More of Scotland’s forestry history brought into the light

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20 AUGUST 2010NEWS RELEASE No: 13935

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The people who have worked in the forests of Glenmore and Rothiemurchus over the past 80 years are the focus of a new publication that records some of the area’s oral history, lore and legend.

‘No Rivalry, but Different - The Story of Glenmore & Rothiemurcus in the 20th Century’ (available from Monday 23 August, 2010) records the experiences of those who lived and worked in and around these two very different estates – state owned Glenmmore and privately owned Rothiemurchus – as foresters, farmers, gamekeepers and sawmillers.  It gives a flavour of a bygone era and of an unsung sector of Scottish rural life.

This is the latest phase of an ongoing project involving UHI Centre for History and Forestry Commission Scotland to capture the social history of Scottish forestry and follows on from similar projects in Argyll and the Great Glen.

Fergus Ewing, MSP, will join around 40 invited guests at the Drumintoul Lodge, Rothiemurchus to launch the booklet.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Ewing said:

“Forestry has for many years been of central importance to our rural communities and we seldom hear of the struggles – and joys – of those people who have for decades sought to maintain Scotland’s forestry sector and who have worked to expand our forest reserve.

“This is a fascinating insight into a quiet, tucked-away corner of our social history and I hope that anyone with an interest in Scotland’s past visits the website and finds out more about the extraordinary stories that have been uncovered.”

Guests will have the opportunity to browse exhibition material, meet those involved in pulling the project together and to listen to excerpts from some of the recorded interviews.

Jack Mackay, for the Commission in Glenmore, said:

"This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people over a long period of time and we'd particularly like to thank the interviewees for their contribution. Their vivid and colourful memories of a life in forestry are now recorded forever and certainly underline how much things have changed over the decades.

"The booklet is also a fitting testimony to Johnnie MacDonald and George Milton, who both participated in the project but who sadly died before they had a chance to see the end result. I'm sure they would have been proud to see the way that their contributions have helped shape this lasting record." 

For this latest chapter, UHI staff have carried out 21 interviews and recorded around 60 hours of material, adding to the 115 hours of material and 59 interviews already carried out.

As well as a host of fascinating stories and film clips, the Glenmore & Rothiemurcus project has found a host of evocative images – including scenes, events (such as the Cairngorm Bridge wash-a-ways of both 1960 & 1978) and people (did you know and work with Tommy Inch or George MacBeth?) There are even tales of how during the 1940s, forestry helped to break down the barriers between Scots and the POWs and Displaced Person’s who came to work the forests.

Jim Hunter from UHI Centre for History, said:

“With so many retired foresters and their families having move on, it’s now a country-wide job of tracking down and contacting people to tap into potentially rich sources of memory and reminiscence – not to mention photographs and other documents.

“We’ve met many interesting characters – from the lovely elderly ladies who spent just a few short but remarkable years as lumberjills during the Second World War to the forest workers (and their wives) who chalked up 50 years service around the country.

“The project is obviously on-going and we know that there are people out there who we haven’t had a chance to speak to yet so we’d love to hear from anyone who wants to get involved.”

Forestry Memories ( ) is the over-arching website that is home to all of the recordings and images that have been uncovered so far.

There are still stories to be told and even some people in the images to be identified – maybe even long-lost friends to re-discover. If you can contribute to the project, visit the site and get in touch. 
Notes to Editors 

1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government's forestry department. It manages 666,000 hectares of national forest land for multiple benefits, including nature conservation, public recreation, timber production, and rural and community development; supports other woodland owners with grants, felling licences, advice and regulation; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Ministers on forestry policy. 

2) The book includes a CD of selected snippets of interviews and a DVD is to be launched later this year. A similar project is underway in the area around Fort Augustus and a sister book will be launched later in the year. 

3) The Centre for History is a key part of the UHI Millennium Institute, the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands. UHI has taught degree awarding powers and aims to acquire full university title in the near future. Based in the cathedral town of Dornoch in Sutherland, The Centre for History is attached to North Highland College (NHC), one of UHI's academic partners. 

4) For more information on the project contact Mairi Stewart on 01887 829760.