The last keeper of the Bell Rock Lighthouse has agreed to sign 50 limited edition commemorative covers to celebrate the bicentenary of one of the world's greatest feats of engineering. The signed mementos have been snapped up by stamp collectors and lighthouse aficionados worldwide. John Boath signed 50 of the 500 Bell Rock Lighthouse commemorative covers which will be issued by Arbroath and District Stamp and Postcard Club on February 1 exactly 200 years after a beam of light first shone from the lighthouse. Mr Boath, who is caretaker of a Methodist church in Edinburgh, grew up in Dundee and worked in the jute mills in the 1960s when he spotted an item on Blue Peter about lighthouses and decided to apply for a job. His first posting was to Stoer Head, 60 miles north of Ullapool where he spent four years before moving to other lighthouses, including Fraserburgh and the Isle of Man. One of Mr Boath's last postings was to the Bell Rock, which had a formidable reputation as a lighthouse that could break even the toughest keepers with its rota of four weeks on and four weeks off. "The Bell Rock was unique in that you were enclosed in that lighthouse for the four weeks that you were there apart from being able to get down sometimes at low tide," he said. "I know it sounds strange but I always found something to do on the Bell and I never got bored." Mr Boath is taking a day off work to travel to Arbroath on Tuesday to attend a fireworks display to officially open the Year of the Light Festival which is expected to attract more than 2000 people.Enthusiasm"I'm the caretaker of a Methodist church in Edinburgh but I think the enthusiasm has rubbed off on me because I've taken a day's holiday to come to Arbroath and it's good for me because I love firework displays," he said. "Being a Dundonian I always go up the Law when I'm back and automatically I search for the Bell." Brian Cargill, treasurer of Arbroath and District Stamp and Postcard Club, said the signed covers, which cost £10, feature the Royal Mail's 1998 Bell Rock postage stamp and are hand-stamped with the date of the bicentenary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse. "These signed commemorative covers have proved highly desirable and have all been reserved by stamp collectors, lighthouse aficionados and people keen to have a keepsake of the Year of the Light," said Brian, who added that £5 of the £10 cost of each of the signed commemorative covers is being donated to the Arbroath Lifeboat. The stamp and postcard club will also be issuing 100 Bell Rock Lighthouse Commemorative Covers featuring the Royal Mail's 1998 Bell Rock stamp at a cost of £5 each (which are also sold out) and 350 commemorative covers with a Royal Mail post box stamp and a postage label from 2009, which will cost £4 each.
A philatelic stampede for a piece of Angus maritime history has brought a boost for the men of the RNLI. Stamp collectors across the globe rushed to secure a special commemorative cover produced to mark the bicentenary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse off the coast of Arbroath, and the success of the release brought a weekend windfall for the town's lifeboat station. The covers were produced by Arbroath and District Stamp and Postcard Club, which on Saturday enlisted a special figure to hand over the £260 cheque. John Boath, the last principal keeper on the Bell Rock, was accompanied by club members David Torrie, Bill Cargill and Brian Cargill at the event. "The Bell Rock commemorative covers have been purchased by stamp collectors, lighthouse aficionados and people keen to have a souvenir of the 200th anniversary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse from all over the world," said Brian. "The great news for the local area is that many of those who ordered covers mentioned that they are hoping to make the journey to Arbroath to join in with the Year of the Light." A limited number of covers are still available featuring the Royal Mail post-box stamp and label. "However, the covers signed by John Boath and the covers featuring the Bell Rock Lighthouse stamp are completely sold out," continued Brian, who is a member of the Year of the Light Steering Committee, which is supported by Angus Council's local community planning team.
Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
Every baby born in Arbroath in 2011 will be presented with a commemorative certificate, in honour of the 200th anniversary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse. The certificates will be signed by John Boath, the last principal keeper on the Bell Rock, David Taylor, a direct descendent of the Arbroath ship's captain involved in the construction of the Bell Rock, and council chief registrar Carolyn MacPherson. "These certificates will be a wonderful memento for these children and it's quite possible that some of them may even be at the 300th anniversary of the Bell Rock, in 2111," said Harry Simpson, chairman of the Year of the Light Steering Committee, which is supported by the local community planning team. Year of the Light events have been planned in and around Arbroath to mark the anniversary of the lighthouse coming into service. The Bell Rock Lighthouse is considered one of the world's greatest feats of engineering. Event patron the Earl of Southesk said, "I would hope the Year of the Light will inspire people to learn more about the Stevensons, who epitomise all that was great about Scotland two centuries ago and could be great about Scotland now." The first event will be Cancer Research UK's New Year's Day Dook, which takes place at 2pm at the West Links, Arbroath, in sight of the lighthouse. Registration costs £5, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK. The Year of the Light will officially kick off on February 1, exactly 200 years after a beam of light first shone out from the lighthouse. The celebrations will be sparked off by fireworks at Inchcape Park, visible for miles out at sea. Another memento will be the limited edition cover issued by Arbroath and District Stamp and Postcard Club on February 1. For more information visit the Year of the Light's website.
Former DC Thomson journalist, Angus cricketer and raconteur David Torrie has died suddenly but peacefully at home. He was 73. David Lindsay Torrie was born in Forfar in 1941 and attended the East Primary School, then Webster’s High in Kirriemuir when his family moved there. In 1961 Mr Torrie started work with DC Thomson & Co Ltd as a junior sub-editor in the juvenile publications department and rose through the company to become editor of The Dandy. He was editor of the company’s staff magazine, The Argus, for 15 years, and covered Scottish league football matches for The Sunday Post at weekends. Mr Torrie retired in 2006 after 45 years’ service with the company, which further included editorships with the Beezer, Classics from the Comics and the Funsize Beano Series. He played cricket for Kirriemuir for 40 years and shared in the great successes of the club, which won the old Second Division in 1971 and 1972 and finished runners-up in 1973. They also won the Two Counties Cup in 1972, 1973 and 1977, and reached the final in 1971 and 1988. In 1979 and again in 1985, he claimed the 2nd Division leading bowler prize, and in 1975 won the TWL Bell prize for the fastest century of the year. He was elected to the management committee of the Strathmore and Perthshire Cricket Union in 1969 and was a member for 45 years. He held the office of vice-president in 1980 and 1981, president in 1982 and 1983, and returned to being a committee member until he was appointed an honorary president in 1988. A minute’s silence will take place before all union matches this weekend as a mark of respect. Mr Torrie’s other interests included curling and collecting stamps and postcards. He was also widely known as a naturally droll and humorous speaker. He was also a past president of Arbroath Philatelic Society, Tayside Postcard Club and Kirriemuir Curling Club. Before he moved to Marywell, outside Arbroath, Mr Torrie was chairman of Kirriemuir Round Table and 41 Club. In his spare time he played the piano accordion and was a member of the group that won the Bothy Nichts programme competition on Grampian TV in 1968. Mr Torrie was inducted as a member of the Arbroath Guildry in November last year. He is survived by his brothers Stewart and Graeme, sister Hazel and a large extended family. A funeral service will be held at George Stewart Funeral Directors’ Chapel of Rest on Millgate Loan, Arbroath, on Tuesday May 27 at 11am, thereafter to the Eastern Cemetery. Family flowers only and donations to cancer research in lieu can be made at the chapel door.
Kirkcaldy Stamp and Postcard Club will celebrate its 80th anniversary with an exhibition in Kirkcaldy Galleries. The show from June 3 to 5 will include displays covering 350 years of Royal Mail, Fife’s postal history, the 1953 coronation and the beginning of the new millenium. There will also be a spread of local postcards and a display for children. The club was launched in 1936 after an advert was placed in a local newspaper by a Kirkcaldy resident and the founding meeting was held in the Rialto tea rooms in the High Street. It meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month from 2pm to 4pm in Torbain Parish Church.
St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright insists the furore over Richie Brittain will just be a sideshow as his players focus on securing a second home win of the season. Much of the pre-match talk will inevitably be about the County midfielder’s return to McDiarmid Park following the tug-of-war between the clubs over the player in the close season. Neither looked like they would budge but the matter was eventually resolved when County paid the Perth outfit a fee of around £40,000. Some ill-feeling is likely to have lingered as a result of that saga, but Wright says that shouldn’t detract from Saints’ task in hand. “We’ll not be distracted by Richie Brittain,” he stressed. “We will have a job to do, we want to win the game and we want to continue on this good run. “Richie Brittain is a Ross County player, he’s made a decision and the clubs have come to an agree-ment. “All I know is that there’s a lot that hasn’t come out in the press and we’re comfortable how we sat with it and dealt with it.” “I think the majority of people in football know what happened and would fully support what the chairman and St Johnstone FC did. “It’s just another game and I don’t want it dragging into another Richie Brittain saga again. He’s said all he wanted to say and I think we’ve been vindicated in our stance.” Asked if the fans were likely to give Brittain, who is available for selection following suspension in his first two games, a hostile reception, Wright added: “If they do that’s their perogative. “I’m sure there will be some banter and I believe some fans sent him postcards from Norway and stuff like that. “He didn’t exactly help the situation the way he celebrated in the last game against us. I can’t control the supporters but I’m hoping that they don’t let the club down and that they just give him a bit of friendly banter which I’ve no doubt they’ll do.” Talks between Saints and Peterborough over striker Stevie May are understood to be on-going, but so far the English club’s bids have not been up to scratch. Wright added: “At this moment in time he’s still our player and he’ll be used accordingly. It’s out of my hands and the chairman keeps me informed if any further bids have been made. I know there were conversations late Tuesday but I haven’t spoken to the chairman in the last 24 hours because he’s been away.” Meanwhile, Saints took former England youth international Nicky Ajose on trial. Ironically, the 21-year-old forward plays for Peterborough, although Wright stressed there was no connection between that and the discussions surrounding May’s future with the Perth club. Ajose, who has played for his country at U16 and U17 level, has spent the last few seasons on loan at Scunthorpe, Chesterfield, Crawley and Bury.
Months of research by a lifelong Everton FC supporter has uncovered that the club’s first league scorer hailed from Arbroath. Tony Onslow, 72, has written several books about Everton including one that focuses on the club’s Scottish players through the ages but he omitted Arbroath bank clerk George Fleming. Mr Fleming was a member of Everton’s Liverpool and District Cup winning team in 1887, but information about his background was hard to find because it was such a common name in the city. Mr Onslow made a breakthrough last year when he found an old Belfast Telegraph article showing the striker’s full name was George Spink Fleming; from this, Tony traced him to Arbroath. “I’m annoyed with myself because I missed him out of the book. I thought I’d found every Scottish person who played for Everton over the years,” he said. “I want the people of Arbroath to get credit for this. In Liverpool we’ve got the best library outside of London and once I had his middle name it could only be one man. From there, it was just a question of putting the hours in at the library.” Fleming was born in November 1859 and went on to play for Arbroath. In the summer of 1885 Fleming left Arbroath to take a job at the Bank of Liverpool, where he would spend the rest of his working life. He also joined Everton Football Club. The club’s opening league match, against Accrington, took place at Anfield originally used by Everton, not Liverpool and attracted the largest crowd of the day, more than 12,000 people. “The game had been in progress for about an hour when George Farmer crossed the ball to Fleming who headed himself in to the record books by becoming the man to score the first goal for Everton Football Club in a Football League match,” Mr Onslow said. Fleming married Margaret Crawford in 1900 and they had two sons, David and Noel. He died, aged 52, in 1912 and is buried at Anfield Cemetery in Liverpool. Mr Onslow is keen for any of Fleming’s family members still in the Arbroath area to get in touch with The Courier, as he continues his research into this piece of Everton history.
The Courier has been able to help an Angus museum solve the mystery behind a football photograph that’s almost 100 years old. The Signal Tower Museum in Arbroath asked for information about the image that was donated some time ago but they have been unable to classify. The black and white picture shows a line-up of footballers wearing shirts with lace-up collars and holding a ball that states ‘Hibs FC 1920-21’. Senior museum assistant Kirsten Couper initially assumed it was an image of Edinburgh club Hibernian. However, looking at the back of the photograph, she noticed the words ‘Arbroath Hibs’ and the stamp of an Arbroath-based photographer, Mr Geddes. An internet search found no mention of Arbroath Hibs but a hunt on the British Newspaper Archive revealed more. This online archive has scanned every Courier newspaper from 1844 to 1953. Searching the database found hundreds of match reports of Arbroath Hibs between 1900 and 1935, when they were a prominent juvenile team in Angus. They competed in the Arbroath and District League as well as several junior Angus cup competitions. Hibs won the Forfar District Cup in 1932 against Brechin Keithock United. The Arbroath side scored four times in the first 20 minutes before Keithock got one goal back before half time. A tightly contested second half saw Hibs emerge as 4-2 victors. The side were also runners-up in the Newgate Cup in 1925 and the Whitton Cup in 1930 and 1932. The team appears to have folded in 1935, with the only subsequent mention a reunion of the “defunct” juvenile team in 1949 at the Royal Hotel in Arbroath. Mrs Couper said: “We have struggled to find out any information about the photograph. I thought it was a photograph of Hibs but then I was puzzled by the words Arbroath Hibs written on the back.” The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership between the British Library and Dundee firm brightsolid to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library’s vast collection.
A controversial Scottish Government decision to extend salmon netting in the South Esk area has been reversed. However Scotland’s largest salmon netting company, which has been at the centre of the issue, said it has “no issues” and “fully accepts” the U-turn. In August, ministers granted Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd a three-year licence to net salmon at its coastal stations south of Montrose for two weeks in September. This has now been revoked. One of the firm’s directors, George Pullar, told The Courier: “We fully accept the decision of the Scottish Government to revoke the licence on the basis that the research was no longer required as part of the South Esk Project. “We understood that the nature of the licence was that it could be revoked at any time and, therefore, have no issues with the decision.” The extension was to compensate the fishery for disruption caused by Marine Scotland Science’s access “to fish and genetic samples during the commercial fishery season” for tagging research. As the netting season ends on August 31 the government’s decision came in for criticism from anglers and from some conservation bodies. The Esk District Salmon Fisheries Board sought a judicial review of the decision to grant the licence, due to be heard this month. Former board chairman Hughie Campbell Adamson was head of the body when the review was sought. He said: “The Scottish Government’s capitulation, together with its undertaking to pay the board’s costs, vindicates entirely the EDSFB’s decision to go for judicial review. “I hope that we can all now move on and never again allow politics and prejudice to jeopardise wild salmon conservation. “The latter must take priority whether it is in the context of salmon netting on the east coast or the unsustainable increase in salmon farming on the west coast. “I would especially like to thank the Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) and the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board for their invaluable support.” The River South Esk is a Special Area of Conservation for Atlantic salmon. Conservationists argue the district’s netting operations are closely linked to salmon numbers, not only in the South and North Esks but also in the Tay. Esk Rivers and Fisheries Trust chairman Tom Sampson said: “The Government’s reversal of its decision is indeed welcome. “No increased exploitation of salmon, in the context of today’s limited marine survival levels, can be justified.”