When Dorothy Anderson, of Donside Community Council, began organising events in Alford to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, she could have little imagined that her efforts would result in unearthing a delightful local treasure. Following an initial series of meeting with local volunteers, Dorothy asked for contributions to help with the events.
Individuals and local community groups have been forthcoming with equipment and organising various events and pupils at Alford Academy are making bunting to decorate Alford’s Main Street.
One local resident, however, has offered to lend some bunting with a remarkable history.
Jean Milne comes from a family of collectors. Her husband, the late Dick Milne, a member of the Royal Observer Corps, had gathered throughout his life a great collection of artefacts relating to that organisation, whilst her father William McConnachie collected steam engines, which he exhibited at various shows and fairs.
He was also a founder member of the North east of Scotland Steam Preservation Movement.
It is amongst those heirlooms that Jean Milne re-discovered bunting used at the 1937 King George VI Coronation, the 1945 VE Day celebrations in Tarland, the Coronation of 1952 and the Silver Jubilee of 1977. Some, she believes, may date from even further back!
Some are made commercially, others homemade by family and local people whose handiwork is illustrated in photographs Mrs Milne has lent the Jubilee Picnic Committee.
One photograph shows her brother ‘Ness’ proudly posing at the 1937 Coronation celebrations in Tarland in a ‘dinghy’ made of a frame fixed to his bicycle, covered with fabric and decorated with buntings and flags.
The dinghy’s name is ‘SS Molly’ presumably after Molly Brown, a passenger on the Titanic who was dubbed ‘the unsinkable Molly Brown’ by historians because she heroically helped in the ship’s evacuation.
Another photograph taken in Tarland at the 1945 VE Day celebrations shows her father and brother wearing fake beards, driving a steam engine transformed into a boat with a hessian frame, smoke puffing away, bunting and flags flowing in the wind.
Mrs Milne was about 10 years old then and has very fond memories of the event.
“It was a great event, there was my father’s engine, decorated carts, horses, fancy dress and we had a picnic in the show yard,” she said. “All the community participated.”
A spokesperson for the National Museums of Scotland, Rose Watban, Senior Curator of Applied Art and Design, said of the bunting: “This is a most interesting discovery – there can’t be much bunting to have survived since then. It must be cared for and looked after at all costs.”
The bunting and photographs will be on show at the Alford Heritage Centre on May 26. That day, the centre will have an open day from 10am to 5pm as well as a farmers’ market from 9am to 1pm.
The bunting will also be used at the Alford Jubilee Picnic, beginning at 1pm at Haughton Park on the Sunday, June 3.
Anyone wishing to contribute towards the Jubilee Picnic or who would like more information, can contact Dorothy Anderson at: Dorothy2710@yahoo.co.uk or on (019755) 62862.