The Society’s 2024 took place in the Town House on 9th April. Following the main business, there were short presentations by some of the committee and the slides and text below were featured.

(Click on all photos to enlarge – recommended)

The first presentation by Dr James Herring featured a 1940 Haddingtonshire Courier Yearbook which was loaned to the presented by DDHS member Andrew Ashton. The cover (photo above) contains an advert for the Haddington-based company Bermaline which processed the flour for the bread. You can read more about Bermaline bread and its origins here. The advert on the right was shown inside the yearbook and has the strapline The Golden Bread for Glowing Health. The former Bermaline factory is now the premises of Pure Malt Products.

Haddington baker’s shop

If you enlarge the advert (photo above) for Laidlaw’s shop, you will see that as well as a range of cakes, the shop sold varieties of bread, including  Jenny Lind and this site tells us that it was The old name of a loaf in much favour at one time in the west of Scotland. It was evidently originally named after the famous singer Jenny Lind, who was a great favourite in the early part of the nineteenth century. This bread was flat and had a slightly sweet taste, not unlike a cake. In terms of brown bread, the advert shows that Laidlaw’s sold Bermaline bread but also Youma and Creamalt loaves. Youma was a malt bread or malt loaf and you can see an early advert for it hereCreamalt bread appears to have been made in the USA and perhaps the recipe was brought to Britain later. You can see a photo advert for this bread here.

Smith the Baker’s in Dunbar

In the 1940 yearbook, bakers from across East Lothian advertised in the the Courier and the above advert shows Dunbar’s Smith the Baker’s as it was known locally. There is no mention of Bermaline bread here but the shop may well have sold it among its (enlarge to see text) brown bread, which won Highest Awards at the Bakers’ and Confectioners’ International Exhibition. Smith’s were very well known locally for their range of cakes which they displayed in the window, including Tastefully Ornamented wedding and christening cakes.

The second presentation was by committee member Jim Thompson and Jim told a very good turnout:

I am one of the volunteers who provide a welcome to visitors to the Town House. As I have mobility  issues I no longer do tours of the House. I am there to welcome and tell the history of the House. As a member of the Parish Church I deal with enquiries about the location of graves in the Churchyard. We receive about one per month. Around the turn of the millennium members of the History Society spent ten years surveying all the graves. Each grave location was identified, then photographed, headstone measured, material noted and inscription noted. When an enquiry is received we check the name, identify the grave and send a copy of the photograph together with an aerial photo of the church yard identifying the location, to the inquirer. If there is no headstone we have to search the lair registry. The last three enquiries had no headstone. On finding the lair number we check adjacent lairs. Hopefully they have a headstone and thus we can find the grave.  One of the recent enquiries was from a man in England whose mother wanted her ashes to be scattered on her mother’s grave. Although there was no headstone, the grave was identified and Rev Stevenson said a few words when the ashes were placed on the grave.

I was also part of a small group from the Society led by Will Collin who put together an exhibition telling the story of Christianity in South East Scotland and the 1000 year history of a church on this site in Dunbar. The church is open each Sunday 2 to 4pm with members of the congregation to welcome and answer questions for visitors to the exhibition.

Presentation by Gordon Easingwood

You never know who is going to come through that door! It’s a refrain our volunteers have heard often over thirty plus years in Dunbar Town House.

Many families with the surname Dunbar have visited over the years and last summer was no exception. After showing one particular family around the Town House, they thanked me and I thought no more of it. Some weeks later my daughter happened to be in the Post Office and was told that there was a parcel waiting for me but with a surcharge. It felt like a Dinky toy and I was not paying a surcharge for that, not knowing the source! I did a ‘return to sender’. Not long after it came back and I was asked to pick it up. In the parcel was indeed a lovely little Dinky toy lorry and information on what turned out to be a long established Dunbar family’s Federal Armored Museum. The thank you letter, also enclosed, included an invitation to visit the family and museum any time. The dinky lorry photo (best enlarged) is shown below.

Federlal Armored Museum leaflet