In 1890 our hall opened for the very first time, on land gifted to us by the then laird of Fettercairn Estate. We have enjoyed many years of community groups, wedding dress and christening robe exhibition, celebrations, heritage events and many more utilising the space the hall provides. In 2015, the false hall ceiling was seen to be deteriorating. The situation was investigated and there turned out to be more structural issues than originally was considered. Fettercairn needs its hall to re-open. Its closure is having a detrimental effect on the social cohesion of the community. The hall was well used in the past with footfall figures for 2014/15 showing that 40 events and private functions attracted 2578 people, and 7 weekly lets attracted a further 2780 making a total of 5558. Many activities, including coffee mornings and fundraisers can no longer take place.
Fettercairn has long been referred to as the Jewel of the Mearns, and now we have our own Fettercairn Jewel, found in Fettercairn House, Fettercairn Estate in 2017. The jewel is now housed in the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and it is something we are justly proud of. Fettercairn Brownies visited the Museum of Scotland last June, following a successful bid to the Co-op Community Fund to encourage and develop an interest in our local heritage.
The Jewel connects us to our Public Hall, as it was built in 1890 on land gifted by the then laird of Fettercairn Estate, The Honourable Charles Forbes Trefusis. The beautiful red sandstone was donated by Sir Thomas Gladstone of Fasque Estate, not more than a mile distant from the village. These two families played a pivotal role in the raising of funds to build the new Fettercairn Public Hall which was borne out of the need for a bigger building to replace the old hall, standing in the same ground. The Fettercairn Public Property Committee was formed in 1888 to move this forward. Its first chairman was Rev. William Anderson, followed in 1889 by the Honourable Charles Forbes H.S.Trefusis, later Lord Clinton. He remained chairman for 60 years until 1949.
A Bazaar was held in August 1888, over a weekend, to raise funds for the new hall. The sum of £550 was raised. With this in hand, the committee resolved to build a new hall on the same site as the old hall. It became clear that the committee would be short of at least £300. The then secretary, Archibald Cowie Cameron, Headmaster, and author of the History of Fettercairn, appealed to Mr Andrew Carnegie of New York, who replied that for the sake of the ‘cradle of the Carnegies’ (as Fettercairn was termed to him) he would remit one half, being £150, if the other half could be raised from the inhabitants of Fettercairn. This was duly achieved. The letters received from Mr Carnegie to this effect have recently come to light and are a wonderful addition to the minute books, in the possession of the present committee.
The building, with its internal furnishing complete, cost the princely sum of £900. It is English in style with a leaning to Scottish Baronial and surmounted by a large elegant tower. It was designed by John Milne of St Andrews, the son of a joiner, born and brought up in Fettercairn and an architect of some note. Nearly 30 years earlier he had designed the Arch, which was erected in memory of the Prince Consort, who with his beloved Queen Victoria stayed in the Ramsay Arms Hotel on their way to Balmoral. Their visit was in September 1861 and 3 short month later, Queen Victoria was in mourning. The Prince Concert sadly died. When you approach Fettercairn from the South, the Arch makes a grand entrance, almost in contrast to the quaintness of the houses in the village. When you approach Fettercairn from the West, the Public Hall dominates the skyline and is the first building you see as you pass the Parish Church. Our hall too is an important feature of the built heritage of Victorian times and mirrors the sandstone of the houses in the village square.
It is well documented that Fasque House was the ancestral home of Sir William Gladstone, four times Prime Minister of Great Britain. He was a frequent visitor to Fasque, and on one of his visits in 1890 he was given a preview of Fettercairn Public Hall prior to its opening. This is noted in a newspaper article in the Aberdeen Journal of 31st October 1890.
'SIR GLADSTONE AT FASQUE’
The party drove down the South Avenue onto Fettercairn, where a halt was made, and the party alighted. Here Mr Gladstone called on Mr Don, banker who along with Mr Murray, factor escorted the party through the new hall which is being built in the village. The right honourable gentleman seemed to be in excellent spirits, but said he was to keep as quiet as a mouse for some days.’
ABERDEEN JOURNAL FRIDAY OCTOBER 31ST 1890
The other great Estate surrounding Fettercairn is that of The Burn, in the Parish of Fettercairn, owned at the time by Colonel McInroy. He was an upstanding member of the community in his day, who served on several of the school boards in the Parish and was the motivator of raising the necessary funds for the Hall. His loyalties lay in Fettercairn. Three great estates surrounded us and further back in time three great castles, ensure our place in the History of Scotland. Greencairn Castle was sighted between Fettercairn and the foot of the Cairn, near Mill of Kincardine Farm. It dates back to the first millennium and was the predecessor of Kincardine Castle used by Mary Queen of Scots in 1560. Both castles have fallen into ruin, although locals remember when the ruins of Kincardine castle were plain for all to see. The other great seat of Kings was Balbegno Castle, a half mile distant from the village and still in use today.
The Community has raised £200,000 for the external and internal renovations of Fettercairn Public hall, since its closure in June 2015 following the discovery of wet and dry rot. Of this £38,000 has been raised through local fundraising events. The remainder has been raised through successful bid applications to various funders and from donations from individuals, clubs and local businesses. We are grateful for the community's continued support.
Fettercairn is a very special village steeped in history with huge royal and important political connections. The villagers have always been resourceful, innovative and ready to build new venues and sustain established iconic buildings. We are all very proud of our Hall and have very fond memories of celebrations, dances, drama, concerts, meetings, dinners and sales that have impacted and shaped our identity. It is as youngsters that real memories are made and our Burns Club encourages our local School pupils to perform Scottish poems and we are anxious to return to our Hall.
On many occasions since 1890 it has been added to, refurbished, painted and renewed to keep it modern and functional and we are delighted that our Property Committee is once again making a huge effort to keep that special community spirit in our village.
Fettercairn Public Property Committee appreciates the support of Fettercairn Primary School in many, different ways. Gala Days in particular, would not be the same without them.
"The Fettercairn Public Hall Balcony Renovation Project is close to our heart. The Community may have left the building, but… our love of the building never leaves us. We continue our support, of Fettercairn Village Hall. Happy memories."
Fettercairn Public Property Committee has enjoyed the support of Encore over several years as they strive to re-open the village. We look forward to the day when we can dress up and enjoy socialising again.
Whyte and Mackay recognise the importance of Fettercairn Public Hall as an important feature of the built Heritage of the Community. It's associations with the estates of Fettercairn and Fasque tie it to both Scottish and British History. It is an iconic building central to revitalising a community where its residents can capitalise on the strong community spirit which already exists. We urge you to join us in supporting the Fettercairn Village Hall Balcony Renovation by liking or sharing the Crowdfunding Project Page or by making a donation.
"Fettercairn Public Hall is an integral part of the local community. It was built from kind donations by the local estates to ensure the community spirit thrived. The Fettercairn Farmers Club support the hall on an annual basis by donating funds raised from the show dance. The Fettercairn public hall provides a focal point for a large rural community, offering a meeting point for social interaction and an events venue used by all ages. With the COVID-19 situation, it has proved the importance of the local spirit, even with social-distancing, people of all ages are pulling together to ensure those in need are assisted. As a director of one of the local estates I am proud that Fettercairn is our local village and look forward to seeing the hall open again as it has been sorely missed by all generations."
Written by: Nick Canning, Director
"We are happy to support such a worthwhile Project. Well done to everyone. Here's to the hall reopening!"
"It's vital we continue to support our village hall. Amazing thing have happened already. Well done to everyone!"
"Congratulations to the community on achieving such an important milestone: £200,000 FANTASTIC. Peter Vardy JLR will continue to support the fundraising efforts, to get the Hall re-opened."
"We are happy to support the community and see good things happening. Help our hall by supporting the Balcony Renovation Project."
"We will like and share Fettercairn Village Hall Balcony Renovations on our Facebook page. Good luck with your latest funding bid!"
"Duncans of Deeside sponsored our Band Night at last year's Gala Day and are happy to support our efforts to get our hall re-opened."
Fettercairn Public Property Committee has been supported in the last five years, in a special way. Most of our fundraising events are held in either the Church Hall or the Church and we wish to thank West Mearns Parish for the extra workload this has put on the congregation.
"Dalgetty Pest Control is happy to support the latest funding bid to renovate the Hall Balcony and make it a useful space. Good luck with the funding bid!"
We are delighted to have the Brae Cafe, located in Auchenblae, share and like our Facebook Project Page, highlighting the community spirit of the villages of the Mearns. They have a history of working together to support each other.
The Brae Cafe is a small family operated cafe and bar. Serving fresh homemade food and delicious homebakes. A refreshing drink and a warm welcome awaits you when we reopen!
"We are delighted to support Fettercairn Public Property Committee in renovating their Public Hall." We wish to acknowledge D.M.Carnegies previous support of our fundraising efforts.
Fettercairn Public Property Committee was formed in 1888 when there was not enough room in the school hall, for all those people wanting to see the School Concert. People were turned away. Its first chairman was Rev. William Anderson, followed in 1889 by the Honourable Charles Forbes H.S.Trefusis, later Lord Clinton. He remained chairman for 60 years until 1949.
It was formed when the male inhabitants of the Village met in the school to discuss the matter and move the project forward. An example of life in Victorian times. Indeed, in the 60’s, some of the wives of the committee members were asked to join the gentlemen, but they declined the invitation.
Today Fettercairn Public Property Committee still owns and has responsibility for managing and maintaining the Public Hall and the Sports Pavilion. Fettercairn Public Property Committee today, consist of representatives of 18 Groups and organisations, and other members of the Public. Fettercairn Hall had maintained its sustainability for 125 years prior to closure and has always enjoyed the support of the Community. It has survived two world wars and now we are in the midst of a global pandemic. We will lose out on a projected income of £7,000 from fundraising and donations by the year end, but we are not downhearted. We are all in this together, and we take each day as it comes – little by little, big by big, step by step.
Residents of all ages, and all organisations and clubs of the Community of Fettercairn and in the surrounding areas, including the residents of Fasque Estate, where a new housing development is in the planning stages, one mile from the village of Fettercairn. There is also Queen Elizabeth Court, a Sheltered Housing Complex comprising 18 flats and three houses for elderly and vulnerable adults, who will benefit from this fund. Everyone will be benefited in the near and far surrounding area.
People visiting our small village in a small corner of Scotland remark at how impressive our Public Hall is. What is our secret, they wonder? The secret is in our rich heritage: a heritage as rich as any other small village in any small corner of the country. Our story is one we are proud of, and one we wish to share with you.
The fundraising journey has been ongoing for the last five years, with many different projects being focused on at different times. The great community that surrounds us has set to work and their labour does not go unnoticed. Despite the set backs we have been encountering in our fundraising journey the past 5 years, we still stay strong spirited with hope to one day open the hall doors again.
‘The good people of Fettercairn’ as Queen Victoria once described us, did what the good people of Fettercairn always do. They set to work. The fundraising continued, the donations poured in, the bid applications were made to Funders, and now at last we are carrying out work inside our hall. We are the generation charged with bringing our hall back to its former glory, but we are the generation who now see the exterior of the hall as it was when it was first built. It is a privilege. This community of ours just keeps giving of its time money and efforts to get its hall re-opened. Only a few weeks ago we reached an important milestone. £200,000 raised in the last five years. We have raised enough funds to take us to the painting and decorating stage of the inside of the hall. WHAT A COMMUNITY!!
What this community has achieved in the last five years since closure is an amazing example of what a community can do when it works together to make a project happen. Plans were made to repoint the elevations of the hall and investigations showed that we would need to raise £65,000 for the Project. A robust programme of fundraising began, and we were looking forward to beginning Phase 1 which was to repoint the front elevation in the first instance. THAT WAS UNTIL THE DAWN OF 1ST JUNE 2015, when a small crack appeared in one of the panels of the false ceiling. Investigations revealed the plaster from the original ceiling had disintegrated and fallen on top of the false Ceiling. The hall was immediately closed and investigations revealed major dry and wet rot throughout the building and in our impressive Tower. Over time a Project which started life as a £65,000 Project has become one of over £250,000, of which £200,000 has been raised, to get the Hall re-opened. This includes the completion of rewiring and upgrading of the fire alarms and electrical heating systems re-instating and plastering the ceiling and painting and re-decorating the hall.
And NOW we are looking to raise funds for the renovation of our Balcony. Please don’t think because we have raised £200,000 already, we are not a worthy cause. We have been supported in our fundraising efforts by every village organisation, business and individual, and while they will continue to support us, we can no longer look for large donations beyond appealing to funders. It has been a long journey – little by little, big by big, one step at a time, and sometimes the journey has been fraught, as each step taken to renovate our hall, has often uncovered (as is common in older buildings) more work to be done. More money is needed to make our dreams a reality.
The total cost of the renovation of the balcony is £9,600(including V.A.T.). This covers: levelling the floor (this space previously had seating at different levels) raising the balustrade height to comply with health and safety regulations installing a glass panel to allow for light, and as an added safety feature. The balcony area is not for public use, but will be used for a projector to show films, heritage, storage and possible office space. It will all be worth it to see the heart of our community restored again.
The benefits to the community of a re-opened hall, will be a regeneration of the community through improving health and wellbeing, combatting loneliness, improving and developing inter-generational interactions, and supporting the economic viability of groups and organisations who use the hall for fundraising activities. We, as the committee, are confident that it will be used by many groups, clubs and member of the community for private functions, and to host events currently held in the church hall from Heritage events to Ceilidhs. We are also confident we will be able to raise the remainder of the funding through local fundraising, crowdfunding and local appeals. The future is bright but only with you in it.
We are full of hope for the future, we are the masters of our own destiny as a community and we have more than proved ourselves capable of seeing the project through to fruition. Every organisation and Club in the Community has donated money to the hall. We could have walked away, but we didn’t, and we won’t. Our hall deserved to be saved. It looks WONDERFUL. We couldn’t feel prouder. When our hall is re-opened, Fettercairn Public Property Committee is looking forward to welcoming back its hirers, and has every faith that the Hall will continue to be need by the community, its clubs and organisations, its people and even those out-with our own small community. One notable event in recent years was the filming of Lewis Grassic Gibbons Novel ‘Sunset Song’ part of his Trilogy set in the Mearns, and adapted for the cinema screen. The Lewis Grassic Gibbons Centre is in Arbuthnott, his childhood home.
Film shows in our halls are nothing new. Many of the present Fettercairn residents remember sitting in the balcony in the fifties watching films. Health and safety would take a dim view of it today, but no-one fell over the balcony in their excitement.
‘My favourite memory is sitting in the front row of the balcony, and seeing Doris Day singing ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ from the film Calamity Jane." - Helen Thomson
"I remember watching ‘The Dambusters’ and seeing Ed (Bolly) Watson – milkman, taxi driver and founder member of Fettercairn Entertainments Committee, march the cadets into the back of the hall to watch the film." - Jim Brown
"My strongest memories are of watching The Master of Ballantrae and Ivanhoe. I had a front row seat – sitting on a form and straining my neck." - Alan Sim
Here’s to the fun and the friendship, the sharing and caring, the making of memories for the next generation, the joy of living in this beautiful corner, in this amazing community we call home.
One of my abiding memories is of the Church Sale of work, always held in June as I remember it – lots of people crammed into the hall for the grand opening by a local, before anything could be sold. I remember a local bachelor farmer, who was a larger than like character, who gave all the children half-a-crown to spend at the sale (we thought all our Christmases had come at once. We hoped he would be there the following year – he always was. We wanted to be near him for fear of missing out on the half crown – in fact we used to jostle for position!!!) He then bought half the tablet off the cake and candy stall and handed it out to the senior citizens and children – those were the days – a song springs to mind!
"Been to many, many events in the hall, remember fondly the children’s Christmas Eve parties, wedding & Christening exhibition, who could forget the trail of planted wellies leading to the church!"
"I love the location of our village Fettercairn and the accessible countryside, the community spirit and the history of the village, people and estates."
"Think Fettercairn will be my forever home, very privileged to live in such a lovely community. ‘Uptown Girl’ was a very memorable concert with many a laugh behind the scenes. Gala concert 2002."
And finally, ‘Here’s to a re-opened Hall’
The following piece eloquently expresses how we feel about our own special ‘Jewel of the Mearns:
Sweet Howe of Mearns and lovely Fettercairn!
Where health and plenty cheer the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit pays,
And parting summer’s lingering bloom delays;
How often have I paused on every charm,
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that tops the neighbouring hill;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart
Thy native charms, than all the gloss of art.
Archibald Cowie Cameron, quoting from Goldsmith’s address to “Sweet Auburn” a few lines slightly altered to apply to Fettercairn, and thus express the writer’s feelings. Fettercairn has long been loved by its inhabitants. Taken from ‘The History of Fettercairn: A Parish the County of Kincardine.’