Tiny Donside hall re-opened with a song

Hall re-opening
Hall re-opening

The tiny population of a Donside village turned out to celebrate the re-opening of their Victorian public hall after three months work.

Renovation work at the 19th century-built Glenbuchat Hall began earlier in the year with the work priced at over £30,000.

Works on the site included the installation of a new heating system, re-fitted toilets and access to disabled toilets, replacing the water supply and providing a kitchen.

Members of the Donside community pitched in with raffles and charity events raising a mighty total, with support of other interested groups, of £36,000 to see the centre upgraded.

On Saturday (May 18) the community felt it was time to kick back and see the fruits of their labours.

At the party the tiny population of Glenbuchat, Strathdon (around 60 noted at the 2011 UK census) were joined by many others linked with the village to tap their toes to some of the classic Scots music of Strathdon musicians Jonny Hardie, Dave Cattanach and Peter Coutts.

Glenbuchat Hall was built in 1899 by the people of the village and has been maintained ever since by the residents and their friends.

In last week’s Piper, Jennifer Carter of the Glenbuchat Hall Community Association expressed their thanks to those who helped with the work:”...we would like to express our thanks to those who have given us financial support : Aberdeenshire Council, Awards for All Scotland, the AF Wallace Charity Trust, Cairngorms Local Action Group, the Marr Area Partnership, the Co-Operative Membership Community Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Upper Deeside Charitable Trust.”

Chair of the Glenbuchat Community Hall Association Dr Allan Carr also wanted to express thanks: “The people I most want to thank are the community of Glenbuchat. They have been fantastic fundraisers, contributing around £20,000. Thanks to their efforts we’ve been able to get the rest of the money.”

He said that the hall would now be used for more varied activities: “The residents were delighted with the new hall, which now has a kitchen for the first time in it’s 114 year history. We are looking to widen the range of activities offered.”

He talked of a film night being set up.

But work isn’t finished for the village as the next stage is improving the hall’s outbuilding.

A further £25,000 is needed to complete the project, with smaller meetings planned for the upgraded building.

A following has built up over the hall with a 2007 booklet entitled “The history of Glenbuchat’s Community Hall” published by Dr Jennifer Carter and Ken Cruickshank in 2007.

It shows that the glen’s population was not always so small, with the booklet stating: “When the decision was finally taken in 1898 to raise money for building a hall, there were about 90 families in the glen. Official census figures, taken every 10 years, chart the long decline of the population from a peak of 570 people in 1871, dropping thereafter to 506 in 1881, 408 in 1891, and 403 in 1901.

There will be a taste of the Caucasus with a Georgian singing day planned for the hall on Saturday (May 25).

Margory Bay, originally from Ballater, now promotes the traditional music of the former Soviet republic.

The day starts at 10 am and finishes at 4pm with guests asked to bring a ‘pot lunch’.