Jan-Mar 20

January 2020

This month’s resource comes in the form of a video. It is an extract from the talk given by Jim Herring  in February to the Society. The first slide read “The Ups and Downs of Tourism in Dunbar” by Ailsa McKenzie and  Dr Jim Herring. The talk was partly based on a dissertation for Glasgow University completed by Ailsa McKenzie, who grew up in Dunbar and attended Dunbar Primary and Dunbar Grammar School. It was partly based on work done by Jim Herring, who also attended both schools. Ailsa was unable to make the talk. the video is best seen in fullscreen mode.


February 2020

This month and March 2020 will feature the 1899 map of Dunbar, a copy of which is held in the Society’s room in the Town House. The first two quarters from the map are highlighted this month. I (Jim Herring) was given considerable help with this by DDHS member Liz Curtis and DAvid Anderson who are experts  on local place names.
There is some textual information on the map below but I have put together a video on this part of the map which I hope you will find interesting as a Virtual Talk which can also be accessed here on YouTube.

1899 map of Dunbar (click on maps to enlarge – recommended)

If we look at the very top of the map, we can see that the islands off Winterfield Promenade and the harbour are named. Finding the origins of place names onshore or offshore can be tricky and for some, there may not be one definitive explanation of the name, while some are more straightforward. Here are a list of the most likely origins:
Wallace’s Head – named after Scots legend William Wallace; Oliver’s Ship – after Oliver Comwell who beat the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650; Half Ebb Rock – this rock is covered at half tide; Castlefoot Rock – rock standing near the foot of Dunbar Castle; Scart Rock – from the Scots word scart meaning cormorant or shag; Long Steeple and Round Steeple – from the Scots word for a tower; The Yetts – The gates – from the Scots yett meaning gate; The Gripes – An interesting one as it means a rock or rocks which might cause a boat to gripe or get into difficulties. In addition, many of us will know the term The Grips which is now a landing on the north side of the harbour, over the water from the back of the castle and round the corner – going towards the harbour from The Gripes on the map. How the present Grips area got its name is not known. Going back west of the castle, Boy’s Buss can be seen – This probably means ‘Bay’s rock’ from Scots buss – ‘any small sea rock that is exposed at low tide’ and St Bay, who was the patron saint of Dunbar collegiate church and whose well is nearby and where the name Bayswell comes from.
If we go to the harbour on the map, we can see that the hospital is named. Also featured on the video are The Hotel Bellevue, The Roxburghe Marine Hotel and The Retreat.

March 2020

Lifeboat video

This month features another virtual talk by Jim Herring. This talk features a film made in the early 1960s by Bobby Aitken, owner of Aitken the Chemist at that time. A copy was donated to the society by Christine Mitchell and Rob Aitken – daughter and son of Bobby Aitken. The film shows the lifeboat Margaret in the harbour, leaving to rescue a stricken yacht and then returning with the rescued boat and crew. The talk also looks at aspects of the film such as the lifeboat crew at the time; people walking on top of the castle, which is of course now closed to the public; as well as the fishing boats in the harbour at the time. Here is the talk on YouTube.

The photo below – from the History Society archives – shows the Avail in Dunbar Harbour, whereas in the video it is not in Dunbar.  In the photo, the Avail is the 3rd ship from the right. The first boat – LH 441 – is the Trio owned by William Brunton and the second boat is the May Queen II owned by R.J. and G.T. Johnston. (Photos and information from Gordon Easingwood)

The Avail in Dunbar harbour (Click all photos to enlarge – recommended)

There is also a reference to the ship Ramsdal in the video and this was a huge ship which ran aground at Peffer Sands in 1964 and was attended to by The Margaret. The photo below (not in the video) – also from the archives – shows the coastguard at the time – Fred Vernon – walking to the shore from the ship.

The Ramsdal on Peffer Sands in 1964.