The Great Houses of Northumberland.

Tuesday 4th July – Friday 7th July 2019

There are spaces available on this tour being organised by the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland – Dumfries and Galloway Group.. The programme for this 4 day, 3 night trip is being arranged to visit interesting and varied places with an architectural theme but designed to be of interest to all. It will include some exclusive features especially for the AHSS.

The journey to Northumberland will include a visit to The Sill, the premier visitor centre for Hadrian’s Wall.

Once in Northumberland places that will be visited include Howick Hall and Gardens, Chipchase and Coupland Castles, Ford Village and Lady Waterford Hall with Meldon House and Chillingham Castles also included in the itinerary.

On the last day in Newcastle, Bessie Surtees House will be visited and there will also be a river trip on the Tyne.

Please contact for more information about the trip



The Indefatigable Mr. Coles: The Life and Trials of F.R. Coles:

Artist, naturalist and archaeologist, Frederick Coles was born in 1853 at Bellary (Ballari) in what was then the Presidency of Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India; but from the age of six he was educated in Great Britain where he was cared for by his extended family and their network of friends. By the age of twenty he was already beginning to make his mark as an artist, an occupation he was to follow for many years.

F.R. Coles

However, after his marriage in 1880 and a move to Tongland, two miles north of Kirkcudbright, his interests broadened to embrace a wide range of local natural history studies before being captured by field archaeology. His earliest work on cup and ring marks, denoted by his characteristic energy, enthusiasm and rigour, led to other field projects, which eventually brought him to the notice of the most influential network of archaeologists in Scotland.

Although the high quality of his studies is still appreciated in this country, his life was not an easy one and today he is in many ways a mysterious figure about whom little is known and perhaps less is understood.

This will be a joint meeting with the Friends of Kirkcudbright Art Galleries.

Parish Church Hall

December 12th @7.30

Visitors £3

‘Scotland’s Lost Genius.’ The stained glass of Alf Webster and some Galloway connections”


The guest speaker for the Kirkcudbright History Society’s recent meeting was retired Church of Scotland Minister, Graham Finch, who delivered a fascinating and informative talk on the development of stained glass in Scotland from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century with particular reference to the life and work of one of the key participants, Alf Webster. Graham began by highlighting James Ballantine who, in Edinburgh in 1837, opened a studio which produced the first stained glass made in Scotland since the Reformation. One of his apprentices was Stephen Adam who then set up his own studio in Glasgow. Adam’s work was admired by Kirkcudbright artist EA Hornel who possessed a couple of small pieces of Adam’s work at Broughton House. There is an Adam’s window in Twynholm Church which Hornel admired but thought it made the church interior look lopsided because it lacked a second window to balance it.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Adam took on a young apprentice called Alf Webster who was eventually made a partner and then took over the business on Adam’s death. Webster was one of the greatest stained glass artists Scotland ever saw but his career was tragically cut short by a sniper’s bullet at Ypres in 2015. Graham read out a very touching letter from Harry Lauder’s son, Capt. John Laurie, who shared a ward with Alf Webster, describing Alf’s last words before he died.

After the war, Webster’s widow, Maude, continued to operate the studio and the war memorial window in Twynholm was made by the studio during her time providing the balance which Hornel had craved. Eventually, Alf’s second son Gordon took over and was a prominent stained glass artist in his own right

Detail of Greyfriars



There is a Gordon Webster window in Greyfriars Church, Kirkcudbright, one installed in Balmaclellan Church and early and late Webster windows in St Michael’s Dumfries. Graham illustrated his talk with further examples of the work of all the artists mentioned above with a particular focus on the two Alf Webster windows in Cadder Parish Church in Bishopbriggs and on two war memorial windows there also made by the Stephen Adam’s studio when it was under Maude Webster’s management. A symposium held to mark the centenary of Alf Webster’s death described him as ‘Scotland’s Lost Genius.’

There will be an article about the window in Greyfriars, in our Features section, shortly.

Success -War Grave Quest

Following the appeal below, we were contacted and given the following information.

“Thomas William Corrie, Military Medal, Rifleman (3254492) 6th Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) Age 24. Born 1920 in Balmaclellan. Son of Thomas and Mary Craik (Shaw) Corrie of Lowdenlea, Balmaclellan. Died of Wounds 15 December 1944 and buried in Sittard General Cemetery, Limburg, Netherlands”

This enabled us to find a relative who still lives locally.

Appeal from Holland

We have been contacted by the Cameronians Families Organisation with an appeal to find a local family.

Roland Dohmen, a Dutchman, who cares for some Cameronian graves in the war cemetery at Sittard Holland is trying to trace family of Thomas Corrie from Bridge of Dee.

Kim Vervuurt

Roland has sent two photographs. He is in one with Karin Van Heeswijk who is a member of the local war graves committee.

Kim Vervuurt

A red rose is left at every grave by local school children. 

Please contact the web secretary below with any information

The following is the inscription on the grave.

CORRIE,THOMAS WILLIAM,T W,24,M M,15/12/1944,,Rifleman,Cameronians (Scottish Rifles),6th Bn.,Netherlands,’3254492′,SITTARD GENERAL CEMETERY,A. 19.,”SON OF THOMAS AND MARY C. CORRIE, OF BRIDGE OF DEE, KIRKCUDBRIGHTSHIRE

We will remember them

In  2008, the late Ian Devlin published his book “We will remember them. Kirkcudbright’s sons 1914-1918”. This was an account of the lives of all the Kirkcudbright men lost in the first World War.

The biography of each serviceman is in the same order as it appears on the War Memorial.

A quote from Ian’s introduction states

“Finally. This history is not meant to be a genealogical history, rather it is a history designed to remember and to bring alive the men behind the names, who they were, where they came from, where they served, where they died and where they are buried or commemorated. It is a consolidation of the fallen and a starting point for future individual research by generations yet to come”

The following year Ian published a second book “We will remember them. Kirkcudbright’s sons 1939- 1945”.

Both books are available from the Stewartry Museum.

WW1 – £3.95       WW2 – £4.95

The War Memorial was unveiled by Col. R. Dudgeon C.B. of Cargen, Lord Lieutenant of the County, in 1921.

More information about the Memorial can be found in David R. Collin’s book “Kirkcudbright an Alphabetical Guide to its History”.

Scottish Local History Forum- Clish- Clash, Issue 31

The latest update has been issued and,together with earlier copies, is available to everyone to download  from their website.

A report of the SLHF National Conference whose theme this year was “After the War is over: the Legacy of WW1” is included

In addition, this issue contains information from various Scottish Societies including talks, walks, exhibitions and websites. e.g.

The National Library of Scotland is introducing a new search facility Library Search, which will bring together records of different materials (such as books, manuscripts, film) from separate catalogues, to be searched together. The transfer will take place at the end of October-early November, and some services, such as advance online reservation may be temporarily affected. Information about these changes is at:

Kirkcudbright Artists Remembered.

The project has been launched and is now available online

Mark Mulhern, European Ethnological Research Centre reports as follows

“One of the ambitions of the Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project (RESP) is to encourage and to facilitate individuals and groups to carry out fieldwork based research borne out of their own interest. So it was with great pleasure that we welcomed the opportunity to work with the Kirkcudbright Harbour Cottage Trust on their project – ‘Kirkcudbright Artists Remembered’.

We provided training and supplied recording equipment to enable the team of 16 volunteer fieldworkers from Kirkcudbright to record folk from the town on their memories and experiences of artists associated with the town.

The results of these labours make a significant addition to the overall collection of material on D&G which the Project has built-up. In addition, this collection of recordings is a rich source of information for anyone interested in finding out more about the work of artists and their place within a place.

A clip from each of the interviews is presented on the RESP website.

These clips can be directly accessed by clicking on the name of each interviewee.

There are also two short videos available on YouTube.

Kirkcudbright Artists Remembered, which reflects on life and times in the Artists Town

John Halliday – Child of the Colony which looks at the work of this Kirkcudbright-born artist

Copyright in these recordings is shared between the European Ethnological Research Centre and the Kirkcudbright Harbour Cottage Trust”

The Swan Family, living and working in Kirkcudbright since 1858

At the new season’s first meeting of Kirkcudbright History Society, Douglas Swan spoke to a large number of members.

He described the growth of the family firm, Douglas Swan and Son, from the arrival of his great great grandfather James Swan, to work on the new bank building in Castle Street, to the present family firm with outlets throughout the Region and its expertise being used by a variety of National Bodies. The business started in 1864 in an old quarry at the Creekhead which his father moved to the present premises in St Cuthbert’s Street where it has developed to include various buildings including a large saw which has existed over many years. They now have a retail business which includes printing on fabric and ceramics as the various present day generations develop their skills. To supplement their diverse skills, they also use the latest computer aided design technology, diamond cutting and polishing machinery and sandblasting techniques, which allows high quality memorials to be produced at competitive prices

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