Perambulation of the Marches 2017

On Saturday 9th September, one week before the official “Walking the Marches”, Captain of the Birlawmen Andrew McEwan, swore them in before they commenced their walk to check and mark the March boundaries in the traditional manner. This is done so that the Captain can report before the start of the official “Walking of the Marches” that the City and Royal Burgh of Stirling boundaries are secure.

The start of the perambulation was just outside the Cowane Centre as there used to be a March Stone situated there and that is where the Marches walk traditionally began. The band of Birlawmen then walked to the Old Stirling Bridge where the turf was turned and the March marked.

Then off down to Riverside, across the bridge to Cambuskenneth Abbey where again the March was checked and marked.

The Birlawmen then made their way back through Riverside, enjoying the sunshine and walk to Historic Environment Scotland’s Engine shed where the second new March Stone dedicated to the Seven Incorporated Trades made by them was laid earlier in the year.

Here they were joined by Historic Environment Scotland staff and a toast was made to the Marches.

The Birlawmen then proceeded through Springkerse to just outside Teith House where the March was once again marked.

On again, up through Stirling past old View Forth and onto Stirling Golf Club where by courtesy of the club a Toast was again made to the Marches and the boundary ceremonially marked.

Finally down to the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum where the first new March stone cut by Historic Scotland and dedicated to the Stirling Marches was laid in 2014. A final toast was made and with the boundaries checked and secured the Birlawmen were dismissed.

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Hammermen enjoy an August Burns Supper

Once again the Hammermen, members of the seven incorporated trades and guests enjoyed their Annual August Burns Supper in the Golden Lion. Why August? Because Burns had a meal in the Wingate Hotel (now the Golden Lion) on 26th August 1787. Deacon of the Hammermen Andrew McEwan introduced the top table and MC for the evening.

The Top Table and the Haggis were piped in by Shauna Shand and Douglas Lawson.

Hammermen Sandy Anderson started the proceedings by giving an excellent rendition of the Address to the Haggis.

Following the excellent meal, the more formal part of the meeting started with Bill Adair singing some Burns songs followed by Joe Smith from Bannockburn Tartan Weavers Burns Club giving a very humorous but serious immortal memory. Joe had even compiled a poem along the lines of Tam O Shanter.

Some more of Bill Adair followed by our own David Sibbald reading an anonymous Scots Poem that he had come across.

By tradition our final guest gives a Toast to the City of Stirling and that was Immediate past provost Mike Robbins who has been very supportive of the revival of the Hammermen and the Seven Incorporated Trades over the last few years. He gave an insight into the history and attractions that Stirling has to offer and how the City was promoting itself and increasing visitor numbers. He also encouraged the audience to visit the Stirling Archives. He ended proposing the traditional toast “The City of Stirling”

No Burns supper would be complete without a rendition of Tam O Shanter. Our own world-renowned Burns enthusiast David Sibbald gave an inspiring rendition of the poem to draw the evening to a close.

The evening was rounded off by a vote of thanks by Bailie John Clarke.

A great evening was had by all celebrating Burns visit to Stirling in 1787.

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New Stirling Marches Website

A new Website and Facebook page has been launched dedicated to Walking the Stirling Marches.

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Hammermen visit Engine Shed and dedicate a Second March Stone

Recently the Trade was invited courtesy of Ian Walker of Historic Environment Scotland and his staff, to view The Engine Shed, their new building conservation centre in Forthside Way.

Before the visit commenced, there was a brief toast to the new March Stone dedicated to the Seven Incorporated Trades of Stirling. This is the second stone kindly produced by Historic Environments Scotland’s apprentices at Forth Valley College, Stirling.

The visit then commenced and Ian explained to them the purpose of the new facility which includes workshops and masterclasses as well as interactive exhibits, hands on activities and a 3D theatre. They were particularly taken by the virtual reality headsets where you could explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The facilities will also allow visitors with traditional buildings to seek advice on components, materials and common problems faced, so that they then can look for and identify problems early to prevent them becoming worse.

The Engine Shed building, used as a goods transfer shed, was built sometime between 1896 and 1913 with the programme of restoration beginning in 2013. The building itself is built to a very high standard using many recycled materials, some of the examples being; recycled stone from the dismantled Seaforth bridge next to the site, wood (some of the internal cladding is an old gymnasium floor) and recycled wrought iron for window repairs.

To conclude, Deacon Andy McEwan thanks Ian and his staff for  producing the second March stone and hosting such an enjoyable and interesting visit.

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Hammermen Support Forth Valley College Apprentices

Recently, the Incorporation of Hammermen of Stirling presented certificates and prizes awarded to outstanding Stonemasonry and Joinery students at Forth Valley College. Since the Incorporation was re-established a few years ago, it has supported the work of Forth Valley College and Historic Scotland in their training of future generations of craftsmen.

Pictured are (L to R) Ian Morrison, Head of Construction Forth Valley College, Charles Jones, Stonemasonry Training Manager Historic Scotland and Bailie Hugh McCrea, The Incorporation of Hammermen of Stirling.img_0026a




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Annual Dinner 2016

The Incorporation of Hammermen held their Annual Dinner in November in the Allan Park Hotel. Guest speakers were Bruce Blanche and David Sibbald.

Deacon Andy McEwan 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. On a more social front, there was a very interesting visit to Trades Hall in Glasgow courtesy of past Deacon of the Incorporation of Masons and Stirling Hammerman member Craig Bryce. There followed the now annual Burns Supper in August followed closely by the annual whisky tasting thanks to Calum McMillan.

On a more serious note, the highlights of the year had been the Presentation of the Blue Blanket, a replica of the original made by the Embroiderers Guild and the carving of the Hammerman crest by Richard Douglas and Rowen Baird. The Blue Blanket was displayed at the Annual Walking of the Marches where numbers were again up. Finally, members attended the Remembrance Sunday service at the Holy Rude and a wreath was laid at the war memorial by Deacon Andy.

Deacon Andy, then introduced the first Speaker, Bruce Blanche who spoke about the Royal Flying Corps Stirling/Raploch Airfield built in 1916 centred around Falleninch Farm. falleninchA piece of history not widely known in Stirling. The buildings at the farm were requisitioned in 1916. No. 18 Reserve Squadron at Montrose provided a nucleus for the formation of No. 43 Squadron at Stirling, to train the pilots to a high enough standard to go to France before the end of the year. Raploch was used for training by other squadrons until the autumn of 1917, when purpose-built training aerodromes began to take over that role. It also served as an emergency landing ground for No. 77 Home Defence Squadron which was formed in Edinburgh. It was occasionally used for civil landings between the wars but was not re-occupied in the Second World War. Flying accidents and crash landings were common in the early days of aviation and Falleninch was no exception. Nothing survives of the landing ground, although the hangers can still be seen at the farm today.

43 Squadron was disbanded on 13 July 2009 as part of the Government’s force reductions, however the 43(F) Squadron Association remains an active testimony to the Squadron’s distinguished heritage exemplified by its motto Gloria Finis – Glory is the End.

The Freedom of Stirling an honour normally granted to a Royal Air Force station was presented to 43 Fighter Squadron on the evening of Friday 3rd June 2005 in the Great Hall of Stirling Castle at a dinner which also commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Squadron Association.faleninch-2

Following Centenary celebrations, the Squadron Standard now hangs in the Church of the Holy Rude.

As a complete contrast to Bruce, Hammerman David Sibbald gave a very entertaining and humorous talk based around his beloved Coatbridge.

The meeting was rounded off by a vote of thanks.

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Remembrance Sunday 2016

The Seven Incorporated Trades were represented at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony. They attended the Church of the Holy Rude service and then walked down to the refurbished war memorial where Deacon Andy laid a wreath on behalf of the Incorporation of Hammermen.

20161113_123052After the wreath laying ceremony, the Hammermen joined other guests for a reception in the Municipal Buildings courtesy of Stirling Council.

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Whisky Tasting 2016

In late October, the Hammermen were treated to their Annual Whisky Tasting in the Allan Park Hotel, courtesy of Hammerman Calum McMillan. This year it took a twist in that the Hammermen and guests had to guess which ones were which.

Before the Tasting started two new Hammermen were sworn in by Deacon Andy – Gordon Brewster and Tony Taylor.

The whisky line up was as follows:20161028_192812


Caol Ila 12-year-old – an Islay Malt produced near Port Askaig.

Barrow An Cnoc – a single malt produce at Knockdhu , Knock Aberdeenshire, limited to 7,500 bottles.

Cameron Brig – a single grain whisky produced from Europes largest grain distillery near Leven.

Clynelish 14-year-old – a single malt produced in Brora Sutherland.

Old Pultney 17-year-old –  a single malt produced in Wick.

Johnnie Walker Explorers Club Collection – The spice road. Produced by Johnnie Walker and is a blend designed to celebrate the spice and aroma of the spice markets along the ancient trade routes through Persia, India and China taken by John Walker and Son agents.

The result was very interesting in that some of the “aficionados” scored badly with some of the rest scoring relatively well. To save blushes no names will be mentioned.

Calum was presented with a set of engraved whisky glasses by Deacon Andy20161028_211949

A great evening was had by all present with the participants thoroughly enjoying the different format.

20161028_202446          img_0849

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Blue Blanket and Hammermen Plaque Presentation

At the end of July Provost Mike Robbins attended a special event held in the Smith Museum where the new replica Blue Blanket was presented to the Hammermen by the Embroiderers Guild. It is an impressive piece of work that had painstakingly been copied from the 500 year old original held in the Smith. The original can no longer be displayed due to its fragile state. Deacon Convener of the Seven Incorporated Trades Stuart Campbell thanked Jane Currie and all the members for their hard work.

dsc06044In the afternoon, the Hammermen were presented with a beautifully carved plaque by Richard Douglas and Rowen Baird at a lunch held in the Allan Park Hotel.

L – R Richard Douglas, Deacon Andy McEwan and Rowen Baird


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New Deacon Convener of the Seven Trades

Recently Stuart Campbell of the Incorporation of Hammermen took over the mantle of Deacon Convener of the Seven Incorporated Trades of Stirling. This is a role that can be traced back to the late 16th century. The Seven Incorporated Trades acted together when their rights were threatened by outside trades. They formed the Convener Court where the various Deacons or Conveners sat together to make decisions that affected the rights and welfare of all of the trades in Stirling under the watchful eye of the Deacon Convener. This strengthened the loose association of Trades that previously existed.

The post was previously held by Deacon of the Incorporation of Skinners, Stuart Forsyth

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