A wide choice of topics covered from the dawn of history right up to present days . Many of these have a wider relevance than purely within the context of Strathearn . The author's viewpoint often is at variance with the accepted opinions espoused elsewhere eg The Jacobite Uprisings and The Reformation .
Peter Crerar (1882 –1961 ) “ A pioneer of many interests “
Peter Crerar an outstanding son of the Strath
What strikes me in compiling this
list of Strathearn’s illustrious sons and daughters is that the preponderance
of self-made men is quite dominant. Lewis Miller, David Jack, Andrew McCowan,
Thomas Wright all fall into this category. One must now add the name Peter
Crerar – a true son of the soil and someone who achieved an incredible amount
in his eighty years. My initial interest in Peter Crerar arose from the web
page of Scottish Cinemas www.scottishcinemas.org.uk
, which is a superb record of an age that was. I contributed some info on the
old Caledonian Cinema at the junction of High Street and Church Street and functioned in later days as the cinema Bookshop
before transforming into a wine bar and pubI had been involved in the original disposal after the Cinema Company
decided that the Bingo usage was not pulling in sufficient income for them. It
was then that I learned just a little about Peter Crerar but did not at that
stage pursue any further details of his busy life. A number of years later I
was carrying out some family history research into my Lamont antecedents in
Cowal .I was visiting the peaceful Inverchaolain church and burial ground
tucked away on the shores of Loch Striven near the Kyles of Bute. This was the
repository of so many of my ancestors including John and Catherine Lamont my
four times great grand parents. To my astonishment I discovered that in the
same quiet corner that they occupied was a much more modern memorial to none
other than Peter Crerar! How did a man of long Perthshire roots come to be
buried in this remote part of Argyll?
me start at the beginning. Peter Crerar was born in 1882 at Balnearn, Fearnan
on the shores of Loch Tay. He was the one of six sons and a daughter to Ann
Malloch and John Crerar John was a farmer but young Peter quickly determined
that that this was not for him and after serving an apprenticeship in the motor
trade in Aberfeldy joined with his brother John in Crieff repairing bicycles.
After service in the Royal Navy during WW1 Peter returned to Crieff and set up
a coach building business with John in High Street where the current occupant
is the Nickel and Dime store. With business expanding they moved to larger
premises in Leadenflower where the Crieff Cash and Carry traded for many years.
Next step in the forward progression was his purchase of Rubislaw, the large
Georgian building off Church Street which had been built a s a bank and had served as a
hospital during WW1. In the garden ground which extended down to Pittenzie
Street Crerar built a large garage andworkshop which was to become
Alexander’s Bus Garage and the Penny Lane Supermarket. His development of
charabancs and buses brought him further prosperity and he was a regular
exhibitor at the Kelvin Hall Scottish Motor Show.
Peter's charabancs lined up in Lauder Park
His buses became famous long before in the period between
the wars and it was said that whilst other charabancs might get stuck on the
Devil’s Elbow on the way to the Braemar Gathering, “ Crerar always got through
“!The story is told that whilst in the
process of building a garage in High Street he heard about the advent of the new
moving pictures and the building of cinemas. He marched up to his men and
instructed them to hold fire, as the garage would now become a cinema! That was
the aforementioned Nickel and Dime store and this was followed when he built
the Cinema at the corner of Church Street.
His enthusiasm for the silver screen was unabated and he built cinemas in
Auchterarder, Glasgow, Kirkaldy and
Dunfermline. His travelling cinemas visited many of the
Straths outlying villages bringing much pleasure to so many in those pre telly
days. Another of his ideas saw him purchase a large steam boat and pull it by
steam tractor from PerthHarbour
to St Fillans where it was to be based. He linked in with the rail companies
and ran trips up and down the Loch in the aptly named “
Queen of Loch Earn “ .
As he got
olderPeter Crerardisposed ofmany of his assets including his motor business . He purchased the Royal
Hotel at Innellan on the Firth of Clyde which enabled him to indulge in his
passion for the sea and yachting . He built a sea going yacht and named it “
Amulree “ after the place where his parents had farmed before moving
to Fearnan. “ Amulree “ was sunk at Dunkirk
and was replaced with a new one aptly named “ Destiny “. Crerar developed his
property interests and had interests in the Station Hotel Ayr and the Royal
Hotel in Sauchiehall StreetGlasgow.
He was involved in building Paisley Ice Rink and on a different tack introduced
pleasure boats to the City of Aberdeen.
He never married and died in 1961 a bachelor in Innellan where he owned the
Royal Hotel and was buried in Inverchaolain churchyard.
Nowadays citizens of Crieff and
indeed the whole country are confronted
by a raft of legislation
concerning the family car ! The punishment for contravening the laws
are extensive and quite draconian
. Private car parks , parking meters , average speed cameras , lines on the road , traffic wardens
(aka blue meenies !! ) and so on and so on ! In days gone by , long before Mr
Daimler had invented the four wheel metal box , crimes
were of a different nature and indeed
a different scale of punishment . I have
had a look through the
archives pertaining to the town in the
18th and 19th centuries and judge for
yourself whether a £60
parking fine is more tolerable than some of the felonies listed below !
In 1770, Andrew Wilson from Aberfoyle
and Janet Graeme his wife were tried at Perth Circuit Court for breaking
into the Waulk Mill at Monzie and stealing there from two pieces of cloth .
They were found guilty and banished to the Plantations ( America ) for life . In…
story is one of the sad tales of the Strath. This ancient family once were one
of the dominant influences in Strathearn and their names appeared with frequent
regularity as the centuries unfold. The Graeme family of Inchbrakie are however
still around. There is a most excellent web site http://www.inchbrakie.com/ which provides a
superb source of research and information into not only the family but also
their domicile up until the late 19th century at Inchbrakie . Anthony Graeme ,
a present day descendant and a most charming person , lives in far off Devon
but is a frequent visitor here in Strathearn .Interestingly , there are here in
Crieff, a couple of roads bearing that
illustrious name .One wonders just how many of the inhabitants of houses in
those specific airts know much about the original name ! We are, however , most fortunate that the family history of the
Graemes was painstakingly recorded in a book Orr and Sable – a book of the
Graemes and Gr…
The Cursus of Crieff – More of Our Incredible Past !
We have looked at in previous Blogs , the considerable number of known Neolithic or New Stone Age sites around Strathearn and indeed Crieff . The numbers seem to grow by the year and are an increasing part of our heritage . They are relevant not just in a local sense but on the national and indeed international archaeological stage . They date back some 6 000 years and are older than many of the pyramids of Egypt ! Apart from the ancient tomb discovered 150 years ago on the ancient site of the Stayt of Crieff on Broich Road , most recent discoveries include the timber circle at Pittentian and the habitations at Forth Cottage at Fendoch at the entrance to the Sma Glen .
Perhaps however the most incredible was the realisation that we had in our own back yard on the site of the new Strathearn Campus a Neolithic cursus . No , a cursus is not some celestial finger of doom pointing at our fair town an…