Stonehaven: October 2015


It was a bit of a struggle to find a tea towel of Stonehaven. I bought this in the Tolbooth Museum; this is a small museum of local heritage, based in a former prison, at the old harbourside.  This is my sort of museum: it ranks alongside the TSB Bank Museum near Dumfries, the Easdale Museum on the Isle of Easdale and the Wireless Museum in Kirkwall on the Orkney Isles.  They are all museums of everyday life where you see artefacts that you can remember.  In the Tolbooth Museum there were the old metal badges you put on your car if you were a member of the AA or RAC; I had an AA Badge and I remember it being ridiculously difficult to attach.  I loved the section dedicated to Hair Grooming Through The Ages which includes some plastic combs that could only have come from Poundstretcher.  There was a 1959 Hotpoint upright, washing machine with an electric mangle, hi-tech stuff in those days; there was a 1950’s free standing kitchen cupboard with drawers, cupboards, pull-down work surface.  We had one at home in the same colour – cream with green doors, very stylish but actually they were very functional.  I could see one fitting into my kitchen today.  This one was full of the appropriate kitchen equipment.  Visitors were invited to open all the cupboards and look at the kitchen equipment.  Approriately for Scotland, there was a piece of kitchen equipment for grinding porridge oats.  There is a film, on a loop, which shows the Fireball Festival which takes place at Hogmanay.  This is an old custom which has now become a big tourist attraction because of the publicity it got at the Millenium; many of the locals feel this has taken away some of the atmosphere because too many people come.  Another part of the film shows the great storm of December 2012 which caused a huge amount of damage, meant residents had to move out of their properties for over a year and led to some improvement in storm defences.  It didn’t stop the storms of 2013 and 2014, of which there was some amazing film footage, but they had less lasting impact.  There is a small prison cell kitted out as it would have been 200 years ago.  This is a museum in three rooms, crammed with artefacts; you could spend hours here, with some very knowledgeable, and welcoming, volunteers who are more than willing to engage in conversation.

I bought this tea towel three days ago when I was on holiday.  The picture is of the harbour as if looking out from the Tolbooth Museum, presumably taken from a photograph.  Stonehaven is a delightful town with a population of about 11,000.  It is an understated place but well worth a visit, especially if you like the beach and going for walks; it is certainly great for dog lovers.  Lets face it, did you know that Robert Thomson, inventor of the pneumatic tyre, and also the fountain pen, was born and lived in Stonehaven?  Of course you didn’t but did you know that in 2004 Pneumodesmus Newmani was discovered on Cowrie Beach; this is the oldest known land animal, a species of millipede?  Stonehaven has the only outdoor, Olympic-sized, heated, Art Deco swimmining pool in the UK.  A real ‘pull’ is the fact that the Bay Fish Shop was the winner of the 2013 Best Fish and Chip Shop in the UK; and I can verify that it is amazing, the best fish cakes I have ever had.  The queue is always very long and therefore everything is freshly cooked including the chips.  Perhaps Stonehaven’s most controversial claim to fame is that the Haven Fish Bar invented the deep-fried Mars Bar and they sell up to 150 a week, 70% to tourists.

I loved Stonehaven and I especially love this tea towel because it is just like looking at a photo and therefore the memories easily come flooding back.  I would recommend anyone should visit the Tolbooth Museum although I am not sure I would recommend the deep-fried Mars Bars.

Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum


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