Hammermen Elect a New Deacon

At the Annual General Meeting of the Incorporation of Hammermen, Baillie Andrew McEwan was elected as New Deacon. He thanked the Old Deacon Stuart Campbell for his invaluable contribution to both the revival of the Hammermen (now with 26 members) and also re- igniting the interest in the other six trades. He also thanked Stuart for the many projects he had instigated during his term.

The revival of the official Walking of the Marches, the erection of a new March stone (courtesy of Historic Scotland) at the Smith Museum and also the ongoing recreation of the Blue Blanket by the Embroiders Guild.

New DeaconPictured L-R New Deacon Andrew McEwan, Old Deacon Stuart Campbell

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Hammermen Annual Dinner 2015

The Incorporation of Hammermen held their Annual Dinner on Friday night in the
Allan Park Hotel. Guest speakers were Bruce Blanche and Michael Giannandrea.

Deacon Stuart Campbell introduced the meeting with a run through of the successes
of the year.

Hammermen funds had been used to present awards to the top Historic Scotland
students at Forth Valley College, a set of woodworking tools had also been
presented to local lad Rowen Baird, training to become a traditional joiner. On a
more social front, there was a successful Burns Supper thanks to David Sibbald, a
visit to Duncarron village, a whisky tasting thanks to Calum McMillan and a joint
ceildh night with Stirling and Caledonian Strathspey and Reel Society, raising £620
for Strathcarron Hospice at which a new reel composed by David Gardner was
played called “Hammermen of Stirling”.

On a more serious note, the highlight of the year had been the Walking of the
Marches where numbers were up by 25% with Historic Scotland agreeing to donate
three more March stones. Deacon Stuart reported that the new replacement Blue
Blanket has been started by the Embroiders Guild and will be ready for the 2016
walk. Finally members attended the Remembrance Sunday service at the Holy Rude
and a wreath was laid at the war memorial.

Master of ceremonies Bailie Andrew McEwan, then introduced the first Speaker,
Bruce Blanche who spoke about Camp 21, a “black” POW camp at Cultybraggan
where category A POW’s were held. They were mainly POW’s considered to be the
most committed and fanatical Nazi, mainly young Waffen-SS, Afrika Korp and U-boat
crew all policed by Polish guards. They had travelled mainly from Devises by bus and
train following the foiling of a mass breakout in 1944. Bruce told the audience of
tunnel building, the infamous murder of Wolfgang Rosterg but also touched on the
more creative side showing pictures of items prisoners made from wood. Following
the war, the camp became an army training camp up until it closed in 2004, where
Bruce himself once stayed as a reservist. The camp now listed by Historic Scotland is
owned by Comrie Development Trust and is a multipurpose venue with local
businesses, allotments and exhibitions about the camp itself.

On a complete change of subject the second speaker was Michael Giannandrea a 2 nd
generation Italian Scot. He charted the development of the Italian families in Stirling
including his own and how they had expanded throughout the town with their
businesses and shops. They had come to Scotland originally around the 1890’s as
their expanding families in Italy had small farms and were unable to support the next
generation. He charted the emigration of the Stirling families, where they had come
from briefly touching on their dislike of officialdom. They successfully integrated into
the local population and fought for King and Country with members being decorated
in both wars despite some of the families being interred in the Isle of Man during
WW2. Fascinating old Photos of Stirling were shown with shop locations bringing
back many memories to the locals amongst the audience. Both Bruce’s and Michael’s
talk were enthusiastically received by the Hammermen.

The meeting was rounded off by a vote of thanks from Bailie Robin Mair.

Pictured below L – R
Bailie Andrew McEwan, Bruce Blanche, Michael Giannandrea, Deacon Stuart
Hammermen Annual Dinner2015

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Burns Supper 2015

In the now familiar fashion, the Hammermen enjoyed a fabulous evenings entertainment at the Golden Lion on the Anniversary of Robert Burns visit to the Golden Lion in August 1787. Deacon Stuart Campbell chaired the proceedings with Baillie Andy McEwan setting the tone of the meeting by giving a rousing Address to the Haggis. Baillie Ken Johnston said Grace and after the meal Douglas Mulholland gave a very thoughtful, different but witty Immortal Memory. A musical interlude followed from local musician Dougal Thornton, who sang some famous songs penned by Burns. David Sibbald then went on to give a rendition of Tam ‘O’ Shanter followed by an amusing animated performance of The Touchstane by Ebenezer McIlwham, which he completed despite being taken completely off guard by the flash from the photographers camera at crucial part of the rendition. Deacon Stuart then rounded off the evening with a very unusual toast to the City of Stirling. Pictured (L-R) are David Sibbald, Douglas Mulholland, Deacon Stuart Campbell, Baillie Ken Johnston and Baillie Andy McEwan.
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Some Pictures of the evening

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Duncarron Visit

The Incorporation recently visited Duncarron Medieval Village deep in the Carron Valley Forest. This was one of Duncarron’s regular open days – Spirit of Duncarron 2015. As part of the open day, Saor Patrol played. They are the Trust’s band who both promote the Trust and put a percentage of their earnings toward the Duncarron project. Members watched many representations of 11th century life including the “Tavern” a timber building constructed in the traditional way. They saw a working blacksmith making weapons and armour, mock fighting, archery, wrestling, tugs of war, wood working and various forms of cooking. Ometlan, a traditional Aztec dance group were also present having just celebrated the summer solstice.
Duncarron village was started in 2000 on land leased from the Forestry Commission and is based on an 11th century Motte and Bailey design. Run by the Clanranald Trust for Scotland, it was not until 2008 that the first log of the palisade was put in place.

For more information on Duncarron visit http://www.duncarron.com

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Barry Ferguson posted some clips on You Tube and these can be accessed by following the links below:-

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Blue Blanket Unwrapped

A few members of the Hammermen and Embroiders Guild attended a very rare event courtesy of Elspeth King, Director, Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum where the Blue Blanket was unwrapped. This is rarely done due to its very poor condition but on this occasion permission was granted so that information could be gleaned for its possible recreation.

Pictures below show the Blue Blanket.

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History of the Blue Blanket

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Hammermen bolster local lads career

Local lad Rowen Baird, training to become a traditional joiner, was recently made an award from the Incorporation of Hammermen, one of the Seven Incorporated Trades of Stirling. Rowen has been undertaking a year-long placement in Stirling through the ‘Skills for the Future’ scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund¹ and managed by Historic Scotland.
The ‘Skills for the Future’ project supports traditional building skills through funded vocational placements with leading craft people in the wider heritage sector. The scheme aims to address shortages in many of the skills required to repair and maintain Scotland’s traditional buildings and structures. The objective of the scheme is to create vocational training programmes where bursary holders gain a deep practical and technical understanding of key traditional skills while also increasing their employability skills.

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Rowen has been placed with local specialist architectural joinery firm owned by Andrew Miller, whose work focuses on traditional buildings. Rowen has spent a year with Andrew’s firm covering a wide range of bespoke joinery techniques and has also received regular wood carving and letter cutting tuition from local master carver Richard Douglas. Rowen is now due to move into a formal four year joinery apprenticeship at Forth Valley College in the autumn.
Stuart Campbell, Deacon of the Incorporation of Hammermen, commented “The Hammermen are particularly keen to support young people undertaking traditional skills training and apprenticeships and have a close relationship with Historic Scotland. The Hammermen continue to give awards as part of the annual stonemasonry apprentice competition organised by Historic Scotland but saw an opportunity to make an award to Rowen for the purchase of a very specialist set of letter cutting chisels, tools that will be part of his working kit through the entirety of his career.”
Ian Walker, Building Crafts Development Manager from Historic Scotland said “Rowen is just the kind of keen young person that the Skills for the Future project aims to upskill and bring into the heritage sector. To gain a year’s practical experience with a specialist company like Andrew Miller and his team will set Rowen on the path to a bright career working with traditional buildings. We need to keep these skills alive to ensure that our historic environment survives for future generations and this can only happen with the commitment to passing on of traditional skills by experts like Andrew Miller and Richard Douglas”.

¹ Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 3,000 projects with an investment of over £611 million across Scotland. http://www.hlf.org.uk.

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Walking the Marches 2015

On Saturday 13th June, the 2nd historic walking of the Marches of the City and Royal Burgh of Stirling took place. The weather was fair and the procession started with the swearing in of the Birlaw men by Bailie of the Hammermen Andrew McEwan. The members of the Seven Trades, Guildry, Stirling Council, with Provost Mike Robbins, Snawdoun Herald of Arms Elizabeth A Roads LVO, Depute Lt. Colin O Brien, Sharon McGrouther carrying the Council Mace and piper Cameron McKay from QV School then left the Municipal buildings in procession down to the new March stone laid last year at the Smith Museum where Bailie Andrew McEwan, spoke of the history of the marches and proposed a toast courtesy of Deanston Distillery to the Stirling Marches. Locals and tourists alike watched the 80 strong procession as it continued around the top of the town, down King Street, through the busy farmers market back to the Municipal buildings where Provost Mike Robbins pronounced the walk a great success. He thanked the organisers and all who attended, looking forward to the same again next year. There then followed a civic reception courtesy of Stirling Council.

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A You Tube video is available courtesy of Barry Ferguson showing a toast and the tradition ably explained by Captain of the Birlaw men Andy McEwan – see link below:-

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Forth Valley College Annual Carpentry & Joinery Competition

Some of the top carpentry and joinery apprentices from through Scotland competed in the 2015 Scottish Association of Timber Trade Teachers’ (SATTT) Annual Carpentry & Joinery craft competition at Forth Valley College’s Stirling Campus on Saturday 16th May.

The entrants represented 15 Scottish Colleges from throughout Scotland competed all day in this prestigious event to become the top joinery apprentice in Scotland. The event was organised by Forth Valley College’s Department of Construction.

The Hammermen were pleased to have donated monies towards the prizes awarded. Below are the winners:

Scottish Association of Timber Trade Teachers (SATTT) Annual Carpentry & Joinery craft competition

Scottish Association of Timber Trade Teachers’ (SATTT) Annual Carpentry & Joinery craft competition

Left to right

2nd place   Ben Morrison – Moray College   Employer  James Morrison & Son
1st place Kieran Paterson – Dumfries and Galloway College  Employer  CPM Joinery
3rd place  Ewan Burnie – Forth Valley College     Employer  William Johnman Joinery

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Barnwell Brothers meet Robert Burns

The Incorporation of Hammermen enjoyed an historic second annual dinner in the Allan Park Hotel during late November. The occasion was marked by the presence of four Deacons from the Seven Trades of Stirling. The first time for many decades that four Deacons from the Seven Trades had been present at the same dinner.

Four Deacons Hammermans Dinner (Copy)Pictured left are the four Deacons:-
Left to Right
Stuart Campbell – Incorporation of Hammermen,
Stewart Forsyth – Skinners,
William Scotland – Shoemakers,
Graham McEwen – Baxters.


Bruce BlancheThe dinner was thoroughly enjoyed by all, who were entertained by a talk from Squadron leader Bruce Blanche. He talked about Frank and Harold Barnwell who were Scotland’s aviation pioneers. They opened the Grampian Engineering works and Motorcycle Company in Causewayhead in 1906 and from there on 28 July 1909 flew their biplane 80 metres being recognised as Scotland’s first powered flight. They continued their enthusiasm with flight when they both moved to England. Frank specialised in aircraft design and was responsible for the Bristol Bulldog and Bristol Blenheim. Despite his early death in 1938 his contribution to aviation design is still felt today. Harold became a test pilot for Vickers, being killed while experimenting with one of his own planes in 1917.

The second speaker was David Sibbald, a IMG_0806 (Copy)world authority on Burns, who gave all an insight into Robert Burns away from the traditional burns suppers and poems. David told those present why due to the prejudices of the upper classes and government of the day that many of Burns poems were not published until after his death. Those in power were fearful of Burn’s work and thoughts, particularly where in those days open criticism of government could have lead to transportation. Many of his works were in a form of code, often hiding the real deeper meaning of the works.

A vote of thanks was given by Baillie Andrew McEwen who thanked both speakers and everyone present for a fabulous evening’s entertainment.

Top Table Hammermans dinner (Copy)Pictured right is the top table at the dinner,
Left to Right
Baillie Andrew McEwen,
David Sibbald,
Deacon Stuart Campbell
Squadron Leader Bruce Blanche.



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Hammermen Whisky Tasting

The Hammermen recently enjoyed a fabulous whisky tasting at the Allan Park Hotel courtesy of Calum McMillan whose theme for the evening was “A walk on the light side”

IMG_0801 (Copy)Calum started with “Haig Club” – a new single grain whisky from Diageo’s Cameronbridge distillery, the oldest grain distillery in Scotland.  It is a combination of grain whisky from three different types of cask. It is designed for those new to whisky and went down well with the participants.

Calum then moved onto “anCnoc” – an Highland malt whisky distilled in Knockdhu distillery  in the North East of Scotland. It opened in 1895 in the small village of Knock.

IMG_0807 (Copy)The half way point was reached with “Inchgower”,  a Banffshire single malt whisky produced just outside Buckie  since 1871. One of the major components of “Bells” whisky.

“Glen Elgin” was then sampled, a single malt produced in the heart of Speyside just 3 miles south of Elgin, the last distillery to be built during the boom years of the 1890’s.

The penultimate single malt whisky was Cardhu. Started by a farmers wife Helen Cumming on Cardhu farm in 1811. The illicit still finally became legal in 1824 and the distillery went from strength to strength.

IMG_0798 (Copy)The final whisky tasted was “Singleton Sunray”, a single malt whisky from Dufftown aged in American Oak ex-bourbon casks.

All members appreciated the evening and thanked Calum for his depth of knowledge and insight into the whiskys tasted.



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