Short biographies of the authors who shared their knowledge and stories from the past in our books.


Christine Wilson

Christine Wilson came to live and teach in the Machars of Wigtownshire in 1957, she married Eric Wilson in 1963 and moved to Stranraer in 1964. On retirement from teaching she was Project Manager of the Whithorn Dig for seven years and was Chairman, then Secretary for thirteen years of the Wigtownshire Antiquarian Society. She served as Secretary of Stranraer and District Local History Trust for 21 years from its inception until 2020, and still distributes our books to retail outlets and sends out orders to individuals and members. Christine was involved in the updating and reprint of John Boyd’s Royal Burgh of Stranraer, researching education, social work, voluntary groups, sport and recreation. Her other project was transcribing William Todd’s handwritten History of Kirkmaiden Parish 1854, to printed book form, to let this important document be available to the public.

Title: Royal Burgh of Stranraer, History of Kirkmaiden Parish.

Archie Bell

Archie Bell was born and educated in Stranraer and after completing his National Service he entered the family butchery and bakery business in the town. Following his retiral from the business he was for seven years a Business Adviser with Dumfries and Galloway Enterprise Company. Involved in many local organisations, he has been Commodore of Loch Ryan Sailing Club, President of Stranraer Rotary Club and President of Wigtownshire Antiquarian Society.

Title: Stranraer in World War Two (Third Edition)

James Blair, Andrew Hannay and James Sproule

This book was published to mark the Stranraer Golf Club’s centenary, celebrated in 2005. The first ninety years, covering the foundation of the Club, the search for a course, its enlargement, the building of a clubhouse, the loss of both to wartime needs and the subsequent move to a new course and home are all carefully and authoritatively traced by James Blair and Andrew Hannay, long standing members. It was to their ninety-year story that James Sproule, another distinguished local golfer, was asked by the Club to add the final ten-year chapter to round off a century of golf in the town.

Title: 100 Years of Stranraer Golf Club

Trevor Boult

Trevor Boult, a Geordie, experienced the thrill of his early crossings of the North Channel as a lad going to visit the family farm in Antrim. He now relates the crossing as a ship’s officer, telling us the inside story.

Title: Don’t Plague the Ferryman (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

John S. Boyd

Johnny was born in Newark, New Jersey, after his parents had emigrated to the United States but he regarded Glasgow, to which the family had quickly returned, as his home. After starting his journalistic career with the Glasgow Evening Citizen, he came to Stranraer in the early 1930s and his association with the Free Press lasted almost 50 years, 18 of them as editor. In 1967 he wrote a history of Stranraer to mark the 350th anniversary of the Royal Burgh and in 2000 it was updated by three History Trust members: Jack Hunter, Donnie Nelson and Christine Wilson.

Title: The Royal Burgh of Stranraer

Norman Fidler

Norman spent his boyhood in Stranraer where he attended Stranraer High School. Having joined the Air Training Corps while at school, his first flight as a boy was over Lochryan. At age 19 Norman was called up to join the RAF and the book relates his wartime experiences. On demobilisation he joined the family furniture business in Stranraer then owned a furniture shop in Newton Stewart until his retirement.

Title: Aircrew in Wartime

Bill Gill

Bill Gill came to Stranraer in the early 1960s as principal teacher of History at the High School later Stranraer Academy. His interests included walking and a practical interest in the research of local history which were combined to produce this book. Unfortunately Bill died before his book was published.

Title: The Cairnryan Military Railway (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

John R. Hume

John Hume was a lecturer in Economic and Industrial History at the University of Strathclyde for 20 years. He then went on to become a Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments, then of historic buildings with Historic Scotland before finally retiring as Chief Inspector of Historic Buildings in 1999.

Titles: Church Buildings in Wigtownshire, Wigtownshire Vernacular Buildings

Jack Hunter

Jack Hunter who is a Gallovidian by birth spent most of his teaching career as Head of English at Stranraer High School, later Stranraer Academy. For many years he lectured on Galloway literature and history for Glasgow University Department of Adult and Continuing Education. Jack is an author of several publications on local history.

Titles: Alexander Murray: Galloway’s Self-Taught Genius, The Loss of the ‘Princess Victoria’, The Lost Town of Innermessan, A Flight Too Far, A Galloway Man among “the Few” (NOW OUT OF PRINT), The Friendly Invaders (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

David Kirkwood

David Kirkwood was born in Garlieston where he spent his childhood years. David remained an active member of the Trust committee until his death in 2022. He left the area in 1956 to follow a career in the police service with Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, retiring in 1990 with the rank of Superintendent and Commander of the Galloway Division of the force. Following a brief spell in retirement, David went into business as a consultant in the maritime and aviation security field, which he pursued until 2005. His love of the village where he had spent his childhood years had not deserted him and he has researched the history of the Garlieston area. He has written a number of books for the Trust.

Titles: Garlieston During World Wars 1 and 2, Unusual Activities Along Wigtownshire’s Coastline, The Earls of Galloway and Galloway House (NOW OUT OF PRINT), Glasgow’s Galloway School (NOW OUT OF PRINT), The Wigtownshire Constabulary, Bobbies on the Beat, Garlieston – Emergence of a Village (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

Julia MacDonald

Julia MacDonald who was born and educated in Stranraer is a Registered Nurse and Curriculum Manager at Dumfries and Galloway College. She has a huge interest in the rich history of Stranraer and the surrounding area and has merged her own collection of photographs and postcards with those of Donnie Nelson to form the Nelson-MacDonald Collection. She is an active committee member of the Stranraer and District Local History Trust.

Title: The Magic of a Name – Strolling Through Stranraer

Fraser MacHaffie

His interest in coastal shipping started while he was working on the Clyde steamers during his undergraduate days. This led to his continuing interest in researching the history of shipping on the west coast of Scotland and this is his latest book. Fraser McHaffie held the position of Professor of Accounting and Management at Marietta College in Ohio, USA until his retirement.

Title: Portpatrick to Donaghadee – The Original Short Sea Route (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

John MacQueen

John ‘Jack’ MacQueen spent much of his working life at Edinburgh University where he eventually became Professor of Scottish Literature and Oral Tradition, and Director of the School of Scottish Studies. He has written and edited a number of books and articles, mainly on Scottish subjects. Having spent his boyhood holidays with his maternal grandparents in Port Logan, Jack had a house in the Rhinns where he lived for over forty years.

Titles: Place-names of the Wigtownshire Moors and Machars, Place-names in the Rhinns of Galloway and Luce Valley (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

Tom McCreath

Tom McCreath (a boy of ten when war broke out in 1939) was born at Broughton Mains Farm, Sorbie in Wigtownshire and joined his father in the farming business in 1948 after completing his National Service. Later on he farmed at Garlieston Home Farm. He served as a member of Wigtown County Council and after local government reorganisation as a member of Wigtown District Council. Following retirement he became very involved with the Whithorn Trust and in local history in general. He was formerly a Deputy Lieutenant of Wigtownshire and has always had a great interest in music.

Title: The Friendly Invaders (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

Bill McCormack

Bill McCormack began his working career in the Clydesdale Bank, Stranraer, before being called to wartime service. On demobilisation he agreed to join the family firm of William McCormack and Sons Ltd., the third generation to join the family firm which served Wigtownshire well from 1871 until 1986, providing agricultural, building and coal supplies and a busy shipping agency. He enjoyed a leisurely retirement following his interests in music, painting and writing. Bill died in 2006.

Title: Every Beach a Port (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

Professor Charles McNeil

Professor McNeil, a specialist in childhood ailments, was born in Stranraer in 1881. While his family moved to Edinburgh when he was five, from the summer of 1893 for several years Charles and his brother spent school holidays at Sandmill Farm, Sandhead. In 1955 he felt the urge to put on record his memories of childhood days and later working holidays spent in the Rhins of Galloway. These were published in book form in the Free Press. This edition was been edited by past Chairman, Donnie Nelson, who has added explanatory notes and early photographs.

Title: Auld Lang Syne in the Rhins of Galloway

Dr Jane Murray

Dr Murray was Chairman of the Whithorn Trust and is a commissioner of the Royal Commission on Ancient Historical Monuments of Scotland. She has been keenly interested in the archaeology of the Wigtownshire moors and wrote her dissertation on the subject as a mature student.

Title: Prehistoric Settlement in the Wigtownshire Moors (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

Donnie Nelson

Donnie Nelson who was born and educated in Stranraer spent 40 years of his working life with the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press acting as part time reporter and contributor to the paper as well as various other duties. For almost 20 years he produced a weekly column which illustrated the history of people and places in Stranraer and the Rhins of Galloway. He served as a local Councillor for many years and in 1997 was appointed M.B.E. for services to Stranraer. Donnie was Chairman of Stranraer and District Local History from its inception in 1998 until 2019. He became a bit of a television celebrity sharing his vast historical knowledge with television programmes such as Grand Tours, Border Life, and Great Railway Journeys to name only a few. A keen Stranraer football fan, Donnie shared photos and memories which helped the club celebrate its 150th Anniversary. He remained a very active member of the Trust committee until he died in 2021. Donnie shared his vast collection of photographs and postcards with Julia MacDonald to form the Nelson-MacDonald Collection.

Titles: The Magic of a Name – Strolling Through Stranraer, Wait Till Your Father Comes Home on Leave, A Peep at Stranraer’s Past (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

Sandy Rankin

Sandy Rankin was brought up in Portpatrick before moving to Central Scotland as a youth. He followed a career with Strathclyde Police. Over the years he has spent much of his leisure time in Portpatrick, has an abiding interest in the lifeboat service and learned as a schoolboy of the air crash from his grandfather and uncle, crew members of the lifeboat. Over many years he researched the story of the disaster and the people involved.

Title: The Rhinns’ Forgotten Air Disaster Second Edition

John Scoular

John Scoular was born at Glasserton in Wigtownshire and began his career in journalism with the Galloway Gazette. While employed by the Evening Standard in Edinburgh he was head hunted by the Mirror Group and for some time was employed as a journalist in Fleet Street. He returned to his native Galloway in 1968 when he purchased the Queens Arms Hotel in the Isle of Whithorn and later he acquired the Steam Packet Hotel. John has been actively involved in the local community in the “Isle” and served as chairman of the Isle of Whithorn Community Council for a number of years. He acted as spokesperson for some of the bereaved families in the Solway Harvester disaster.

Title: The Friendly Invaders (NOW OUT OF PRINT)

William Todd

William Todd who was parish schoolmaster of Kirkmaiden from 1798 until 1845 wrote, at the age of 80, this Statistical, Historical and Miscellaneous Memoranda of the Parish. The original handwritten manuscript was loaned by Todd’s great, great, great granddaughter Katy Clachan who gave permission for the publication of the book. This important document has been transcribed by Christine Wilson and has been reproduced, word for word, including Todd’s variations in spelling and old forms of place-names and farm names. Christine has spent an enormous amount of time transcribing the document and without her tireless work publication would not have taken place. This book is a veritable feast of information with added maps and many photographs (two of William Todd himself which enhance the publication). The foreword has been written by Prof. John MacQueen.

Title: The Parish of Kirkmaiden 1854

Ian Baldie

Ian moved with his family to Stranraer in 1967 where he finished his secondary education, upon which he joined the RAF as an apprentice. Upon leaving the RAF in the mid seventies he worked in the IT departments of the Michelin Tyre Company and the London Stock Exchange among others before joining The Clydesdale Bank in Glasgow from where he retired in 2018. He now lives in the parish of Kirkcolm, two miles from what was the Chain Home radar station of RAF North Cairn. He has a strong interest in local history and contributes to the village history group when not volunteering on the Rhins of Galloway Coastal Path or doing long distance walks and fishing.

Title: RAF North Cairn – A Secret Second World War Site