down’ the displays nowadays – supposedly to make them more interesting to very young children, according to the brains behind such things. Given the number of adverse comments I read about display boards in recently revamped museums… that’s a mistake, and one which should be rectified sooner rather than later.

I had a look online for some newer pics of the museum site that I could use, as mine are not that recent, but what I found was not much newer, at least amongst the shared offerings. This is the view from the car park, looking towards the entrance, but it appears to be closed when this shot was taken.

March 28, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Glenrothes Aeromodelling Club static event at Kingdom Shopping Centre

Aircraft plan view

A static exhibition is planned by the Glenrothes Aeromodelling Club for Saturday, March 15, 2014, at at Lyon Square in the town’s Kingdom Shopping Centre.

Club members will be joined by friends from other clubs in the area, including Dunfermline, Balbedie, and Kinross, and will be displaying their model aircraft at the special event in the Centre.

The Glenrothes Club was formed in 1960, and has consistently had a healthy membership within the town.

Currently they have more than 60 regular members who attend events across the region.

The Glenrothes club is highly respected amongst the aeromodelling fraternity, and boasts a wealth of facilities including its own clubhouse and five-acre flying site with runway.

Via Glenrothes models take to the skies! – Fife Today

Fife Today might have been just a little over enthusiastic with their headline, since this is a static display.

It seems this is first time this sort of display has been organised for some years.

Although it’s years since I was last there, I was at the club site and enjoyed the flying displays they put on at the fairly numerous events held there.

Find out more on their own web site:

Home – Glenrothes Aeromodelling Club

March 8, 2014 Posted by | Aviation | , , | Leave a comment

Arctic Convoy exhibition opens at Edinburgh Castle

A reminder that the War Museum at Edinburgh Castle is hosting a special exhibition about the Arctic Convoys – admission is included with admission to the castle.

The date seems to have changed slightly compared to the advance news of the exhibition, when the opening date was given as May 24, 2013, and the date given now is today, May 29.

The museum’s web page does not indicate when the exhibition ends, but it was previously given as March 2014, so you don’t have to rush.

Then prime minister Winston Churchill admitted the mission to keep the supply lines of munitions, tanks, lorries, fuel and food open was “the worst journey in the world”, and they were dubbed the “suicide missions” by many of those who served on them, as the convoys had to run the gauntlet of submarine, air, and battleship attacks in harsh sub-zero conditions through the Arctic Ocean.

Arctic Convoys: 1941-45

Open daily 9:45–17:45

Material has been gathered from numerous sources, including private collections, loans from the Imperial War Museum, and museums in Russia. The exhibition will also include recordings of personal testimonies from surviving veterans of the convoys. It is often forgotten that many of those who took part in the convoys were not actually in the Royal Navy, but were simply merchant seamen or fisherman who had been called up for duty.

Those involved with efforts to establish a permanent museum to the Arctic Convoys, to be located at Loch Ewe, where many of the convoys formed and departed from, have also helped with contributions to the Edinburgh exhibition.

Jacky Brookes, manager of the Russian Arctic Convoys Museum Project in Loch Ewe, said: “We’re delighted the exhibition is happening and hope it will help raise the profile of getting a permanent museum”

We have had occasion to mention the museum project at Loch Ewe before:

Ross-shire museum call for Arctic Convoy veterans

HMS Scylla, a Dido-class cruiser of the Royal Navy, served with the Home Fleet on Arctic convoy duties, and is seen below while anchored on the Clyde:

HMS Scylla on the Clyde

HMS Scylla on the Clyde

Click on the image below to see a British Pathé short, shot in Scandinavian waters, and showing various shots of ships in a large convoy en route to Russia where:

Aboard the cruiser ‘Scylla’ Lieutenant-Commander McKean in a fur hat keeps a running commentary on the battle for the benefit of the ship’s company.

A column of black smoke rises into the sky after one of the ships is hit. The Scylla draws alongside the minesweeper ‘Harrier’. The two ships are lashed together while travelling at speed as the Scylla and takes on survivors of a torpedoed freighter.

The escort Commander, Rear Admiral Burnett, is put in breeches buoy and slung across to a destroyer so the Scylla can go ahead with survivors. C/U of Burnett on a ship, smiling and looking through binoculars.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grangemouth becomes permanent home to Titanic exhibition and museum

Titanic US PD image

Although the norm these days seems to be the spotting of yet another museum or collection closing, I’m pleased to say I spotted a news item which announced the opening of a permanent museum in Grangemouth, dedicated to the liner Titanic.

Having been in existence since 2002 as a travelling museum, Titanic Honour and Glory has now opened the doors of it new and permanent home in Grangemouth to the public, in an event which took place on Saturday, 16 February, 2013.

You can view a video report on the opening by clicking here.

The Titanic Honour and Glory Museum is owned and operated by Titanic Honour and Glory exhibitions, and was opened by Christine Bole, whose uncle, William Young Moyes, was a member of the crew which was lost on the liner’s maiden voyage.

The small taster image is a US PD image, described as being of the RMS Titanic departing Southampton on 10, April, 1912. At 11.40 pm on 14, April, 1912, the ocean liner struck an iceberg. Two hours and 40 minutes later she sank deep into the freezing Atlantic waters. Less than a third of the people on board survived.

The museum’s web site provides further details:

Moyes, an engineer from Stirling, was just 23 when he died. One of the objects in the museum is a teddy bear which he took with him on Titanic’s sea trials before giving it to his sister shortly before he left on Titanic’s maiden voyage from Southampton.

Christine Bole said: “She treasured it all her life. She used to sleep with it every night under her pillow.

“He was a very, very nice person. He was a very, very quiet person. I wouldn’t say William was academic, he was more sporty, but my mum was very fond of him. She always spoke of him.”

Titanic Honour and Glory exhibitions and events manager Sean Szmalc said the Titanic story continues to grip the public imagination more than 100 years after the White Star liner collided with an iceberg and sank, but the Scottish connection has been overlooked.

He told STV News: “Since I was five years old I’ve been absolutely captivated by the Titanic story. Think of the selfless acts of the engineers, all the crew, the passengers that lost their lives as well. James Cameron made a film: this was real life. People’s lives changed forever.

“People talk about Southampton, Liverpool, Belfast, but Scotland’s got a lot of Titanic connections and it’s something we should really be proud about and remember.”

Museum opening times, admission charges, and location

Please check these details if planning to visit some time after this report was written in 2013!

The Titanic Honour and Glory Museum is open Thursday – Saturday from 11 am – 4 pm.

Admission charges (2013):

Adults: £2,
Children: £1 (under 5 free)
Family: £5 (2 adults and 2 children)

The museum is located at:

Titanic Honour and Glory Museum,
1 – 3 York Arcade,
Grangemouth,
Scotland,
FK3 8BA

Contact:

Telephone Numbers:

Sean:- 07833 630 287

Margot:- 07810 475 215

Email:-enquiries@titanichonourandglory.com

February 17, 2013 Posted by | Maritime, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

New exhibition to mark 100 years of the Montrose Air Station

RFC roundel

On 26 February, 1913, The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) set up its first air station, at Montrose.

A special exhibition will open during February 2013 to mark the start of celebrations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Britain’s first operational military airfield at the air station. It would become one of the main training centre for Britain’s pilots during both World War I and World War II, as well as one of the main operational stations during those conflicts.

On 23 February, 2013, Montrose’s Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines will open to the public in a ceremony led by by Councillor Helen Oswald, the Provost of Angus, who will be accompanied by RAF airmen from 2 Squadron – the first squadron to be based at Montrose.

Dr Dan Paton, curator of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, said the exhibition would include several of the fascinating artefacts from the station’s proud history.

He explained: “The exhibition also features several items that have been loaned to us especially for the occasion, such as Winkie the Pigeon, who is normally a resident at Dundee’s McManus Art Gallery and Museum.

“During the Second World War, caged pigeons would often be carried in planes so they could fetch help if anything went wrong. Winkie was in a bomber flying from Leuchars when it was hit by enemy fire and went down in the North Sea. On release from her cage, Winkie flew to Broughty Ferry, where she raised the alarm and the crew were saved. In recognition of her bravery, Winkie was awarded the Dicken Medal and, after she died, her body was preserved so future generations would remember her.”

The exhibition will also feature a diorama providing a miniature 3D aerial view of Montrose Air Station as it was in 1940 and the cross from a grave in France of a British pilot who trained at Montrose and was killed in action in 1917.

Via Montrose military airfield to celebrate 100 years – Heritage – Scotsman.com

Winkie the pigeon – first recipient of Dicken Medal

The story about Winkie is actually somewhat more impressive than the above summary suggests:

Winkie was a blue chequered hen bird that had been carried on board a Beaufort bomber which had been forced to ditch in the North Sea, after completing a raid in Norway. Such pigeons were often carried on missions in case something went wrong.

Unable to radio their position – somewhere around 100 miles from home – the crew released their pigeon in the hope that she would be able to fly home to her loft in Broughty Ferry, and alert their colleagues in the air base at RAF Leuchars of their predicament.  Winkie made it home, after flying 120 miles, and was discovered exhausted and covered in oil by owner George Ross who immediately informed the air base.

But, more remarkable was the fact that Winkie  was not carrying a specific message. RAF personnel were able to calculate the position of the downed aircraft using the time difference between the plane’s ditching and the arrival of the bird – taking into account the wind direction and even the impact of the oil on her feathers to her flight speed.

A rescue mission was launched and the men were found within 15 minutes – there can be little doubt that the crew would have died without the bird’s effort.

Winkie became the first recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre

Opening Times:

The Air Station is open from April 1st until September 30th, Wednesday to Saturday, 10am – 4pm.

Open Sundays all year round from 12pm to 4pm. Other times by arrangement.

Entry via Broomfield Industrial Estate, follow tourist ‘brown’ signs.

Admission fee applies – check web site for current fees.

DIRECTIONS.
Follow A92 to the North end of Montrose and turn into Broomfield Road following the Tourist Signs, then turn left into the Industrial Estate, continue down this road until you reach a bend in the road and you will find Montrose Air Station on the left hand side.

Via Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre

Displays Displays and exhibits at the centre

The museum has been growing steadily over the years, and is well worth the time it takes to explore.

February 13, 2013 Posted by | Aviation, military, World War I, World War II | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Exhibition to give front-row seat on ‘worst journey in the world’ taken by Arctic convoys

Ship steaming at seaVeterans of the notorious Arctic Convoys from Scotland to the former Soviet Union are to be honoured with a major exhibition being held in Edinburgh, and beginning in 2013.

Edinburgh Castle’s War Museum will be staging the first major display in Scotland dedicated to the 3,000 men who lost their lives on the convoys from 1941 and 1945.

Rarely seen photographs, uniforms, diaries, letters and other personal possessions from veterans will be going on display for almost a year at the attraction.

Plans for the exhibition have been revealed just weeks after it was confirmed that veterans of the Arctic Convoys would finally get military medals following a lengthy campaign to see them recognised.

The supplies and ammunition they transported were vital to the war effort, as German forces had completely blockaded any access by land.

The operation was launched to help ensure vital supplies could get through to the ports of Murmansk and Archangel after Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, to ensure that the Nazis would remain occupied on the Eastern Front.

But they were dubbed the “suicide missions” by many of those who served on them, as the convoys had to run the gauntlet of submarine, air and battleship attacks in harsh sub-zero conditions through the Arctic Ocean.

Then prime minister Winston Churchill admitted the mission to keep the supply lines of munitions, tanks, lorries, fuel and food open was “the worst journey in the world”.

Of the 78 convoys from the UK and Iceland over that period, 19 departed from Loch Ewe, in Wester Ross, in the north-west Highlands, with others leaving from Oban and the Clyde.

About 20,000 Royal Navy and merchant navy sailors were involved in the missions to transport almost four million tonnes of supplies, with 16 warships and 85 merchant vessels being lost throughout the campaign.

via Exhibition gives front-row seat on ‘worst journey in the world’ taken by Arctic convoy – Scotland – Scotsman.com.

The exhibition, Arctic Convoys: 1941-45, is due to run from May 24, 2013 until March of 2014.

Material has been gathered from numerous sources, including private collections, loans from the Imperial War Museum, and museums in Russia. The exhibition will also include recordings of personal testimonies from surviving veterans of the convoys. It is often forgotten that many of those who took part in the convoys were not actually in the Royal Navy, but were simply merchant seamen or fisherman who had been called up for duty.

Those involved with efforts to establish a permanent museum to the Arctic Convoys, to be located in Loch Ewe, where many of the convoys formed and departed from, have also helped with contributions to the Edinburgh exhibition.

Jacky Brookes, manager of the Russian Arctic Convoys Museum Project in Loch Ewe, said: “We’re delighted the exhibition is happening and hope it will help raise the profile of getting a permanent museum”

We have had occasion to mention the museum project at Loch Ewe before:

Ross-shire museum call for Arctic Convoy veterans

January 8, 2013 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cockleshell Heroes display at Castle House Museum Dunoon from August 2012

Castle House

Castle House Museum, Dunoon

Saturday, August 4, 2012, marks the opening of a display in Castle House Museum, Dunoon, to mark the 70th anniversary of Operation Frankton, probably better known by the name of the Cockleshell Heroes.

The display is scheduled to remain on show until October 2012.

This raid involved the submarine HMS Tuna and 10 men from the Royal Marines and 5 canoes (Cockles). The targets were merchant ships lying in Bordeaux harbour – ships that were successfully breaking the Allied blockade particularly between Japan and Germany. Conventional methods such as bombing had been discounted. Operation Frankton was an unorthodox, imaginative and daring solution. At the end of the first night only 2 canoes and 4 men were still operational. Four nights later they inflicted damage to 5 ships lying in the harbour. Only two men survived and returned to the UK.

More details can be found here: Operation Frankton on the Combined Operation web site

Background to the display

It was only a couple of months’ ago that it came to our attention that this year marks the 70th Anniversary of the above raid. What was not known by us was the fact that the contingent of Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment made their final training and preparation round about the Holy Loch and left from there on board HM Submarine Tuna on 30th November, 1942. This fact was made known to us by Adrian Hunt and David Neill of World War 2 Presentations who requested that a display of the original model canoe, together with a replica of one of the canoes and related memorabilia be staged within Castle House Museum, Dunoon until October, 2012.

We will be holding an Official Opening on Saturday, 4th August, 2012 from 10.30 a.m. until 2p.m. when the young local Fiddle Group and some of the Dunoon Grammar School Pipe Band will entertain. There will be short speeches from Adrian and David as well as the local Councillors etc. Teas, Coffee and Home Baking will be available in the nearby High Kirk. A few of the descendants have expressed a wish to attend. Also, I have asked the local RBLS to come along. In addition, the local Cinema will be screening the film ‘Cockleshell Heroes’.

It appears that there is no commemoration of this raid within Scotland and Adrian & David’s aim is to get permission (presently being sought) to place a wooden seat with commemorative plaque near to the present War Memorial at Lazaretto Point overlooking the Holy Loch. It is hoped this would be dedicated during the usual Service at the War Memorial on Armistice Sunday.

Information provided courtesy of Margaret McVicar of the Dunoon & Cowal Heritage Trust.

Castle House Museum Dunoon

Cockleshell Heroes at Castle House

Cockleshell Heroes at Castle House

July 27, 2012 Posted by | military, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dunoon museum seeks Italians

Castle HouseA recent article in the Dunoon Observer reported that Dunoon’s Castle House Museum was eager to hear from local families of Italian descent.

The museum plans to hold an exhibition regarding the influence of these families, as they have had an influence in the area, and although they were not confined to such activities, much of the population became involved in the catering industry, as visitors to the coast over the years will have visited their chip shops, ice-cream parlours, and restaurants.

A Spokesperson for the museum said:

We are aware of the major contribution made by them in businesses, etc. The museum would like to properly record these contributions with a display of photographs and/or other memorabilia. The names of the families of which we are aware include Antonelli, Botteon, Capocci, Catignani, Drovandi, Francesco; Giarchi, Minghella, Moroni; Moscardinni, Pellicci; Porchetta, Thomas/Tomaso, Venterotti and Zambonini.

The article notes that an estimated 100,000 people in Scotland are of Italian descent or are Italian nationals, and that represents 1.9 per cent of the Scottish population.

The departure of these families is said to date back to 1890, when drought, famine, and poverty in Italy drove them to seek better prospects elsewhere.

The events of World War I saw the Scots-Italian population increase to some 4,000, and Glasgow is said to have had the third largest Italian community in the UK.

World War II saw a darker period descend on the Italian immigrant community, as Italy’s fascist tendencies resulted  in many families being split up as adult males were interred, and the remaining  family members were left to cope with mistrust, discrimination, and even violence from their former friends. Their businesses were attacked, and shop windows smashed, and it was not uncommon for the Italian owners to place pictures and details of the male members of their families in the window, showing that they were actually members of the British Army, and risking their lives fighting overseas.

The museum is open from 10.30am to 4.30pm (Sunday 2pm – 4.30pm) until October 28.

During the winter months it will be open each Wednesday morning for work to be carried out and any items can be handed in then.

Please contact John (01369) 701422 or e-mail info@castlehousemuseum.org.uk

Castle House Museum Dunoon

via MUSEUM SEEKS ITALIANS.

October 2, 2011 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, World War I, World War II | , , , , | 2 Comments

Darien documents go on display in NLS Edinburgh

It’s a funny thing.

A few years ago, I came across a short article in a magazine. The subject was the Darien Scheme, and it seemed to be something that was so fundamental to the Union of Scotland and England, I couldn’t understand why I had never come across it before, or had any recollection of ever being told about it at school – but in those days, I wasn’t any sort of historian, and that was a class I could never wait to get out of – but I know I never heard a word about Darien there.

A Glasgow University article on The Darien Scheme concluded:

The consequences of the failure of the Darien Scheme were wide ranging. From hastening the Act of Union to the formation of the Royal Bank of Scotland, there are few events in Scottish history whose impact can be so readily traced to the present. In all respects the Spencer Collection contributes to our intellectual understanding of a tumultuous period in Scots and indeed British history.

Strangely, ever since I wrote about Darien in April 2010, the number of items appearing online appears to have jumped.

Could there be a connection?

We’ll never know, but…

Apparently for the first time, a number of rare documents that tell the story of the Darien project and its demise are being placed on display at the National Library of Scotland (NLS) in Edinburgh. Documents featured belong to both the Royal Bank of Scotland and the library.

The exhibition runs until August 2011.

National Library of Scotland

The Darien Scheme

In summary, the scheme was inspired by banker William Paterson, and saw Scotland invest a large proportion of its wealth in setting up a colony in Central America in 1698. The plan had been to set up a trading colony in Darien (now known as Panama) in 1698. It was a disaster. Thousands died during two attempts, and Scotland was plunged into economic crisis. The failure of the scheme led to the Act of Union in 1707, and that still seems to be a problem today.

Many, more detailed and deeply analysed, accounts of the scheme can be found online.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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