Kinross in old picture postcards

Kinross in old picture postcards

:   David M. Munro
:   Perth and Kinross
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3199-5
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Kinross in old picture postcards'

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The County of Kinross used to be known as the 'Sleepy Hollow' of Scotland. Sheltered from the outside world by a ring of hills, this well-ordered, thinly populated rural landscape has an outward appearance of timeless tranquillity where everything is measured in centuries. There have been Adams at Blairadam for weil over 200 years, the Mercers of Aldie and the Arnots of Arnot were lairds in these parts for 600 years, and the fields of Portmoak Farm have been continuously cultivated for at least 1,000 years.

With a population that has scarcely deviated from a total of around 7,000 during the past 100 years and an areal extent that barely exceeds 82 square miles Kinross can hardly be said to loom large on the map. As a county it has in fact disappeared in all but name. Under the local authority reorganisation of 1975 the former County of Kinross, which had been a separate entity for at least 500 years, was absorbed into the new Perth and Kinross District within Tayside Region.

The peacefulness of this rural scene and the apparent insignificance of the statistics are, however, belied by a political and social history that is far from 'sleepy'. From a royal stronghold to a state prison, Loch Leven Castle has played host to many a king, queen and nobleman who has plotted or been plotted against. Mary Queen of Scats, who was forced to abdicate the throne here, spent eleven months within

its wails befare her jailer's son, Willie Douglas, helped her to make a daring escape. Meanwhile, on St. Serf's Island the philosophies of the known world and the first history of Scotland were being penned on locally made vellum by monks who had established a centre of knowledge and learning that had earned itself an international reputation throughout mediaeval Europe.

As for the landscape itself, there have been fundamental changes to town, village and field. Even Loch Leven, set like a jewel within a clasp of hills, has not escaped the hand of man eager to turn water into power and marshland into cornland. In the eighteenth century, much of the county was wild, unenclosed moorland suffering from poor drainage. As a result of this, only a small fraction of the higher and drier sites could be regularly cu1tivated as the 'infield' that surrounded farmsteading and village.

Dramatic changes took place on the plain of Kinross between 1811 and 1832, first with the deepening and widening of the Pow of Aldie and the Gairney Water and then with the lowering of Loch Leven, both major feats of engineering th at allowed former peat moss and stagnant ground to be converted into productive cropland. At the same time common grazings were being divided and the ara ble land that had been a complex muddle of mediaeval rigs was reorganised so that fie1ds could be enclosed by stone dykes and

hedgerows. By 1854 three-quarters of the county was under cultivation, a proportion exceeded only in Scotland by Fife and West Lothian. Thereafter, the agrarian trends were similar to other parts of the country where much of the land that had been improved gradually reverted to moorland. By 1937 only 60% of Kinross-shire remained under the plough.

The coming of the railway in the 1850s not on1y put an end to the era of themail coach, it changed a way of life for both farmer and tradesman. Farm produce could be sold further afield but at the same time goods could be brought into the county to fill the shelves of a growing number of shops in Kinross and Milnathort, enhancing the function of these towns as agricultural service centres. With the advent of the well-stocked shop, the carrier and the itinerant tradesman's van many of the traditional markets and fairs such as the 'Auld Handsei Market' in Kinnesswood dwindled and finally died out.

The railway also brought with it a large number of tourists and holidaymakers. By the 1880s trout fishing on Loch Leven had become internationally famous, so much so that champion fisherman Robert Harris had reopened the old Green Hotel to cater for a growing number of anglers. In the early years of the nineteenth century the Industrial Revolution had drawn many people to the big cities but by the end of the century they were returning to the country, not

to stay for good but to spend a week's holiday. In villages such as Kinnesswood, Scotlandwell, Cleish and Crook of Devon, where cottage weaving had died out by the early 1900s, this seasonal influx provided a valuable stimulus to local trade and a usefu1 supplementary income to anyone with a room or even a whole house to let.

Most of the picture postcards in this book are the work of two photographers - J. Nicoll Small, whose family came from the village of Kinnesswood, and Andrew Gardiner from Milnathort who produced his own 'Orwell Series' of postcards during the early years of this century.

This collection represents only a small sample of the old postcards and photographs that have escaped dustbin and bonfire. Selection has been a difficult task and although many interesting antiquities and scenes have had to be left out, what follows is hopefully evocative of the life and landscape of Kinross during the period 1880-1930.


The compilation of this book would not have been possib1e without additional material and assistance from the following organisations: Kinross-shire Antiquarian Society, Michael Bruce Memorial Trust, Country Life Archive, National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland.

1. No baak on Kinross would be complete without a picture of Loch Leven Castle. This posteard produced by Andrew Gardiner in his 'Orwell Series', is one of dozens of picture postcards featuring this mediaeval strongho1d which is certainly the best known historie building in the county. Most of the castle dates back to the later 14th or early 15th century when its main function was that of a state prison. Patriek Graham, first Archbishop of St. Andrews, King Robert II and his son Alexander, nieknamed the 'Wolf of Badenoch' , were involuntary residents here, but perhaps the best known prisoner of them all was Mary Queen of Scats who was foreed to abdicate the throne of Seotland during her ll-month period of captivity in 1567-68. For over 300 years Loch Leven Castle was held by the DougIas family, but when in 1675 it was sold with the rest of the LoehIeven Estate it appears to have been uninhabitable.

2. In the foreground of this view of Loch Leven and Castle lsland taken near the Factor's Pier lies a rowing boat typical of the type of craft that would have been used by David Marshall, the last tacksman of the loch to lease the water purely for net fishing. When he gave up his lease in 1873 the fishing rights were passed on to the Loch Leven Angling Association whose principal interest was trout fishing for sport. By then, in response to a growing interest in rod angling, the owner of the loch had gradually restricted net fishing to the first four months of the year.

3. Two fishermen and a ghillie set out from the pier at Kinross in this postcard which was sold in 1919 by a local printer called David Brown. The view northwards across the former Fraser net fishing sett takes in the Jingle Dyke, the Muckle Knowe and the Kimoss House policies. Sir Basil T. Graham Montgomery, who succeeded to the Kinross Estate in 1903, improved the fishing facllities by erecting stone and cement piers and six years later in 1909 the angling was further promoted by P.D. Malloch of Perth who leased the fishings on behalf of the Tay Salmon Fisheries Company,

Loch Leven casus.

1>SS JV.

4. For over a century Loch Leven has been world famous amongst anglers for its trout fishing. When this photograph was taken in 1919 there were about 28 boats on the loch and angling cornpetitions were held regularly throughout the season. In May 1881 the first National Angling Competition with 36 rods was won by P.D. Malloch of Perth who caught 16 trout weighing in at 161bs. 5 oz. In 1928 an annual International Competition was inaugurated with a cup presented by Lady Graham Montgomery in memory of her late husband who had done so much to improve the angling facilities,

5. The sluice house with its five arched gates was built in 1830 to control the water flowing from the south-east corner of Loch Leven along the new 'Cut' which stretches in a straight line for four miles before meeting the old course of the River Leven at Auchmuir Bridge. An Act of Parliament in 1827 preceded drainage operations which lowered the loch by 4.5 feet and reduced its area to three quarters of its original size. This must have been one of the greatest civil engineering projects to be carried out in central Scotland during the early 19th century. The mill owners downstream who benefited from the scheme employed a sluice keeper whose job was to regulate the outf1ow of water from the loch. In 1922 John Thomson was appointed keeper by the River Leven Trustees at a weekly wage of 45 shillings with instructions to keep the gates 'clean, oiled and in good working order'.

6. For centuries Loch Leven has been associated with 'Scotland's ain game' of curling. The Reverend John Ker in his 'History of Curling', published in 1890, suggested that the mediaeval priors on St. Serf's Island would have been familiar with the 'boom of the channel stane', and as far back as 1668 there is mention of a Curling Association in Kinross, It was not until February 1818 that the present-day Kimoss Curling Club was formed, complete with a set of rules governing the 'curling court', the 'fencing of the court', admission of new -members and the 'rouping of the stoup', In 1897 a Loch Leven Curling Province was established, consisting of clubs within a radius of 20 miles of the loch, each with a pond and a hut where stones could be stored. The Kinross curling pond was located on the Myre Commonty but when ice was thick enough bonspiels were held on the loch. This photograph illustrates one such occasion in 1892.

7. This fine example of a Pictish sculptured stone was discovered in the old churchyard at Tullibole during the 1870s. After a number of years standing on this spot close to the ruins of the former parish church of Tullibole it was sent for safe keeping to the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh in 1892. On the front it is just possible to make out the carving of a man on horseback accompanied by another person and three animals, two ornate discs, two horned serpents and two men wrestling.

A. sturray,

Rumbling Bridge, S.B.


8. There are no fewer than seven castles in Kinross-shire - one for every thousand of the population. The House of Aldie, which is more of a fortified farmhouse than a castle, is one of three in the county that have been restored and are still inhabited. Built in the early 14th century the castle remained for 600 years in the possession ofthe Mereer family, wealthy merchants in the city of Perth. The last representative of that family to own Aldie was the Marquis of Lansdowne who sold the property in 1947. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Mercers suffered from an inability to produce male heirs. This was believed to be the resu1t of a curse laid on them by a groom who was hanged on a holly tree outside the castle after stealing a small measure of corn,

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