Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Winter Newsletter

24 December 2023

Winter 2023 Newsletter.

The Trust have been busy in the intervening months since our last newsletter, so we have plenty to update you on!

We were sponsors of the Spring Festival at Wigtown this year and a large crowd attended Wigtown County Buildings when I gave a tribute to Donnie Nelson through local photographs and stories. That particular event was sponsored by the Old Bank Bookshop, and we were very grateful for the opportunity to share these stories.

Read the full newsletter here

Spring News Letter

7 May 2023

The Trust has been kept busy over the winter months.  We had another successful sale over the festive season, and our Facebook page continues to grow with around one thousand followers! 

The carved stones from McCulloch Place are to be placed temporarily in Stranraer Museum store until refurbishment of the museum is complete.

The Trust has placed a bench in memory of Donnie Nelson MBE, on the grassy area between Foreland Place and Broadstone Road.  The bench is facing to the mouth of the loch, towards the Broadstone, and the old bombing wall at Braidfell can be seen across the loch.  These places were very dear to Donnie. His sons Bruce and Laurence, and grandson Andrew will attend the official unveiling on 22nd April.

Read the full news letter here

Book Launch

26 November 2021

The Sinking of the SS Rowan and the Southern Syncopated Orchestra’ book by author Sandy Rankin is to be launched in Galloway Gateway

(the old harbour master’s office),

Breastwork, Stranraer

on Saturday 27th November

from 1030am to 1200noon.

Trustee Lunch and Presentation

29 August 2021

The Trust recently held a lunch and presentation at Henry’s Bay House Restaurant.  Founder History Trust Members, Eric and Christine Wilson, are stepping down in their respective roles as Oral History Facilitator and Honorary Secretary but will stay on as executive committee members.  

Trust Chair, Elaine Barton, thanked Eric and Christine for their relentless hard work over the years and their contribution to ensuring that much of our local history is preserved for future generations. Since 1998 the Trust has thirty-three publications to its credit and has sold almost thirty-nine thousand books as well as an ever increasing audio archive.

Eric and Christine expressed their delight and thanks to the Committee they were presented with a painting of Corsewall Lighthouse by local artist Jim Mclean. Thanks also to John and Jane Henry and the staff of the Bay House for a delicious meal.


Pictured from left to right are Eric Wilson, Christine Wilson and Elaine Barton.

Scottish actor Gary Lewis

29 August 2021

Chair of Stranraer and District Local History Trust, Elaine Barton, was delighted to meet and present well known Scottish actor Gary Lewis with a selection of their local history publications. Gary was particularly interested in two of author David Kirkwood’s books, The Earls of Galloway & Galloway House  and Glasgow’s Galloway School. 

Gary has fond memories of attending Galloway House School when he was 11 years old. During the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s the house was taken over by the Glasgow Corporation.  Over the years, hundreds of Glasgow school children would make the journey to Garlieston and spend several weeks at the school. Many of the children had never paddled in the sea before, visit the countryside or see so many animals, like cattle and sheep. The children  were encouraged to record their activities in a diary.  It was an experience that remained with many of them throughout their lives. Some made the return journey to Galloway House as adults in later life. 

News Archive

15 March 2021

Archive of news from previous years


Early this year we lost Donnie Nelson, to this awful virus. Donnie was a founding member of the Trust, and had been Chair for 21 years, and he remained very active on the committee. He authored a number of our books and so very much more. He has ensured the Nelson-MacDonald photographic collection is safe in Stranraer, and has left us with many notes and stories which are yet to be told, and we will endeavour to ensure this is done. Tributes to him were demonstrated by a large section of the Free Press, and a moving tribute in Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine. The Trust have sent their condolences to his family. Donnie was indeed a Stranraer man through and through.


The Trust was proud to have been nominated and became a finalist in Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine ‘Champions of Culture’.

May 2019

A plaque remembering John Livingston was placed in Church Street in a short ceremony attended by four committee members, Councillor Willie Scobie, and Mr Hay from the local authority.

The Trust updated and has printed leaflets for Stranraer Town Trail. These will be distributed around tourist spots and information centres locally and beyond. (2020)

The Free Press have been excellent in advertising the launch of our latest publication ‘The Magic of a Name’ by Donnie Nelson and Julia MacDonald. The book was launched at a meeting of the Antiquarian Society and in the same week at Stranraer Library. Sales have been excellent. (2020)

Stranraer and District Lives Voices in Trust

Published by the European Ethnological Research Centre, Edinburgh University, this Regional Flashback explores the rich material contained within a collection of oral history fieldwork recordings made by the History Trust between 1999 and 2016.

Copies of these recordings were gifted by the History Trust to the European Ethnological Research Centre at the beginning of their four-year-long Dumfries and Galloway : Regional Ethnology Study and were the first items to be included in a sound archive collection which now extends to 316 recordings made with 276 individuals. The book contains many photographs, chosen by past Chairman, Donnie Nelson, from the Trust’s extensive photographic archive.

Crannogs of South-West Scotland

In January 2016 the History Trust provided a grant of £1000 to AOC Archaeology Group to assist with the cost of printing a booklet entitled “Cranogs of South-West Scotland”. For centuries, archaeologists have been fascinated by prehistoric wetland dwellings know as crannogs. Recent research in Dumfries and Galloway is shedding new light on these enigmatic settlements and the people who lived there in the Iron Age.

This attractive booklet which contains many photographs and illustrations is available free of charge to members from the Secretary on payment of postage of £1.50.

The Dunragit Discovery

The History Trust arranged for a lecture to be held on Thursday 31 January 2013 entitled “The Dunragit Discovery”. The speaker, Declan Hurl (site archaeologist) talked about archaeology along the A75 and the investigatory work which was being carried out prior to the start of the construction of the Dunragit bypass in the spring of 2013. This fascinating and interesting presentation attracted a capacity audience to the Lecture Room, Stranraer Library. Admission was free with all expenses being met by the History Trust.

Presentation of Books to the Moderator

During his visit in October 2012 to the Presbytery of Wigtown and Stranraer the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Albert Bogle, was presented with two of our books – The Royal Burgh of Stranraer and The Parish of Kirkmaiden.

The Whithorn Trust

At a meeting of the Trustees in September 2011 it was agreed to provide a grant of £1,000 to The Whithorn Trust to assist with the costs of the Machars Archaeology Project. The aim of this project is to provide a first-class record of the archaeology of the prehistoric and medieval periods in the Machars.

This survey aims to provide material for the promotion of the archaeology of Whithorn and the Machars from pre-history to the present day. The project will involve further work around the priory in Whithorn, in areas identified by the recently published Burgh Survey as a high potential for further work. Training workshops will be held and there will be a touring school’s workshop throughout Wigtown District as well as open days and public lectures.

The Mull of Galloway Trail

In September 2011 the Trustees approved a grant of £7,000 to the Rotary Club of Stranraer Charitable Trust Fund to assist with the funding required to establish a new walking route from Stranraer to the Mull of Galloway. This will link with the Loch Ryan Coastal Path which runs from Stranraer to Glenapp and which was established by the Rotary Club of Stranraer in 2009. It will also link with the Southern Upland Way near Stranraer.

Archie Bell, committee member and a member of the Rotary Club of Stranraer designed the ten information boards situated along the Loch Ryan Coastal Path which contain details of local history. Similar boards will be erected along the route of the Mull of Galloway Trail and the grant will contribute towards the costs involved.

Tonderghie Copper Mine at Whithorn

In 2007 the Trust agreed to help to fund a project of the local Museums Service, The National Museums of Scotland and the Royal Commission to record and investigate the Tonderghie Copper Mine at Whithorn where antiquarian finds have produced ingots of Bronze Age and Iron Age dating.


Each year the Trust gives consideration to granting bursaries to senior pupils of Stranraer Academy and the Douglas-Ewart High School who are progressing to university to study history. Unfortunately neither Stranraer Academy nor the Douglas-Ewart High School were able to nominate a suitable candidate in 2011, 2012 or 2013. For a number of years bursaries of £500 were awarded but at the Annual General Meeting held on 22 May 2014 it was agreed that they should be increased to £750 for each student. The recipient of the bursary in June 2019 was Anton Simpson of Stranraer Academy.

Previous Bursaries

2020 Nicole Chapman – Stranraer Academy and Libby Adams – Douglas Ewart

2019 Anton Simpson – Stranraer Academy

2018 Adam Dickson – Stranraer Academy

2016 John Allison – Stranraer Academy

2015 Lucy Miller – Stranraer Academy and Megan Somerville – Douglas-Ewart High School

2014 Ryan Craig and Jocelyn Heron – both from Stranraer Academy

2010 Seona McKie – Douglas-Ewart High School

2009 Phoebe Warren – Stranraer Academy

2008 Siobhan Johnstone – Douglas-Ewart High School

2007 Lynsey McCrorie – Stranraer Academy

2006 Ewan Marshall and Jayne Ford – Stranraer Academy

2005 Neil Simpson – Douglas-Ewart High School

2004 Linzi Cathro – Stranraer Academy

Provost’s Lamps

Until the closure of Stranraer Old Parish Church in 2005 the former Provost’s Lamps were situated at the door of the building in Church Street. A decision was made to relocate them to Stranraer Town Kirk which prior to the union with the Old Parish Church was known as St Andrew’s Church. One of our members, Archie Bell, restored the lamps and the Trust paid for the cost of the materials.

Historical Plaques in Stranraer

As a result of the infinite knowledge of our past Chairman, Donnie Nelson, the Trust became involved in creating a series of historical plaques which have been placed in appropriate sites in the town. The Trust agreed to assist with the funding of the plaques, contributing £900, with this sum being matched by Stranraer Common Good Fund. Illustrated Town Trail leaflets are available which give the locations of the plaques.