‘A Wild and Rocky Coast’ stories revisited

This photograph by Trish MacFarlane shows the 'big wave' that hit at Stonehaven on December 15, 2012
This photograph by Trish MacFarlane shows the 'big wave' that hit at Stonehaven on December 15, 2012

A reprint of a famous local heritage book, called “A Wild and Rocky Coast” will take place this Saturday, at the Mission Hall in Gourdon.

The original book was written by Roy Souter of Gourdon in 1988, and charts the rich maritime heritage of Kincardineshire, with detailed accounts of shipwrecks, and tragedies and rescues.

As well as highlighting these events, it provides a real insight into the power and dangers of the sea, and the coastal communities who depended on the sea as a way of life.

Many requests have been made for this book to be published. The original one proved to be popular with divers, the rescue services, ramblers, and maritime researchers, and has been the inspiration for many poems and songs, taken from the remarkable tales of Roy’s research.

The book is all the more fascinating because it is written in Roy’s meticulous handwriting, which gives it a unique sense of personal and local heritage. As such, it posed a real challenge for James Bruce, the printer who published the original, as each page had to be individually scanned for this reprint.

The reprint project has been managed by the Maggie Law Maritime Museum, both as a tribute to Roy Souter, and to acknowledge the fact that he, along with other Gourdon heritage enthusiasts, was a founder of the original museum.

It opened in 1997, providing a permanent home for the surf boat the Maggie Law, as well as establishing a centre to celebrate the maritime heritage of Kincardineshire.

Dave Ramsay, project director, said: “This is a tremendous way to celebrate the work of Roy and his family, who have contributed so much to the heritage of Gourdon and Kincardineshire, and it is pleasing to know that the Souter family will play a major part in the launch ceremony.

“We are especially grateful to Stonehaven Heritage Society for generously sponsoring the total printing costs, and it also means that two heritage organisations are agreed on the importance which this book has, for the heritage of the local area and beyond.”

Gordon Ritchie, honorary treasurer of the Stonehaven Heritage Society, said: “The Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, Carol Kinghorn, will provide the opening address at the launch, and, earlier this year, provided the dedication address for an area of the museum which is now dedicated to Roy Souter and his heritage work.

Elma Johnstone (Roy’s daughter) said: “We are very proud of the efforts that have gone into republishing ‘A Wild and Rocky Coast’ in its original format. This is especially poignant for us all, as Jack (Roy’s son) had intended writing the foreword to the new edition, but unfortunately died in May this year.”

Members of the Mearns Camera Club were also involved in the project, and the book contains some of their images from recent storms, which really does portray A Wild and Rocky Coast.

The launch is at 10am and an open invitation is extended to anyone with an interest in the heritage collection.