Miss Lizzie McLaren Roberts, Head Teacher, Fearnan School, 1903-1928
It’s always a pleasure to receive an email from someone with Fearnan connections who has found our little website and, inevitably, they add a little bit to our knowledge of Fearnan’s history.
Recently, just such an email came in from Bev Bayda, who lives in Edmonton in Canada. Bev had found the article about Fearnan School on our website and wrote to us about one of the teachers, Lizzie Roberts who taught in the school from 1903 to 1928.
“Thank you for all the work you have done on the Fearnan School web page. My mother’s aunt was Miss Lizzie McLaren Roberts. My mother lived with Lizzie from 1947-1949 in Old Polmont. When Lizzie passed away in 1955 my mother received the tea service (tea pot, cream & sugar bowls, tray) that Lizzie received from Fearnan School when she retired.
I was wondering if you had any pictures with Lizzie in them or any other information about her that is not posted on the website.”
Bev sent this picture of the teapot from Lizzie’s Fearnan School tea service.
Miss Robert’s tenure at the school covered an important period in history, and it was she who wrote touchingly in the School Log Books about some of the Fearnan men who fell in WW1 (some of the men were pupils whom she would have taught). You can read her words in this article from the Blog in 2018.
The School Log Book was one of the few written records of life and major events in Fearnan during the 19th and early 20th century, and it is thanks to Miss Roberts that we have an account of the news of the end of WW1 arriving in Fearnan, when Captain Thistle (he of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Forestry Corps) and Peter Dewar (after whom Peter’s Pool is named) arrived at the school to tell the children that the war had ended. You can read her account in this Armistice 2018 article from the blog. (Peter Dewar’s own son, James, was one of those who died in the war and is remembered on our war memorial.)
Some of the topics covered by Miss Roberts in the school record book have a strong resonance today. In 1914, there are references to the flu epidemic, described as the Belgian Flu (no concerns about cultural stigma in those days!) and the fact that it had taken a powerful hold with many sufferers in the village.
She also writes of receiving a telegram that will resonate with today’s teachers:
“It stated that the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Graham, had ordered the school to be closed for one week from the 22nd to the 26th of February.
Two very serious cases of pneumonia are reported, the victims being two of the pupils.”
And, with Covid jabs to the forefront of everyone’s mind at the moment, we can all feel extra empathy for the pupils of Fearnan School during the 1920 School Vaccination Programme (probably for smallpox, although it is not specified), which Miss Roberts recorded :
“The doctor visited the school on Tuesday and vaccinated all the children. Two scholars absent today, their arms much swollen.” (9th July 1920)
A week later Miss Roberts reports:
“ Attendance much reduced owing to the vaccination – the three boys who were vaccinated for the first time being absent the greater part of the week.”
Miss Roberts retired after 25 years teaching at the school, and although we can’t know exactly what was said at her leaving presentation, we do know that the school inspector wrote the following in the School Log Book on the 25th January 1925:
“Visited the school this day, and it is with feelings of extreme regret that I record this entry is the last under the regime of the capable, efficient teacher who for 25 years ably and successfully acted as teacher here.”
Bev is researching her family history, and would love to know if anyone has any family memorabilia, photos or even stories passed down by previous generations who were taught by Lizzie Roberts. Please get in touch with Fiona@fearnanvillageassociation.com if you can help.
Jenny Penfold had an unusual visitor to her garden recently. She writes:
“I had just popped round to move the sprinkler on the newly re-seeded lawn by the cottage, when I was stopped in my tracks by an animal on the path. I was totally taken by surprise and at first had no idea what it was…my first thought was a pine martin, come for a cool-off under the sprinkler?? But then it noticed me, so I took a quick photo to show Amelia and Trevor and beat a hasty retreat in case I spooked it.
As it didn’t move when it saw me, I thought it must be injured or sick, so I sent the photos to Trevor and we agreed to leave it until he came home in case we needed to catch it and take it to the SPCA.
And it was only after sharing the photos that I realised what it was – an otter in our garden – unbelievable!
Unfortunately for Trevor (who would have taken a MUCH better photo than me!) it wasn’t there by the time he got home and we couldn’t find it anywhere – so good for the otter, as it must have been OK after all. But we did also find some disturbance in the mud around the pond, so it looks like it was there too.
Now it’s gone it’s just sinking in what an amazing opportunity I had. I’ve always been on the look-out for otters and have only seen them once before in Skye – and that was from quite a distance. So now I’m just totally blown away that I actually saw one so close, if only for a moment or two. Fingers crossed it will make our garden a regular stopping point on whatever journey it was taking.”
Does anyone have any more information or stories about otters in our area? Please get in touch if you have, either through the comments page of this blog or in an email to email@example.com
Interpreting the Weather
Adrian got in touch with a handy little guide to interpreting the official weather forecast for Fearnan which, as he points out, has a unique micro-climate due to its location and the surrounding hills. This means official weather forecasts on the BBC or STV need to be adjusted for local conditions.
The table below shows the official forecast alongside what to expect locally. We have added some photos purely for illustrative purposes:
“Today will be mainly dry in the East / mainly dry in the West.”
Fearnan ……heavy rain all day.
“Clear skies and bright sunshine all day.”
Fearnan …….. thick cloud all day.
“Mild for the time of year.”
Fearnan ……. freezing
“Light breeze from the South West.”
Fearnan ………. gale force winds.
“There will be scattered showers.“
Fearnan …… heavy rain all day.
“A few light wintry showers.”
Fearnan …… blizzards.
“Tonight should be frost-free.”
Fearnan ……. no chance!
Many thanks to Adrian, who was possibly inspired by the Michael Fish (there-isn’t-a-hurricane-on-the-way) School of Forecasting.
The Crannog on Loch Tay, which was destroyed by fire on Friday night, was not only an iconic building, but also an important local employer and economic generator.
While its loss is keenly felt by the Loch Tay community, the number of messages, kindness and support that have been received show it has touched the hearts of many in Scotland and far beyond. An appeal fund has been set up to help deal with the immediate aftermath and ensure that the Crannog Centre is able to continue to offer visitors a unique experience of Scottish history.
If you would like to support this effort, please donate through this Just Giving page:
The Crannog Centre is launching a programme of fundraising events to support its future, starting this Thursday with a ‘Crannog Craic’ Music and Storytelling event from 7pm-9pm. Crannog Craic will continue every Thursday throughout the Summer featuring live music and performances from local artists and storytellers each week. Tickets are available to book on www.crannog.co.uk
Fearnan Book Club Review
The book reviewed in May was The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett. This is an original and imaginative series of books in which the Queen turns super sleuth, and some of the group would happily read more. This is the first book in the series ‘Her Majesty The Queen Investigates’. Some wondered if the queen had read it.
The consensus was that this book was an enjoyable, delightful read and was light and airy. Compared to some of the recent books read, it delivered much needed relief!
The portrayal of the queen was well written and we could imagine her instigating her own investigation into the death of Brodsky in her home, dropping hints while letting others take the credit. Her concern for others throughout was endearing.
Prince Philips appearances and contributions were realistic, amusing, delicious fun and also tender. This fitted in with recent anecdotes about his forthright character. Some would have liked more input from him. It was poignant to be reading it so close to his death.
The descriptions of Windsor Castle appeared to capture the essence of life there and were believable and interesting. Palace protocols seemed well researched, as were the host of topical references to people and events we know, including David Attenborough at the Dine and Sleep!
After various twists and turns, the mystery was solved and the deceased guest’s body was interred at Frogmore in a carefully chosen woodland spot.
The book to be reviewed in June is The Language of Flowers, a debut novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
A great summer choice when gardens are again coming to life and flowers are blooming.
And Finally ………
The bluebells in Taymouth Castle grounds were, once again, fab-u-lous this year!
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