Category Archives: Famous buildings

A Night at the Flicks

`A Night at the Flicks`.

By Mhairi Pyott.



`Braveheart`, `Rob Roy` `Harry Potter` `Lord of the Rings and

similar film epics have brought a revival of the `picture

goers`. I admit that I was one who had not seen a performance

on the `big screen` since `Close Encounters` almost thirty

years ago.

To be honest at the time my young daughter was not amused by

my reaction to the then “as near real space encounter of all

time “. I fell asleep and was awakened by the quadraphonic sound system making the building, seats and myself vibrate as the screen portrayed the landing of the intergalactic vehicle.

The modern day effects are even more startling and amazing.

The Scottish epics I enjoyed , despite the blood, gore and `poetic licence`. My husband, most unusual for him, sat very quiet and white faced while Mel Gibson acted his heart out.  “Are you disturbed by all the slashing off of arms and legs?” I asked.   “No I am shell shocked at the arm and a leg it cost us to get into this place”.  Even longer since he had been out for an evening at the cinema.

”One and nine pence, old money, for the dearest seats was what I last paid”

I suppose that could have been right.

The Kings and Regal cinemas in our town, charged the same entrance fee, somewhere about nine pence, a shilling and one and nine pence, depending on the area where you were seated. Prices for Saturday matinee were different. Oh what a glorious occasion. You set off from home about one o`clock to join the queue for the Regal performance which started about two o`clock. By the time the `box office` opened the queue could be down the street as far as Coopers lemonade factory. The `cheap seats` several rows of wooden `tip ups`, were right down at the front of the theatre, next to the screen.

Viewing was similar to lying with your head back for a dental inspection, allowing any possible sight of the action on the directly overhead screen. Almost as painful as dental treatment when you tried to pull your chin down to your chest to stand erect for the playing of `God Save the King`, which ended all performances.

The only time the auditorium vibrated was when the film broke down. Hundreds of pairs of feet stamped in unison to chants of “Get a penny in the meter”.

Emergencies and similar riots were quelled by the two matronly usherettes, who spotlighted the troublemakers with a beam from their powerful torchlights, while uttering “I`ll see your mother and tell her how you behave”. This promise would have banished any enemies of William Wallace or Rob Roy.   I cannot ever remember the Theatre manager ever being at the afternoon performances.   At later performances he was there resplendent in evening dress, complete with bow tie.

Snow White, the Lone Ranger with his Indian companion Tonto, and of course Buck Rogers in Space, were all shown to the accompaniments of boos and cheers.

`Blossom` in the Dust`, with stars Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon was my all time favourite. Poor little Tony, crippled and wearing callipers, tenderly cared for by Greer and Walter.  The happy ending climax, marked by tears, most probably due to the pain and need of a neck support after two hours of extended viewing.  For weeks after we played out the rending scenes in impromptu theatres, the wash house or some half empty coal cellar.

“Song of Bernadette” was another all time favourite. As a special concession I was allowed to accompany Granny to the Kings to watch this spectacular production. There were two showings or `houses` Monday to Saturday. The first performance commenced about five forty five. With the factories not finishing work until six, the weavers who had started at six in the morning, made no great rush to attend mid week early shows. Seated next to Granny in the dearer, downstairs velour covered `tip up` seats, I felt like a Royal Princess. An extra `for being good` I`d been given a bag of home made treacle toffee from the sweetie shoppie in Union Street.  The moving tale of Bernadette and the appearance of the Holy Virgin kept Granny enthralled. Lourdes with all it`s wonders to behold.  The toffee was a bit sickly and Granny rescued it for `safe keeping`, putting it in the breast pocket of her jacket. When the film was nearing the finale Granny started fidgeting.  Concerned about her behaviour I enquired “Are you alright?”  “Oh I`ll be fine just watch the miracles and keep quiet”.

Much later I was to learn that Granny thought she was haemorrhaging and soaked with blood , which was oozing down on to her legs. Yes it was only the treacle toffee melting in the heat.

However, some of the audience might have benefitted from healing cures. A vast number of wounded soldiers in the audience were conspicuous with their bright blue uniforms and red neck ties. Allowed out on pass from the nearby military hospital, the walking wounded, were a familiar sight in the town, but then so were many other uniformed service men.

No uniforms for the usherettes or commissionaires for the Regal or the Kings, but they were grand places for entertainment when I was young.




Monifieth Almanac – 1882

                     Extracts from Monifieth Almanacs, by David McRae.

Written 1892.


William Craighead of Monifieth

William Craighead, who is mentioned in “A Tragic Tale of Monifieth” was a schoolmaster in Monifieth in the middle of the last century.  His book on Arithmetic was a standard work  in Scotland. It was printed in Dundee, by Galbraith & Co., in 1757 and with one exception—a Catechism for the young, from the same press, published in 1755.—is the earliest known Dundee printed book–. The title is as follows:–ARITHMETIC, in all it`s parts, vulgar and decimal; as also Tables of Coins, Weights and Measures used in different Countries,&c,– by William Craighead, Schoolmaster, Monifieth, –Printed and sold by Henry Galbraith, & Co., MDCCLV11.

The book measured

6 ½ by  4 inches and contains 564 pages.  Although not of much interest in the present day, some of the examples given through the volume probably illustrate, the prices current at the time it was published.  For example, eggs 2d per dozen; raisins 4d & 8d, sugar 11 ½ d ;  tobacco 13s.; Tea 7s 8d  to 16s, Coffee 5s 9d per lb.; oranges 3d each;

hay 4 ¾ d per stone; fine cambric 11s 7d per ell; sailors wages 27s 8d per month., are a few items named.


The work was a standard one may be proved from the Edinburgh edition, published 41 years afterwards, which we have also seen. It is entitled:—– Nicholson`s edition of Craighead`s Arithmetic, carefully revised and corrected, Edinburgh, 1798.


Craighead says, at page 540 of his book,” I intend very soon to publish a complete treatise on mensuration”.

We  have seen the  following::— The Merchant`s  Companion, after a new method, calculated by W.C. , Schoolmaster, Monefieth,, Dundee , printed by H Galbraith & Co.,MDCCLX1.   This was a forerunner of numerous other “Calculators” printed in Dundee up to 1820.





Written 1894


The Lich-Wake At Monifieth


(The following is a version of the story which appeared shortly after  it occurred.)


A Tricky Parish Schoolmaster.


The Public School now standing at Monifieth was erected in 1878 and took the place of the old building in which towards the end of the last century, Mr William Craighead, presided as Schoolmaster. This was the Mr William Craighead whose popular handbook  of arithmetic  was , sometime after the occurrences here set down., in such great request for school purposes.

Mr Craighead was, at the time, was referred to as a young man, and one of much livelier tendencies than, no doubt, many of the strictly sober bodies of Monifeth considered strictly consistent with `the dignity of a parish schoolmaster`. Practical jokes of a pronounced character were frequently played at Monifieth, and a popular suspicion, was not always wrong in ascribing them to Craighead.  The custom of the “lich-wake”, corresponding largely with the surviving Irish custom of wakening the dead, had not yet died out in Scotland, and in Monifieth was frequently practiced. Scholars tell us that these ceremonies were of Saxon origin, the name being derived from the Saxon words lic, a corpse, and woecan, to sit awake.  Now, it chanced upon that, the death of a substantial farmer, in the neighbourhood, a large number of his late acquaintences were invited to the lich-wake, and among them were Craighead and Andrew Saunders, an intimate companion of his, and confederate in more than one of his youthful frolics. The similarity in the personal appearance of the Andrew Saunders and that of the dead farmer, had more than once been noticed, and this suggested to Craighead a practical joke of a rather grim nature, which after consultation between the two friends, was ultimately agreed upon.  A shroud was to be procured, and Saunders was to don it; then, after means had been found to attract the company temporarily into another room, the corpse was to be removed to an outhouse and Saunders was to take it`s place.  Then when all had returned and the opportunity seemed fitting, Craighead was to sneeze twice, and at this signal, the `supposed` corpse was to rise and the fun was to consist of the terror which their friends would exhibit.

The evening came , and all the preliminaries to this piece of humour were successfully gone through. A chest was suddenly discovered in another part of the house, standing in it`s wrong place, in the middle of the room, and apparently so heavy that nobody could move it.  The whole company adjourned to the room where this chest was, in order to try, one after  another, to lift or move it, and the whole company failed, which was not very surprising , considering that it had been carefully screwed to the floor.  After a time , the lid was burst open, and the difficulty discovered, and the general opinion at once pointed to the perpetrator of the joke as that daft hempie, Wullie Craighead, without , however, a suspicion that the ruse had any intention beyond it`s own perpetration.  Everyone returned to the watching room where, during their absence, Andrew Saunders had emerged from another passage, and after dragging the corpse to his own lurking place, had taken it`s place on the bed, shrouded.

Craighead made his way round to where the corpse lay upon the floor in a side passage, and, first carefully reconnoitering to make perfectly sure he was not being watched, conveyed it to an open outhouse. There was straw in the outhouse, and this Craighead disposed suitably, and stretched the body upon it. Returning he found the key had been carelessly left in the padlock, so, after locking the door, he pocketed this key in case of inquisitiveness on the part of anybody coming near the spot.  This done he innocently strolled back into the death chamber, and was quite unsuspected by the assembly.  The assembly, indeed, was devoting itself with great singleness of purpose to whisky, and paying small attention to the occasion of the ceremony.  Perfect decorum and quietness, however, as was customary prevailed.

“It`s a sad okeeshun, a very sad okeeshun,” said the miller, reaching for the bottle, “and it`s proper contemplation calls for a speeshul stimulus” and he took it.

“ It`s no sae sad as it micht be” said another, “ wi` neither wife nor bairns tae greet.”

They forgot the dead man`s little sister who was hidden in her little bedroom exhausted with weeping.

“Thankee Mr Christie: I`ll just trouble you for the spiritual stimulus,” said Craighead, addressing the miller. “I was reading the other day,” he added, for the information of the company in general, “ a rather singular account of a supposed temporary revivification of a corpse. The corpse got up in bed and reached for the whisky.”

“ It`s a sad, very sad okeeshun,” repeated the miller, gaxing sternly at Craighead as he handed him the liquor, “and ill-suited for sic gowk tales.”

“Matter of special interest, it seemed to me,” replied the schoolmaster;” interesting just now, particularly, and—- tichow! tichow!” he sneezed twice with violence.

No sign of movement from the bed. This was strange. He must not have heard. Craighead concluded that the sneezes had sounded too genuine and unintentional. He determined to repeat them presently, less naturally and more expressively. He guests continued looking at one another. Presently Craighead sneezed again twice, looking towards the bed as he did so.  No sign, no sound, no movement there.

What could be wrong? Surely, surely, his friend could not have fallen sleep in such a situation as that, in a shroud, lying in the bed from which the corpse he was personating had just been dragged?.  It was impossible. Yet there he lay— motionless, calm, and pale, like the body itself. Craighead felt indefinably uncomfortable and uneasy as he looked at him.  Why didn`t he get up?

“Ye`ve sair fits o` sneezing the nicht , neebor,” remarked the miller, looking at Craighead curiously.

Still gazing at his friend in the bed, Craighead indistinctly murmured something about having a cold. Then he felt cold indeed, with cold perspiration. Surely Andrew was not so pale as that when he had left him in the passage, nor his lips so white?. Perhaps he was ill. Forgetting the plot entirely, he crossed hurriedly to the bed and laid his hand on his friend`s shoulder. Then suddenly turning paler than the other, he thrust his hand beneath the breast of the shroud. His companions looked at him and at one another in astonishment. Wullie Craighead with all his gaiety, had the name of a sober man; but here he was tearing back the bed clothes off a dead body and crying like one demented.  “Bring some water, quick, quick! Or whisky, or anything He`s dying man, I tell ye, or dead!, It`s Saunders; it`s Andy Saunders!” And there sure enough as he tore the shroud away,  were seen beneath it the everyday clothes of Andrew Saunders. “What deil`s  riggs  are ye at noo Wullie Craighead?” and every man started to his feet and made for the bed. And there, in his well known suit of hodden, with the rags of the torn shroud hanging about his neck and shoulders , lay Andrew Saunders  dead!.- For some time no word could be got from William Craighead, as he sad on the bed dazed and stupid.  Then in response to repeated demands, he explained the ghastly joke in a few words. Meantime the doctor had arrived and pronounced no doubt of Saunder`s death. Then there arose an enquiry as to where the other body had been concealed, and Craighead, whose stupefication had given way to wild remorse, and self reproach, accompanied by the miller to the outhouse to bring it in.  A stable lantern was lit, and the padlock, which worked, rather stiffly, was unlocked with difficulty by means of the key which Craighead had retained.  They entered the hothouse, and there found— nothing but straw! The body had gone!.

The outhouse had no window, and no other outlet whatever beside the door, which they found securely padlocked. Craighead was certain this was, and no other outhouse, was the one in which the body had been placed ; and indeed no , none of the others were provided with a similar lock. And in the corner he recognized the disposition of the straw, which lay just as he had spread it to receive the body.  Entirely overwhelmed, he wandered aimlessly about the premises.  The rest of the party made a thorough search, but without discovering a trace of the missing body, and every man most solemnly declared  that he knew nothing whatever of the removal.  Presently, in turning into a door of the house, Craighead met the little sister.  She had heard vaguely of something of what he had done, and fled from him faintly screaming.  Crazed and maddened , he rushed from the place.  All that night he wandered over the country side, he knew not where.  Rain fell upon his bare head and drenched him through, but he knew it not.  Day broke , the sun rose and declined, and still William Craighead wandered over the adjacent country demented—- searching for a corpse that he told them had addressed him; looking for a dead man in his shroud.   Four days and nights he roamed the neighbourhood, an object of pity and fear to the inhabitants, without rest and without sleep.  Then a party went after him and, after telling him their news, fetched him with them quietly, and William Craighead returned to his school and regular duties, and lived ever after saddened and sober life.  For the body had been found in a field among brooks of Tealing, six miles or more from Monifieth, lying unruffled and apparently undisturbed in it`s shroud, just as it had lain upon the bed; and was carried away and decently buried.

But how it came where it was found no man ever knew.


The Story of Panmure


Saturday – Items from Panmure House on display.

Sunday – Monifieth Boys Brigade Pipe Band will be playing playing

Wednesday – Panmure House Talk

Monifieth Parish Church

St Rules pre-1902

St Rules pre-1902

By Mhairi Pyott


There has been a place of Christian worship on the site of St Rules Church for over 1400 years and most probably some form of worship before then.
The town developed around the church, which at one time was identified as `Kirkton of Monifieth`.
Continue reading

Laws Fort and Broch

Tayside and Angus have many ancient fortified sites. Many of those are to be found on hilltops and other places such as coastal promontories, where natural obstacles added greatly to the security of the stronghold. It is believed that they testify to a troubled period when communities found it necessary to fortify their settlements against attack by their neighbours or others. Continue reading

Monifieth House of Memories – a special place

Desperate Dan that iconic Dundee person made an appearance

Dan in the House of Memories

Dan in the House of Memories








Into the eleventh year of its being there for visitors, the feeling was that perhaps a “face lift” was the order of the day. With some preparation, cementing and pointing of the stonework, it was time to bring in a professional painter & decorator.

Who knows what may happen at the House of Memories over the next ten years.

Certainly it is now known throughout the World by the number of overseas visitors who have passed through the door of 55 High Street, Monifieth, to enjoy the displays of exhibits, photographs and information archived within its walls, all relative to the local area.

A few examples of photographs  which have interested visitors in the last month.

Ardownie  Souterrain

Ardownie Souterrain

Which was uncovered beside the Dundee  to Arbroath ( A92) road, then covered over when constructing the dual carriageway.

Linlathan House and Dighty Water

Linlathan House and Dighty Water

The Dighty as it meanders through the Den in front of Linlathen House which was later demolished.

Carpet Factory workers

Carpet Factory workers

Carpet Factory workers at Milton

David Marr and Earl of Dalhousie

David Marr and Earl of Dalhousie

David Marr – manager – and Earl of Dalhousie at the “Big Foundry”


Commonwealth games arrives nearby

Work has been done to spruce up the House of Memories for the Commonwealth games with the shooting competitions taking place in nearby Carnoustie.


This was taken on the 27th July.

In case you are wondering about the car it is our President, Mrs Copland’s.

The person by the window must have been drawn to look at the decorations…..

a close up for you.



Don’t forget to check Doors Open Days which will give you details of September’s events.

The Sunday School Hall

Gerard Hall 1900

Gerard Hall 1900

Gerard Hall, Monifieth.
Opened December 23rd, 1882. by Alexander Gordon of Ashludie

(In connection with Monifieth Parish Church)

During January last an organ was erected in the above hall, and the platform enlarged. The organ is a finely-toned instrument, and greatly enhances the internal appearance and beauty of the building.
Dr Young, on the first meeting of the congregation in the hall
– February 9th- after the erection of the organ, delivered a lecture on music, in connection with praise, since the earliest period of the Christian era, supporting his statement by reference to ancient books and sculptural monuments.
– He stated that the service of praise was one of the most pronounced customs of the early Culdees, who had a place of worship on the spot where the present hall now stands. Part of an obelisk erected by them still exists, and may be seen a little north of the Parish Church, and it is known as the `Font Stane`, the shaft having been carried away. It was partly destroyed by being taken and used as a lintel for the door of the `old church`– that is the predecessor of the present building—and in this manner it was mutilated to bring it to the required shape.
– It was subsequently built into the front wall of the present church, but has since been taken away. On it were sculptured Jesus on the cross, and at His feet David playing a harp. On the other side were the figures of three women surrounding a younger female playing a lyre. Dr Young afterwards spoke of the efforts put forth by the first General Assembly to introduce the service of trained singers into the Church, by giving a brief history of the Scottish Psalter, prepared by John Knox, only one copy of which was known to exist. He remarked on the fact that Gilbert Garden, the first minister of the Reformed Church in Monifieth, was Moderator of the General Assembly which put forth such zealous efforts for the proper musical training of the people. The history of our present version of the Psalms was also dealt with, and examples given of the variations to which they had been subjected before they finally attained there ultimate form

Grange House

Grange is an ancient reminder of the close association that existed between the Abbey of Arbroath and the inhabitants of Monifieth
It was originally the home farm or Grangaria where the `tiend` sheaves or tithes were delivered and deposited.
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Ashludie, a short story

Ashludie Mansion

The Grange, a name derived from`grangia` or a place where the tiend sheaves were deposited had long associations with Arbroath Abbey.

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