Anstruther Improvements Association


Our aim is to protect and improve this attractive Burgh

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16th April 2014

It's a busy week at the Dreel Halls! Fence's King Creosote is running the 'Yellae Deuks' Festival on Friday and Saturday. There are still a few tickets available at The Community Kist.

This coincides with our Easter Festivities. On Good Friday there will be an Easter Bonnet & Bunnet Making Workshop in the Dreel Halls from 2-4pm. You can wear your bonnet at the Dreel Duck Race on Easter Saturday at 10:30am. There will be prizes for the best bonnets & bunnets in the Easter Parade after the race. Refreshments will be served at the Dreel Halls. Ducks are available from shops around the town that are displaying the yellow duck sign.

On Saturday afternoon in the Halls there will be fun table top games and a Kendama Workshop. And then, on Easter Sunday afternoon come along for our indoor Easter Sunday Picnic with boiled eggs, sandwiches, cakes and juice. King Creosote will be singing a few songs too! There'll also be a 2nd Kendama Workshop on the Sunday for anybody that wants to go to the next level or missed it first time around.

The following weekend we have a wonderful fiddle band on Friday 25th April from 8-10pm and then on Saturday 26th we're having a Fun Fayre where local groups can have a table to promote their organisations. Check our website's Events page for more details.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

24th March 2014

Last Thursday the AIA held its last Anster Nicht of the season and Clare Checkland of Cellardyke told of her interest in Princess Titaua of Tahiti. Last year, Clare had taken part in a Redfield event when items from the Scottish Fisheries Museum went into homes in Cellardyke, and home owners became curators who told the story. Clare told the story of the Chiefess of Haapiti who in 1892 came to Anstruther by train and who died here on 25th September 1898 aged only 56.

She was a friend of Prince Alfred, Prince Oscar of Sweden and was drawn by the French author Pierre Loti. Clare's evocative talk considered how this South Seas Princess adapted to life in 19th Century Anstruther. We know that charity work and the local Church, then known as St Adrian's, were important to her.

As time goes by there are fewer people who remember her descendants. Her daughter Paloma died in 1954 and her husband in 1957 and for many years their house Johnston Lodge lay derelict in a wilderness of a garden until it was refurbished, sadly this time, without its Ballroom.

The next AIA event is the Duck Race on Easter Saturday - more information soon.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

17th March 2014

It's Anster Nichts week. This Thursday, at 7.30 in the Dreel Halls, we have Clare Checkland from Cellardyke speaking about Mrs Darsie of Anstruther in the 19th Century. Mrs Darsie, better known as Princess Titaua Marama, Chiefess of Haapiti of Tahiti who came to live in Anstruther in 1878 when she married George Darsie.

When Clare was asked by the Scottish Fisheries Museum's "Home from the Sea project" to become a temporary curator she became immersed in the project and retells the story on Thursday. A blue plaque to the Princess can be found on the wall of Johnston Lodge where Princess Titaua came to live. She lies in her grave only a few hundred metres away in Anstruther Churchyard.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

17th February 2014

This week it's the third Thursday of the month so it's the AIA's Anster Nicht. This month, we have Dr Derek Ball who has come from the States to work at St Andrews University and to live in Cellardyke. His talk is called, 'Can Cats and Cows Think and Reason and Do Fish Feel Pain?' So, for anyone out there with feelings about animals come along and join us to hear this talk. Afterwards, we always have a cup of tea or coffee. The talk will be in the lower Dreel Hall so there will be no stairs to climb.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

10th February 2014

The Dreel Halls are now up and running now that most of the exterior has been completed. Landscaping should continue this week. The Committee recently met to discuss what needs to happen in Phase Two of the Restoration. Recent Dreel Halls events included a Community Events Meeting organised by the Community Council to ensure that the Floral Displays and Community Events are supported. The Quilters are back meeting in the Hall and Saturday Night saw our first party where lots of local musicians entertained at a 30th birthday party.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

20th January 2014

Well where to start? The Dreel Halls Celebratory Launch Weekend was, for us in the AIA, wonderful. We have been overwhelmed with support and overcome with emotion.

It started with the Anster Nicht on the Thursday, when Steve Liscoe from Fife Archaeological Unit gave us feedback on discoveries made during the hall restoration. His talk took us back to the conclusion that our halls sit on a early Druid site. There was evidence of early Christian worship and links with the May Island. The AIA had commissioned the dendrochronological analysis of an oak timber only to find out it had grown in a forest in Southern Norway between 1307 and 1507. There was a full house for this talk and many people have said it was the most fascinating they had heard.

The Committee and its Gleam Team, ably supported by volunteers, were back in the lower hall to prepare for our opening night. Firstly we welcomed our funders and Christine May from Fife Historic Buildings Trust gave a welcoming speech. FHBT had been instrumental in the project so it was fitting that Christine was there to thank their employee Alan Lodge and all the other funders. AIA President Elizabeth Gordon thanked the founders on behalf of the AIA and the community. We are so grateful to have the hall.

On to opening it up to the public, who streamed in to have a pie, a glass of prosecco, a piece of cake and to listen to King Creosote's band. In between a great set, our own Alan Stewart (Gummi Bako in the band) did a postcard auction from local artists and well known folk like Uncle Vic Galloway and Ian Rankin. We raised nearly £800 with some canny bidding and some folks enjoying the wine.

On to Saturday and ex President Christine Keay had organised a vintage craft and coffee day with amazing home baking. This went on for five hours with splendid exhibits, a raffle and chat. Thanks to all the volunteers who kept serving this full house event.

Upstairs we had a grand mixture of young and old playing retro games and eating retro food including a cheese & pineapple hedgehog. Again a full house.

Then all hands on deck again for Billy Anderson's Ceildih, where kids and adults danced the night away with the fastest music ever heard before finishing with a grand Auld Lang Syne.

Back on Sunday and standing room only to hear the Anstruther Philharmonic deliver a splendid extract from Mozart's Requiem and an inspirational piece called Sanctus from their accompanist, Anster's Jim Tribble. The Requiem can be heard in full at their annual concert on 15th March. The St Monans Community Choir gave us a splendid selection including Abba's Thank you for the Music and a piece arranged by their conductor Brian Craib. There seems to be no end of local talent. The hall was filled with music, as we all sang later. We finished on Auld Lang Syne by which time many of us were in tears. It was marvellous and we will never forget it.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

16th December 2013

The AIA gang will be using the festive season to make preparations for the grand opening of the Dreel Halls. Those passing the Buckie House corner will notice that the external works are coming to a conclusion and ownership should pass to the AIA in early January. There will be press releases coming out about the long weekend starting with an Anster Nicht on Thursday 16th January to choirs and community singing on Sunday 19th. There will be music and dancing, a vintage coffee morning, fun and games and lots to eat and drink. We hope there will be something for every one to celebrate this auspicious event for the town.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

6th January 2014

As you may read elsewhere the AIA hope to be back in their hall next week for January's Anster Nichts and for their opening weekend. Events are planned for next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We hope that our opening weekend will be an auspicious start to Halls which will be beacon for culture in the East Neuk.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

16th December 2013

The AIA gang will be using the festive season to make preparations for the grand opening of the Dreel Halls. Those passing the Buckie House corner will notice that the external works are coming to a conclusion and ownership should pass to the AIA in early January. There will be press releases coming out about the long weekend starting with an Anster Nicht on Thursday 16th January to choirs and community singing on Sunday 19th. There will be music and dancing, a vintage coffee morning, fun and games and lots to eat and drink. We hope there will be something for every one to celebrate this auspicious event for the town.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

9th December 2013

The AIA celebrated Christmas with its Annual Christmas Social. Being the East Neuk there were at least three other splendid events taking place that evening but we still had a very good turn out for our event in Anstruther Church. One of the attendees described the night as a good old Sunday School Party for grown ups. There was food, and there was wine and a Pass The Parcel - which can be played very easily sitting at a table. Everyone wore their party hat and took part in The Minister's Cat and singing songs. The acoustics of the Church made our singing sound good. There were traditional readings of prose and poetry to help us remember the spirit of Christmas. And, as become our tradition we finished our Social by wishing each other a Merry Christmas, demanding figgy pudding and listening to Alistair Leslie's funny stories. Great stuff. Thanks go out to those members who helped set out the hall and cleared up at the end. Now the Committee is working hard on the opening weekend of the Dreel Halls, running from Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th January 2014. Press releases are coming shortly.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

27th November 2013

There was a large crowd at Anster Nichts last week to hear Dr Kelly Macleod talk on 'Why the Whales Came Ashore.' Kelly, a marine mammal scientist, took us back to the 2nd September 2012 when 27 whales stranded on beaches and rocks near Pittenweem. Alerted early in the morning, vets and volunteers from diving, sea and scientific groups arrived to help refloat the surviving whales.

What Kelly was able to do with her photos, and her knowledgable and enthusiastic delivery was to take us back to that day and tell us how the whales were kept calm, wet, rocked and together before refloating. Volunteers were almost neck deep in water with several tons of distressed mammals before release.

And why did they come ashore? Did the close knit group follow their leader? Was one of the animals distressed and the others follow? Did they become disorientated in unfamiliar waters? Or confused with noises? Were they chasing prey? While there can never be a definitive answer, Kelly explored all these possibilities. Her fascinating talk was illustrated with many photos as well as clips of whale noises. She finished with a lovely video clip of a group of curious pilot whales, calling and clicking to each other. The audience really enjoyed this talk.

While our own Dreel Halls are being refurbished we have been made very welcome in the Church and thanks go out to our three 'Angels' George, Linda and Margaret. Our next Anster Nicht is our Christmas Social on the 5th December. Once again it will be held in Anster Kirk and we have plans to make it a celebration of Christmas with food and drink, readings and music, fun and games. The Social is free to members.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

18th November 2013

The third Thursday of the month is almost upon us, so it's high time for another of the AIA's Anster Nichts. And, as work continues on the Dreel Halls we meet once again in Anstruther Church.

This month we are privileged to have Dr Kelly Macleod (St Andrews University), a resident of Anstruther, with theories on Why the Whales Came Ashore. This refers to the tragic day when a group of pilot whales came ashore near Pittenweem. For those of us who saw it, it was a sad sight. For Kelly and others down on the beach there was an opportunity to rescue some of the whales and return them to sea.

Anstruther Church has been a wonderful venue for us and we are pleased to say that we will be having our Christmas Social there on Thursday 5th December.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

21st October 2013

In the second of our Anster Nichts, Matthew Price who works with conservation in Fife Council, spoke on Fife Vernacular Architecture. His interesting talk concentrated on three main areas, crow step gables, doocots and windmills. Fife began building these in the 16th century following established practice in the low countries dating from the 15th century. However, while these countries built in brick, Fife had an abundance of stone leading to crow steps being much simpler. Doocots abound in Fife which has a quarter if all Scotland's listed doocots. There is a really nice example of a lectern doocot in Kilrenny. Thanks to our normally dry weather we also have the most windmills per acre in Scotland and the restored windmill near St Monans is a fine example. But conservation and upkeep is expensive and as Matthew showed through his illustrated talk many doocots and windmills are in a precarious position and may disappear from the landscape.

Once again the Anstruther Church proved a wonderful space to be in, while we wait for the restoration of our own halls. We had a record crowd and many new members including a lady from Austin, Texas and enjoyed both the talk and the company. And, thanks once again to George, Linda and Margaret from the Church who provided help and support. N.b. I've put their names in alphabetical order showing no favouritism! They're all great.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

14th October 2013

The third Thursday of the month is upon us, so it's time for the AIA's Anster Nicht. Once again, this will be held in Anstruther Church as we wait for the Dreel Halls to be ready. This week we have Matthew Price who works with Fife Council, who will talk on Fife Vernacular Architecture and will illustrate this with examples. Everyone is welcome to these talks and the cup of tea and blether afterwards. Folk seem to enjoy the company.

The AIA is also really grateful to those people who pay their subscription to the group. Our oldest member, Elizabeth Gambol, rejoined this week and is happy to let everyone know she is 93 and still as sharp as a tack! We will need lots of support to keep up the Dreel Halls when we purchase them in the near future. The halls now have brand new clock faces which should look out on Anstruther for many years to come.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

23rd September 2013

The Anster Nichts season kicked off on Thursday night with a brilliant start. Barbara Elliot, spoke of the saving of the James Melville Manse; the four hundred year old building which now sits, splendid and safe above Shore Street.

Barbara and partner Alan Waugh coped with damp earth floors, cellars dripping with water, collapsing rubble walls and built a warm, insulated wooden house within the building. It also gave the old manse a deserved extension with a glass curtain wall, and a mezzanine floor above a magnificent dining room. Old beams were painstakingly scrubbed and oiled so they could remain in situ, or saved for door lintels. Floors hidden under more recent floors, wasted by rot were simply hoovered up!

Barbara delivered a splendid talk, well illustrated, showing how the old building now sits safe for hundreds of years to come among gardens which are being brought to life. There was a good audience, including some of the craftsmen, Bill Johnson and Richard Francis Parkinson. Barbara also had support from the Rowing Club. She is their passionate and successful Captain.

The AIA could not have put on this event without the help of the Church, especially the three 'angels' Linda, Margaret, and especially George - thank you.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

Anster Nichts

A full listing of our Anster Nichts for 2013-2014 has now been published on our Events page. Our first talk is on Thursday 19th September and our guest speaker is Barbara Elliot. She will be talking about "The Saving of the James Melville Manse". Since our regular meeting place is still being refurbished, the talk will be in the Anstruther Parish Church at 7:30pm. We hope to see you there!

September 2013

Our Anster Nichts Programme will be going out shortly. In the meantime more preparations are being made for our Hall opening weekend on 22nd, 23rd and 24th November. There will be a weekend of celebration and fun with eating and drinking, singing and dancing all on the programme.

We look forward to that but we have also looked back and paid tribute to Alex Darwood, one of our most important members who died last month. Alex not only continued his support until he left us but his Anster Nicht talks remain some of the best attended ever and it was as an AIA member that he, along with Murray Anderson from the Community Council, who founded the Burgh Collection. Our thoughts are with his wife Margaret, who supported Alex in all that he did.

Elizabeth Gordon, President

Extraordinary General Meeting

Three special resolutions were passed at an EGM on Tuesday 13th August allowing the AIA to seek to establish itself as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), with a new constitution and a new membership structure.


Press Release

Community Needs Survey: Final Report

AIA Annual Report 2012 available to download

Anstruther Wester Town Hall, Hew Scott Hall and St Nicholas Tower project

The Guardian reports the celebrity support

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Anstruther Improvements Association is a registered SCIO under Scottish Charity Number SC016109
Constitution - Annual Report

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