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The River Spey at Loch Insh, Cairngorms National Park (Credit: VisitScotland/Jakub Iwanicki)
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The Bellman


The Bellman, reprinted from Grantown Grammar School Magazine 1936.
Excerpt from 'Reminiscences' by John Stuart Grant (of his boyhood 60-70 years previously):

In my early days, there were no local papers published here, and there were no local printers to exhibit posters or placards, so all the important events taking place were announced by our own town crier, 'the bellman'.

To the family of Sandy McBain, tailor, was allotted this important function, and three of his sons in succession took on the job. Eddie McBain, who was a school chum of mine, discharged the duties for a number of years, and in this capacity he was a very important man, who had a busy time. Every coming event, such as a concert, social meeting or soiree, was intimated by the bellman, while the public only knew of anything lost or found, a sale of property or furniture, when the fact was announced by the bellman. During the herring season, Eddie would be out in the mornings and giving the following notice -

Fine fresh herring, at the end of the new road,
Three a penny, three a penny, three a penny.

In his heyday, the bellman made some funny announcements.
Here is one:-

Sale of furniture today,
Not very far from river Spey,
Come yourself and bring some cash
For you won't get any trash.
Sale begins at 12 o'clock,
And the auctioneer will hear your knock.

Here is another which I remember very well, and it attracted a good deal of notice
at the time:-

Lost yesterday, on the banks of the Spey,
A fishing rod and reel, a salmon clip in steel,
Whoever finds the same, and brings to A McBain,
Will be handsomely rewarded for his trouble.

Eddie, while serving his apprenticeship as a grocer, continued as bellman. About this time, Angus Stuart published 'The Supplement' every week, and soon all the important events were advertised in its columns, while handbills and placards appeared in shop windows and street corners. In a very short time the services of the bellman were no longer required.