Buckie & District Fishing Heritage Centre

Chairman’s Report – 27th September 2012

It is with sincere and heart felt sorrow that I have to open this year’s Annual General Meeting with the sad news of the passing of four of our members.

Jeannie Bowie Cowie who died on Saturday, 17th December last year, Cathleen Thomson who died on 17th January, Isabel Harrison who died on Thursday 9th August followed two days later by the passing of Sandy Sutherland on Saturday 11th August this year.

In different ways these four members contributed much to this Centre.

Jeannie was always very keen to assist in any way that she could. She could always be relied upon to carry out whatever was required to be done. Jeannie loved chatting with the many locals and Buckie exiles who would visit.

Cathleen was a quiet, modest lady who held a great love for the work of this Centre.

Isobel provided a wealth of local knowledge to the visitors. A stalwart of the Doric language, a very talented and witty writer and poet. Many will miss the opportunity to benefit of these unique talents, and

Sandy, our immediate past Chairman, a Director and Honorary Life Member of this Centre.

With Sandy’s steady hands at the helm we were privileged to be guided by him. We will miss Sandy greatly particularly his quiet yet assuring manner, his advice and guidance which were much valued.

My first year as Chairman has been, first and foremost, a very enjoyable experience. It is a privilege to work with my fellow directors, post holders and committee members. Is has also been my honour to be midway through the chairmanship of a Heritage Centre that is unique and much admired by counterparts in other heritage centres and museums throughout Scotland.

We remained open to the public from late September to Christmas for the second year which has now been proven to be much appreciated given the number of visits by public and groups during these autumn months.

In conjunction with the extended opening of the Centre, much work was undertaken by some of our members in recording information and details of fishing boats, photographs and artefacts into our computer system.

These tasks continued during our closed season when much work on our computer system was done throughout the early part of the New Year until the spring opening. Much work remains to be done however until we are able to attain our goal of having all artefacts and photographs catalogued.

Once again, the last twelve months has seen visitor numbers increase. One aspect of this has been the increase in the number of visits by Church Guilds, Groups of various kinds and interests and most importantly, by local schools. I must single out John Addison for his work in providing slide shows and commentaries for our visiting groups.

Over the year we have had our three usual Coffee Mornings, two in Buckie and one in Findochty. As is usual, these were very well supported and together raised over £2344. This income allows us to continue our work during these hard financial times.

Our membership remains stable with around 707 members. I personally find it most encouraging to note the spread of our members throughout the world. This proves the importance that our members place in the Heritage Centre as providing a link with their home town and local heritage. Much credit must be given to John Fowlie for the production of our member’s newsletter. These newsletters play a major part in maintaining the level of membership and are held in very high regard by all readers.

Two excellent books have been produced over that last 12 months in the form of BCK Motorboats, Volumes 1 and 2. Volume 1 was launched by Mrs Kathleen Macleod on the 8th December last year. Despite fairly poor weather on the day, there was a good turnout of approx. AA35 invited guests.

Volume 2 was launched on Wednesday 8th August by David Linkie of the Fishing News. Some 40 invited guests attended the launch.

Sales of both volumes, which attracted excellent press reviews, are going well and I wish to congratulate John Addison for the amount of research carried out and his dedication in producing these remarkable records of Buckie registered fishing vessels. I also wish to thank John Crawford for the support he provided to John in helping to edit and compile these books.

Our Centre is also now recognised for the expertise that it holds in regard to the past fishing industry and the part played by those associated with it such as the gutting squads etc. This has been clearly demonstrated over the last twelve months by approaches from the media.

In December, the Radio 4 programme ‘Open Country’ ran a feature on traditional hand knitted fishermen’s ganseys featuring contributions by Elsie Murray and Kathleen Whitham

Isobel Williams, a television producer from ITV visited the Centre in February and met with Elsie Murray and Elsie Slater. Both women spoke with Isobel Williams in regard to their experience of being a fisherman’s wife and of the herring gutting.

The Centre has also assisted the Scots Magazine with interviews for a feature on the Gutting quines.

I will close now by thanking everyone who has assisted me personally throughout this past year and I very much look forward to Chairing the Buckie and District Fishing Heritage Centre throughout the year to come.

Thanks to you all.

Eric Smith 27th September 2012