February 2018 Meeting

15th February 2018

The DHS Annual General Meeting will take place this year at 7:30 pm, in the Abbey Church Hall  and will be immediately followed by –

“Women Pilots of World War II”, given by Roy Johnstone.

Roy has been fascinated by history all his life and, since retiring from a career in law, has developed and presented a wide range of talks on historical topics. These range from Mary, Queen of Scots to modern times. He is a very popular speaker who last year spoke on 156 occasions.

All visitors will be made very welcome.


Aberdour Heritage Centre

The new Heritage Centre in Aberdour will be open from 1 pm to 2 pm on Wednesdays and from 1 pm to 3 pm on Saturdays throughout the Winter.

The Centre, situated in the Aberdour railway station buildings, opened in July this year and provides information on the many historic locations of interest in the village.

Further information is available at www.aberdourheritage.uk

George Robertson becomes Honorary President of DHS

After 21 years in the post of Chair, George Robertson stood down at the Society’s recent AGM, held in May 2017. He then took on a new position of Honorary President, the third time in the Society’s 47 year history that such a post has been occupied.  The Secretary, Cherry Allan, highlighted George’s history with the Society which is summarised below.

Photo of George Robertson receiving his presentation from Carolyn Thompson

George Robertson receiving his presentation from Carolyn Thompson

“It all started in June 1996 when the Chairman of the day stood down at the AGM with immediate effect, after 14 years of service, leaving the committee and members in something of a quandary.  To resolve the situation the previous Honorary President, Mr Andy Lawrence (one of the original founders of the Society) proposed a new Society member and friend of his, one Mr George Robertson, as a prospective Chairman, since his interest in local history made him a likely candidate.  George considered the proposal and agreed to take on the role and so began his 21 years at the helm of the Society.

It wasn’t long before new developments were taking place to increase awareness of the Society in the following ways:

  • A Society logo was commissioned, designed and produced
  • DHS began an annual presence at the October Hobbies and Recreation exhibition
  • DHS became a member of the Scottish Local History Forum
  • The post of Publicity Officer was created to report the Society’s activities in the local press

In September 1997 the Society moved to larger premises in the Pittencrieff Suite in the City Hotel and so began a steady increase in membership numbers as the Society grew in popularity.

The year 2000 saw the Society’s first overnight trip, to visit Durham’s great Cathedral, with George plotting the route and undertaking costings.  A new projector and the first sound system appeared at this time and by 2002 the Society had outgrown the City Hotel and moved to the suitably historic and prestigious City Chambers to accommodate the now 93 members.

Over the years George arranged most of the speakers himself and took the lead in organising the trips which grew in the distances travelled, the variety of historical attractions seen and the time spent away from home, venturing to the Inner Hebrides and even South of the Border on several occasions.  In 2006 he formed the “Travel Club”, a core group of committee members working together to ensure a fairer spread of the workload involved in organising the trips.  The same year saw the appointment of a dedicated Speakers’ Convenor to secure a variety of quality speakers for the Society’s monthly evening talks.

In 2008 the post of Vice Chair was added to the Constitution in preparation for a prospective new Chairperson and in 2010, along with the committee, George saw the Society enjoy a memorable 40th anniversary celebration dinner at the Pitbauchlie House Hotel. In 2012 DHS was on the move once again to our current premises in the Abbey Church Hall.

Membership numbers continued to rise and reached the dizzying heights of 136 in 2014, our highest ever (trebling the numbers from 1996).  The Society website launched in late 2015 to which George continues to contribute many local articles and 2016 saw the appointment of Carolyn Thompson as Vice-Chair, who has now taken over the role of Chair, having already played a highly significant part within the committee along with her husband, Robin.

Over the years George has worked tirelessly to ensure the smooth running and success of the Society and all members owe him a great debt of gratitude.  He has held the committee and the entire Society together throughout, working with a variety of individuals on the committee, and amongst the membership, on every aspect of Society business. He has stamped his own very personal style on the post and we all take this opportunity to wish him and his wife, Maureen every happiness in his retirement”.

Photo of George Robertson and the DHS committee, Douglas Bell, Robin Thompson, Pamela Macleod, Cherry Allan, George Robertson, Carolyn Thompson, Elaine Campbell, Lindsey Fowell

Douglas Bell, Robin Thompson, Pamela Macleod, Cherry Allan, George Robertson, Carolyn Thompson, Elaine Campbell, Lindsey Fowell

The presentation concluded with a gift from the membership of 2 original prints of Dunfermline scenes from the 19th century, mounted and framed and a card signed by the membership.  Finally the committee added their own gift of a presentation box of Macallan whisky and taster glasses, knowing George’s penchant for a dram of single malt!


Lindsey Fowell



Obituary, John Amos, 1929 – 2017

Photo of John Amos

John Amos

When John Amos passed away recently, Dunfermline lost one of her ain, and a special one at that to those of us who love exploring the history of this old town.

John McDonald Amos as born in St. Leonard`s Street Dunfermline on November 8th 1929.  John`s parents were Valentine and Christine Amos and he had two older sisters.  The family moved to Priory Lane and later to John Street and John attended Commercial Primary School and then Queen Anne Junior Secondary.  When Commercial School was billeted during the war John received part of his schooling at a private house in Priory Lane.  His family later moved to a house in Izatt Avenue with a view of the Abbey and the Dunfermline skyline

On leaving school John became a messenger boy, then a postman, finally signing up with the RAF and serving eight years, a time he remembered with fondness.  Unable to become an RAF electrician as planned, because of colour blindness, John was reassigned as a driver and obtained his HGV licence. On leaving the RAF, John became a driver at the Rosyth Royal Dockyard, where he stayed for 16 years.

On his 29th birthday in 1958, John married Dorothy Innes at Canmore Congregational Church and they went on to have three children, Mark, Jacqueline and Christopher.

In the early 1970s John`s life took a totally different path.  He returned to education at Kirkcaldy Technical College where he achieved O grades and Highers, including English, and went on to Moray House, Edinburgh, for teacher training.  It was a proud family who saw John graduate.

On graduation in 1974 John was assigned to Pitcorthie Primary School where he stayed for five years, taking a short course in mathematics at Fod House during this time.  In 1979 John moved to Woodmill High School where he taught in the Special Education Department until he retired in 1994.

While at Pitcorthie he became involved with the Speakers Club and Dunfermline Sound, which recorded articles from the Dunfermline Press and other newspapers and distributed the tapes to blind and partially sighted people in the area.

John had always had a liking for history especially the earlier history of Dunfermline and in about 1988 Dorothy mentioned this to Margaret Dean, who was spearheading the action to turn Abbot House into a heritage centre and John became involved from the earliest stages.  When Abbot House opened in 1995, John was one of the original guides, something he became passionate about in the years that followed.

John became one of the best guides Abbot House ever had.  It became a huge part of his life and there he was able to develop his understanding of the medieval history of Dunfermline and Scotland and incorporate it into his guiding. Always informative and good-humoured, John became a much loved volunteer and his 70th birthday was celebrated with a party at Abbot House and a presentation of Henderson`s Annals of Dunfermline.   With Bert McEwan, another stalwart, John wrote the guide book to Abbot House.

As a fellow guide at the `Pink House`, I remember John especially for two things.  One was for his extensive knowledge of the Canmore and Bruce dynasties: when I was collecting biographies of Dunfermline people John contributed scholarly articles on David II and Robert II.  The other thing was John`s way with people with disabilities.  Family experiences, as well as John`s work at Woodmill, had probably contributed to his innate understanding in this field and he was determined that everyone visiting Abbot House should enjoy the experience. For example, John devised a programme of videos, talks and artefacts for people who were unable to climb the stairs at the house, and when taking people with sight problems round the House and the Abbey he got them to feel items, including hugging the pillars in the Abbey to gauge their size.

After several years of retirement at his and Dorothy`s lovely home in Newmills, John began to suffer increasing bouts of ill health, and passed away at Headwell House Nursing Home on May 1st aged 87.  John is sadly missed by his family and all who knew him.

Dr. Jean Barclay

Thanks to Dorothy Amos for most of the information.

Lost Village in the Press

Last Sunday’s “Scotland on Sunday” (15/1/17) featured an article on the history of the lost village of Lassodie.  Alison Campsie covered the history of the village, and touched on the stories of other abandoned villages, such as Binnend, near Burntisland. She quoted George Robertson, the DHS Chairman, and included material from some of George’s interviews with former residents, used in his articles about Lassodie.

Good to see our website enabling further discussion of our area’s past.