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MONIKIE MEMORIAL HALL 1927 – 1977
Rev.D. ChisholmM.A., ParishMinister
Any Parish organisation reflects the changing social and economic
conditions in which it finds itself. In its 50 years of existence, Monikie
Memorial Hall is no exception.
As its name suggests, it was conceived in the immediate post war period.
It breathes the spirit of that time. People’s natural reaction was to build a
land for heroes and to taste again the social joys of days of peace. Thus
clubs sprang up everywhere, Monikie Men’s Club was founded in 1924,
the localW.R.I. in 1927.Against that background, the Memorial Hall was
opened and dedicated on Sunday 2nd October 1927.
Actually, it was on 23rd December 1918 – Christmas was not kept then as
it is now – that Monikie Parish Council called a Public Meeting in the
Waterworks Pavilion – still standing – “to consider what steps might be
taken to welcome Monikie men returning from the War and to preserve
and honour the memory of those who had fallen”. It was moved by John
Nairn, Lismore and unanimously agreed that a “Public Hall be erected as
a Memorial of our returning and fallen heroes”. In addition, a Memorial
Tablet with the names of the 27 fallen from the Parish was set up in 1920
in the Parish Church. A Committee of ten ladies and ten gentlemen was
proposed, including members of the Parish Council.At the first meeting of
that Committtee held in the Board Room of the Lodge, at theWaterworks
– the origin of the unusual name given to the smaller hall – on 9th January
1919, certain readjustments having been made, its members consisted of:
Chairman – J.W.A. Wilson, Pitairlie; Secretary – S.S. Low, Newbigging
School; Treasurer – John Nairn, Lismore; T. Smith, Dodd, A. McIntyre,
Denfind, W. Scott, Smithfield, W. Elder, Roseneath, A. Murdoch,
Broomwell, J.H. Langlands, Cunmont, R. Henderson, The Elms, P. Grant,
Monikie School,MrsArmit, TheManse,Mrs Christie, Newlandhead,Mrs
Lawrence, Denfind, Mrs Elder, Miss Petrie, Bankhead, Mrs Scott, Miss
Low, Miss Jane Kidd, Gardenhurst and Miss Barbara Nairn who was to
serve as Secretary for many years. Several changes of course took place
before the completion of the building, but the two prime movers in the
whole enterprise, giving unstintingly of their time and energy were J.W.A.
Wilson and John Nairn. There followed nine years or so of planning and
of holding money raising functions and of supervising building operations.
The next main step was taken when on 5th March 1923 it was agreed to
ask the Water Commissioners for ground at the corner of the clear water
basin. “This ground”, the Committee stated in a letter 2nd July 1923, “is
situated almost in the centre of the Parish and is within easy access to all
members of the community. The building that we contemplate erecting,
we trust, will enhance this site and we hope will ultimately improve the
amenities to the South entrance of your policies”. On 14th August 1923,
the Water Commissioners, Lord Provost Spence, Convener Buist,
Treasurer Johnston and Water Engineer George Baxter, with John Nairn
representing the Hall Committee granted the ground “not exceeding one
acre”. By Spring 1924, £1,716 had been raised and the ground was being
prepared. In the triangle of ground thus obtained, there was a group of two
dozen or so fir trees. Permission having been granted, the trees were cut
down by Mr McKenzie at 6s. a tree, the total coming to £9.9.0. Mr J.H.
Langlands was appointed architect.
The Committee were not however without their critics. A Public Meeting
was held on 9th April 1924 at which a resolution was passed asking the
Hall Committee to make public the first Minute and generally to report
progress. Led by T. Mackie, Downiebank and James Gray, Luckyslap, a
petition was got up and letters passed between the parties. The
Committee were urged to look at an alternative site, namely one near the
Railway Station. Then on 24th June 1924, another protest meeting was
held in Monikie School, 130 Parishioners attending, Rev. Andrew Armit
in the chair. The Courier reported, perhaps with a touch of journalistic
language, that “Monikie is at present the scene of a minute but no less
bitter sort of civil war, the bone of contention being the site for the
proposedWarMemorial Hall”. The feeling was that the public who had so
generously suppported the project should have an opportunity to be heard
and that the question of the site should be reconsidered. On the motion of
J.M. Fairlie, Kirkton seconded by T. Smith, Dodd, a committee was formed
with James Johnston, Cunmont as Chairman to present the views of the
meeting to the Hall Committee. And so on 24th July 1924, the Hall
Committee did hold a public meeting to which 150 people came.
Mr Wilson as chairman explained the position of his committee and
refused a vote for or against the site chosen. The planning continued and
began to bear fruit.
On 29thMay 1925,Mr Langlands, the architect was asked to get offers for
erecting a building within the sum of £2,000. At first, the total estimate
was £3,871. “The Committee felt greatly surprised that the lowest offer
came to such a large sum”. Finally, a much modified plan was accepted:-
Micoll, mason £711; Walker and Son, joiners £807; Fenwick, plumber
£137; Nevay, plasterer £169; Hogg, slater £310; Donald and Smith,
glaziers £60; J. Birrel, painters £ , the foundations and drains having
already been dug. Miscellaneous costs such as carting and the H.M.S.
Railway freight charges make interesting reading. The stones, the gift of
the Nairn family, the quarrymasters, were mainly got from what is now a
pit occupied by a water system at the bottom of the Pitairlie Brae Road on
the west side and carted up the hill to the site, the horses no doubt being
refreshed every time at the water trough that used to be on the Denfind
Cottage road where the Hamewith wall is now.Work progressed apace.
On a summer day 10th June 1927, the Committee met at the new building
to assess progress. How delighted they must have been at seeing their
dreams coming towards fruition. Indeed, sundry small but important
details had still to be seen to, like seating. Sets of three and four folding,
collapsible seats as in the Wesbster Hall, Arbroath were chosen at 7/9 a
set plus 4/- for upholstery. A kitchen and heating chamber, it was agreed
should be added to the plan. At long last, the eagerly awaited day of
opening drew near – Sunday 2nd October 1927.
The mood and spirit of the country were somewhat different from what
they had been that Christmas nine years before. The leading article in the
Courier that week-end was significantly entitled “The Dole and
Unemployment”. Morale was low. Disillusionment had overtaken the
country. TheArmy advertisement in the newspaper that week was perhaps
read with a certain sense of bitterness by some – “Assured employment;
good prospects; plenty of sport; free food; clothing. Private on joining 14s.
a week rising to £1.1.0. in three years”. Times were hard and prices so
different from our own day.
That Saturday, Birrels were sellling men’s boots for 19/9 a pair. The new
1928 11.9 h.p. Morris Cowley car was on view at S. Roques Garage
costing £185. A poor and belated harvest and rough weather did not help
matters. It was reckoned that not 1/4 of the grain harvest had been gathered
in in Angus. Only four wagons of potatoes were forward on the Friday at
Perth at 75s-80s. a ton.Wheat at Arbroath was 42s. -45s.
It was the Dundee Fast; a weekend of torrential rain and high winds. Few
people must have patronised the holiday excursions: the Sunday
charabanc tour leavingAlbert Square at 10.30am forAberfeldy – 13/-: the
rail excursion to Whitley Bay; the Tay Steam Boat Company’s trip to
Newburgh and Perth at 2/-. More likely on a wet Saturday, Dundee
citizens preferred a visit to a place like to La Scala Cinema to see Barry
Langton in the silent film “The StrongMan” or to the King’s Theatre to see
Charlie’s Aunt, direct from London, 5/9 for stalls. At the bottom of
Pitairlie Brae on the road, there was flooding with three feet of water.
On such a day, the Earl of Strathmore was welcomed by the chairman,
G.W. Neish at the entrance to the new Hall. The Earl had been at theAngus
Ball in the Castle Halls, Forfar on the Friday night. The Duke and Duchess
of York had been there too in that glittering company and that same lady,
as Queen Mother was invited to open the Hall’s Jubilee Fete in 1977, but
she declined. Inside the Hall, heated by steam heaters, the oil lamps danced
in the gloom and showed up the great display of Flanders Poppies on the
platform. Led by the organist and precentors of the three Churches, J.
Cameron, G. Duncan and Bruce Robertson, the gathering sang the hymn
“Lord, while for all mankind we pray”. The Earl of Strathmore said in his
address that they were met to honour the memory of the men who had died
and served to save them. He felt sure those men who had died in the war,
if they wished their sacrifice commemorated, would desire the memorial
to take the form of something that would last and he congratulated the
people of Monikie in their choice of a Hall. A small Parish of 1,100 souls
had raised £2,000 and sent 120 men to the war. He hoped the Hall would
always serve as a reminder of that great sacrifice and act as an incentive
to the coming generations”. The National Anthem was sung. In the
Service of Dedication following, the Old Hundredth Psalm was sung; and
the Lesson read by Rev. Cecil Davidson, Newbigging. The Earl unveiled
theMemorial Tablet, under which later a bracket was to be placed, the gift
of Miss Cameron, Innervar. The prayer of Dedication was taken by
Rev. Andrew Armit, the Parish Minister. The Paraphrase, “O God of
Bethel” was sung, after which Rev. QuintonWhite, Craigton pronounced
the Benediction. Bugler Angus Cameron sounded the Last Post. Wreaths
were then laid at the Tablet. So ended a memorable occasion. On Sunday
2nd October 1977, anAct of Remembrance and Thanksgiving will be held,
it is hoped, to mark the Jubilee of the Hall, led by the present Parish
We wonder what organisation had the honour of holding the first meeting
in the new Hall, the first social, the first function. It seems that very
properly, the Hall Committee itself has the honour. Aweek later, a Sale of
Work was held and on the 14th, a Committee Meeting. At the time of the
Opening, the Committee consisted of J.W.A.Wilson, John Nairn,Miss B.
Nairn, Mr & Mrs McIntyre, Mrs Wilson, Mr & Mrs Christie, Mr & Mrs
Elder, J. Lawrence, J. Adam, P. Rennie, Miss Kidd and Mr & Mrs Scott.
Funds were still needed for the settlement of building costs and so various
functions were held. The first part-time caretaker was appointed – Peter
Smith, Limberhurst. InMarch 1930, £112 was received from the Monikie
and DistrictWar Relief Committee as it was being wound up and also £147
from the Primrose League. As a result of a Public Meeting held to
consider ways and means of paying off the debt of £582, a Sale of Work
was held at about the third anniversary, 4th October 1930 and brought in
A Public Meeting on 27th September 1927, virtually marked the end of
the long chapter of planning, erecting and paying off the Memorial Hall.
MrWilson who had acted as Chairman for the whole period recounted the
work of the Committee. He reported that sums collected with interest
added amounted to £3,564 and expenditure was £3,604. He was cordially
thanked as was the Committee for “their long and strenuous labours”. The
Constitution was endorsed.
Alas, another war was looming up, that was to have a profound effect on
the Hall. At its meeting on 18th December 1939, the Committee learned
that the Hall was going to be “commandeered by the military”. On 29th
December, a whist was held, the proceeds of £9.15.4 being divided
between the work parties in the Parish. The Army did not seem to be in a
hurry to take possession. InMay 1940 the usual PublicMeeting was held,
to be followed by two more recorded Committee meetings. The last one
was on 16th December 1940, 22 years almost to the day after the original
meeting at the end of the Great War. Then, the silence of war descends
upon the minutes and activities of the Hall Committee.
It was not until 6th June 1946 that the Committee were able to meet again
in the Board Room.Miss B. Nairn retired from the office of Secretary and
warm appreciation was expressed of her long years of service. Rev. W.
Fleming was appointed Chairman and J. Keir was elected Secretary.
Facing them were the difficult tasks of rehabilitating the Hall and getting
financial compensation. In the end, the latter proved a disappointment to
the Committee, amountig to £188 in rental and £400 for damage. The
Committee realised that priorities lay in heating, lighting and flooring, as
well as general repair work, and they instituted in due course a Campaign
Fund, mainly to bring electricity into the Hall, and to establish an
emergency fund. This special effort realised a total of about £1,200, £1,000
of which came from a Fete held on 16th June 1951 in a Denfind field. In
1977, a Fete is also being held in another field at Denfind, to mark the
Jubilee of the Hall.
Another important matter considered by the Committee in the immediate
post-war years was the provision of a Memorial for the Parishioners who
had lost their lives in the §939-45War. Various ideas were put forward: a
Garden of Remembrance round the Hall; a Memorial Arch and Garden at
the Hall; a Memorial Playing Field behind the Hall, but in the end a
Memorial Tablet was erected in Monikie Parish Church with 8 names on
it, and a Baptismal Font in oak in Newbigging Church with 4 names on it.
The first Remembrance Service was held in November 1949, conducted by
the two Ministers, Rev. A. Burt and Rev. W. Fleming. These were
continued by Rev. D. Chisholm, the last one being in 1971 to mark the
Jubilee of the Royal British Legion. Annually, the Hall Trustees
generously provide an Earl Haig Poppy Wreath for us in the Church,
thereafter being laid below the Memorial Plaque.
Over the years, the work of the Hall has continued to serve the community.
Regular events have included the Horticultural Society Shows, fetes,
concerts, socials, whist drives and dances run on behalf of the parish
bodies, while organisations have made us of it like the W.R.I. and the
Women’s Guild, the Men’s Club, the Senior Citizens’ Friendly Club, the
Young Wives, the Badminton Club, the Youth Club, and the Playgroup.
Various people have filled the position of Chairman, some for longer, some
for shorter periods of time. They have included Rev. William Fleming,
A.D. Murray, C. Binnie, Denfind, A.D. Porter, Roseneath, A. Taylor,
Newbigging Schoolhouse, Rev. W.D. Chisholm, J. Nairn, G. Murdoch,
Laws Lodge, R. Grassie, Newbigging Schoolhouse, Mrs Foreman,
Broomwell Cottage, Mrs Margaret Irving, the Cottage, and the present
Chairman D.McArthur,Affleck Gardens.Many Parishioners have served
the Hall well, and for long periods, like Miss Ethel Rennie (with over 30
years), the longest serving member, John Nairn, Bon a Vista as Treasurer,
Mrs Muir, Alma Cottage as Secretary. In the line of Hall Keepers notable
were the 19 years given by JohnMuir, an Orcadian who himself gained the
Military Medal in the GreatWar.
In the 1970s with the coming of the new housing estate toMonikie Village,
the fortunes of the Hall have risen and with increased bookings, some
much needed improvements have been made like the renewal of the
heating plant, lighting and kitchen facilities as well as redecoration.
Inevitably, the Parish and its people have changes and are changing in
these times of rapid social change. So too, the service given by the Hall and
the use made of it by the people have changes and will not remain static.
In Jubilee Year, 1977, the Committee consisted of D. McArthur –
Chairman, Mrs Irving – Secretary, D.M. Whyte – Treasurer, Miss Ethel
Rennie, Mrs Keir, Mrs A.D. Nicol, Mrs Cameron, Mrs Muir, A. Cant, J.
Kennedy and A. Mitchell.
In 1977, a whole generation has now reached adulthood without any
personal recollection of either World War, a generation that finds it
difficult to enter into the aspirations of those who built the Hall as a
Memorial. Only a handful of those serving in the 1914-18 War are still
with us, men like John Muir, John Linn, Greenford and William Boath,
Panmure Estate.With the passage of time, the feeling for Remembrance is
likely to diminish. A sense of thankfulness will always remain, we would
hope however, and for the future thoese who follow on will surly work for
peace and seek to use the Memorial Monikie Hall in fresh ways of
service to the Parish.
From the Memorial Tablet in Monikie Kirk
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
“To the Glory of God and in Memoruy of those men of this Parish who
laid down their lives in the Great War: also in lasting gratitude to those
who shared its dangers”.
Pte James A. Lawrence Pte Samuel Brown
Gunner George B.A. Baillie Trooper James C. Robertson
Pte Alexander Milne Pte Alexander Buick
PteWilliam Tarbat Pte David Beverley
Gunner Robert Scott Pte Niven Scott
Pte James Cochrane Cpl John Cook M.M.
Pte James Spalding Pte James Leonard
Pte George Irons PteWilliam Phillip
Pte John Spalding L/Cpl JohnWinter
Pte David Robertson Pte John Carnegie
PteWilliam Low Pte John Fyfe
Pte Alexander Milne Gunner StewartW. Paterson
Cpl Frank McDonald 2nd Lt. A.W. Smith
Pte Thomas Reid
“When our country was in great peril, they gave their lives for our
Francis Allan, P.O.R.N. Java 23rd Feb 1942
Arthur K. Forbes, L/Cpl B.W. El Alamein 26th Oct 1942
Alexander Marr, Cpl B.W. Qued Zarga 24th April 1942
John Findlay, Sgt. R.A. Pont du Fahs 26th April 1943
Jack Milne, L.Cpl Scots Guards Salerno 22nd September 1943
William L.Walker, S.M. Hong Kong Defence Osaka 3rd March 1944
James R. Marr, Pte. A. & S.H. Faenza 8th October 1944
FarquharWebster, Lieut. K. & S.B. Cesena 19th October 1944
In Newbigging Church
George Malcolm Ralph McKenzie
Alex. Smith Andrew Smith