President’s comments on Shipping in the Solway

Report on shipping in the Solway David Colin

Shipping on the Solway – Winter Lecture – by David Collin


On Thursday 25th September 2014, the Howff club hosted the first lecture of the Winter programme. Those who attended the last lecture by David in 2012 may have been forgiven for thinking that the subject would have to be something special to match the last lecture given on ‘the Prince of Denmark’ which recounted the building, sailing and adventures of a schooner and those who sailed on it, built in Kirkcudbright in the 18th Century. A full house were not disappointed when David embarked on a fascinating account of shipping on the Solway, the many ports and characters that sailed the high seas and coastal waters. Informative, at times hilarious, David’s lecture gave fascinating detail not only of times long past, cargoes, log entries but more current accounts of hapless sailors and oddball rescues which had the audience in kinks. At the end of the lecture we were given David’s first hand account of the infamous 1960’s murder at Ross Island Lighthouse which had as on the edge of our seat. David and his father inadvertently stumbling on a scene reminiscent of an Agatha Christie, Murder Mystery and Suspense novel. David, an accomplished sailor and historian, is a published author of several books on sailing and all things pertaining to Kirkcudbright.

Next Lecture will be held I the clubroom on 23rd October 2014 when Barry Graham will be giving a talk on Rhodesia.   All lectures start at 7.30pm prompt.

John Clark

The show goes on again

4th August, meeting of the Jean Armour Statue subcommittee. Two quotes obtained for the proposed inscriptions. Submitted an alternative for one single line of acknowledgements rather that a list of names but it was agreed to recommend full list to Excom.

11th August, trial club discussion night when members were asked to raise favourite pieces from Burns’ for a chat. Good turn-out, especially from new members and lively discussion. Gordon hopes to make this a regular event. Ted Murray’s sister, Ann, visited Dumfries on 14th August and was met in the Globe for lunch by Frank Manson, Tom Johnstone and Gordon Johnston and the writer, followed by a visit to the JA Statue to view the memorial bench in memory of Ted. Ann again expressed thanks for the club’s help.  Accompanied Gordon and Betty Johnston to Locharbriggs Community Centre on 15th August for a demonstration of Scottish Country Dancing with music from James Coutts Band, MC’d by the genial John Caskie. Was successful in the raffle for a change.

The annual outing on Saturday 16th August was most enjoyable and well organised. 14 members and friends travelled by the customary luxury minibus to Glasgow to the Riverside Museum and then  Kelvingrove Gallery. This was well covered in the President’s blog, suffice to add that the Haggis Pie at lunch and the fish supper at Moffat were highlights of a super day.

Tuesday 19th August was the delayed club booling night when members were joined by Gavin Findlay from Dumbarton who was holidaying at Gatehouse. In spite of his best efforts, Gavin won the coveted “Draffan Cup” with Gordon McKerrow who was at pains to encourage Gavin to take it back to Dumbarton. Thanks due to Dumfries Bowling Club and Ken Crookshanks. At the prize giving at the Globe, the writer was surprised to be presented with a cake and bottle of superior malt by Jane Brown and the president on the occasion of a milestone birthday anniversary. This was much appreciated but do not propose to mark any further anniversaries.

Annual trip to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on 21st August. Smaller group than usual as Ian McIntyre had put his back out although not as a result of misconduct, he said. Fast train from Lockerbie got the party to Waverley at 9.30am. No Burns shows this year but the day was spent in soaking up the colourful atmosphere in the streets and the occasional pint. In order to escape a downpour, we scuttled into a venue off the Grassmarket for a show entitled, “Lie back and think of England”. This proved to be “Adult entertainment” by a one woman performance on “Sex education for beginners” using visual aids and some audience participation and was lapped up by the largely mature females present. Enough said. Good lunch in the White Hart and a great day out with Gordon and Neil Johnston. 23rd August was a visitation from Largs Burns Club who having received the ten cent tour on previous occasions, were pleased to see over the Globe and other locations and were delighted tom have access to the Mausoleum. A retired undertaker in the party was curious to know who conducted Burns’ funeral in 1796 so enquiries are ongoing.  The Ten Cent tour team are getting slicker.

Shocked and saddened at the news of the death of honorary member Harry Hutchison, “The Rover from Dover”. Have many happy memories of Harry at various Federation conferences and will be sadly missed. He delivered s stirring “Memory” at the Anniversary Dinner in 2007.

The Executive Committee met on 25th August after the summer recess and dealt with the lengthy agenda in short order. Was slightly surprised at the strong views expressed on the proposal to inscribe the donors names on the JA statue but it was unanimously agreed to take no action. Although I abstained from the vote, it was the right decision, I think.

Thursday 11th September, assisted Gordon J. to humph the Theatre Royal’s Burns Bust to Glasgow to the home of Colin Hunter McQueen. Made most welcome on arrival but had to cut the visit short as Gordon was due at the Velodrome. Most impressed with the building and facilities and astonished at Gordon’s prowess on two wheels. He knew everyone there, too. Betty kept me informed on what was going on.

The annual conference of the RBWF was held on 12th to 14th September at Irvine. The club was represented by Callum Watson, Ian McIntyre, David Miller and me accompanied by spouses as appropriate. The weekend was well organised and enjoyable and the accommodation at Menzies Hotel was adequate if not luxurious but notable for long endless corridors. The catering was of a reasonably high order. The AGM was uneventful but highlighted the dire state of the Federation finances. Incoming president Jim Thomson and the Board promised a twelve month plan to turn the situation around but suspect they are in the “Last Chance Saloon” with this.  Outgoing president Jane Brown made an emotional speech of thanks at the inaugural dinner and seemed reluctant to part with the Chain.  Social functions were enjoyable and your reporter to his horror, found himself on the dance floor but this after some scoops of the sauce.  A consolation was winning the second raffle prize of a voucher for next year’s conference fee. For once, attended the Church Service on Sunday morning which included some ceremonial at the end of the Irvine “Marymas Festival” and was attended by civic representatives as well as the MP and MSPs and local organisations but also the Marymas Queen and her three Marys. Lovely.  Met many old friends during the weekend.

Was obliged to attend the Tam O’ Shanter Competition on 16th September in the Globe. This was made bearable by the company of David Pool from Langholm. Six Tams strutted their stuff and the winner was one Bill Henry from London. Interval entertainment was supplied, eventually, by Ian McIntyre and Les Byers and the trophy was presented by David Miller in his role as President of the SSCBA.

One of my personal highlights is the annual bowling match with Dumbarton Burns Club. This year, the host was Dumbarton and 13 intrepid boolers made the journey north on Sunday 21st September to arrive 30 minutes late due to congestion at Brooms Road Car Park caused by showmen’s vehicles jamming the entrance. Members were warmly welcomed by President George Dunwoody and his members and play duly commenced in glorious sunshine. Inconsistent bowling from the non bowlers but suffice it to say that the result was declared a draw although it was really our turn to win. Trophies were exchanged and an excellent tea was consumed before departure at 5.30pm. Excellent day out with generous hospitality amongst good friends.

The Winter Club Night season opened on 25th September when David Collin from Kirkcudbright gave a highly entertaining and informative talk on “Shipping in the Solway”.  A fascinating account of the region’s maritime history which David brought to life before ending with a sombre story of the Ross Island Lighthouse murder in 1959 in which, as a 19 year old student, he had a bit part. Encouragingly good attendance.

Skelmorlie Poosie Nancy Burns Club from Ayrshire visited on 27th September and arrived on time. Although a number chose to check out the shops or attend at the bar, most were welcomed by President John Clark, Jim McCambley, Ken McKinnon, Bill Welsh, John Lauder and the writer and conducted on the ten cent tour. Again, the visitors proved to be knowledgeable Burnsians and the visit was a pleasure.

Now, starting preparations for the Excom meeting on 6th October  and  the October Newsletter.