Monday, 6 June 2011

Spotlight on Dalbeattie.

Welcome to Dalbeattie, Scotland.Welcome to Dalbeattie, Scotland.

Being Sunday and Dalbeattie not being a very large town we were unsure as to what we might find as we took a 10 minute stroll into town. First up was a well maintained park with plenty of swings, seesaws and a flying fox to keep kid’s amused. The local’s obviously take full advantage of this facility as there were plenty of families enjoying themselves. In the centre of the park was the towns war memorial and a 100 year old band stand which has been refurbished. The supports for the bandstand are old gas street lights from Glasgow who had no further use for them.

100 year old band stand Dalbeattie Park. The uprights are gas street light standards from Glasgow.100 year old band stand Dalbeattie Park. The uprights are gas street light standards from Glasgow.

Most of the towns shops are on High St (where else) with just a few on side streets. On one street corner is the towns privately owned family run museum. The museum curator and his son were on hand to tell us about anything that we were interested in and they certainly could talk. We established that the town has a history in the Cotton Mill trade which is why the town has so many identical cottages like the mill towns in the North of England.

18thC Mill workers cottages in Dalbeattie. All the attic additions are 20th century.18thC Mill workers cottages in Dalbeattie. All the attic additions are 20th century.

The other main commodity that made the town is granite on which the town is built. It was here that they perfected the technique of polishing granite for head stones, as well as kitchen and bathroom facilities. In the late 1800’s every man, woman and child would have been involved in the industry until 1883 when there was a slump in demand due to cheaper granite being imported from Denmark (sounds a familiar story). Many quarry workers were forced to leave the area, many emigrating to America, South Africa and Australia where they could carry on their trade, some becoming self employed and very wealthy. Some of these families still maintain ties with Dalbeattie.

Old coal range display at Dalbeattie museum.Old coal range display at Dalbeattie museum.

Another interesting story was regarding Lt W M Murdoch and the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Murdoch came from Dalbeattie and was on the bridge when Titanic hit the iceberg. There is a memorial to him on the wall of the Town Hall and a memorial prize to be competed for annually at the local public school where Murdoch was educated. There is also a letter of apology to the people of Dalbeattie from the makers of the movie “Titanic” because in the movie Murdoch is portrayed as shooting a passenger and then committing suicide. Evidence has now been found that proved Murdoch went down with the ship and didn’t commit any such act.

Memorial to W M Murdoch who perished aboard R.M.S Titanic.Memorial to W M Murdoch who perished aboard R.M.S Titanic.

Another story we were told was of one of the musician’s who was hired as a subcontractor to White Star shipping. Relatives of this gentleman have found evidence that his contract was terminated the minute the Titanic sank and no further money was forthcoming to his family, no play, no pay. Instead the family received an account for the non return of parts of his uniform, namely the brass buttons. This account was never paid but held on to by family members and has only recently come to light. Apparently there are two books being published, due out very soon that dispel  and confirm many myth’s and tales as to what did happen aboard Titanic that fateful night. Should be interesting reading.

Dalbeattie High street.Dalbeattie High Street.

Talking to the curator he told us how the museum was started and how it has expanded. When ever he had an idea as to how to improve the museum an item would suddenly arrive on his doorstep or he would receive substantial bequest's or donations, totally unsolicited, enabling him to carry out his plans.

Cotton Mill town of Dalbeattie. Later famous for it's granite.Cotton Mill town of Dalbeattie. Later famous for it's granite.

One visitor got into discussing the subject of ghost’s with him as to whether they had ever encountered ghost’s in the museum. The curator did admit that he felt that he had a guardian angel watching over the museum because of how things had happened but nothing more. The visitor then told him that there was a spirit standing behind him who was smiling. When asked to describe the spirit, the curator felt it was a load of humbug until the visitor quite vividly described the vision with a scar in the spirit’s neck. The curator said that his hair stood on end because he knew exactly who the spirit was, when he died and who his widow was. So believe it or believe it not!

Bedspread donated to Dalbeattie museum in recognition of the two towns association.Bedspread donated to Dalbeattie museum in recognition of the association of the two towns Westerly in the US and Dalbeattie

So if ever you are in the vicinity of Dalbeattie be sure to visit this local amenity, you won’t be dis-appointed.

War memorial Dalbeattie Park.War memorial Dalbeattie Park.


M McMickan said...

So glad you enjoyed your visit to our lovely wee town! Thank you for your appreciative comments. We love living here!

Derek and Dot said...

Hi M McMickan

Thanks for your comment, we really walking around your town.