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Kylie Minogue: Pop princess went unrecognised in Arbroath nightclub visit

Kylie and Jason were world superstars when they arrived in Arbroath in the late-1980s.
Kylie and Jason were world superstars when they arrived in Arbroath in the late-1980s.

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan were Australia’s golden couple in the 1980s while starring as lovers in Neighbours.

Kylie and Jason were also a couple off-screen and launched their successful music careers after the Australian soap opera turned them both into superstars.

But Kylie still managed to go unrecognised by the punters when she turned up in Arbroath where Jason was making a personal appearance at Bally’s nightclub.

Kylie and Jason once came to Arbroath together while enjoying an off-screen affair.

Well-known freelance photographer Wallace Ferrier will never forget Kylie’s brief visit to Arbroath in the late-1980s which is one of the stories which features in his new book.

By Dawn’s Early Light contains a mix of stories from Wallace’s Arbroath beat alongside some of his favourite historical tales which have made headlines across the world.

Kylie and Jason arrived together

“A capacity crowd had turned up to see their idol and I, together with local photographer Jim Ratcliffe, was hanging around the reception area waiting for him to arrive,” said Wallace.

“I have to say, at this point neither Jim Ratcliffe nor I had our cameras ready.

“We both knew we were going to get shots of him on stage and a few with his fans, so we didn’t see the need to have our cameras ready; why should we for what we believed would be him just walking in the front door with his entourage?

“What happened next was most unexpected.

Wallace Ferrier at the entrance of the former Bally’s nightclub in Arbroath where Kylie and Jason visited in the late-1980s.

“Firstly, a few security guys, then his tour promoter, then, to my utter surprise, in walked a small, pretty girl.

“Somebody asked: ‘Who is that?’

“I remember looking at him as if to say, ‘where have you been lately?’

“It was, of course, none other than the beautiful and petite singing sensation, Kylie Minogue.”

Kylie sat with four local lads

Kylie and Jason’s on-screen romance in Neighbours had spilled over into real life but they both denied in public that they were in a relationship.

“It turned out that my only chance to photograph them close together was as they arrived that evening through the entrance to the Bally’s nightclub,” said Wallace.

“If only I had my camera ready I might have made a few pounds selling the scoop photos to newspapers.

“Kylie made sure she was a good distance away from Jason during their time in Bally’s, so there was not an opportunity for me to photograph them together.

“I got a few photographs of Jason meeting fans on stage and, during this time, Kylie was seated with four local lads almost unobserved, watching her boyfriend from the back of the nightclub.”

Ally Bally bought Kylie a drink from the bar and, at the same time, ask her to sign the disco’s visitors book, to which she replied: “Sorry, I’m having an autograph-free day today”.

“To this, rather amusingly, Ally asked for his drink back,” said Wallace.

“Once the couple had retired to the green room, Ally mentioned to the four lads who had been sitting next to Kylie: ‘Did you know who that was you were seated next to?’

“‘No,’ said the lads, who, by this time, had consumed a few drinks.

“It seemed that the Arbroath lads had no idea they had been sitting next to Kylie Minogue!”

Wallace waited in the car park afterwards to get a picture of Kylie and Jason together when they left but he was spotted by their security team.

The couple exited out of a side door and Wallace sadly missed his chance.

The Italian Job in Kirriemuir

Wallace is no stranger to a nightclub having been a mobile DJ in his teens and he sought to name each individual story in the book with a song or film title.

There is a chapter about the Kirriemuir link to The Italian Job and the Harrington Legionnaire coach which was last seen tilting over the edge of a cliff.

Michael Caine with the bus featured in The Italian Job.

The bus became famous in the final scene of the 1969 classic, as the weight of stolen gold bars threatened to tip it over the edge of a cliff.

The film ends as Michael Caine delivers his famous final words: “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea.”

Wallace said: “This was a unique bus with a double axle and four turning wheels at the front.

“After filming was finished, the bus had its rear doors welded shut, and passenger seats were replaced.

“The bus then went back into service, mainly in Scotland, and, from September 1973 to 1979, the log book states it was purchased by James Meffan, a bus operator in Kirriemuir, Angus, who often used the bus for school runs.

“Some people from Angus, especially the folk from the Kirriemuir area, may well have travelled on this famous bus, on a school trip, or perhaps private hire.

“The James Meffan bus company sold the bus in 1979.”

It was later bought by racing driver Archie Cromar, in Anstruther, and converted — like in the film — into a transporter for his Formula Ford racing car.

The bus had another two owners before it was sold to a Fife scrap dealer and broken up.

Judy Garland

By Dawn’s Early Light also charts the life of Hollywood sweetheart Judy Garland whose great-grandfather Charles Milne was born in Arbroath in 1829.

With song-and-dance parents, a life of showbiz came naturally for Judy, but it would also be a life full of misery at times.

Movies like The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me In St Louis and A Star Is Born brought her hits at every stage of her amazing career before her tragically-early death.

The book also charts the life and times of physician Neil Arnott from Arbroath who invented the water-bed and would show an inventiveness unusual for his era.

He would also come up with a smokeless fire grate, ventilation and heating breakthroughs, the Arnott Stove and various scientific publications.

Salvation Army

Wallace also celebrates the life of the Arbroath minister who helped found the first Salvation Army mission in America in 1880.

George Railton, who was born in the town in 1849, left a lasting legacy when he became the first “national commander” of the charity in the United States.

Meanwhile, Barbara Crawford from Dundee survived a shipwreck and spent five years living in an area where tribes were known to kill intruders and eat them.

She was possibly the sole survivor of the November 1844 wreck of the cutter America, which ran onto Madjii Reef at Horn Island in Endeavour Strait near Cape York, Queensland.

Wallace also tells the tale of the Angus lad whose 19th century journey Stateside brought him brim to brim with some of the Wild West’s most famous names.

Wallace has emerged again from behind the lens to pen his second book.

Thomas Moonlight become a Colonel in the US Civil War and the Governor of Wyoming where he granted a pardon to the Sundance Kid early in his career of crime.

Wallace said: “The book contains quite a mix of stories, which may divide opinions and spawn more questions than answers.

“There is something in it for everyone.”

By Dawn’s Early Light is available now online and is the second published book by Wallace following the success of The Well Read Lichtie which came out in 2016.

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