Do you remember Banchory’s lavender?

Lavender ladies
Lavender ladies

Banchory arts centre Woodend Barn are on the hunt for anyone who worked in the town’s lavender trade for an upcoming exhibiton.

For forty years after the second world war (1946- 1986) Banchory was famous for its lavender fields and visitors from far and wide flocked to the town to see the business that was Ingasetter Limited, the most northerly commercial lavender business in the world.

At 57 degrees north the location of the crop lead to a new understanding of the bio-geography of the plant.

The company was the brainchild of a Shetland pharmacist, entrepreneur and keen gardener, Andrew Inkster.

Inkster graduated from Robert Gordon College, Aberdeen and settled in Banchory to run a chemist shop on the High Street before branching out into the lavender business.

It developed into a global market that attracted 25,000 people a year to its facory and fields at Silverbank, where the Morrisons supermarket now stands.

Succucess and interational recognition for the Deeside industry followed.

Its products were sold globally- to the airline BOAC, the Swedish Air Force, Raffles Hotel in Singapore, Macey’s department stor in New York, and the liner the Queen Mary amongst others.

The company sold over a dozen different toiletry and perfume products during its time and even broke scientific ground by inventing the first-ever solid insect repellent.

Lavandula (common name Lavender) is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae.

It is native to the Old World and is usually found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, southern Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India.

A statement from Woodend Barn said: “(we) believe that many who have settled on Deeside in the last twenty yyears might not even be aware that there was such a flourishing industry...”

The Barn, in collaberation with Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Banchory Museum, is developing an exhibtion that explores the cultivation of a lavender specific to Deeside and the history of its commercial success in Banchory.

The exhibition will include films, interviews with people who worked there and many photographs and Ingasetter artefacts.

Enid Black, who worked for the company from 1948 to 1989, said: “It was a surprise when Woodend Barn approached me about the exhibiton and asked for my memories of working for Ingasetter. I had a very happy time there and am so pleased that its history is being commemorated...”

Helen Smith, the artist and researcher at Woodend Barn who is leading the project, said: “Discovering that a lavender, specific to Deeside and Banchory in particular, offers my research at Woodend Barn the perfect subject for examining our own issues of sustainability.

“One of the ways we plan to do this is to ask what conditions make it possible for lavender to thrive there.”

Woodend Barn would like to hear from anyone who worked for Ingasetter or who has any photographs, anecdotes or memorabillia that could be use in the exhibiton(running between August 16 and October 1).

To contact the Barn, phone: 01330 826520 or email: mail@woodendbarn.co.uk.