Lawrence of Arabia  
In September 1930 T.E. Lawrence spent a holiday in Collieston along with two companions. They lived in a cottage at the edge of the harbour. This cottage can still be seen although it has since been modernised and extensively rebuilt. Whilst staying in the cottage Lawrence wrote a letter to his publisher, F.N. Doubleday, in which he describes his life in the village and paints a colourful pen portrait of the sea and the surrounding countryside.

How it looks today
On 9th April, 1931 the trawler Rightway went ashore on rocks at Broadhaven, south of Collieston. The Collieston Coastguard Company heard the sounding siren at 00.30 and reached the scene at 01.30. Three of the crew were taken ashore by breeches buoy but the vessel then slid off the rocks.

The seven remaining crew had to jump on to an island rock where they were told to stay until they were rescued. Cliff ladders were then used. One end of a line was attached to the bottom of the ladder and the other end was secured to the heaving cane which was thrown over the rock to the stranded men.

Scrambling along the ladder onto rocks near the base of the cliff, the crew were then assisted up the main cliff face. The last man was brought to safety at 04.00 and the Company was dismissed at 06.30.

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Alexander Ritchie mending a traditional wicker woven basket, known as a murlin, circa 1935. Known to everyone as ‘Cottie’, Alexander Ritchie lived in the High Town area of the village. His mother was a fishwife who used to travel round the neighbouring farms selling the fish caught by her husband or bartering them for farm produce.

On one of her travels, during the latter stages of pregnancy, the onset of labour pains forced the woman to stop at Cotehill Farm, just over one mile north of Collieston. She duly gave birth to a baby boy and left him in the capable hands of the farmer’s wife while she continued on her way to sell her wares, collecting the new addition to the Ritchie family on her way home.

The baby, christened Alexander, was appropriately nicknamed ‘Cottie’ and answered to that name for the remainder of his days. Alexander ‘Cottie’ Ritchie died, aged 76 years, on 22nd April, 1945.
Some of the village fishermen and their boats circa 1935. The boat in the foreground, ‘The Nellies’, was registered in Peterhead and had the registration number PD602.

By the mid 1930’s line fishing was only carried out in small boats. This was due to the build up of sand on the foreshore, caused by the construction of the Pier at the end of the 19th century, which made it impossible for the bigger boats to come ashore.

In the background, above the Pier, is the area of the village known as the Cliff and the cottage which can be seen slightly right of centre is the one in which T E Lawrence stayed in 1930. It has received some care and attention and is now harled and white washed.
James Walker who was known as ‘Jimmicky’. ‘Jimmicky’ was a fisherman who lived in the village and he is seen here preparing his lines ready to shoot from a wicker skull raised on a specially made work ‘bench’.

Behind ‘Jimmicky’ is a shed which has been painted with layer upon layer of black Archangel tar.

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  Holiday Time  
The harbour and beach circa 1935. Above the Pier, is the area of the village known as the Cliff and the cottage which can be seen slightly left of centre is the one in which T E Lawrence stayed in 1930.

It has received some care and attention and is now harled and white washed. By the mid 1930’s Collieston was becoming a popular destination for holidaymakers and day-trippers.

There is clear evidence that the foreshore is much less rocky than it was at the beginning of the 20th Century and the safe, sandy beach, which has gradually formed over the years since the Pier was constructed in 1894, is now a great attraction for residents and tourists alike.

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  The Coastguard  
The Collieston Auxiliary Coastguard Company was awarded the Board of Trade Shield in 1931 for saving the ten-man crew of the Aberdeen trawler ‘Nairn’ after it had gone aground in stormy seas on 2nd December at Broadhaven one mile south of Collieston.

Bronze medals for gallantry in saving life at sea were also awarded to District Officer Smailes, Coastguardsman F Shelley and Messrs Walker, Henderson and Robertson. It was a great occasion for so small a village and the first time that the shield had been awarded to Scotland.
The Collieston Auxiliary Coastguard Company circa 1930. The company of some 16 men makes its way back to the village after a rocket practise on the cliffs near the coastal path leading to Forvie. Hackley Head is clearly visible in the background.

The Life Saving Apparatus being pulled was stored in the ‘Rocket Shed’ at the top of Perthudden, near Cluny Cottages, the former Coastguard Cottages.
The Collieston Auxiliary Coastguard Company is engaged in ‘Rocket Practice’ circa 1930. During the testing of the equipment, a line would be shot from the top of the Quarry over to Cransdale.

This would enable the Company of sixteen men to practise operating the breeches buoy, a vital piece of life-saving apparatus and one frequently used during a rescue operation. At the end of the 1940’s ‘Rocket Practise’ was moved from Cransdale, to the cliff top above the Peerman Braes on Forvie Moor where a pole was erected.

Similar to a ship’s mast and known as the ‘Rocket Pole’, it was in use until 1992 when the Company was re-graded from a Company of sixteen men to an Instant Response Team of four, who currently train with their colleagues in nearby Cruden Bay.
A Coast Guard life saving breeches buoy held by a young woman. On either side of the woman stand two members of the Collieston Coastguard Company while at the rear is Charles Ingram, a resident of Cluny Cottages, who was himself a member of the Collieston Auxiliary Coastguard Company.

The Coastguard Company kept their life saving equipment in the rescue apparatus store, known locally as ‘the rocket shed’, at Cluny Cottages, which is where the photograph was taken circa 1935.

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The Bleach Green
Margaret Ingram bleaches her washing on the grass near the Sand Loch, Collieston, circa 1930. In the days before electricity was brought to some parts of Collieston in 1954, it was common for women from the village to carry their washing up to the Sand Loch where the various items would be spread out over the grass at the southern end of the loch, opposite the Free Church.

Margaret Kidd was born in 1867 and married Charles Ingram in 1893. The couple spent most of their married life in Collieston where they lived in various houses in the village, Charles earning his living as a salmon fisherman and Margaret a hard working wife and mother to their eleven children.

Charles and Margaret moved to Cluny Cottages near the Sand Loch, in the late 1920’s where they lived until they both died in 1952.

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Mrs McLeod and her class at Collieston School in 1932. The school, which opened in 1877, closed in 1922 and the children from the village had to travel some three miles to the nearest school at Slains for their education.

Due to overcrowding at Slains School, Collieston School was re-opened in 1932. It finally ceased to be a school on July 1, 1949. The last Head Teacher was Gladys Robertson.

The building is now used as the Collieston Community Centre and many local organisations such as the Children’s Playgroup, Over 60’s Club and Women’s Rural Institute, meet in the Centre on a regular basis.
Pupils of Slains Public School in 1937. Most of the children who attended the school at this time came from families who either worked on the farms in the Parish of Slains or on the nearby Auchmacoy Estate with only a few children from Collieston attending the school at this time.

The population in Collieston had not yet recovered from the exodus of families to Torry, Aberdeen, following the decline in the fishing industry some thirty years earlier. The fishing families still owned their houses in the village but many of them were rented out or lay empty for most of the year until they were used by the families who came back to the village during the summer months.

The school building, visible behind the group of children, was subsequently demolished in 1968 and replaced by a modern school building. Where the original school building was situated has now been transformed into a playground for the children.

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  The Interior of Slains Parish Church  
The old pipe organ in Slains Parish Church that Dr Lewis Mackie refers to in his story about pumping the organ.
....copyright collieston's century 2003