In the first of three articles about Dunfermline soft drinks manufactures, George Beattie tells the story of Gilbert Rae, whose company demonstrated the innovation and experimentation of late Victorian Scotland. Gilbert Rae produced ginger beer, lemonade, kola and many other products and he pioneered the use of electricity, motor transport, scientific testing and much more as he built up a large business.
In the next of his articles based on Alexander Stewart’s “Reminiscences of Dunfermline – Sixty Years Ago”, George Robertson describes the provision of pharmacy and medical care available in Dunfermline in the early years of the 19th Century. As you might imagine, they are very basic and seem to be based largely on traditional remedies. “Old Fashioned Pharmacy” indeed. Stewart himself notes by how much pharmacy and medical practice had improved even over his “60 Years”.
The Dunfermline Historical Society recently received a portrait photograph of the Reverend Peter Chalmers, a minister of the Abbey Church, a local historian and an influential figure in Dunfermline life in the 19th Century. Jean Barclay has researched his life and in “REVEREND DOCTOR PETER CHALMERS, 1790-1870” she summarises his achievements in education, charitable work and historical research and also his difficulties in coping with the Great Disruption of 1843.
In “Erskine Beveridge & Co. The origins of a famous Dunfermline business“, Donald Adamson presents the results of his important local research into the sources of funding for a well-known firm which has a significant place in Dunfermline’s history. The story demonstrates the extensive social mobility which existed in 19th Century Britain, but also perhaps the pervasive influence of money from the slave trade.
George Robertson has compiled a history of an early Dunfermline Library, founded well before the current institution came into being. He has taken another piece from Alexander Stewart’s “Reminiscences of Dunfermline” as a starting point, then quoted from a range of other early accounts to bring us “The History of the Tradesmen’s Library“.