George Robertson (1835 to 1916), was a businessman and antiquarian who played an interesting part in the life of Victorian Dunfermline. As well as running a shop, he was an officer in the Dunfermline Rifle Volunteer Corps, contributed sketches to Henderson’s “Annals of Dunfermline”, was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and was appointed by H.M. Board of Works as Keeper of the Abbey and Royal Palace. His namesake, and fellow local historian, George Robertson tells his story in “George Robertson FSA, Keeper of Dunfermline Abbey and Palace“.
In “The Execution of Janet Mitchell – The Murderer of Her Owne Childe” Jean Barclay tells the tragic story of the last woman to be hanged in Dunfermline. This happened in 1709 and the case shows how differently people thought then, three hundred years ago.
In the next in his series on Dunfermline’s Industrial and Commercial Past, George Beattie relates the history of David West & Son, Road Haulier of Rumblingwell and Touch. This business started in 1920 using ex-army vehicles and grew steadily. Early in the Second World War it was placed under the control of the Ministry of War Transport to prioritise war work and later it was briefly nationalised. The company was re-started following de-nationalisation and continued to thrive until merged into a much larger UK business in the 1960’s. The article shows the scale of the economic changes made by the needs of wartime and also the subsequent changes in the UK economy as national companies superseded local ones.
I’m sure many of us will have used Bartholomew’s maps over the years and may well still do. John Bartholomew and Sons was a very well known cartography company, founded in 1826 in Edinburgh, but it’s origins lie further back. In “`My Favourite Boy` – The Dunfermline Link with the Bartholomew Map Family“, Jean Barclay tells the story of George Bartholomew, a boy who had a difficult and unusual start in life, his parents fought a long court case, but became a skilled engraver of maps and plans. His son John, also trained as an engraver, went on to found the business.
Their story tells us much about both class distinctions and social mobility in late 18th and early 19th century Scotland.
In the next of our series on Dunfermline’s Industrial past, George Beattie describes the history of a Dunfermline based firm whose operations covered a range from grain milling, through grocery and brewing to running the City Hotel. “Fraser & Carmichael Ltd, Grain-Millers, Wholesale & Retail Grocers” tells, with press reports, photos and interviews, how this firm grew and prospered for over 100 years until 1971.
One of the directors, Daniel Fraser, became a councillor and served as Provost from 1924 to 1927, leading Dunfermline through some difficult times. George has told his story, based on his Dunfermline Press obituary, in Provost Daniel Alexander Fraser.