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Newsletter May 2019

Notes from our Chairman

This will be a slightly shorter newsletter than normal, coming as it does so soon after the one issued in April, but it was important to get some information out to you all about the events coming up over the next few months. The committee has been working hard in developing the programme for next year and I'm sure you agree that we have some really interesting things planned. You will see the full list of events on your new membership cards. It was particularly nice to see some new members join this year. Welcome to you all! I hope we have been successful in our attempts to appeal to a wide audience and included items that will entice everyone to come along and support our activities and encourage even more new members in the future. As has been the habit in the last few years the summer months' events focus on getting out and about to see more of our wonderful country. There will be a visit to the iconic Aberdeen Beach Ballroom, celebrating its 90th birthday this year and two garden visits - the perfect settings for enjoying summer weather. All of these require advance booking so we can advise the hosts of expected numbers. Booking forms are attached - get your reservations in early!

Margaret Alexander.

Looking Back - A Review of Recent Events.



The annual AGM for the Members' Centre was held on 17th April 2019. Our Chairman, Margaret Alexander gave a brief overview of the past year's activities and announced that a total of 3200 will be donated to the three local properties - 1000 will be given to Haddo (200 having already been advanced to Haddo to enable the purchase of two sundials), 1000 to Fyvie for the "Guardians of Fyvie" Appeal and 1000 to Pitmedden. The Committee members and office bearers were re-elected for another year with the exception of Mrs. Irene Findlay, who has decided to step down from the Committee. Irene has been a great contributor to the success of the Members' Centre. Her work is greatly appreciated and she will be much missed. Margaret Alexander announced that she will step down as Chairman next April. In common with many other NTS Members' Centres, including Aberdeen and Angus, the Members' Centre Trust Deed will be revised during 2019. Any proposed changes will be subject to review by members and be the subject of an extraordinary general meeting as necessary. Membership fees will remain at 8 for the remainder of this year but will increase to 10 for the 2020/21 season. Visitor fees for talks will go up to 3. The formal proceedings of the meeting were followed by a talk by Douglas Harper (see below)

River, Railway and Ravine: Foot Suspension bridges for Empire

Photograph of suspension bridge"Well, who would have thought that a talk on fencing posts and bridges could be that fascinating?" That seemed to be the general mood of our audience following Douglas Harpers' talk about his distinguished forebears. Douglas qualified as a geologist, doctor and surgeon and when he retired set out to research his family history. He is the great grandson of John Harper of Turriff , who with his brother Hugh set up a fencing and gate manufacturing business, establishing a foundry in Aberdeen in 1856. In 1863 John patented a device for tensioning fencing wire, a device that he was later to develop for use in constructing suspension bridges. Several of the great estates in Scotland were fenced using Harper fencing, some of which is still in use today. In the 1870's Harpers extended the use of their tensioning device to foot bridges and they were commissioned to construct these throughout the UK and Ireland. Most of the suspension bridges of the time used chains (e.g. Menai Bridge) and stability was given by adding weight. Harpers' bridges used wire cable, just like fencing. Tension was used to create a double "arch" - a downward sweeping arch from the cables and a slight upward arch of the span (see picture). This made the bridges very stable and relatively easy to build. Soon Harper bridges were being exported around the globe. Just like flat pack furniture today, all the bridge components, made in Aberdeen, were packed up along with the instructions and sent off to far flung corners of the world to be constructed by local teams, a lot of whom were led by military engineers. Many of these bridges still exist and are in everyday use. In places like Nepal they remain a vital lifeline to people who have no other safe way of crossing gorges and the raging river torrents that criss-cross the country. Nowadays Douglas is busy tracking down and visiting as many of the remaining bridges that he can. I don't think any of us who were at the talk will look at a suspension bridge in the same way again. We'll all be looking out for that double arch and wondering if it is a Harper bridge, made in Aberdeen.

Looking Forward - What's Coming Up for the Members' Centre.


Photograph of Aberdeen Beach BallroomDid you ever dance the night away at Aberdeen's Beach Ballroom? Perhaps you have fond memories of concerts and shows (or even a little romance) held in this iconic venue? Well, come along and help celebrate its 90th birthday. We'll meet at the Ballroom at 2:30 pm, where we will be welcomed by the Ballroom Manager who will introduce us to some of the history of this stunning Art Deco building and share stories of the artists who have appeared there. After spending time exploring the special 90th birthday exhibition we will enjoy afternoon tea. So join us for this treat of nostalgia. Cost is £10 per person (includes refreshments).


It's high summer and what better way to spend a summer's day than strolling around a beautiful garden? Our trip on 12th July is to Drumrossie Mansion House at Insch. The property, which can be traced back to the Crusades, is surrounded by three acres of landscaped lawns, formal walled garden, veg and greenhouse area and a newly planted orchard. There are 27 acres of wooded walks, paddocks and a large wildlife pond. Vegetables are grown in raised beds. The walled garden is laid out in lawns of a very high standard, with herbaceous borders and fruit trees on the south-facing wall. There is a large collection of hostas and alstroemerias, as well as herbaceous plants, heathers and azaleas, a productive vegetable garden, plant-raising area and polytunnel for early veg and flowers, a large glasshouse for tomatoes and a sunken greenhouse, which provides over-wintering heat for tender plants. A main feature is the well, which in days gone by provided the water supply to the house. The gardens are included in Scotland's Garden Scheme but aren't open until 14th July - so we are getting a sneak preview! Meet at 2pm at Drumossie House. Cost is £8 per person including refreshments.


Photograph of Carestown Steading Garden, Deskford, CullenWe'll be heading to another lovely garden setting this month. On Friday 9th August the venue is Carestown Steading Garden, Deskford, Cullen. Meet at the Steading at 2 pm. Cost for garden entry is £5 per person. Refreshments are not included, but there are plenty of good cafes and restaurants in nearby Cullen. It should make for a lovely day out. A selection is given below but you may well know others.

http://cullenbayhotel.com. https://www.facebook.com/DeskfordGardenGalleries.

What else is on

For more details , booking etc. check out properties on the NTS website or on their Facebook pages.

Haddo HouseFyvie Castle
13th July - Bugs Day1 Jun - An Evening of Magic with Garry Seagraves
24th July - Mini beasts and Marvellous Moths (children's walk)16 June - Princess and Superhero Party
27th July - Tea on the Terrace23 June - German Ladies Choir with Banff Pipe Band
28th July - Affa Fine Artisan Afternoon18 July - Three Inch Fools present "Much Ado about Nothing"
11th August - Family Fun Day23rd July - Outdoor Concert - Summer of '62 with the Jersey Notes
15th August - Bat Evening (adult)25th July - Zoolab
29th August - Handlebards present 7quot;The Tempest"6th August - Birds of Fyvie Loch
31st August - Bat Breakfast11th August - Tea Dance at Fyvie
 23rd August - Summer Garden Walk

Pitmedden Garden
9th June - Evening Garden Walk
5th July - David Walliam's Gangsta Granny
6th July - Tales of the Herb Garden
11th July - Mini Beasts Monsters - children's walk
14th July - Evening Garden Walk
18th July - Mr. Magnolia
23rd July - Festival Players present "Much Ado about Nothing"
2nd August - Swinging 60s Concert
3rd August - Dan Hadfield as Gary Barlow
9th August - Abbamania
10th August - Little Mix Magic
11th August - Evening Garden Walk
14th August - Wuthering Heights
14th August - Pitmedden's Pollinators (children's walk)
16th August - Frankenstein

And a little further afield

Crathes CastleDrum Castle
15th June - Outdoor Cinema - Shrek7th June - Jo Barker and Sarah Brennan: In Conversation
16th June - Tree Spirits - Outdoor Sculpture Session5th July - Whiskey Tasting
4th July - David Walliams' Gangsta Granny17th July - Bats and Moths at Drum
9th July - Furry Scurry: Children's Rodent Walk24th July - Illyria - The Tempest
16th July - Mini Beasts and Marvellous Moths28th July - Jaguar Classic Car Show
9th July - Wind in the Willows4th August - MG Classic Car Show
2nd August - A Midsummer Night's Dream11th August - Little Mix Magic
13th August - Woodland Crafts Children's Event13th August - Illyria - Frankenstein
15th August - Wuthering Heights18th August - Moth Morning

Castle Fraser
15th June - Steam and Vintage Fair
22nd June - 17th August - A series of 2 day Drystone Dyking Courses
10th July - Pond Dipping
13th July - Mr. Magnolia
16th July - Comedy of Errors
28th July - Dragonflies and Damselflies
31st July - Pond Dipping
17th August - Dig the Past at Castle Fraser
23rd August - Family Bat Evening

Ever wonder where the money goes?

Photograph of plaque on bench at Pitmedden Our previous Newsletter had some information about how our last year's donations had been put to use at Haddo and Fyvie. If you have visited Pitmedden recently the sharp sighted among you may well have spotted the result of our donation to that property - a shining new bench. It is located in a prime location in the lower garden and is sure to be enjoyed by visitors for many years to come. Thank you for supporting our efforts so we can continue to provide amenities like this for all to enjoy

News from around the Trust

Following the success of the "For the Love of Scotland" campaign in 2018, the NTS launched the second phase campaign at the beginning of May. This includes a re-worked TV advert, as well as outdoor and digital advertising, encouraging people to discover all the many things they love about Scotland at NTS locations.

The Trust would love for all Members' Centres and Friends' Groups to get involved with the campaign. Here are a number of ways you can do so:

Thank You! As always we would like to thank Mackies of Scotland for their help with the postage of our Newsletters.

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