Posts tagged ‘Aberdeen’

Oct 22, 2014

They’re Not Making Land Anymore – so what can the SRUC sell off now?

lindsay

Scotland’s countryside is an important contributor to the nation’s economy: cereals, potatoes, soft fruit, beef and dairy, sheep and forestry. These industries are vulnerable however – to fluctuating markets and weather certainly but what else?

Where do young people go to train for careers in rural occupations? The time was when there were facilities fairly close to home for our rural youngsters to get the basics while still working on family farms, certainly at weekends. Unfortunately these facilities are contracting and the danger is some may disappear altogether. Whole experimental farms have been sold off for house building or golf courses at the same time our rural college offers its majority of courses not in any of Scotland’s mainstays of farming but in Scotland’s second biggest city, Edinburgh.

The food produced in Scotland is renowned for its high quality and you might think it essential to reinforce this state-of-affairs through the provision of educational courses provided in just those areas where demand is greatest to learn rural skills and where back-up services are most needed. Edinburgh does not spring to mind for either of those.

The body providing training for a life in farming and forestry is the Scottish Rural College (SRUC) which a couple of years ago morphed out of the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) – an umbrella organisation for agri colleges across the country that had been established in the early years of the 20th century and were instrumental in the expansion of Scotland’s agricultural sector, based largely on pasture-reared stock.

“Sheep and beef production from extensive systems is broadly speaking, environmentally friendly. Animal welfare is perceived to be of a high order and, coupled with images of fresh air, open hills and clean water, Scottish meat is seen as a high quality product”.
House of Commons, Scottish Affairs Committee (1996).

But not all is perfect with the SRUC which returned a loss for the last financial year – blamed on a number of one-off and merger costs, but contrived a 43% increase in pay for the principal and chief executive to £309,000, from £216,000 previously. The SRUC Chairman is Lord Jamie Lindsay.

Hard times have not dampened the ambitions of the SRUC Board to achieve university status for its courses and it is undergoing discussions with Edinburgh University with that in mind because the SRUC is seeking,

“a new alignment with the potential to create an influential force in the agricultural world”.

And you and I thought good farming practice came down to a farmer being able to tell one end of a cow from another.

The SRUC operates six campuses across Scotland – at Aberdeen, Ayr, Barony, Edinburgh, Elmwood and Oatridge plus a network of veterinary, advisory, consultancy offices and research farms, essential to the farming community. The provision is similar to what has long existed if somewhat curtailed in extent after years of pruning staff, courses, property and land – in a bid to balance the books.

The model sought was smaller and sleeker and not so messily rural which is why the SRUC ended up as an urban institution, in one of the most expensive parts of Scotland.

Scotland’s richest farming areas are found in Orkney, the northeast and southwest and rural communities in these parts were desperate to retain a close working relationship with the then SAC. What emerged was an extended internecine war over which campus would be the best headquarters and which would suffer greatest losses of land, buildings and staff in the drive for economic viability.

Back in 2003 the Scottish Parliament’s Environment and Rural Development Committee issued this statement:
‘The current review of SAC did not itself consider the wider economic impact of SAC’s decisions. That was not an oversight. SAC’s Directors are responsible for the viability of the organisation. Though SAC wishes to be as helpful to local economies as it can be, that must not compromise its own survival.’

This is curious. The SAC’s survival was surely inextricably linked to the success of its decisions and the attractiveness of a rural college is surely its usefulness to the people most likely to use it. Given the particular and differing strengths of agricultural industries across Scotland their needs will vary by area. The notion that the SAC had to survive at all costs is a peculiar one. If the SAC was not effective in responding to the needs of its industry then preserving it as an entity was never going to create a facility relevant to the future of rural life and industry.

Deloitte and Touche (D&T) were employed to draw up a report to establish the situation within the SAC and its future options.

D &T’s report threw up a list of justifications for situating Scotland’s rural college in its capital city as the best way forward rather than at one of its two main purpose-built campuses – Auchincruive, Ayrshire and Craibstone, Aberdeen.

At the time student numbers were:
Edinburgh – 146 students
Craibstone – 200 students
Auchincruive – 360 students

Brian Pack, former CE of the giant Aberdeen and Northern Marts (ANM) group argued for the retention of the Scottish system of integrating practice at the SAC – preserving a link between research and development and consultancy with teaching while the SAC sought to separate them out. He was a strong advocate for making Craibstone the lead campus for the SAC Scotland operation, not least because of its proximity to the rich farming lands of Aberdeenshire.

Edinburgh, it was pointed out had no student accommodation on site and it would be difficult and expensive for students to find their own in the city. Craibstone was well-served with student accommodation, and its many students were able to combine studies with practical work at home, not possible for the majority from Edinburgh. Craibstone was also popular with students from the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney because of the good transport links with these areas. Craibstone included several experimental farms distributed over a wide area as well as woodland in a prime location at the edge of Aberdeen.

Another view in support of Craibstone is quoted –

‘It is recognised that there are other further education establishments closer to
home e.g. Edinburgh SAC is closer to the Borders than Craibstone is,
however the students still chose to come to Aberdeen. This shows a better
quality experience gained at a rural campus, especially for rural-based
courses. You only need to look at the successful recruitment of students at
other land-based colleges in rural locations to see this is true e.g. Harper
Adams, Writtle, Royal Agricultural College.’

But the D&T report worked hard at persuading the case for establishing the rural college’s base in Edinburgh where it said there was –

‘better access to physical resources in libraries, bookshops and other support services were seen as great advantages’

…which annoyed supporters of Craibstone –

‘This has obviously been produced by people with little knowledge of how the campus at Craibstone Operates: all students are matriculated to Aberdeen University, so have a free access to the University library, sports and other student facilities which are only 5 miles away from Craibstone and on a main bus route. It is therefore obvious that the weightings are unrealistic and inaccurate.’

Was the D&T report projecting the outcome desired by the SAC Board? That was certainly the suspicion among many in the industry whereas it appeared the then Scottish Executive supported retaining the College as a cross-country facility. Given that the SAC was receiving 41% of its funding from Holyrood you might think that view should have carried weight.
However Labour’s Rhona Brankin MSP appears to have supported the move to Edinburgh.

brankin

It is not obvious how setting up in an urban environment was going to stop the loss of students and cash. Quite the reverse.

At Ayr it was felt that decisions were being taken without consultation with ‘local stakeholders’ and that the detrimental impact on the Ayrshire economy was not given consideration. Auchincruive offered consultancy services, vet labs along with an experimental farm and brought in nearly 29% the SAC’s education income.

Both Craibstone and Auchincruive provide courses from SVQs to BSc Hons level although more limited in university degree options than at Edinburgh.

Arguing in favour of Edinburgh was Dr Mark Hocart from the SAC there –

‘Education is about personal growth and development as well as academic success. SAC has a responsibility to provide the most appropriate environment for students to develop as fully rounded personalities. For many students the contacts and network of friends made at college or university will be important to them throughout their subsequent careers so it is important that that experience is as rich and diverse as possible. A National Centre of Excellence The proposed ‘Hub and Spoke’ model is the right way to move.’

So there you have it – learning skills is so old fashioned – it’s all about personal growth blah, blah, blah.

As for ‘Hub and Spoke’ – this is Edinburgh the hub and Auchincruive and Craibstone etc are the spokes. Which is fine except shouldn’t it have been the other way around with the concentration on rural rather than urban?

He went on

‘Bringing the full-time education provision together for the first time will allow SAC
to build an integrated range of course programmes, maximising opportunities for
sharing of teaching modules across programmes. The hub focus will improve the
diversity of course programmes students can pursue while still delivering
education in a financially viable manner. The ‘Spokes’ are effectively satellite
teaching centres, and outreach centres based principally on SAC’s advisory
offices that will allow a greater participation in education for students in rural
Scotland. Developments in e-learning, distance learning and ‘electronic
classrooms’, will enable SAC to deliver education and training over a wider
geographical range than is currently the case. The hub and spoke model will
give SAC a truly national reach for education provision.’

You might be forgiven for wondering how this matches up with effective training for our young farmers … e-learning? really?

Here’s a novel approach – do away with the need for e-learning and get students out into the field (literally). Or is that too radical?

He continued

‘King’s Buildings (Edinburgh) have strong and productive research links with the Moredun Research Institute, the Roslin Institute, the SABRIs, SASA and BioSS. This
amalgamation of research activities adds significantly to the critical mass for
effective world class research. ‘

Forgive me but isn’t this exactly the setup for e-communication rather than practical skills? And while Edinburgh campus was close to those research bodies Craibstone was equally close to the Macaulay Institute(John Hutton), the Rowett and the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon’s University.

And continued

‘SAC Edinburgh has a local tradition of agriculture and land-based education and
has been supporting land-based industries for as long as any other centre. At
present we provide 25% of the courses at SAC, less than our Auchincruive
campus, however this is to change in the future.’

And we know why.

Dr Graham E Dalton FIAgrM commenting on the D&T report –

‘This report is a classic consultancy report where the wrong question has been asked. The financial accounts show that SAC is not working. Why? High overheads for facilities are only one possible reason for this situation.’

He questioned whether staffing levels were right rather than D&T’s concentration on WHERE to put staff. And he questioned D&T’s favouring centralising the SAC in Edinburgh – arguing this WOULD have a negative impact on revenue so that the report’s assumption of their best option was unlikely to succeed.

He suggested the report was coming on the problem from the wrong end. Instead of concentrating on the organisation of the institution it should have looked to the needs of ‘its customers’.
Indeed.

Brian Pack pointed out the danger of being fixated by costs rather than value. A yes to that.

Think about it if you were setting up an agricultural – let’s widen it – rural college would you opt to put it in the middle of a city?

If there’s one thing people need it is food. There is surely great scope for further development of Scotland’s rural industries so how is it the institution on which so much of this future depends is in dire straits? Could it be the fault lies with the Board and decisions taken by it?

Isobel Gibson thought so. Back at the same Holyrood enquiry in 2003 she was critical of the management of the SAC and D&T report for failing to understand the needs of students and their ‘potential as generators of income.’

Auchincruive and Craibstone were once major centres for learning for young men and women, many of them from farming backgrounds, in search of rural skills. Both colleges provided their localities with professional advice from experts in crop management, pest control, veterinary advice and so on as well as undertaking research programmes. But their farmland, woodland and many buildings were sold and with them so vital provision and links with the land.

auchincruive

There’s an echo of the consequence of slicing away at our agricultural base in an academic paper on ‘Agriculture’s contribution to Scottish society, economy and environment’ (2001) from the University of Aberdeen which found that when Scots were asked to visualise ‘rural’ they conjured up images of a highland idyll – of mountainscapes – whereas in other parts of Europe the same question brought descriptions of things agricultural.

While I might not be able to lay the blame for this diminution in awareness of our agricultural sector at the door of the SAC or SRUC or whatever they are likely to call themselves next week there were signals back in 2003 that not all was right.

“The Scottish Agricultural College is a practical example of what happens when Colleges merge without a well thought out strategy. The Committee should regard it as a template of all that can go wrong. There has been a preponderance of “bankers and business types” on the SAC Board. Practical farmers were ignored.”

Both Craibstone and Auchincruive suffered draconian cuts in the SAC/SRUC drive to stop leaking cash. Slash and sell – the SAC saw a future in selling off farms and land and anything that stood still. Indeed could that be the reason Edinburgh won out as the SAC HQ – that campus had nothing to flog off whereas Craibstone was resource-rich and by selling its assets and those at Auchincruive the SAC was able to use the capital raised to reduce its losses. Had the decision been taken to abandon Edinburgh in favour of, say, Craibstone, there would be no such financial gain as the SAC there had virtually nothing to sell.

However it was come to the decision was taken in favour of Edinburgh and the SAC now existed as a private company with charitable status. Its Principal and Chief Executives were appointees – by fellow Board members. There was also a tie in with the Anglian Water Group (AWG) hired to carry out some of the campus pruning operations. The SAC sat back and waited for the cash to drop into their laps. In 2007 merchant baker Lord Lindsay was appointed its chairman. Integration was the way forward.

Then in 2013 this emerged:

“If ever a monument to “joined up” academic planning stupidity was to be erected, the Craigie Campus, Ayr should be its home. No one but an academic would train nurses and farmers at the same facility. Squeaky clean meets E Coli heaven. This week (7 Janueary 2013) the annual health warning to pregnant women was issued by the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Harry Burns. This warns women not to come into contact with lambing ewes or even the clothes of anyone doing the work for fear of risks to their own unborn child.”

P1000766

While the SAC was selling off property with one hand it was swallowing up various rural colleges, to mix metaphors, to mixed fortunes. Integration at any cost. Doesn’t responsibility for this absurdity rest with the Board?

Critics of the way the SAC was run and now presumably the SRUC have made no impact on it.

‘What lessons can be learned from the conduct of the SAC. The SAC Board has long been considered a self perpetuating oligarchy.’

“On 19 January 2011, the then SAC chief executive told all 30 South Ayrshire Council Planning Committee members at a public planning meeting they were to disregard the testimony of the person nominated by the Ayrshire National Farmers Union to speak in opposition to SAC plans to ruin Auchicruive.
On the day, the Ayrshire NFU farmer representative was not allowed to rebut the unwarranted attack on his integrity. The SAC Chairman later did admit the SAC Chief Executive was in error and apologised to the Ayrshire farmer in the press.”

Extraordinary behaviour.

There is no disguising discontent among the farming community over the role played by the organisation.

‘Finally the Committee should invite the NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller to tell why it was necessary for him to write to the Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead in August 2011. “It is a sad fact that our Scottish system, which was once world leading, is probably no longer the best.” He also calls for a need to examine how we make the most of our existing sites.’

The SRUC annual report 2013 shows the SRUC still selling off land at Aberdeen and Ayr to improve its net balance. The jargon seems to indicate we haven’t seen the end of mergers – or ‘merger synergies’ as stated in the report.

The move to Edinburgh doesn’t appear to have been the answer to the SRUC’s problems. It appears caught in a cycle of cost cutting – to what end?

Who and what are losing out to this crazy setup and how damaging is it for the future of Scotland’s rural industries?

In its drive to attain university status has the SRUC lost sight of its basic function?

Why was it able to become a private company answerable to none over its selling off once publicly owned resources?

It bothers me that its Board members, apart from staff and student representatives are appointed.

That it is private but is still supported by public funds – currently the SRUC gets
financial assistance from the Scottish Funding Council.

That it is a registered charity therefore does not pay corporation tax.

The SAC, and now the SRUC, was set up as a limited liability company under guarantee (without share capital). Many such conversions from public colleges to private have gone down a similar route but with Boards of Governors plus a CEO and Principal. The SAC chose to form a standard limited company with a Board of Directors.

Confused?

A board of governors allows greater opportunity for scrutiny of senior management. And it is cheaper than the SAC/SRUC setup as governors are paid a small stipend and expenses. An executive Board gets salary plus benefits – what they are is anyone’s guess. Board executive liability in the event of the SRUC becoming insolvent stands at £1 each.

As there are no shareholders the Board can remunerate themselves to any amount they wish. There are stakeholders of course, who can attend the annual AGM and grand dinner, but they don’t get any vote on the issue of executive remuneration.

There we have it. A rural skills college run from a city as a private business dependent on public money, paying no corporation tax and flogging off what were publicly owned assets.

Nothing illegal about it but for the life of me I can’t see this model as being in the best interests of Scotland’s rural industries.

ENVIRONMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
AGENDA
2ND Meeting, 2003 (Session 2)
Wednesday 25 June 2003
[PDF]SRUC Board and Committe Structure and Remits – working …
www.sruc.ac.uk/…/sruc_boards_and_committees_remits_and_structures

[PDF]Agriculture’s contribution to Scottish society, economy and …
www.scotland.gov.uk/resource/doc/158216/0042826.pdf

https://lenathehyena.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/craibstone-estate-on-greenbelt-gets-1000-houses/

Herald Scotland : Few signs of peace as SAC’s battle for survival reaches the Executive Thursday 26 June 2003

Oct 18, 2014

Ban the Bomb 1967-style

As a follow up to Singing Ding Dong Dollar blog here is another copy of Megaton, Aberdeen youth ban the bomb’s magazine from the summer of love 1967.

Scott MacKenzie was the vinyl of choice with his hit San Francisco which you might want to play while perusing this recently uncovered edition of Megaton.

MegatonMegaton p.2Megaton p.3

The quality is poor but hey, it was nearly half a century ago.

Megaton p.4

Megaton p.6Megaton p.6Megaton p.7

Aberdeen YCND

Aberdeen YCND

Megaton p.8Megaton p.9Megaton p.10Megaton p.11Megaton p.5Megaton p.12

Aberdeen YCND

Aberdeen YCND

Megaton p.13Megaton p.15Megaton p.16Megaton p.17

Oct 9, 2014

Now you see it – now you don’t – Marischal Square

 

The vote was taken at once, and it was agreed by an overwhelming majority that rats were comrades.                                                                                                                                                                (Animal farm)

Aberdeen City Council has reinforced the belief that it is surely one of the most disgraceful and sleekit of local authorities.

It has played a dirty game over the development that it once boasted would be Marischal Square – a great opportunity for a civic space it once promised – an idea that captured the mood of the city’s citizens browned off by a recent diet of lacklustre plans lacking in ambition and confidence.

Did they say square? They did. Did. Not any more. Because square there aint. Unless you follow the logic of Cllr Boulton who, in reply to being challenged on the great disappearing square, muttered something along the lines of – the whole area is a kind of square.

 The erm, Square

Quite.

There used to be a distinctive old street there called Broad Street. Lord Byron, Geordie Gordon, bade there as a child. The old Aberdeen Journals occupied a large property there and Bissets bookshop was there at the other end. There never used to be a square and there sure as hell isn’t going to be one in the near future. Not until these eejits running the council are dead and buried.

So square is now a former concept of a square. This wonderful civic square that would become a hub (councils love the term hub) for city folk and so the idea of Marischal Square was born – no not born, conceived.

Then the council had a think and it thought – hey min there’s nae cash in an empty space.

Come on you didn’t think they’d stick to their word – did you?

 COUNCILLORS'  BRAIN

Average councillor brain

There’s been a lot of talk – encouraging the public to get involved, implying citizens’ views would be taken note of in drawing up the final design. That is until people said,

Yes we want a square – ken fit I mean, min?

Well you ken fit want gets.

It is clear the Labour-led coalition which includes a Tory and Independents while happy to provide a blank sheet for the developers eager to build shops, offices and a hotel is less interested in what the people of the city want. Did I say less interested? Not interested.

Of course councils ignoring the wishes of the people is not a new phenomenon but disappointing nevertheless whenever it occurs and when it doesn’t even try to modify the commercial aspects of the design as a sop to public opinion.

The final decision was taken away from the Planning Committee and put to full council to ensure the commercial proposal went through, as councillors would be more or less voting along party lines. This was nothing short of politicising the scheme and a scandalous manipulation of power on a project that is so controversial.

Cllr Willie Young is reported to have indicated on July 17th this year that the decision had already been taken to go ahead with the Muse development causing consternation among opposition councillors opposed to the deal.

Squares are good

Squares are good

Squares were good

Squares were good

Squares no good

Squares no good

Squares were good but concrete is better

 

What we want is concrete and more concrete. Can’t get enough concrete. Our aim is to concrete over Aberdeen. Concrete is money. Fill the mouths of those who dare to speak out with concrete. That’ll shut them up.

Cllr Jenny Laing tells the world this vibrant developments of offices and shops will prove that Aberdeen is open for business, as if one of the most economically dynamic areas of the UK isn’t already open and doing a grand line in business.

Do people actually vote for these people who speak in banalities?

ACC ratings

Aberdeen Evening Express

Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure.

On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility.

Contrary to what the Labour group say there is nothing , absolutely nothing in this design to attract people into the city. On the other hand a large photogenic square would most definitely become a tourist attraction as well as a potential gathering place and area for music and entertainment. Think of what some photographs of a fine square with the magnificent Marischal College, the second largest granite building in the world,  in the background and those fine old properties of Upper Kirkgate along one side, would do to enhance the attractiveness of Aberdeen.

Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer – except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.

Sep 4, 2014

Slander, Fraud and a Secret Room: William M’Kinnon & Co in the Great War

Guest blog by Textor

It began in 1916 as a telegram, became a whispering campaign, filled column inches in the local press and finished in 1920 in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. This was the scandal of William M’Kinnon & Co. manufacturing faulty shells for use on the Western Front.

Soldiers in WWI (McKinnon's arms)

Founded in 1798 William M’Kinnon & Co’s pedigree was a long and proud one of supplying foundry and engineering products locally but by mid 19th century the company had spread its industrial wings becoming part of the web of commerce which was the British Empire. Sugar, tea, coffee, rice and cacao all needed processing before being sold to customers across the globe.  This was the market that M’Kinnon entered and so they continued into the last years of the 20th century.[1]   Dryers, heaters, graders, sieves, elevators and steam engines were manufactured in the Spring Garden works. In 1914 just weeks before the outbreak of war the firm was awarded a Gold Medal for the excellence of its tropical agricultural equipment. 

Imperialist war demanded cannon fodder and cannons. Men left M’Kinnon’s to fight in Europe and in a mirror action, in 1915, the company decided it too would get involved, in munitions manufacturing. Patriotism would have played its part but an added incentive was a guaranteed market and the prospect that a new factory might be fitted-out at Government expense. Premises were purchased adjacent to the existing works at Spring Garden and David Graeme Robertson came back from the Malay States to run the factory. Robertson was part of the imperial commercial web which had benefitted M’Kinnon so well. Having served his time with them he travelled east, in about 1906, establishing his own engineering in Kuala Lumpur and was also involved in a tin mining scheme whose shareholders were mainly from Aberdeen. In 1913 this particular enterprise hit a rocky patch with David Graeme making accusations of “wicked and unscrupulous action” by one of the scheme’s members; this drew a libel action against him but the case was lost and Robertson left with his pocket and reputation intact. Possibly this court experience played a role in subsequent events.

Whatever his reasons for returning to Aberdeen the fact is that he was in overall charge of the factory when it first received an order for 4.5 inch shells and later 6 inch shells: by mid 1916 over 50,000 of the smaller ordnance had been dispatched to the battlefields along with 30,000 of the larger calibre. In this work “Girl operators” who “did not make a perfect job, but they did very good work” were on the machines, overseen by time-served male engineers given the task of ensuring output was maintained.   One of the gaffers was a Mr Hunter, a man who’d spent 20 years with the firm; he became a key figure in the ensuing shells scandal.  

At the end of 1916 Hunter approached manager Robertson and asked for a rise in wages on grounds of having improved workshop productivity. He was refused and the conversation must have been heated for the outcome was Hunter’s sacking. Unsurprisingly he appears to have left in high dudgeon and when later he met with a Robert Whitelaw, a surgical instrument maker and special constable, he let rip with venom, criticizing the manager in particular. He told Whitelaw that M’Kinnon’s was guilty of fraud, that the war effort was being undermined with their dud shell casings being shipped to the troops at the Front. And this deceit, he declared, was being carried out in a “secret room” in the attic not with “girl operators” but only “skilled” men. Whitelaw had lost a son in the war and the news hit him hard. Appalled at the thought of troops being left vulnerable he immediately drafted a telegram to the Ministry of Munitions informing them that there was a rumour of malpractice at Spring Garden.

mckinnon cocoa bean

This brought a swift response: two inspectors followed by Colonel Stansfield from the Ministry arrived at the works. The premises were searched and in a meeting behind closed doors it was decided the Government should assume control of the factory. The first Aberdonians knew of this was removal of M’Kinnon’s signboard and its replacement by the prosaic “National Shell Factory”.

And there the matter rested until the end of the war. From 1917 to 1918 the nationalised factory operated under the direction of Professor Horne of Robert Gordon’s Technical School but rumours continued to circulate. It was only with the cessation of hostilities that matters came to a head and full public disclosure, as we might now say, was made.

Robert Whitelaw was accused of slander. The company, D G Robertson and Lachlan M’Kinnon sued, seeking damages of £6000 to be apportioned equally between the three pursuers. Whether Robertson’s victory in Kuala Lumpur inspired confidence of a win in this case is unclear what is certain is that he led the trio and sought to vindicate his own reputation as a patriot and an engineer.  

Between July 1919 and May 1920 the public were treated to a case which exposed the running of the shell factory and the Government’s priorities during the war.

The court action began before a jury at the Court of Session in March 1920 with Lord Blackburn presiding. The pursuers initially focussed on Whitelaw’s allegation that the company had conspired to make a Government stamp with the intention of fooling local inspectors. However, Lord Blackburn ruled, before the jury sat, that this was a secondary issue and that the central case was the question of the quality of the shells manufactured and the actions of the company between 1915 and 1916.  

McKinnon of Aberdeen

Evidence was presented by the pursuers, the defendant, an ex-Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Government inspectors and a range of employees from M’Kinnon’s. During proceedings it emerged a secret meeting was held in the Palace Hotel on 14th February 1917, led by Director of Munitions in Scotland, Frederick Lobnitz, with Lord Provost Taggart present. In essence this meeting presented D G Robertson with a fait accompli. Robertson was informed that the evidence collected during the snap inspection in January 1917 meant the factory was to be taken out of the hands of M’Kinnon, that the claims made by Whitelaw “were proved to the hilt” and “that was a crime”. It was declared by the Director of Munitions that the criminal action had been carried out under the orders of Robertson. Lord Provost Taggart, a prominent figure in Aberdeen’s granite industry, agreed with Lobnitz. When Robertson protested and asked for a hearing of his side of the issue he was summarily refused and Lobnitz hit back with, “If this had been done in France you would have been stuck up against a wall and shot”. Even the pursuers’ council admitted that if Whitelaw’s allegations were true his clients would have been traitors, their actions treasonable and would have deserved to be shot.

McKinnon49factory

But David Graeme was not shot. Instead he was removed from the factory, which according to him meant M’Kinnon would lose 95% of its business. From the evidence given at the trial it became clear that the Government objective was to ensure the smooth production of deadly ordinance while at the same time suppressing any disclosures which might undermine morale on the Home Front; and prevent troops on the Front Lines learning that their lives were being placed at risk through “friendly” action of a once reputable engineering firm. Shooting one of the city’s leading businessmen was not really an option so state officials being what they are decided that a gentleman’s agreement of sorts should be adopted: if the company signed the factory over to the state it in turn would not shoot Robertson and further it would keep the whole affair hidden from the public. Frederick Lobnitz said they should “give up their contract, when the whole matter would remain private, and no stigma of blame would attach to the firm”. Sir James Taggart was happy to go along with this as it maintained the reputation of the city.

As the slander case progressed David Robertson’s and Lachlan M’Kinnon’s confidence must have waned. Government inspectors spoke of discovering a snibbed “secret room” in which men worked on some 150 to 200 shells, all in various states of disrepair. They testified to having to force entry to the room, literally a foot in the door. The Ministry’s Colonel Stansfield described the practice as a “deliberate attempt to cheat the Government gauges” (used by inspectors on the factory floor).

Robertson’s memory failed him; he told Lord Blackburn that he could not recall Stansfield accusing the company of fraud. Some of M’Kinnon’s employees claimed the snib on the door was there to keep management out so men could have a quiet smoke, something banned during dayshift. An alternative explanation offered was the room was a place men could dodge the gaffer. However the room contained a quantity of shells, new base plates waiting to be riveted, copper bands for attaching, the means of expanding the diameter of cases and so on; none of which was made known to the official inspectors, neither room nor operations. It was not until January 1917 that the secret room was revealed.     

Beyond the walls of the Palace Hotel where David Graeme was offered a deal, or rather an ultimatum, matters looked bleak for Robert Whitelaw. Not unusually for a whistleblower he found himself under threat. The gravity of the charge against M’Kinnon’s ensured the state took decisive action but this did not mean plaudits for Whitelaw; and certainly not any honour which his detractors hinted was the motivation for his action.[2] The problem the state had with him was that he would not shut up. He persisted in speaking to fellow special constables and others about the matter. A Government official contacted Chief Constable Anderson and told him that Whitelaw was making too much of a public fuss, that he should be told to keep his mouth closed. So the special constable found himself before his boss, being warned that there was “an immense amount of talk in Aberdeen” and it had to stop. DORA was the Chief Constable’s answer, no not a close female friend but Defence of The Realm Act, a draconian piece of legislation which was passed in 1914 and gave the Government wide-ranging powers of censorship and control over civilian activities. Whitelaw was warned that his gossip was “Prejudicial to the troops”. Given the prospect of a prison sentence the surgical instrument maker decided to adopt a lower profile and having lost confidence in his boss he resigned as a special constable.

In the end there was general vindication of Whitelaw’s claims. In his summing up Lord Blackburn said that irrespective of David Robertson’s engineering experience and his familiarity with boiler technology he lacked precise knowledge of munitions and explosives which meant that his views on manufacturing techniques were secondary to those of the appointed Government inspectors. Blackburn agreed with Stansfield and also cast doubt on the notion that the attic room was open to any who chose to visit. The jury retired to consider the case and after three hours deliberation returned its verdict. Of the four components of the action, including a counter action by Whitelaw, three were found in the defendant’s favour. The jury agreed that M’Kinnon had on occasion manufactured faulty shells and that these had been sent to a secret room to be rectified, without official permission and with the intention of having the modified shells passed as suitable for shipment to the Front. The only issue which was found in favour of the three pursuers was Robert Whitelaw’s claim that the company had forged a government stamp; this was a false claim (for the engineering minded this was confusion over a knurling tool although being a surgical instrument maker Whitelaw should have known the difference).

How important this single victory by M’Kinnon & Co. was can be judged from the fact that no damages were awarded for this slander. And, equally indicative, when Lord Blackburn came to apportion costs he ruled that the pursuers would pay their own expenses and 3/5 of the defendant’s.

mckinnon machine

In summing up Blackburn made clear that in his opinion the use of the secret room, repairing of faulty ordinance, and presumably the sidestepping of official inspectors, was an act of foolishness on the part of Robertson.   The manager had allowed his judgement as to what was and was not acceptable to override the regulations and the judgement of Government officials.   All had been done with the best of intentions. In mitigation Blackburn observed that no evidence had been brought forward which implicated any repaired shells in the deaths of British troops.   He concluded “Mr Robertson was not actuated by any personal motives in doing what he did, and that he honestly believed that the shells passed after treatment were in all respects as good shells as those which had not been treated”, and observed that the base motives attributed to Robertson and the company through public gossip were unjustified. Accordingly, he concluded that Robertson could leave the court knowing that this misrepresentation of his character had been dispelled.

And so with the end of the war this small skirmish in Aberdeen was settled. The National Shell Factory at Spring Garden ceased production on the 28th November 1918 with most of the workers being demobilised (presumably mostly girl operators) and on the 26th December machinery, tools and other equipment were auctioned off. As for William M’Kinnon & Co. the business turned again to its traditional market and in 1921 it won an award for the excellence of its machinery.   D. G. Robertson died in Montreal in 1926 and Robert Whitelaw died in 1932. Neither death notice in Aberdeen Press and Journal mentioned the scandal.

 

[1] Founder William M’Kinnon died in 1873 aged 96.   The name can still be found marketing plantation machinery but the business no longer has the local presence it once had.

[2] Throughout the war years Robert Whitelaw was prominent in fund raising concerts for British troops which probably gives a better sense of his motivations.

See photographs on Flickr – you may have to copy and paste the link to get the images up

https://www.flickr.com/photos/87708465@N04/sets/72157646826781278/

 

Aug 6, 2014

Keep it Simple Aberdeen. Simply a Square.

Marischal College

Keep it simple Aberdeen City Council.

You started this by talking about a civic square – Marischal Square.

Now deliver on your word.

Nothing more. Nothing less. A wonderful large and photogenic

Marischal Square.

Thanks for voting folks. Result of the poll, completely unscientific and none the worse for that, is 97% for an open square and 3% for the proposed Muse development.

It doesn’t prove anything other than people who are interested in Aberdeen’s architecture and how the city develops who read this blog are overwhelmingly against putting crass commercialism before preserving the little piece of magnificence there is in the city.

I hope Aberdeen City Council takes notice but I’ve been around long enough to know that other factors influence its members and permanent staff that have nothing to do with doing the decent and aesthetic considerations.

 

 

 

Jun 28, 2014

The Wonderful World of Jodi Le Bigre

 

 

overgrowth

OVERGROWTH

What struck me about this picture at first viewing was the tight composition, the subtle palette and fascinating detail which draws the eye in and around the scene. It looked Japanese; the women’s faces slightly oriental and their costumes exotic and painstakingly depicted.  A finely drawn wooden hull rises out of the water – all bulk and weight and grainy texture.  On board the women are mostly bunched up with a few outliers, one immersed in the water.

I liked the piece immediately I saw it at the Aberdeen Artists Society exhibition in Aberdeen Art Gallery so I thought I’d look at more of the artist’s work.

Feathers%20sq[2]

Jodi Le Bigre’s approach is truly fascinating. Take the oil on wood, Feathers – it is an amazing painting soft and multi-faceted and coloured from a restricted her palette. The birds’ feathers are as sensuous as any 18th century fabric in say a Ramsay painting. In a humorous aside a bird in the botton right corner gazes at its own reflection in a stone or something shiny.

Looking through her website the variety of Jodi’s approaches become apparent.  Just as she’s lived in different parts of the world – her native Canada, France, Japan and now Scotland so she’s been absorbing ideas and motifs from all manner of influences. It was in Paris that she learned printing which she’s used to great effect in Overgrowth.

A%20Lonesome%20Place%20(w)[1]

In her oil, A Lonesome Place another of her fascinations is demonstrated – medieval life and imagery. Here she has created a frieze-like effect with the line of blue-faced people ranged in front of four idealised trees while in the foreground there are exotic and monster birds along with a fleshy woman exposing her leg and her ghost-like companion to her right. I’ve no idea what’s going on in the picture but it is fairly surreal and the more you look into it the spookier it becomes. The overgrown bird reminded me of Max Ernst’s fantastic and threatening species partly human.

overgrowthdetail2

Let’s take a closer look at Overgrowth, Jodi’s etching in black and sepia inks with touches of watercolour. The meticulous detailing that’s gone into the different costumes and effects in the water – hugely time-consuming and wholly worth it in the quality of the piece. The women share the same face, seen from different angles – pensive and guarded they consider their predicament.

If you look at the image at the start of this blog you can make out one or two strange green figures wrapped in ivy which I think allude to Jodi’s view that we become who we are by absorbing all sorts of influences from our environment  including the natural world we pass through in life.  In the picture ivy grows up around the boat, trapping it and some of the women within its tendrils – is this the overgrowth?

In Jodi’s own blog she  includes a poem by Aberdeen’s makar Sheena Blackhall on Overgrowth.

Twenty Geishas

Twenty Geishas went to sea
In a vessel of polished pine
The traders’ routes offered to fill their coffers
For sharing virtues free

The Flying Dutchman closed his sails
For the Geishas to step aboard
And what transpired it certainly fired
Their spirits which simply soared

The Marie Celeste, they encountered next
Do you wonder it’s not been found?
With kisses of honey and blandishments sunny
The steersman he ran aground

So if twenty Geishas you should see
When you’re sailing the ocean wide
Don’t let them on deck, your ship they will wreck
Keep hard on the starboard side!

melancholia I

Durer’s Melancholia I

I have always been delighted by illustrations from Grimms Fairy Tales and the like and pictorial references to medieval people, places  and things. I like shape and form and the intricate little details that captivate the eye.

My favourite artist is Albrecht Durer who lived in Nuremberg in the 15th and early 16th centuries.  Durer is the absolute master in precision and fine detailed draughtsmanship. His eye was impeccable. His sense of humour compelling. He was simply the greatest and most complete artist of his genre. His wonderful  engraving of Melancholia I may represent his own feelings of melancholia on the death of his mother. Melancholia’s face is black, signifying black bile – four humours were believed to determine the constitution of any person – sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic with the latter associated with creativity. On Melancholia’s head sits a garland of herbs suggesting suffering and headaches which Durer suffered from following his bereavement. It is one of the prints on exhibition currently at Duff House in Aberdeenshire.

Sadly not there is Durer’s painting of a Blue Roller bird.roller bird

This work shows how he meticulously captured the construction and texture of the bird’s feathers. An Italian painter once asked to see the brushes he used for depicting fur and feathers and did not believe Durer when he picked up an ordinary bristle paintbrush.

nurnberg

This scene of Durer’s own city of Nuremberg, a mastery in composition leads us back to Jodi Le Bigre.

La%20Rencontre%20-%20Jodi%20Le%20Bigre[1]

La Rencontre is  a lovely example of her medieval hilltop town which could be anywhere in continental Europe. There are two figures in the foreground collecting branches presumably for fire or building. Behind them is the manmade world of stone town houses and churches and walls as in Durer’s picture the urban landscape occupies the background while around is the natural environment that supplies so much that is necessary for peoples’ existence.

Jodi recognises how we are shaped by our environments. Since coming to live in Aberdeen she has encountered the Doric. Take a look at this.

Lizzie's%20Dother%20-%20Jodi%20Le%20Bigre[1]

Lizzie’s Dother is a sweet, magical watercolour. Lizzie is crouched into the too-small frame provided by the artist for a woman of her bulk and so her skirts fall into creases that flow and bunch and give her form. The sweep of Lizzie’s long hair is repeated in the lines of the bundle that is her dother. And they are surrounded by lilies, symbolising innocence.

I think it reads in Doric along the bottom, She wis mindit o aa the ither quines at she’d held the same wye, which is just brilliant.

communion%20sq[1]

Communion belongs in a book of folk tales and shows Jodi’s undoubted talent to apply herself to so many different styles.  Here an old woman has her back to us as she communes with her geese in front of peasant houses. Notice how the woman’s headscarf echoes the orange and shape of the birds’ beaks.  Again the palette is muted and there is a sublime softness to the piece.

Marginalia%20-%20Jodi%20Le%20Bigre[1]

Marginalia is set in Aberdeen with the Citadel in the background and a Bosch-like clamour of figures occupying the foreground. The city’s iconic bird the seagull are shown harnessed as draught animals. The saved and the damned are separated by a sturdy Aberdeen hoose and oil supply vessels grace the backdrop of the north sea.

Der%20Nikolaus%20-%20Jodi%20Le%20Bigre[1]

A Christmas card – Der Nikolaus – to my mind  shows Santa Claus as Robbie Coltrane.

This drawing of a procession of matryoshka dolls in a scene out the Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds. I don’t begin to understand the juxtaposition between the Russian granny dolls and the contemporary figures in the foreground but it’s fun and notice the third doll turning to gaze up at the gathering  threat of the birds flying overhead.

I suspect the inside of Jodi’s brain is fairly interesting. I’ve not come across another artist who has reduced her figures to such a bare minimum as Jodi does in her composition comprising a group of skeletons oot and aboot including the child waving to us while her or his, it’s impossible to tell, parent is trying to direct the child’s attention to a birdy in the sky.

plague

 

Here a plague doctor from Renaissance Italy shares space with a walrus, an acrobat and a stilt walker. As I said, the inside of Jodi’s head must be a place of wonder.

Young and brimming with talent Jodi Le Bigre – you can find her website at http://jodilebigre.com

May 21, 2014

The Marischal Odeon or Gone with the Wind: A Muse and Council Joint Production

The controversial £107million plan by Muse Development, part of the Morgan Sindall Group, to build a block of shops, car parks, offices and hotel in front of Marischal College in Aberdeen has been lodged with the council and is so awful it is pretty well certain to be given the green light.

The common good land is about to be leased to private developers for the next 35 years to do with as they please. While local opinion is for tearing down St Nicholas House and having no building replacing it thereby creating a large open square to front Marischal College Aberdeen council and the developers are pushing ahead with commercialising the space. Let us hope that 35 years down the line it doesn’t get passed on from one private leaseholder to another until eventually the land is lost to the public. Not that this would ever happen. Of course that has never happened. No of course not.

Various consultations have taken place and some 4000 opinions provided which Muse said have been noted. Well all I can say is you will be hard pressed to detect much alteration in their plans.

Try as I might to open the detailed plans on the council website I failed but at least I had the council press release to reassure me how much the new build will improve the site ‘once dominated by the former council headquarters building St Nicholas House.’

I was more successful finding a link to the Final Report on Pedestrian Level Wind, doesn’t sound like much fun, and discovered the council’s reassurances were less than convincing.

Take a keek at this
http://planning.aberdeencity.gov.uk/docs/showimage.asp?j=140698&index=122914

Wind analysis of the site highlighted a ‘relatively windy microclimate at ground level’ in parts of the area – nearest Union Street – the result of wind ‘blowing around the St Nicholas House building, which is comparatively tall in relation to the surrounding buildings.’

Hold that thought as you check out the picture showing a model of the proposal and absorb its height in relation to surrounding buildings.

According to the Report around the 469 year old Provost Skene’s House it will become significantly windier because wind will be channelled between it and the proposed hotel. Conversely it argued that with more tall buildings the southeast area, around the rapidly disappearing St Nicholas House, would become less windy – losing the wind tunnel impact of St Nix.

The Report envisaged potential problems for pedestrians moving to and from the north and west of the site and suggested this might be dealt with by ‘solid or porous side-screens or recessing the entrances into the building.’

Landscaping would provide other types of screening. I think they mean shrubberies and trees but possibly more screens to
‘create suitable conditions for sitting.’

To avoid being rocketed into space people occupying the roof terraces would have to be sheltered by high balustrades or yet more screens and planting – and possibly guy ropes.

All of the above were put forward as mitigating measures for everyday breezes off the North Sea which are a feature of the Castelgate and Broad Street. When wind levels increase, as they do quite often in this part, then it’ll be a case of haud ontae yer hats folks because you can expect something ‘in excess of Beaufort Force 7’ that’s gale force, around the proposed pedestrianised corner, near to Provost Skene’s which ‘would cause pedestrians to experience difficulty walking’ Nae reading the P & J wi a cappuccino then – small comforts there. But just to be on the safe side you won’t be allowed access when winds get up – ‘restricted access during the windiest times during the year.’ Occasionally winds reach Beaufort Force 8 in this area.

So as well as having their access restricted when the wind blows the good folk of Aberdeen will be subjected to frequent bad hair days when venturing through Muse’s world bearing in mind Aberdeen is windier than many other parts of the UK.

For your information wind levels are classified according to levels of ‘comfort’ for ‘business walking’, ‘carpark/roadway’, ‘leisure walking’, ‘standing/entrance’, ‘sitting.’

Business walking you’ll appreciate means not hanging around but keeping up a steady pace, possibly while carrying a briefcase or other business accoutrements but almost certainly not soliciting with a nonchalant swagger. It is possibly advisable to do the business walk when approaching or circumnavigating Provost Skene’s House to cope with serious wind problems in its vicinity although with the wind at your back you may not require oxygen. It should be added at this juncture that if the proposed hotel were not erected here then wind wouldn’t be an issue but it will be – unless of course Provost Skene’s is demolished which would resolve the wee issue of a wind tunnel between it and the hotel. Business is business after all.

A heids doon fecht wi a nor’easterly isn’t what most folk expected when the council promised a pedestrianised area for leisure and pleasure – brisk walking being the main activity it would seem.

Oh well, there’s always the screens. Sounds like a promising business venture for councillor Swick. They’ll be needing so many screens when this proposal gets the thumbs up it can only be called the Marischal Odeon.

There’s been a lot of wind expended over this project with lots more to come. The bottom line is there’s a strong desire for a very large open square fronting Marischal College. This is not what Aberdeen Council wants because while thousands aired their opinions its money that talks in the end.

With a choice between what the people of Aberdeen want and multinational businesses the council has chosen business all the way.

Councillor Willie Young was quoted in the Press & Journal 17 May as saying
‘Some people who have responded have misunderstood what the consultation was about.
‘The council entered into a binding legal agreement with Muse on a leaseback basis.
‘It was never for the council to determine that it would be an open space – it’s a commercial space.’

Actually it isn’t a commercial space it is common good land and belongs to the people of Aberdeen.

https://lenathehyena.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/move-along-now-nothing-to-see-here-aberdeens-latest-civic-square-debacle/

https://lenathehyena.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/the-card-square-project-marishchal-goes-phut/

Apr 28, 2014

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win – women taking on the establishment in Aberdeen in 1912

suffragettes from newspaper 1912

There were extraordinary scenes in Aberdeen’s police court on 30 November 1912 when a group of suffragettes were accused of disorder during a visit to the city by then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George, in town to address a meeting at the city’s Music Hall. Amid the farsical prodeedings one accused removed her shoes and threw one at the magistrate and the other at the procurator fiscal.

One of the four, Mary Humphreys, was charged with breaking a window of a car she maintained carried Lloyd George. However in what reeks of jiggery pokery by the prosecution and the court authorities the actual charge and the identity of the car were brought into question.

The men of the court, thinking they had matters well in hand, proceeded to outline the case against Humphreys which involved a good deal of ridicule. However Humphreys realised she was being faced with a different charge from that on arrest so repeatedly asked for it to be re-read so she could understand precisely what it was she was accused of.

The baillie or magistrate tried to ignore her and pressed for her plea, guilty or not guilty. Humphreys insisted the charge be re-read so she could follow the names of those the court claimed were involved in the incident and was eventually told by the clerk to read it for herself. She did then contested the charge on the grounds that no owner of the car was named, only a chauffeur.

A verbal rammy ensued between her and the Fiscal who maintained it was irrelevant whose car it was but Mary Humphreys insisted that was entirely relevant to any charge against her.

After a delay the charge was clarified. She was accused of breach of the peace and behaving in a disorderly manner. Humphreys retorted the breach of the peace charge was ‘very vague.’

A clearly exasperated Fiscal tried once more to drag a plea out of her but found his match in Humphreys who declared she had acted for political reasons, not criminal, and the charge was inaccurate and she demanded witnesses, including Lloyd George whom she maintained was her target and was in the car she attacked and so the reason for the incident.

The bickering continued, neither side willing to relinquish ground until the baillie ordered she be bailed till the following Tuesday. Humphreys was told if she wanted witnesses from those in the car she should provide the court with their names. She did, requesting Lloyd George be called as a witness.

Meanwhile three other women who planned to target Lloyd George while at the Music Hall, by attacking him with Knall Korkes (a kind of cork used in small guns to make loud noises), had also pleaded not guilty to their charges of breach of the peace. Contesting her charge also was a Miss Parker. She had been arrested for being in the Music Hall for ‘some unlawful purpose’ but in court she was told, “You are charged with breach of the peace now.”

antii suffrage pc

 

The Fiscal was keen to delay the proceedings while the defendant wanted it finished there and then and carried on with her defence,  challenging the court’s refusal to bail the women the previous evening when they were detained, forcing them to endure a night in the ‘drunk cells’ with a man staring at them throughout.  All to no avail – the case was adjourned and she was granted bail. At this point another of the accused, Locke – an art student from London, removed her shoes and hurled one at the magistrate and the other at the Fiscal. She was manhandled out of the court by five bulky bruisers. The women’s supporters in the court room were thrown out at the same time.

When Humphreys case was resumed the car’s occupants were then  identified as a Mrs Crombie, owner, and two prominent northeastern men, Robert and Joseph Farquahrson.  Robert Farquharson was a Liberal MP, from Lloyd George’s Party. The chauffeur was Thomas Bartlett of Balgownie Lodge. Humphreys questioned their involvement – especially when they were said to have travelled in a blue car while she had thrown her stone at a red one, carrying Lloyd George. And once more she demanded the Chancellor turn up in court as a witness. The court ignored her repeated demands for him to be called insisting he had not been in the car.

Humphreys more of less accused Joseph Farquharson, an artist of considerable reputation, of dressing up as Lloyd George to give the appearance of confusion. Despite his abilities with paint pots Farquahrson did not appear to know whether the car he travelled in was red or blue and he came across as an unreliable witness. He didn’t recall which window had been broken, misidentifying it. The more Humphreys questioned him the more agitated he became.

There ensued a game of evasion. Humphreys again called on Lloyd George as a witness but the court prevaricated over whether or not he should have been cited – clearly not taking her request seriously. When pushed they replied they hadn’t bothered citing him as -“he was out of town” and the court had no jurisdiction beyond the city, not in the Shire and certainly not in the Houses of Parliament which Humphreys gave as his address.

She accused all involved of a cover up to protect Lloyd George from facing her in court.

A witness came forward to say the suffragette had broken the window of a red car while the car with the Farquahrsons was blue. Again the court found the best means forward was opacity. The charge was read out that she had damaged a ‘certain motor-car’ and so in a clear case of witness collusion the ill-tempered exhanges resumed.

A fine of 40 shillings was placed on her but when Humphreys refused to leave the court she was set upon by several policemen who tore her clothing as they ejected her to cries of ‘Shame! from the back of the court.

The women refused to pay their fines  and so were sent to Craiginches prison.

 

Following his engagement the Chancellor Lloyd George had been returning home by train and so the Joint Station became the focus for suffragettes hoping to catch his ear before he fled south.

Moments before the train departed, a Baptist minister, Rev Forbes Jackson, said to resemble Lloyd George, was standing in a compartment taking leave of his wife, when a woman, mistaking him for the Chancellor, hurled herself forward and struck him across the face with a dog-whip.

“Villain, traitor! take that – and that,” she cried while continually ‘pummling’ him.

The police were called and she was dragged away still convinced it had been the MP she had assaulted. Of course at a time before television when peoples’ likeness came from newspaper photographs it was very easy to misidentify a person. As for the minister, Rev Jackson, he took the incident very calmly, saying his concern was for the woman and in her defence agreed he did bear a striking resemblance to Lloyd George.

Despite his not wanting to press charges the authorities were determined to do so and the suffragette in question, who found herself before Aberdeen Police Court was none other than Emily Wilding Davison (or Mary Browne as she was named) who died a few months later under the king’s horse while fighting the cause of votes for women.

Emily Davison at court in Aberdeen

Emily Davison at court in Aberdeen

That December 1912 she was found guilty of whipping the minister and her fine of 40 shillings was paid anonymously. Might it have been by the Baptist minister?

During her four days in Craigniches prison she maintained a hunger strike but did comment that she was treated kindly by the prison staff. force feeding

 

 

 

 

 

The newspaper account of the court case exuded prejudice and hostility against the women and their cause, showing itself a stout defender of the status quo. Some things don’t change.

‘Something in the nature of a sensation was created yesterday afternoon when, shortly after four o’ clock, three Suffragettes with ‘explosive bombs’ in their possession were found concealed in the Aberdeen Music Hall three hours before Mr Lloyd George was to address his great meeting. The discovery was made while the attendants, accompanied by detectives and members of the Shore Porters’ Society, were making a careful search of the premises.

One of the Suffragettes was discovered in the hall, and two in a paybox at the Golden Square entrance. This paybox is open at the top but had the door locked. In the possession of one of the Suffragettes there was a box of Knall Korke explosive cork cartridges, known as ‘explosive bombs,’ which, when fired from a small toy pistol, make a loud report. No pistol was found, but it is assumed that the intention of the Suffragettes was to throw the cartridges high over the hall from the open spaces above the paybox, so that they might fall on the platform while the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking, and thus create a disturbance, and, in all probability, a panic. The box of those cartridges found in the possession of the Suffragettes contained several dozens of the explosive corks, and, if the plot had not failed, would probably have been the cause of great alarm; indeed, might have resulted in a fatal rush from the building.

A FELINE FIGHT

When the women were discovered they manifested great disappointment, and at once showed signs of fight when the attendants sought to arrest them. According to the police report they struggled and kicked out vigorously, scratched and bit their would-be captors, and resisted with considerable power. At length superior forces and numbers prevailed, and the Suffragettes were taken into custody. Chief Constable Anderson, who happened to be in the vicinity at the time, ordered the prison van to be sent for, and it was not long before passers-by were surprised to see “Black Maria” in front of the Music Hall Buildings. When the women were conveyed to the Police Office in Lodge Walk they were asked to give names, addresses, and other information, but this was looked upon, in certain cases, as inquisitorial. According to the statements given the women are –

JOYCE LOCKE, aged 22, art student, London

MARION POLLOCK, who, though not belonging to Aberdeen, gave her address as the Aberdeen Branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union, 7 Bon-Accord Street, Aberdeen; and

FANNY PARKER, who would give no address.

The three will be brought before the Aberdeen Police Court to-day on a charge of having been found upon premises – namely, the Aberdeen Music Hall – contrary to the Prevention of Crimes Act, for an unlawful purpose.

In the course of the evening a sympathiser took tea to the Police Office for the three arrested women. There was no question of bail, and the Chief Constable stated that that would have required consideration if it had been raised.

It is pointed out that although the “explosive corks” may not be dangerous in the sense of inflicting bodily harm, yet by the loud report they give on exploding were calculated to create panic, and that therefore they were not to be used with impunity at any large meeting, where panic might lead to serious disaster.

A SUFFRAGETTE’S ESCAPE

While the arrest of the three Suffragettes referred to was being effected, a fourth was seen making her way from the hall, but she escaped and no attempt was afterwards made to secure her. It is alleged that she had a dog-whip in her possession.

A GRANITE MISSILE

While Mr Lloyd George was departing, in a motor car from the Young Men’s Christian Association Hall, a Suffragette was seen to throw a piece of granite in the direction of the car. As was remarked, a woman’s aim in missile throwing is proverbial for its inaccuracy, and that proved so in this case, for instead of striking the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the motor car he had entered, the granite struck and did some slight damage to a cab in the vicinity! The Suffragette who threw the missile was arrested, and speedily removed to the Police Office, where she refused to disclose her identity. She was locked in a cell, and will appear with the other three before Baillie Robertson at the Police Court to-day.

CAR WINDOW SMASHED

Just as he had reached the entrance gateway to Glenburnie Park on his return from the meeting, Mr Lloyd George had his narrowest escape from personal violence. Very few people were in the vicinity of Rubislaw Den North at ten o’clock. About the time the the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s motor car was approaching a Suffragette, well known to the authorities, made her appearance on the scene. Her movements naturally attracted attention and her companion, who remained less conspicuous, forced her way forward when the motor car was entering the gateway. With a big stone in her hand she thrust it at the car, crashed it through the window, and made her escape.’

 Aberdeen Journal Sat 30 November 1912

suffragette cartoon male suffering

 

The Chancellor’s venture north was deftly defended by a thick black line of police and the courts. There was so much social agitation taking place in Britain during this period and women, demanding equal rights with men, were proving to be some of the most ruthless and determined campaigners – demanding answers from the politicians who, abetted by the police, courts and other parts of the establishment, evaded whenever possible being accountable for their actions.

A male supporter of the women’s cause shouted out to Lloyd George as he passed by the Music Hall, “Don’t forget the women,” but the local newspaper said with not a little glee, ‘The Chancellor passed on without taking any notice.’

Protesters spilled out from the Music Hall, congregating by the Wallace statue including members of the Aberdeen Branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union to plan for another day.

The reluctance of politicians to defend their positions through proper debate with those whose lives are impacted by their actions was as reprehensible then as it is now.

The disgraceful behaviour of the courts to cover-up, collude over evidence and protect public figures was as reprehensible then as it is now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shameful denigration of women through coverage in the press is part of a broader attack that goes on by much of the press when authority or the establishment is challenged by any group. The eagerness to laugh at, collude against, humiliate and dismiss arguments – to concentrate on the sensational at the expense of the rationale behind protests was as reprehensible then as it is now.

Apr 7, 2014

Move along now, nothing to see here – Aberdeen’s latest Civic Square debacle

marischal square plan 1

REVEALED! the latest vision aiming to regenerate Aberdeen city centre.

Yes plans for the hugely anticipated Marischal Square is moving on apace and it is worrying.

The publicity comes studded with those all-too familiar V words promising us a vibrant vision no less. Let me add a V or two of my own  – vacuous, vile, vulgar, very vulgar, vomitory.

Vibrant is usually a tag attached to something decidedly un-vibrant, hence the need for a tag to persuade people the emperor really is wearing clothes. For vibrant read bog-standard,  unexceptional and ordinary, very, very ordinary and here, dated designs.

marischal college old pic (2)

Marischal College is a magnificent building, world-class, a testament to the granite masons who sawed, carved and polished its fabulous frontage. It is the second largest granite building in the world and size matters in these things. It is the worthy public face of the city that has become Scotland’s economic powerhouse, a role reluctantly shouldered and modestly underplayed by the players who should be using the current economic climate to highlight its best features.

Brasov

Brasov

Consider Marischal College as the backdrop to a large expanse of nothingness but charm and wonder, let’s call it a square, in which people could congregate and marvel at the granite tour de force before them – this square would become a magnet for locals and visitors alike – on a par with squares in, and let’s be modest here, Brasov, Nuremberg and Sibiu.

Nuremberg

Nuremberg

 

Sibiu, Romania

Sibiu, Romania

The current version of the proposal from Muse Developments is to partially conceal Marischal College with dated looking boxy offices, shops and a hotel.

This is risk-averse bog-standard city centre development at its weakest and will convince no-one to come to Aberdeen, instead confirm to exasperated residents of the city and shire that Aberdeen’s decision makers really should not be allowed out on their own but be secured in a place of protection. They are recidivist dullards who never tire of displaying their woeful lack of civic self-confidence.

There have been the usual ‘consultations’ over the Broad Street proposals which has been development-led . What should have been done was to let the public come up with ideas for the gap left by the demolition of the St Nicholas House complex.  The people of the area, not developers, are better placed to inform the council that works for them (supposedly) how best to preserve and flaunt both Marischal and the 16th century Provost Skene’s House. After all the people who live and work in the city are the ones whose lives will be most affected by the changes to this environment. Once it became clear what the majority wanted the concept should have been put out to an international design competition.

Broadgate, later Broad Street, where Lord Byron lived as a child

Broadgate, later Broad Street, where Lord Byron lived as a child

 

What we got was a developer, Muse, ‘incorporating’ we are told the wishes of the public following their initial design.

It is no secret in Aberdeen that people want a square i.e. an open area where they can congregate and absorb the magnificance of Marischal.What they don’t appreciate is having the wool pulled over their eyes by a developer and council banging on about Marischal Square when that is precicelsly what is not being offered.

IT IS NOT A SQUARE – IT IS A STREET – LIKE ANY OTHER ZILLIONS OF STREETS.

marischal plan 2

This ‘public space free from traffic’ is council and Musa otherwise known as a street.

It is a street with hotels, shops and offices – how unique and brilliant a concept is that?

Marischal College will again be mostly hidden and so will the 16th century Provost Skene’s House relegated to a corner at the back much as it was with the St Nicholas House development.

16th century Provost Skene's House

16th century Provost Skene’s House

Where the traffic will go is chaos waiting to happen.

Marie Boulton is an independent councillor and the council’s deputy leader who tells us the plans have reached an ‘exciting stage.’ There are a lot of people who view the refined plans as depressing more than exciting. Nothing Councillor Boulton, nothing about this proposal is in the least exciting.

Don’t believe the propaganda accompanying this latest architectural outrage threatening the city. Pedestrianised shopping streets are ten a penny around the country, around the globe.

Aberdeen had an opportunity to make its mark with a real show stopper of a civic square. If retail and hotel space are essential why couldn’t they be designed to run around an open square instead of closing in the area?

Why can’t the many unused storeys above shops along the length of the decaying magnificence of Unions Street be turned into hotel rooms and offices or even shops?

Regenerate Union Street and create a civic square worthy of the city and Marischal College.

It is clear from statements coming from the council that the very people trusted with responsibility for taking vital decisions affecting the future of Aberdeen  are not up to the job. Is there anyone among them who knows anything about world quality architecture? Anyone of them with ambition? (aside from personal).

Remember the dreadful design chosen for Union Terrace Gardens? Well they haven’t raised the game since that.

The council administration has changed but no lessons have been learned in terms of design or aspiration. This administration for all its criticism of the last one who pushed the misguided Union Terrace Web fiasco are pursuing civic irresponsibility in their own right. Are these people stupid?

Muse Developments controversially became the Labour-led administrations preferred bidder for the Marischal site. There were questions raised at the time over the bid process but it was declared legal by the Court of Session.

marischal plan 3

Last year criticisim was made of Muse’s design to develop Chester’s city centre, their plans described as ‘a missed opportunity to create a high quality and attractive area within the city.’ Quite.

http://www.chesterfirst.co.uk/news/120411/3-000-jobs-but-critics-warn-chester-development-is-missed-opportunity-.aspx

In both cities business backed Muse’s plans in the hope of realising promised economic returns. Should short-term economic interests rather than civic integrity really be the driver in sensitive civic sites? Depressingly Chester’s experience is being repeated in Aberdeen.

Move along now, nothing to see here – nothing bold, nothing striking only a bleak row of boxes cutting through the splendour of Marischal and Skene’s.

Really could there be any design more out of sympathy with these architecturally interesting buildings?

Where is the cultural sensitivity? Where is the architectural merit, a sense of aesthetics in all of this?

Demolition of St Nicholas House complex reveals interesting aspects of Aberdeen

Demolition of St Nicholas House complex reveals interesting aspects of Aberdeen

This is a plan designed for people of a nervous disposition – frightened of change.

If you’re looking for an architectural legacy for Aberdeen’s children and future generations don’t look to this development – there is none.

It would make you weep.

 

Some comments on this proposal.

‘No surprise the Aberdeen Mafia aka HFM have been let loose on yet another swathe of the city. Sorry guys but this is still a truly grim proposal. You are really just replacing like for like in terms of the city scape. Not just the design of the buildings themselves but the whole site strategy – the same windswept square in the centre, blocked from any daylight and surrounded by windfunnels. There have been dozens of student projects that have come up with vastly more enjoyable and viable spaces for this same site.’

‘Reintroducing Guestrow is a nice idea but given the scale, massing and footprint of the new buildings it seems pretty disingenuous. If this is really to be reintegrated into the townscape and street pattern surely the site needs to be broken down further – this is still essentially one large building, mixed-use or not.’

‘Aberdeen city continues to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Aberdeen was one of the most architecturally beautiful cities anywhere in Europe but gradually it is being replaced with poorly designed concrete and steel monstrosities that are not in scale with the surroundings and clash with the design of the historic buildings. It is deeply depressing! We are consulted and then ignored which makes it worse.’

‘Contemporary, stunning, sympathetic, sustainable, long term, visionary, well considered… Some of the things that seem to have been missed with this one.’

‘You say that this is a refined design? i am afraid that it is still failing….a very poor design response to the opportunities presented by this site. What you have produced to date, lacks creativity and shows a complete insensitivity to the adjacent listed buildings. This design proposal is repeating the mistakes of of the 60’s/70’s. We have come a long way since then in our understanding and management of scale, relationship, materials etc.  The architectural solution on this site should be an iconic building which reflects the dynamic nature of the city not some bland compromise which fails to excite. Stop “refining ” your original concept for the site. Scrap it and start again. Employ an outside creative architectural design agency if your in-house people cannot respond to the requirements of this brief . The people of Aberdeen want an exciting aesthetic solution.’

 

 

 

Jan 7, 2014

St Clement’s cemetery: Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound

Aberdeen

St Clement’s Church

It’s taken me a long time to visit Aberdeen’s St Clement’s Kirkyard – several decades to be precise. I have tried once or twice but when I’ve thought of visiting it is usually been when I’ve been driving in the vicinity and as this busy industrial area is choc-a-bloc during the week with parked vehicles I’ve driven on past.

DSC03718

Undoubtedly it has looked better. This graveyard once served the people of Footdee (Fittie), from the evidence of the detritus lying around, it is now home to rough sleepers and prostitutes.

There were churches on this site before the current one, established in 1855, and for centuries this has been a place of worship for the people of the surrounding area.

DSC03747

Note the occupation of ‘tide waiter’ – a customs officer who boarded ships which had entered the harbour

It is believed a church may have stood on this site since the 11th century. Given its location it is little wonder that many of its memorial stones reflect lives lost to the sea, those for whom the sea was their place of work and others involved in the various maritime trades. Nautical inscriptions and decorative features such as ropes and ships combine with traditional symbols of death.

DSC03743Alexander Drysdale, a foreman at the Poynernook Factory. Note the heartfelt message of respect from his former work mates

So who was St Clements and why choose him to represent this maritime neighbourhood? He was a Bishop of Rome in the first century AD and suffered the fate of being tied to an anchor and drowned in the Black Sea hence him being adopted as the patron saint of fishermen.

P1000901

Aberdeen’s or possibly more accurately Fittie’s St Clements is only one of four dedicated to the saint in Scotland.  As might be expected the church was influential in the life of its congregation; fishermen were forbidden to go to sea or buy and sell fish on the Sabbath.  This did not go down well with everyone for it meant a loss of income one day a week. Should any man ignore the church’s ruling he could expect a fine – a boat master putting to sea would have his crew and their families fined as well as himself.

St Clement’s Church became embroiled in the Disruption, the events of the mid-19th century which split the Church of Scotland, the country’s established church.

P1000904

On 18th May 1843 the minister of St Clement’s, Alexander Spence, was one of many ministers who walked out of their churches in protest against the established church to form the Free Church of Scotland.

The Disruption was concerned with who had the right to appoint ministers of the kirk.  In Aberdeen it had been the privilege of the Town Council to nominate someone whereas the Free Kirkers believed no-one should be involved in the appointment of any minister other than a church’s  congregation.

P1000899

The one you see today was designed by architect John Smith, in the Gothic style. It stands bold and impressive with a fine square pinnacled tower surrounded on every side by industrial sheds of no architectural merit whatsoever.

When the church was being refurbished in 1888 a brass chandelier, or gaselier, was found with an inscription, ‘given to this church by Alexander Murray, elder – 1648’. Obviously not that church but an earlier one.

A model of a ship, Saint Clement it was named, was also discovered in the tower where it had been abandoned. It had been gifted to the kirk by John Milne, the hangman.

P1000900Note the granite carved rope strung around this horizontal stone testifying the various trades associated with the sea

 Seafarers of Fittie, once separate from Aberdeen, have long been required to defend their community from attack. In 1514 it was ordained that eight men from Aberdeen’s quarters, including Fittie, should keep watch to resist ‘the old enemies of England.’

The English were one thing but the plague was more costly to life. Throughout the 16th century penalties and banishments were placed on any who might ignore restrictions over the movement of people into the vicinity.

P1000895

Rope and sail makers lived and worked around here. Several stones in the graveyard feature rope motifs

P1000906

It was around here that ships were built. The first clipper ship built in Britain, the Scottish Maid, came from Aberdeen.  The world’s  fastest tea clipper, the Thermopylae, was built in Fittie.

P1000919

Hall was one of the main shipbuilders in the city and in 1839 James Hall in an attempt to circumvent Board of Trade regulations over ships’ tonnage devised the Aberdeen hull constructed so that cargo spaces were forward of the first point from which a vessel’s carrying capacity, therefore revenue earning capacity,  would be calculated. The result was the Aberdeen bow; curved, sleek and fast.

Hall died suddenly in 1869. It happened like this – Aberdeen tycoon, Thomas Blake Glover who settled in Japan and established the company that was to become Mitsubishi, arranged for Hall’s to build a vessel for the Japanese navy. It was a plumb contract and the Jho-Sho-Maru was well into construction when in 1869 a fire broke out in Milne’s wood yard near to Hall’s shipyard where the Jho-Sho-Maru was being fitted. People came from all around to help extinguish the blaze including James Hall who suffered a fatal  heart attack.  P1010025

For years Hall’s Carpenters’ Ball took place on Hogmanay, 31st December, usually in the draughting loft at the shipyard.  Throughout the year apprentices from the yard had some of their pay, known as launch money, put by which together with money from the company went to fund the annual social. There were few, if any, other occasions in Aberdeen where it was said a craftsman from the yards could mingle with millionaires other than at the Carpenters’ Ball.

 P1000929

Mair a common name around Aberdeen

Centuries of shipbuilding meant carpentry or wood carving was a popular trade. In the middle of the 19th century, around 1848, these ship carpenters or carvers from Hall’s yard formed themselves into a co-operative society, adding to a number already operating in the city.

They called themselves the Footdee Savings Association and sold groceries and bakery products from premises at Waterloo Quay. Hall’s carpenters had their own ship, the Elizabeth, which they used to ship in grocery supplies and other sundries.

DSC03722

Another well-known ship-building families was  Duthie. This impressive granite casket memorial belongs to the Duthies – ship builders and merchants.

John Duthie lived in the same district as most of the workers from his yard, in Wellington Street. Known as Old John he was apparently very down to earth with a good sense of humour. One day a ship sailed into Aberdeen from Sicily with a supply of sulphur, as a speculative piece of business it appeared as there was no-one down to receive the load.

P1000914

Someone advised the ship’s captain he might find a buyer for his cargo if he had a word with old Mr Duthie and so he did. Duthie thought the matter over for a moment then had a brainwave. He told the captain he knew of a man who dealt largely in brimstone (sulphur) who might be happy to relieve him of his cargo.

The captain went off as instructed to meet the gentleman, a strict Calvinist minister from one of the local kirks, who turned down the offer of a ship-load of sulphur but was thereafter known as Brimstone Johnnie.

P1000909

This pink plaque can be found on a wall at the graveyard. It was put there by George Davidsone. ‘George Davidsone elder burgess of Aberdeen built this dyke on his own expenses 1650′

George Davidsone of Pettens died in 1663. He began his working life as a packman, one who delivered goods, possibly on his back, and could neither read nor write. But he died a wealthy man and left several benefactions to Newhills kirk, Fittie kirk and  St Nicholas kirk. His impressive headstone can be seen on the west wall of St Nicholas’ graveyard by the Backwynd gate.

George Davidson at St Nicholas graveyard

Davidsone who had become a burgess of Aberdeen bought the land at Pettens, Belhelvie, from George Gordon 1643 of Overblairton and Pettens.

P1000922

Chief engineer John Simpson torpedoed at sea in 1917

 P1000889

1916 – Able Seaman Alexander Guyan, Hawke Battalion  was killed on the Western Front  on 9 December. Above is his family memorial, now sadly broken and below the official war stone.

P1000890

P1010024

This is a notice of Guyan’s death from a list of local casualties in an Aberdeen newspaper

George Crombie was drowned off  Tavira in Portugal in April 1882. A family of ship captains, their memorial is coming adrift.

P1000911

P1000913

This plaque commemorates the death in 1971 of Captain William James Erskine, a naval chief engineer who was killed during the civil war in Pakistan.  1971 was the period of Bangladeshi liberation from Pakistan after the Pakistani military junta refused to accept the results of the country’s first democratic elections in 1970 which favoured the Bengalis. It was a brutal confrontation in which intellectuals were targeted for execution. Hundreds of thousands died in this war and ten million escaped into India.

MV Mustali, built by Short Brothers of Sunderland, was a Pakistani cargo steamer owned by Gulf Shipping and was sunk in an air raid at Chalna in ’71 by the Pakistani air force.

DSC03726

The long inscription on Shipmaster William Bruce’s family stone has become all but illegible. Let me give you the full version.

Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound;
My ears, attend the cry;
“Ye living men, come view the ground
Where you must shortly lie.

“Princes, this clay must be your bed,
In spite of all your towers; The tall, the wise, the rev’rend head
Must lie as low as ours!”

These words were sung at the funeral of America’s President George Washington.

 DSC03726 - Copy

DSC03735

This unusual cast iron memorial records the deaths of several ‘beloved children of Alexander Mortimer and Margaret Spring. Scottish women did not lose their own identities and retained their single names when married, at least when recorded on memorial stones.

P1000920

William Ingram, was one of several vintners in  Footdee where he traded out of the Trades Arms

P1000923

A fish curer’s lovely red granite memorial

 P1000924

Coastguard Alexander Mennie

P1000928

William Henderson, cabinet maker, in memory to his father-in-law, Alexander Naughton, a Shore Porter. Note the beautiful flower motif.

The Shore Porters Society was set up in 1498, as it says in its website ‘six years after Columbus discovered America.’ Porters or pynours, hawling goods from the harbour to the town, and vice versa. It is thought to be the oldest co-operative still in existence.

P1000925

The all too familiar story of multiple deaths of young children

DSC03753

P1000926

And again, including twins

P1000921

Another ship captain. The different styles of writing including a kind of longhand create an attractive memorial

P1000905

A fine possibly hand-cut image of a sailing ship in full sail onto hard granite

P1000903

A custom officer’s family stone barely surviving

P1000882

P1000881

Another fine design of a ship on this 1820 gravestone

P1000893

And again in this stone, a two-masted fishing boat of a type which commonly carried 6 crew

P1000892

DSC03747

P1000916

Finally, Soapy Ogston.

DSC03728

Ogston was as you might guess, a soap manufacturer in the city. Once a flax dresser he went on to produce soap and candles and you can scarcely imagine the fortune to be made in that trade. I believe James was Soapy and this stone is dedicated to Alexander, who started the chandlery business, his young daughter and grandson, also Alexander, who became an eminent surgeon.

The kirkyard ‘closed’ for burials in 1927.

 P1000912

The abandoned St Clement’s East Church (Church of Scotland), was proposed as home to Aberdeen city’s archives at one time and later there was a proposal to remove its roof and allow it to decay. It is decaying albeit with its roof intact. It was sold to a housing association by the council.

The state of the church is one thing but surely Aberdeen City Council could send out a couple of people to clean up this important and historic graveyard. Or perhaps it might be done through a community service order. It would not take that much effort to have it looking in a reasonable shape again. What’s needed is a sense of respect for the dead of Fittie.