coverage: 20th century
|Extent||1 digital audio file(s), 2 digital photograph(s)|
|Subject||Working life, Childhood, Social Systems, Community Life, Material Culture, Belief, Health, Law, Nature, Industry, shops, Music, Belhaven, Dunbar, West Barns, Tyninghame, Beltonford|
In this interview, Peter Aitchison (b. 1927) talks about is life in West Barns. Peter, who was born at Winterfield Farm, Bellhaven, begins with memories of his early life and family memories. He left school at 14 and went to work at the aerodrome at East Fortune, where his father was a foreman.
Peter recalls memories from this time and describes plane crashes he has seen. During the war years, he was out in a field doing farm work, when a plane came towards him. The pilot managed to swerve and avoid Peter, but crashed nearby. Peter also recalls a crash at Tyninghame where, many years later, in 1990, he recovered part of the propeller (which he donated to the East Fortune museum).
Peter recalls some of the people who lived nearby and reflected on how much West Barnes and Dunbar have changed over the years. He also talks about some of the social history he can remember, such as the planting, in 1935, of a cedar to celebrate the silver jubilee of Queen Mary and King George V. (The tree is still there). Peter had various jobs, including maltsman at the brewery and a porter at Bellhaven hospital.
Peter’s mother was from Achill Island in Ireland and met his father while she was working on a local farm. Peter remembered her as a very quiet woman, quite the opposite of his father. Peter often went poaching with his father and was one time caught by the police (and still has the baton dent in his head as a result) which led to a £5 fine at Haddington Sherriff court. Peter has a strong affinity with the local landscape and built environment and talks, for example, about the blue clay seam and the Sherriff’s bricks (which were used to built the supports for the Tay Bridge).
Peter’s wife, Elma, was a ‘greasy darner’ doing invisible darning for the tweed manufacturers, Gibson and Lumgair. Peter talks about his family life and about Elma’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a disease he has also been diagnosed with, and he discusses the impact and treatment of this. Peter also played the pipes with the North Berwick pipe band and now continues to play, with electric pipes. Together with Margaret McCole, who grew up in Greenock, he talks about visits to the Cowal games and remembers the fun of these. He also plays a part of The Rowan Tree on his pipes.
Towards the end of the interview, he talks about going to the cinema as a child and of his attempt to stop the demolition of the custom house. He also shares some further anecdotes relating to his love of the outdoor life, for instance, describing the folklore and science behind witnessing the will o the wisp at Tyninghame and the Aspen shiver.
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