Friday, 13 June 2014


Since October last year I have been working relentlessly on a renovation of an old property for the sister, Karen, of my friend Pauline, in Broughty Ferry, a two hour drive north from Edinburgh.

Located on the Firth of Tay, Broughty Ferry was annexed in 1913 by the nearby City of Dundee to the west. Prior to that it was independent. There is evidence to suggest prehistoric settlement here, and to be honest, the state of the house I've been working on would suggest it was that settlement!

On the first day this week, of yet another marathon stint, I had a nice surprise toward the end of the day. Karen's mum and partner, Sheila and Dougie, came along to have a look, and I think took one look at my beaten and dusty body and felt sorry for me. Instead of some limp end-of-day sandwich from a local store for supper, that night they treated me to a homemade burger with all the trimmings at a local bar called The Ship.

In 1878 a rail bridge was built across the Tay, leaping to fame in 1879 when a catastrophic failure plunged a passenger train into the firth with the tragic loss of all 75 lives on board. It was rebuilt and still stands today without any further such events I'm happy to say.

But prior to that Broughty ferry played an important role in train travel: a roll-on roll-off ferry provided the link between Tayport on the southern shore to Broughty Ferry, on the Edinburgh to Aberdeen main line.

I have been very lucky in my visits to Broughty Ferry, in that almost every day has been glorious sunny weather. Not so great when you're stuck indoors of course, but in the evenings I can stroll along the beach and sit for a while looking out over the Tay beside the castle that sits on the harbour.

Built in 1495 it played a part in the Anglo-Scottish wars, and though they ended in 1603 the castle remained a defensive structure until 1932. It certainly has that air of history about it and is a prominent focal point that can be seen from a far distance in all it's moods. On Wednesday of this week there was a full moon, and at close to midnight I wandered down to take some photographs.

The one drawback of working in the property is it is quite far from the nearest store for lunch. There is also no working toilet yet, and the public toilets are at a distant that you don't want to leave it too late before deciding to go, as the walk could prove disastrous! This was not a problem this week however, as my friend Pauline had left me her folding Brompton bicycle. It must have looked quite comical to see this tall man, covered in plaster dust and other such detritus, pedalling frantically on this rather swish, and most definitely fun, mode of transport. On one such jaunt I passed a BBC film crew shooting something with actor Brian Cox. I bet they were jealous when they saw my bike.

I'm taking a welcome break from the project for a few weeks now, but for sure when I'm next back in Broughty Ferry I'll be taking the Brompton and maybe cycle into the village for a well earned burger.


Pauline said...

My sister was married in the castle pictured having met her future husband in the Ship Inn and as a young family we lived in "the Ferry" as we call it. Pauline

Graham Kitchener said...

That's a fab set of coincidences that i didn't know.