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...
The work of well-known Arbroath photographer Jim Ratcliffe will be the subject of a special display next week. Mr Ratcliffe, who died aged 78 in January, donated more than 75,000 negatives to the Signal Tower Museum’s archives in 2015. On Tuesday at 2pm, Fiona Scharlau, Angus Archives manager, is hosting a Jim Ratcliffe Collection drop-in at the visitor attraction. Visitors will have an opportunity to view a slideshow of photographs taken by Mr Ratcliffe in Arbroath during the 1970s. People are asked to come along and help identify people and places which were captured by Mr Ratcliffe’s lens. The freelance photographer operated in Arbroath since the 1960s and catalogued every picture taken in that time.
The presence of huge chunks of Dundee’s once iconic Royal Arch within the grounds of D&A College is now being explored by some of the city’s leading local history experts. A team from The McManus Dundee’s art gallery and museum plan to visit to photograph and record the stones. They discovered an article in the museum’s archives, dating back to 1964, which shows the stones in situ at the newly-opened college’s Kingsway campus. Curator of early history Christina Donald believes the article verifies links between the college and the maligned structure, which was demolished that same year. “Back in 2010 when we were doing research for the redevelopment of the museum, I came across the People’s Journal article while looking for something else,” she said. “As we have the clock from the Royal Arch in the museum’s collections, I filed it away for future reference. “When I saw the photo of the stones at the college in The Courier, I forwarded on the article so that they could confirm that their finds were indeed the stones from the Royal Arch.” As well as contacting D&A College with her find, Christina is keen to get in touch with the city archivist to see if there is any more information about the Royal Arch stones. The curator is also eager to have museum staff visit the Kingsway Campus to photograph and record the carved stones. According to college legend, three pieces of Royal Arch stonework have been around the campus since the 1960s. One has now been moved to the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland’s Robin House, in Balloch, where college staff and students recreated an award-winning show garden. The most easily-identified piece is by the science block while a third piece is shrouded in mystery as only the top is visible the rest being buried in the ground in the former caretaker’s cottage at the campus entrance. Anyone who may be able to shed further light on the stones should contact Christina at the McManus. An online petition to have the Royal Arch replicated and reinstated was opened two weeks ago. Nearly 1,300 people have since signed the petition which as a target of 20,000.
A group of Russian war veterans have won their latest battle with a little help from The Courier. The air force veterans marshalled the power of the press as they fought a rearguard action to save the Museum of the Transport Air Force Division at Vnukovo in Moscow from closure. The museum was created in the 1970s as a tribute to the heroism of pilots during the Second World War and houses a collection of more than 4,000 items of memorabilia, documents and military awards donated by the air force veterans and their families. The future of the museum came under threat after it was decided to close the municipal cultural centre where it is located for renovation. Incensed by the prospect of losing the museum, the families of the war heroes started a petition and held a protest at the local war memorial. They even enlisted the help of a modern aviation hero, pilot Evgeny Novoselov, who in 2010 made a miracle emergency landing of his aircraft, saving the lives of all 81 people on board, who wrote a letter of support to President Vladimir Putin. As part of their plan the veterans armed themselves with copies of articles from The Courier which told of a mysterious wartime mission by Soviet airmen to Perthshire which showed the amount of foreign interest in the veterans’ story and proved vital to their fight. News of the success came from Anna Belorusova, a Russian woman who has made a pilgrimage to Errol airfield to learn more about her heroic grandfather Peter Kolesnikov, who served with the squadron. “What became the turning point in sealing the museum’s future came from Scotland with the recent Courier articles disclosing the mystery wartime mission of the best airmen of the Vnukovo Transport Air Force Division at the RAF Errol base, as part of 305 RAF Squadron,” she said. “The Courier articles closing the gap in the division war history and confirming that the memory of the Russian airmen war time presence is still alive in Scotland, have given the second breath to the Vnukovo museum defenders. “The Scottish articles were seen and appreciated at the top Moscow offices and the happy ending came last week. It has been decided that the museum is to stay and to develop, for the 70th Victory Anniversary and further on. Elena Nikitina, the chief curator, said: “We are very grateful to the Scottish people for their friendly hospitality to our airmen in Errol during the war, which they had very fond memories of.”
An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.
Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km
Poignant reminders of glories past and lives lost adorn every wall and fill every cabinet in Balhousie Castle. Over more than 300 years The Black Watch has carved out a reputation as one of the world’s finest fighting forces, earning honours in conflicts and theatres of war around the globe. As far back as 1745 then known as the 43rd Regiment of Foot the regiment saw action against the French at the First Battle of Fontenoy. Since then, in the Americas, West Indies, India, Crimea and South Africa in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, during the war in Europe and, most recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands have made the final sacrifice in its colours. Those behind the £3.5 million rejuvenation of the regiment’s spiritual home hope there will be many thousands keen to hear their gallant story. And with more than 400 passing the Black Watch Muesum’s doors as it opened to the public for the first time in 12 months on Tuesday those hopes appear set to be met. Arriving just seconds after 9.30am were Denis and Esther Platt from Eccles in Salford, who were given a warm welcome by Black Watch Museum Trust chief executive Alfie Iannetta. Mr Iannetta admitted he was stunned by the response and is already considering new staff for the attraction. “All I ever wanted was to see something created that would carry on The Black Watch name forever,” he said. “This is what we have been dreaming about for the past five years and I am hugely proud of what we have delivered here. “The important thing now that the museum is reopened is that people now come here and enjoy it. “Our first visitors arrived the moment we opened the doors and we’ve since welcomed around 400 people. It’s been incredible and way beyond any expectations we had.” The museum also welcomed its first school visit, with youngsters from Ceres Primary School enjoying a guided tour. They also became the first to make use of the museum’s new classroom, where they undertook a project on the Second World War. Meanwhile, the new caf was filled with happy eaters, who sampled a menu created through consultation with previous visitors and filled with nods to military life, such as the regimental breakfast. “I couldn’t be any happier with the reopening,” Mr Iannetta said. In addition to an extended educational outreach programme, a series of special exhibitions will be mounted, with the first entitled The Sword and the Pencil. Learning and audience officer Rebecca Berger said: “Our first special exhibition will highlight artworks from the museum’s large collection of prints, photographs, sketches and watercolours.” * Stunned museum staff discovered a haul of antique newspapers after opening a soldier’s rucksack which had been untouched for half a century. In preparation for the reopening of The Black Watch museum, curators opened the bag belonging to Major Sir Peter Halkett and discovered the precious haul. Some of the newspapers stuffed inside were more than 150 years old, with the most recent from 42 years later in 1900. The earliest is a copy of The Field, the Country Gentlemen’s Newspaper, dated Saturday March 27 1858, and the latest is a copy of the Times, dated Friday January 5 1900. The regiment, which became a battalion under recent army reforms, is mentioned in the 1900 paper in a letter written to the editor. Although the knapsack has been in the collection for a number of years, this is the first time the contents have been seen since they were originally placed inside. Halkett carried the bag as a lieutenant, and later a captain, in the 42nd during the Crimean War. Emma Halford-Forbes, the museum curator, said the find had come as a complete surprise, despite the familiarity of the object. She said: “The knapsack was used in the Crimean campaign and it was part of his kit. We assume he put the newspaper in to keep its shape when it didn’t have his kit in it any more. “We’ve had the object for 50 years and it was really interesting that nobody had noticed before.” Major Halkett was originally from Pitfirrane, which is now a part of Dunfermline. He fought at the battle of the Alma in the Crimea, carrying the colours which are also now housed at the museum a moment which is immortalised in a painting by military artist Robert Gibb, entitled Alma: Forward the 42nd. Find out more at www.theblackwatch.co.uk
A hidden belt used to smuggle whisky from illicit stills will be just one of the items to feature in the Festival of Museums celebrations in Perth. Whisky was illicitly produced across the Highlands and Islands to avoid payment of the “malt tax” imposed in 1713. The practice continued until distilling was legalised by the Excise Act of 1823. The belt, along with part of one of those illicit distilleries, will feature in a whisky tasting at Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday. The £20-a-head session will be led by experts and offers the chance to sample five different Perthshire whiskies, discover more about the area’s world-famous whisky production heritage and explore related objects in the museum’s collection. Drinkers will also be able to take part in a tour of Perth’s historic hostelries. Taking place at Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Friday, it will be led by local archivist and pub enthusiast Steve Connelly. For children there will be a puppet show and puppet workshop on the theme of the Gingerbread Man, which will take place on Saturday. Alyth museum will be hosting a Feast of Family Fun, which celebrates the National Year of Food and Drink. On Sunday the Fergusson gallery will host a cafe culture sketching workshop with professional artist David Faithfull. The Black Watch Castle and Museum is also taking part, with a Living History day on Saturday. The free event will see a troop of Waterloo-era re-enactors camped on site, giving musket demonstrations and re-enacting an officers’ duel. A First World War soldier and nurse will be taking visitors back 100 years while the Scottish Military Vehicles Group will have trucks and jeeps from the First and Second World Wars, as well as post-war, parked in the castle courtyard.
The outbreak of the First World War and its effect in Angus is being marked in a new exhibition in Forfar. The exhibition uses iconic objects, artworks, poetry and slideshows to tell the history of life in the trenches, The Black Watch and of local recipients of the Victoria Cross. Visitors to the Meffan Museum and Art Gallery can also view a selection of war drawings by Sir Muirhead Bone, who was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in 1916. Photos by Kim Cessford.
One of the finest archaeological finds ever made in Perthshire has taken up residence at Perth Museum and Art Gallery. The Bronze Age Carpow logboat has been transported to the town and painstakingly lifted into its new home by conservation specialists. One of the oldest and best preserved in Scotland, the 3,000-year-old logboat will be at the heart of the museum's new exhibitions, offering an insight into local life in the distant past. Since its excavation from the River Tay, near Carpow, in 2006, staff at the National Museums Scotland's conservation and analytical research department have been restoring and preserving the boat. On its return to Perthshire, the logboat was manoeuvred into Perth Museum in sections by conservators from National Museums Scotland and a team from TG McDonald Engineering. Over the next few weeks, the logboat will be made whole again and take centre stage in an exhibition on its Bronze Age origins, opening on March 19. The logboat was recovered from the Tay Estuary by the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust after being discovered in 2001, buried in the intertidal sands and gravels of Carpow Bank, at the head of the Tay Estuary. Carved from a single tree, the simple craft are the first known boats in existence. A radiocarbon date verified that the Carpow boat was 3,000 years old, dating to 1130-970BC and excavations in 2002 and 2003 established the full length of the boat at around 9m. While the bow of the boat had been eroded by tidal action, the buried hull and stern remained in excellent condition. The site could only be accessed over the summer for around three to four hours each day, and was reburied in tidal mud and sand at each high tide. The exploratory excavations did, however, identify Carpow as one of the best-preserved prehistoric logboats ever found in Britain. It was eventually decided to recover the vessel for study and conservation after its exposed bow was found to be eroding. Excavation was just the beginning of work to preserve the vessel as the team revealed that the oak boat had only survived because it had remained waterlogged. Once out of the water, the vessel was at risk of disintegration and had to be cleaned, preserved and freeze-dried before it was safe to display in a museum. Perth Museum and Art Gallery has been closed since January to prepare the galleries for the logboat and to allow for the first stage of improvement works in the entrance hall to be completed safely. It will reopen on March 5 with the Dinosaurs Unleashed exhibition, featuring life-size dinosaurs, holographic video presentations by wildlife expert Chris Packham, real and replica fossils and interactive exhibits. Entry is free and the exhibition runs until May 5. Lifelong learning convener Councillor Liz Grant said: ''Painstaking work has enabled the Carpow logboat to be made ready for display so that we can all discover more about life locally thousands of years ago. ''It's great that we have the chance to highlight the ancient history of the Perth and Kinross area as the Museum reopens after important improvements.'' Editor's link: The Carpow Logboat, on the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust website