Tales from the past in jotter

Munro Way in Kirriemuir.
Munro Way in Kirriemuir.

Who can tell what stories are held in the old farm fields around Kirrie?

One example is the field where the new houses being built in the Northmuir, in Kirriemuir by Mark Guild (on the site of what was in the 1980s, one of the largest car storage compounds in Britain) and now goes by the latest street name in Kirrie - Munro Way, which makes a nod to one of Kirrie’s most famous sons.

Some years ago I was given an old school jotter by a friend. It belonged to Patrick G. Duncan of East Memus. I had no idea when I got the old jotter that it would be of such interest, but after a bit of research I found the results were interesting, especially his connection with the Kirrie Show.

In common with all other fields in the area it would have had the usual rotational annual crops of tatties, cereals, grass and maybe berries, but it transpires that in 1893 Patrick granted the use of the grass park called then ‘Mid Park’ at Hillhead (today now known as Munro Way, but still located in front of the farmhouse of Hillhead) at a rent of 5 Guineas, as the site of the 1893 Kirrie Show - Patrick still lived at East Memus at that time. Patrick in turn donated the rent for the field of 5 Guineas to subsidise the show’s prize list.

The show records for that year show the proceedings were under the direction of W. John Edwards, of Bearfauld, Cortachy who was appointed Treasurer at a salary of £12/10/-. W. John Edwards later became interim secretary, while W.Osler was in America. Also in 1893 Hugh Andrews, of Lennoxlove,

Haddington offered a medal for the best foal by any of his horses “Prince Ethelmont” or Shaw Stewart” and 46 mares entered for ‘Entire Horse’ list.

Other equestrian events at the 1893 show were: 1. Gentlemen’s Trap Competition; 2. The High Leap Prizes £3 : £2; 3. Ladies Rig; 4. Gentlemen’s trotting match; 5. Boy’s pony race No. 1; 6. Gent’s trotting in saddle (open); 7. Bicycle Race No. 1; 8. Bicycle Race No. 2; 9. Ploughman’s Flat Race; 10. Boy’s pony race No 2 Boys not exceeding 16 years – ponies not over 15 hands - Pace “go as you please.”

In 1893 the total Gate Money amounted to £59/7/6 plus donations of £24/8/6 - considerably better than the 2015 takings of zero!

The admission to showground fees was from 10am to 1 O’clock - 1 shilling and after 1 O’clock - 6d.

Children of school age, half price. A carriage with two horses was 5/- extra; carriages with a single horse 2/6 extra. The Kirriemuir Brass Band was in attendance.

The afternoon excitement mounted when six boys entered the under 13 boy’s pony race and James Nicholson riding Mr Greenhill of Forfar’s “Mugs” bolted to the front and looked a clear winner, when the saddle girth gave way and the rider was thrown, narrowly escaping being severely injured by the horses from the rear. This thrilling race resulted in wee Willie Mackie coming in first, on a pony belonging to John Robertson of Denmill Farm. 

Later Kirrie Shows held at Hillhead seemed dominated by the weather. The 1905 show was held at Mid Field, Hillhead on 22nd July and the Show Directors would have rejoiced over Saturday’s rainfall -if their show hadn’t been in the way, but the universal comment was “Pity it hadn’t held over till Sunday”. The entries being 167 (including implements). The drawings at the gate only amounted to £25.

By the time the sports came on the weather had brightened up, so the Kirrie show has not always had a fine day..

The 1908 show was held in the same field at Hillhead on 18th July and in the morning a heavy gale blew from the north and the air was cold, but in the afternoon the wind abated and the sports were held in glorious weather.

Who knows what else will be revealed from Patricks’ old jotter or indeed what stories will emanate from the new inhabitants of Munro Way?

Yours aye

The ORRAMAN.