Rockfield hosts finale of ‘Journeys to the Little Bay’ project

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For the last six months, The Rockfield Centre has been funded to run a project focusing on journeys and travel to the Little Bay -an t-Oban.

This Friday and Saturday (February 16-17) sees the finale of the project and culmination of a lot of hard work.

A monthly series of ‘Blethers’, already established, has seen many locals and visitors taking part in reminiscences of days gone by, often with much hilarity, argument and a few tears.

Many of these folk have been recorded in conversation, capturing for posterity their unique view of Oban when they were young and leaving us with a wonderful insight into the town’s social history of the time.

Catherine Coleman, now Drummond and in her 90s, has been tracked down to Dunfermline. As a girl of 19, she worked as a radio operator and decoder in Dungallan House during the war. She was billeted in Burnbank House, sharing a room with five other girls and cycled to work every day to decipher coded messages.

Catherine’s memory is as sharp as it was then and she will be visiting Oban to share her memories tomorrow at a special ‘Blether’ Session. The event is being held from 2-4pm and will be accompanied by tea, coffee and a mouth-watering array of goodies from our volunteer bakers.

On Friday evening, from 7-9pm at the Argyllshire Gathering Halls, three eminent former pupils of Oban High School – William Gillies, James Hunter and Janet MacDonald – will talk about their memories. Each travelled to school in the 50s and 60s by train, boat and on foot, and will regale the audience with tales of these days – sometimes humorous, sometimes sad and sometimes downright criminal!

Donald Meek was due to join the trio but is unfortunately indisposed, but has promised to come for a ‘Blether’ next month and talk about MacBraynes.

On Saturday, between noon and 4pm, the final exhibition will be open to all. Audio clips of many of the conversations recorded will be available to listen to and film memories of steamers, trains and other forms of transport will run alongside a range of photographs.

Panels, telling the story of many of Oban’s visitors – from stone-age hunter gatherers in MacArthur’s Cave to Mendelssohn and Turner in Victorian times – will complement work carried out by school pupils while researching their families’ stories. Be prepared for some exciting new revelations!

Photographs showing Oban landmarks ‘before and after’ will be displayed and appropriate musical interludes will pepper the proceedings during the afternoon.

This project has been made possible by generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and our Heritage Hunters have worked tirelessly to make it a huge success. Thanks are due, in particular, to Jamie Yates whose enthusiasm and imaginative ideas have opened up the great potential we have waiting to be explored.