So there I was sitting comfortably, contemplating my somewhat disreputable trainers. I was putting in a few hours in Banchory while our motorhome was being serviced. I had enjoyed a nice cup of coffee in a café and then set off to walk the short distance to the Bridge of Feugh.
Water of Feugh
Water of Feugh
I am always drawn to wild water, and the Water of Feugh can be wild indeed. The bridge is a place where people though the years have stood to watch for salmon leaping up the waterfalls. The old bridge itself is very narrow, but there are V shaped indents to allow pedestrians to seek refuge when vehicles are crossing. So popular is the place that a separate foot bridge has also been built to allow fish watchers a vantage point in safety. No salmon today, but still the chance to admire the wild water, and to notice that the first signs of autumn are appearing in the trees.
First signs of autumn, Water of Feugh
Nearby he old Toll House garden was looking good, and my eye was drawn to the old milestone, lurking between two modern road signs. Just 17 miles to Fettercairn, but what a 17 miles, over the Cairn o’ Mouth.
Old Toll House, Bridge of Feugh
It was on my leisurely half mile return journey to Banchory that I noticed William’s seat, and decided I would sit for a while, wondering what the view would have been like when first William Aitchison erected this seat.
Not much view here
Aseat with (no) view
Now all you can see over the road are a few trees and bushes. I hope there was a better view in his day. Incidentally another seat, just on the Banchory side of the bridge over the River Dee is placed dramatically in front of more vegetation, no view of the bridge or the river to be had.
But back to William, or was he a Bill or a Willie? there are often plaques on such seats by the roadsides, but this one caught my interest. W Aitchison was the Postmaster from 1910 to 1935. I decided to see if I could find out more about him. Here is just a little bit of what I found out in a hour or so last night.
William Aitchison was born round about 1847 in England. He married Ruth Davis in Dublin in 1898 and they went on to have two children there, Irene and James Leslie. William worked for the GPO in Dublin as a Telegraphist. Promotion must have come his way and in 1910 he was appointed Postmaster in Banchory. This coincided with the opening that same year, of the new Post Office and Postmaster’s house in a fine Kemnay granite building in the High Street.
Daughter Irene worked in the Banchory Post Office too, as a sorting clerk and telegraphist until her marriage in 1928 (to James Anderson also from Banchory) in the “Tartan Kirkie”, as St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen is sometimes called. Son James was married in Edinburgh shortly after his Father’s retirement in 1936, again to a Banchory girl, Mary Lennie, the daughter of a baker.
William at some point was made a Justice of the Peace and I suspect he was a swell known Banchory character. He died in 1954 and is buried in the Banchory-Ternan Graveyard, together with his wife Ruth who lived on until 1961.
Banchory Post Office 2016
I wonder what Postmaster Aitchison would have thought of the changes in the Post Office in the 21st Century. The fine Post Office building (and his house) is now the “Cook and Dine” shop in the High Street. As I stood waiting for the bus to take me back to collect the van I looked at this shop, across the road, not realising that once the Post Office had been located there. But I did find the present Post Office, now relegated to a tiny counter at the back of the Co-operative Supermarket. I needed to buy stamps, and had to fight my way through crowds of white shirted Banchory Academy pupils with their informally tied ties searching out something “fine” for their lunch.