The Local History Trust is making several contributions to Scotland's Year of Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology (2017). One strand of that effort is to invite small communities within the area to collect memories of the dwellings in which they live or work and to post these mini histories on our website, or to make a display for one of our summer stalls in the Wellmeadow
First off is the householders who live ? or who have lived ? in the stone-built cottages that line 'the Carsie straight', along the A93. What you see below is a work in progress; the contributions of a small number of householders to which details will be added as more information becomes available and as more members of the community come on board. This is your chance to make history!
For more information or to contribute ideas, contact the Trust's Secretary.
THE CARSIE STRAIGHT (PH10 6QW)
The stone built houses in this row were originally built by the Lansdowne Estate to house estate workers' families. No date could be provided by the current owner of the Lansdowne Estate, Sam Mercer-Nairne, but it was probably around 1890. Certainly there is no sign of them on the first series of Ordnance Survey maps of 1856. At that time the area is shown as part of Delvine Wood. (Although note that the earliest deed available refers to the Registers of Scotland General ? Register of Sasines ? County of Perth Folio 173, dated 1816.)
Each house was originally set in plot of land large enough to provide a 'smallholding' to provide sustenance for each family. It extended from the roadside back to the second belt of trees on what is now the Rosemount Golf Course. There is a suggestion that a well was dug close to the back door of each house and that each property was equipped with a cheese press ? which suggests that the family kept a cow.
Only two of the six stone houses on the Carsie straight were two-storey; the rest were one-and-a-half storey.
An area of Delvine wood behind the Carsie properties, belonging to the Dowager Countess of Lansdowne, was acquired in 1889 for the Blairgowrie Golf Club and the Lansdowne Course was established soon after. The later development of the larger Rosemount Course extended over land that had been part of the small holdings. Some of the houses today back onto what became the practice green and is now the Golf Academy.
Gradually, over the years, the stone-built tied cottages were sold into private hands and more modern houses were built in between and behind the original ones, giving the mix that can be seen today [Neil Kennedy to expand on this?]
Contributed by Hilary McColl
The house and half an acre of land surrounding it was sold by the Marquess of Lansdowne in 1957 to four unmarried sisters named Paul. According to the deeds, they paid ?775 for it. Mains water was installed but brick built septic tank served the property until the late 1970s. It worked well and never needed to be emptied. The old tank is still below the beech trees, should anyone care to dig there. The plot was later extended by purchase in 1966 of an adjoining piece of land costing ?250.
The Paul sisters bred pedigree chickens and played in a string quartet. After the last of the sisters died the house (then called Heathcote) was bought in 1976 by Mr and Mrs David McColl. The name Heathcote was changed to Creagan when the McColl family found they often received mail intended for a house in Golf Course Road, also called Heathcote. The name Creagan was chosen because it is the name of the pub closest to the last resting place of the McColl clan in Argyll.
The McColls had an up-to-date sewage system installed and eventually added the rear extension, the garage/workshop and, later, the large timber store.
When the McColl's moved in, in March 1976, a single-brick lean-to over the back door housed a stone sink fed by water which they later discovered was drawn from a well by means of a bilge pump. The well was not obvious, having been by that time covered over with a massive stone slab and a good depth of soil. The slab is still there, half under the extension, but the pipe now leads to a water pump and earthenware horse trough. The house itself had already been linked to the mains water supply.
The well still provides water in even the driest season. It is about 14 ft deep, lined with field stone for most of its depth, to allow water to trickle in, with a brick built cistern at the base to act as a cistern. The water tastes fresh but has not been tested as fit for human consumption today. The stone pillar to which the pump is attached was once part of the Keillor Jam factory in Dundee, probably a widow lintel. The factory was being demolished at that time and David (who worked for DC Thomson in the Meadowside building nearby) paid for a lorryloqd of stone to be delivered to Creagan. Other lintels serve as stone benches beneath the pine trees.
Both pump and trough were purchased from farmers in the vicinity by the McColls soon after they moved into the house, in 1976. The pump they bought was still attached at that time to the wall of a derelict farm worker's cottage near Kinclaven, though not working.
David McColl eventually sourced a replacement suction cup, from the pump's original makers in Birmingham. A spare leather cup was bought; it is stored in linseed oil in an old Nescafe jar in the workshop.
The pump is still working, though after a period of disuse it may need to be primed. Hold a bucket full of water under the outlet pipe and operate the handle until it begins to 'suck'.
David McColl died in 2013 and the house was sold by his widow to Mr & Mrs James Marshall in 2017.
Contributed by Ron Russell
The well behind the property now called Nordau, has been restored to waist height. It is capped with a millstone which was at one time part of the mill on the Lunanburn, not far away.
The current owner, Ron Russell, has items of jewellery made from pearls he fished from the River Tay locally, before that pastime became illegal. Until he retired, Ron ran a Landscape Gardening company from the premises and later bred and showed German Shepherd dogs.
The house was previously owned by Sandy and Bella Petrie who ran a private bus company from the site.
Contributed by Heather Russell who was bought up there,
My father, William Neish, rented Balrae Carsie from the Meikleour (Lansdowne?) Estate from the mid 1930's till 1981. I believe the house was built in the early 1890's. It was the last house in the row of estate houses. I do not know who lived in it from 1890 till 1930's and it was sold by the estate when my parents left in 1981.
There was a fairly big garden, probably about 1/2 acre and a large wooden garage with a loft. The garden was divided into lawn, veg, flowers etc at the front and a yard and 2 hen houses at the back. The garden may have been larger originally. We have no memory of a well or a cheese press. There was a septic tank but it was not brick built and had to be emptied and moved every few years. Electricity was installed in the house in the late 1940's, at the same time the boiler was removed from the scullery. There was no central heating, which led to frozen pipes in the winter and, ultimately, the house was badly flooded, at which point my parents moved.
My father also rented a farm behind the house from 1930's till 1966. The farm had approximately 40 acres of land. Attached to the farm were 2 farm cottages. I assume that the farm and cottages were all built in the 1890's. The cottages could only be used by farm workers and their families. There were only very basic amenities in the cottages. Neither had electricity and one only had water from an outside well. One cottage was never occupied after the 1950's and when my father retired in 1966 that cottage and the farm buildings were all razed. The other cottage is now privately owned. The land was all incorporated into Meikleour Estate farm land.
My brother Finlay reminded me that one of the houses north of Balrae had been built identical to ours. We could use each others' door keys!
In 1981 Balrae House was bought by John and Jane Paterson and has since changed hands again.
Compiled February 2017