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In September 2010 the Cramond Association celebrated 50 years of actively supporting the interests of the residents of Cramond, Barnton and Cammo.

A week of events began with the Grand Opening of the “Anniversary Exhibition of Cramond, past and present” by George Grubb, Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh. The photographic exhibition was drawn from the Cramond Heritage Trust’s extensive collection. It fascinated everyone who called in all week to the Kirk hall to see it – especially those members who saw themselves as they had been many years ago, taking part in the Association’s activities. “Hardly recognisable!” they said about many parts of Cramond and about some people, including themselves.

The exhibition helped us all to realise or remember how powerful Cramond Association had been in making sure that Cramond, Barnton and Cammo remain such a pleasant place by fighting against disastrous new developments and by promoting positive initiatives. The Cramond Heritage Trust, which was set up by the Association in 1975, maintains its own museum and education centre in the Maltings on Cramond foreshore. It opened every afternoon in the Anniversary week for the many visitors who wanted to know more about life in Cramond.

The Trust also led three walks to Cramond Island, all of which were oversubscribed. So another walk has been laid on for those who were disappointed. Cramond Island has an enthralling history for such a small island and there is always something new to learn about it – military buildings, a ruined farmhouse and a holiday home, not to mention the rabbits which used to keep the grass as short as a lawn.

Daily morning walks around Roman and Victorian Cramond were led by local guides and despite the wet weather, we learnt a great deal about our area. The history of the village houses on the shore co-ordinated well with the photographs in the exhibition which showed how derelict thee houses had become before the Association was set up to fight to preserve them. We also learnt so much more such as how extensive the Roman camp had been and about the iron gravestone in the Kirkyard. We even debated whether a ghost had been seen flitting about ….

Warm and welcoming tea, coffee, tasty cakes, biscuits and tablet were served every morning in the Kirk hall – and after the walks, we really deserved them!

Two workshops were held to assist people learn how to discover who their family members had been and how to develop a family tree. The workshops were run by two very experienced archivists of the Corstorphine Heritage Trust and helped us to learn how to access parish records, census data, and all sorts of other information such as military records. We were able to log onto the Scotland’s People database on their website during the workshops and found out an enormous range of information about our families, including how some had gone up in the world and some had not been so lucky.

The Anniversary week concluded in fine style with a performance by the Really Terrible Orchestra conducted by ‘Sir’ Richard Neville-Towle, who lives in Cramond. This orchestra, which has been called “the awfully amateur and painfully funny orchestra”, was founded by Alexander and Elizabeth McCall Smith in Edinburgh 15 years ago. It is now a famous orchestra which has played at the Fringe this year and previously in New York. It still is an amateur orchestra but in Cramond it performed extremely well and gave a great deal of pleasure to a packed Kirk Hall (helped perhaps by a glass of wine for everyone).

The Cramond Association has a larger membership than ever before. That is its greatest strength and our views are listened to by our MP, our MSP, the City of Edinburgh and other organisations. We run an active programme of talks. Come and enjoy the next one - everyone is welcome!


Golden Memories:
50 Years of the Cramond Association

In 2010 the Cramond Association marked the 50th anniversary of its founding. The Association owes its origin to growing general concern, half a century ago, about such matters as the deterioration of Cramond House and Cramond Tower, the neglect of the Roman Fort, the overgrowth on the Almond riverside walk, the spate of new building – not all of it in keeping with a beautiful and historic place – to mention only some.

Members of the community pressed for the formation of an Association to represent them and accordingly a meeting, presided over by the Rev. Campbell Maclean, was called to discuss “the desirability of forming a society to preserve the antiquities and develop the amenities of Cramond.”

A well attended meeting, on 5 December 1960, resolved that the Cramond Association should be formed and a constitution was approved. The object of the Association was agreed to be “to promote the amenity of the community of Cramond and safeguard its heritage”. The boundaries of Association membership were broadly those of the Parish of Cramond, thus including Barnton and Cammo, and the initial subscription was fixed at five shillings. The first meetings were held in the old Primary School.

Early Successes

The Association got off its mark quickly. The Lord Provost, the Town Clerk, the City Engineer and other officials were soon in receipt of the Secretary’s letters. In the first month a demand was made to the Council that the Roman Fort should be excavated. This was quickly followed by requests that the Walled Garden should be made an amenity area, that more shops were needed, that the riverside walk should be improved, that more car parking space was required, that the deterioration of Cramond Tower required urgent action, that a tearoom should be provided at the foreshore and the bus service should be improved.. City officials, and successive Lord Provosts, proved very willing to meet Association representatives and face to face meetings produced many favourable outcomes. Useful relationships were established with our MP and with our Councillors.

In 1962 a Historical Subcommittee was formed, (with an initial grant of £5) and this has met ever since. Other interest groups were to follow soon afterwards, including the Music Group and the Gardening Group, which did extensive tree and bulb planting throughout the area. The Association later developed cordial relations with the Dunfermline College when the Campus was opened in 1966 and facilities were made available to members for very well attended Swimming, Tennis and Badminton Sections and Association open meetings were held for several years in one of the lecture halls.

Heritage Trust

In 1978 the Association formed the Cramond Heritage Trust as a registered charity to encourage the preservation and improvement of features of natural and historical interest within the Association’s area. The Trust is based at the Maltings on the foreshore and is acknowledged to be a splendid local museum. It is also home to an extensive archive which is widely consulted and has produced several interesting publications. The Trust maintains an exhibition and education centre at the Maltings, open to the public on summer weekends and on afternoons during the Edinburgh Festival. Knowledgeable guides take organised parties, including school groups, to explore, for example, the Roman Fort (now excavated!), the 18th century village and the Iron mills

Edinburgh Airport

In 1967 BAA announced plans to realign the main runway at Edinburgh Airport. The Association disagreed strongly, considering it to be ridiculous for Edinburgh and Glasgow, 45 miles apart, to be developing major, costly, airports. The obvious course, we maintained, was to build a Central Scotland airport serving both cities and their surroundings and located near Slamannan. The Association engaged Counsel and at the Public Inquiry the Reporter found in favour of the Association’s view. The Secretary of State, however, overturned the Reporter’s finding so we lost the day.

Links with the Community Council

On two occasions members were asked for their views on reforming the Association as a Community Council. Both times the verdict was unanimously in the negative in the belief that the Association’s objectives were better served by a membership body. This was in accord with the Council’s 1976 view that they “thought there was no need for Community Councils within the City area as these functions were adequately covered by existing amenity groups”. But views, and times, change and we now have a Cramond Community Council. I am glad to say that the Association welcomed the new body and cordial working relationships were quickly established. Two Association members sit on the Community Council and we are agreed that Cramond residents’ interests are better served by a membership and an elected body

Cramond Management Group

Past President and Committee member John Dods chairs the Cramond Management Group formed in 2001 in response to the Scottish Parliament’s stricture that more should be done to preserve the historic site, to restore the ancient woodland, to improve signage and make the area more attractive. The Group’s aim is to rehabilitate the area around Cramond House and to make it more accessible to the public. It is hoped to restore the old Kennels building and turn it into an education centre and museum to house the large quantity of artefacts which have been discovered in the area. Some are of major importance such as the Roman Lioness found a few years ago in the River Almond. Already much work has been done to rid the ancient woodland of non-native trees. The Roman Fort has been re-excavated and the exposed walls will be stabilised. A number of archaeological finds were discovered during the excavation. Signage at the Fort has been improved.

Looking to the Future

The Association is active and thriving. Membership has risen from 130 and is now well into four figures. The subscription has gone up to £5 but is regarded as good value for money. Well attended meetings are held at 7.30 on the fourth Monday of each month from September to April in Cramond Kirk Hall and we attract very interesting speakers. Behind the scenes, Committee members all have defined tasks and work hard at such matters as planning, transport, the airport, the Civic Trust and road safety, to mention only some. Carols by Candlelight in early December signals the start of the Cramond Christmas season. We are proud of our website at www.cramondassociation.org.uk. To mark our half century we produced “Views of Cramond” a stunning calendar showing many interesting features of Cramond, Barnton and Cammo with many scenes from the past to bring back memories.

George Reid
President (until April 2011)