Caledonian - History

Caledonian - History

New Caledonia

New Caledonia ( / ˌ k æ l ɪ ˈ d oʊ n i ə / French: Nouvelle-Calédonie) [nb 1] is a special collectivity of France in the southwest Pacific Ocean, south of Vanuatu, about 1,210 km (750 mi) east of Australia [4] and 17,000 km (11,000 mi) from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets. [5] The Chesterfield Islands are in the Coral Sea. French people, especially locals, call Grande Terre Le Caillou ("the pebble"). [6]

New Caledonia has a land area of 18,576 km 2 (7,172 sq mi) divided into three provinces. The North and South Provinces are on the New Caledonian mainland, while the Loyalty Islands Province is a series of islands off the mainland. New Caledonia's population of 271,407 (October 2019 census) [7] consists of a mix of the original inhabitants, Kanaks, who are the majority in the North Province and in the Loyalty Islands Province, and people of European descent (Caldoches and Metropolitan French), Polynesians (mostly Wallisians), and Southeast Asians, as well as a few people of Pied-Noir and North African descent, who are the majority in the rich South Province. The capital of the territory is Nouméa. [4]

3. Modern Significance

Much of today’s Caledonian Forest system is made up of ‘geriatric forests’ of old trees reaching the ends of their respective lifespans, with a newer trees attempting to replace the older ones, though doing so at a slower rate. Thus, as the old trees die, the forest will continue to shrink and there is a possibility that the forests will completely disappear within a few decades, if harmful human activities that are still wreaking havoc on the remnant forests are not checked and resolved. With the prospective death of the Caledonian Forests in their entirety, a number of rare and unique species will likely disappear from the region. The endemic species of the ecosystem, like the Scottish crossbill, for instance, could become completely extinct. The lure of the rare and strange varieties of birds and mammals inhabiting the Caledonian Forests also attract a large volume of tourists into the region. With the disappearance of the forests, tourist footfall into the region will also decline, causing the local economies to suffer. Thus, the Caledonian Forests hold immense significance in terms of maintaining Scotland’s biodiversity and tourism economy, and hence its preservation is of prime importance to the people of this region.

Antient Grand Lodge Dispensation to ‘make masons’

The rivalry between the ‘Antients’ and the ‘Moderns’, as the Premier English Grand Lodge were styled, was exceptionally keen and it is a reasonable supposition that the former were prompt to take advantage of this opportunity of adding to their strength.

On 2nd March 1763 The Antient Grand Lodge granted Bro. Robert Lockhead a dispensation for a period of thirty days to make masons at the sign of the White Hart in the Strand. The lodge was then duly constituted as Atholl 111 by the Officers of the Antient Grand Lodge on 20 April 1763 at the White Hart.

Some twenty-nine Brethren were registered while the Lodge was working under the Antient’s Constitution.

History of the Highland Games

All around the world people participate or are spectators at Scottish Highland Games. Seen as a way of celebrating Scottish and Celtic culture it is one of Scotland’s biggest cultural exports. Features of the Games include competitions in piping and drumming, dancing, heavy athletics, as well all kinds entertainment and exhibits related to many aspects of Scottish and Gaelic culture.

The first historical reference to the type of events held at Highland Games in Scotland was made during the time of King Malcolm III (Scottish Gaelic: Máel Coluim c. 1031 – 13 November 1093) when he summoned men to race up Craig Choinnich overlooking Braemar with the aim of finding the fastest runner in Scotland to be his royal messenger. They were also thought to have originally been events where the strongest and bravest soldiers in Scotland would be tested. These gatherings were not only about trials of strength. Musicians and dancers were encouraged to reveal their skill and talents and so be a great credit to the clan that they represented.

There are about 100 Highland Games in Scotland every year.

The Ceres Games in Fife, which began in 1314, are thought to be the oldest, continuous Highland Games in Scotland. They proudly state that the Ceres Highland Games are ‘held in honour of the brave men of Ceres who fought at Bannockburn.’ The Battle of Bannockburn (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Allt nam Bànag) on 24 June 1314 was a major Scottish victory against the English in the First War of Scottish Independence.

The Cowal Highland Gathering, held in Dunoon (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Omhain), Scotland, annually in August, is the largest Highland games in the world. The Braemar Gathering is often thought to be the best known games and traces its origins in the games held by King Malcolm III. These events in Scotland are mirrored around the world with remarkably well attended gatherings in the United States, for example Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina and the Caledonian Club of San Francisco event at Pleasanton, California.

The history of the Highland Games has not always been a smooth one. The development of this showcase of Highland culture was severely disrupted following Scottish defeat at the Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair). The 1746 Proscription Acts were passed in a deliberate attempt by the British to dismantle Scottish Highland life, culture, society and destroy the clan system. These laws were finally repealed on 1 July 1782. The Highland Games really only started to develop again after the 18th and 19th Highland Clearances, a brutal process of evictions that attacked the Gaelic culture of the Highlands.

Scottish traditions and culture were spread as people from Scotland moved around the world. Caledonian Societies were formed in Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Australia and wherever around the globe Scots met and reunited. The first form of Highland Games in the United States took place in 1836 and was organised by the Highland Society of New York. Followed a few years later by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco. Now there are Highland Games held in many places throughout the world. Traditionally some events have become standard in these games such as the caber toss, stone put, Scottish hammer throw, weight throw, weight over the bar, sheaf toss and maide leisg (lazy stick). However, these gathering now have a whole variety of events, stalls, entertainments, pipes, dancing and all kinds of competitions.

This great Scottish cultural export is set to continue to grow. Both in the Scottish homeland and all around the world where people want to celebrate their Scottish heritage.

Blackbirding, Cannibals and a Referendum – New Caledonian History

Beach, Ouvea, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia Photo by: Thomas Ballandras CC BY 2.0 Reconstruction of the face of a Lapita woman. National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. Photo by: yanajin 33 CC BY-SA 3.0

The history of New Caledonia begins around 1500 BC, although some sources claim evidence of settlement going back as far as 3000 BC. The Lapita people were seafarers whose origins can be traced to Taiwan and neighboring East Asian regions. They are named after the site of Lapita, where a type of ancient pottery was unearthed. These people are thought to be the ancestors of the Polynesians, Micronesians and and some of the inhabitants of coastal Melanesia, including New Caledonia.

James Cook

Very little is written about New Caledonia until its discovery by British explorer James Cook in 1774. Cook named the islands New Caledonia in honor of his Scottish father, Caledonia being a Latin name referring to the Scottish Highlands, which somewhat resembled northeastern New Caledonia in Cook’s opinion.

Tjibaou carving, Noumea Photo credit: The Shopping Sherpa CC BY-SA 2.0

It seems that there were a few visitors to the islands in the following years, including French explorers, Protestant and Catholic missionaries and American whalers, but there is not much in the history books other than a few journal entries about the time period leading up to 1853, the year of French annexation. An exception is the unfortunate fate of the crew of the American ship Cutter, who were killed and eaten by natives in 1849.

New Caledonia was claimed for France on September 24, 1853 by Rear Admiral Febvrier Despointes, in an attempt to prevent any similar move by the British, and Port-de-France, today’s capitol city of Nouméa was founded the following year. New Caledonia was established as a penal colony. Between the years 1864 and 1897, around 22,000 French convicts were brought to New Caledonia. In 1864, large nickel deposits were discovered. It turns out that New Caledonia has over 25% of the world supply. Other settlement resulted from the practice of ‘blackbirding’, which is when unsuspecting natives are lured through various deceptive means onto boats and then forced into labor. Around 60,000 indentured laborers were brought to New Caledonia to work on plantations, mines, ships and in various public works. Many were children from the Loyalty Islands who were brought to Grand Terre, but others were sourced from Vanuatu, known originally as the New Hebrides, the Solomon Islands, and even Vietnam, Java and Japan. Additionally, 4,000 political exiles from the failed Paris Commune, known as Communards were brought to the island.

The blackbirding schooner Daphne was seized by HMS Rosario in 1869, and its passengers freed.

Two Kanak warriors holding weapons, New Caledonia

Rebellion against the French by the native Kanak people spiked in the years 1856-59 and again in 1878. In 1867 the guillotine was introduced and over the next two decades, around 80 rebels were beheaded. The Kanak rebellion of 1878 saw the French retaliate by destroying villages and crops. Rebels were deported, executed or forced into labor. Under administrative law, curfews were established. Around the same time, smallpox and measles took many lives. In the period from 1878-1921, the population of 60,000 was reduced by over half leaving a remaining population of only 27,000.

During World War II, New Caledonia was used as a base for the American Navy and Army. At the time, the 50,000 American troops were approximately equal in number to the resident population. After the war, the European population increased and in 1946, New Caledonia officially became a French overseas territory.

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (July 4, 2011) – Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, inspects service members of the French Armed Forces of New Caledonia (FANC), Marines and Sailors from U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) at the American Monument in Noumea, New Caledonia for a wreath laying ceremony in commemoration of the Fourth of July and in memory of the American presence in New Caledonia during World War II. Blue Ridge and embarked staff are underway on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth R. Hendrix) Photo credit: COMSEVENTHFLT CC BY-SA 2.0 Eleanor Roosevelt, General Harmon, and Admiral Halsey in New Caledonia Goro Nickel Mine, Kwe West Bassin, New Caledonia Photo by: Barsamuphe CC BY 3.0 Logo of the Territorial Congress

The islands prospered during the nickel boom which occurred in the years 1969-1972, bringing a new wave of European and Polynesian settlement. Although they were still the largest ethnic group, the Kanaks were now a minority. Independence continued to be on the minds of many. In the 1980s, pro independence protests resulted in Kanak activists taking 27 gendarmes hostage. The military response resulted in 21 deaths, of which 19 were Kanaks.

In 1998, the Nouméa Accord established a 20 year plan to transfer governance to the local government. This transitional period is to end only weeks from now with a referendum on independence scheduled to take place on November 4, 2018. New Caledonian history is in the making! If the voters so choose, New Caledonia will be its own country.

Noumea, New Caledonia. View overlooking Cathedral.

Just Luxe

Such is the pedigree of Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh &ndash The Caledonian, history records Gene Kelly dancing on the steps of its grand staircase and Laurel and Hardy enjoying a jolly ride on a luggage trolley.

In the annals of Scottish hospitality, surely no transformation has been as impressive as that of this high-quality property &ndash from train station to luxury hotel, complete with spa and indoor swimming pool.

Originally opened in 1903 as the Victoria Station Hotel, it now features six floors with 241 rooms, including suites named after such Scottish notables as Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Alexander Graham Bell.

From the outside, the hotel&rsquos red sandstone walls stand out vividly against the busy downtown thoroughfare of Princes Street, featuring statues of four ladies representing the pillars of society &ndash art, commerce, science and agriculture.

Look closely and you may discern how the hotel&rsquos Caley Bar was once entrance to the old Princes Street Station, once part of the Caledonian Railway. This becomes more evident from inside the building where the station platform, still with its original sandstone walls, has been transformed into the spacious, high-ceilinged Peacock Alley in the lobby lounge where breakfast and afternoon tea are served. Named after the original 19th century gathering spot in New York&rsquos Waldorf Astoria Hotel where the wealthy and influential once mingled, I noticed the hotel was offering a pink-themed afternoon tea, including pink macaroons, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a donation going toward the Pink Ribbon Foundation, which supports breast cancer victims. Here, the hotel organizes art exhibitions, enchanting photographs of the Scottish Highlands by Romanian photographer, Tiberiu Victor Tamas being on display while I was there.

Interesting artifacts here include the original 1890 station clock and several stained-glass windows. Train-track design on thick carpeting here is a singular signature, a passing nod to the property&rsquos illustrious history. Another reminder of its past is the decorative crests of cities the train once passed through that adorn the walls of the hotel&rsquos upper floors.

Reflecting its prestigious reputation, furnishings and design here are plush and graceful, including a crystal chandelier dangling along four floors and a sweeping cast-iron grand staircase, its railings designed on the theme of Nature, with a filigree of trees and foliage.

Events play an important role in the activities of the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, with its ornate Castle Suite, featuring frescos of golden eagles, seagulls and pheasants and other Scottish wildlife on its ceiling and walls seagulls, catering for around 260 people for dinner and 400 to 500 for stand-up cocktails.

Elsewhere, black and white photographs depicting scenes from the hotel&rsquos history enhance the hotel&rsquos entresol or mezzanine while the ground-floor Guerlain Spa offers a range of services from facials to pedicures, a 24-hour gym, indoor heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna.

Our spacious, high-ceilinged room offered terrific views over Edinburgh Castle, the 19th century St. John&rsquos Church and busy Princes Street. The highlight of our evening was relaxing on comfy armchairs enjoying a post-dinner dram of Scotch (with the traditional drop of water to help release the flavor) gazing out at the sparkling lights of the castle and activity in downtown Edinburgh. Comfy robes and the choice of a bath or shower with Tuscan Soul toiletries simply added to our overall comfort.

Furnishings included a built-in clothes cupboard, walnut writing desk, leather-covered drinks cabinet, an espresso machine and a kettle for tea. Framed photographs of the old Caledonian train station on the walls and Georgian-style sash windows and damask curtains created a heightened sense of tradition.

We dined in &lsquoGrazing,&rsquo a ground-floor restaurant with a menu created by chef-entrepreneur Mark Greenaway. To kick-off a leisurely evening, we sipped on a couple of innovative signature cocktails, a yuzu martini featuring vodka, elderflower, yuzu and lychee and an Empress Negroni, Empress Gin, bitter Bianco and dry martini. For non-drinkers, try a mocktail, perhaps a refreshing burst of berry flavors featuring raspberry, lemon and ginger ale.

Hankering for a mix &lsquon match type culinary evening, my companion and I opted for pan-roasted Orkney scallops and beef tartare as starters and roasted halibut, served with salt-baked beetroot and cauliflower, and fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef served with oxtail and potato roulade and Jerusalem artichoke, as mains.

As for desserts, well, there&rsquos enough diversity to suit most tastes. The signature selection &ndash so sinful, the Church of Scotland really should be informed about it &ndash was the delectable sticky toffee pudding soufflé with salted caramel and date ripple ice-cream.

For a hotel boasting more than a century of history right in the heart of downtown, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh-The Caledonian should be high on your list of choices.

Caledonian Park – History, Murals And A Fire

Caledonian Park in north London in the Borough of Islington is today a green space in a busy part of London, with few reminders of the areas rich history.

I have much to write about Caledonian Park so I will cover in two posts this weekend. Today some historical background to the area, some lost murals and finding the location of one of my father’s photos. Tomorrow, climbing the Victorian Clock Tower at the heart of the park to see some of the most stunning views of London.

Caledonian Park is a relatively recent name. Taking its name from the nearby Caledonian Road which in turn was named after the Caledonian Asylum which was established nearby in 1815 for the “children of Scottish parents”.

Prior to the considerable expansion of London in the 19th century, the whole area consisted of open fields and went by the name of Copenhagen Fields. There was also a Copenhagen House located within the area of the current park.

The origin of the Copenhagen name is probably down to the use of the house (or possibly the construction of the house) by the Danish Ambassador for use as a rural retreat from the City of London during the Great Plague of 1665.

Copenhagen House became an Inn during the early part of the 18th century and the fields were used for sport, recreation and occasionally as an assembly point for demonstrations, or as Edward Walford described in Old and New London, the fields were “the resort of Cockney lovers, Cockney sportsmen and Cockney agitators”

The following print shows Copenhagen House from the south east in 1783, still a very rural location.

©Trustees of the British Museum

During the last part of the 18th century, Copenhagen Fields was often used as a meeting point for many of the anti-government demonstrations of the time. Old and New London by Walter Thornbury has a description of these meetings:

“In the early days of the French Revolution, when the Tories trembled with fear and rage, the fields near Copenhagen House were the scene of those meetings of the London Corresponding Society, which so alarmed the Government. The most threatening of these was held on October 26, 1795, when Thelwall, and other sympathisers with France and liberty, addressed 40,000, and threw out hints that the mob should surround Westminster on the 29th, when the King would go to the House. The hint was attended to, and on that day the King was shot at, but escaped unhurt.”

The meetings and threats from groups such as the Corresponding Societies led to the Combination Acts of 1799 which legislated against the gathering of men for a common purpose. It was this repression that also contributed to the Cato Street Conspiracy covered in my post which can be found here.

The following is a satirical print from 1795 by James Gillray of a meeting on Copenhagen Fields “summoned by the London Corresponding Society” which was “attended by more than a hundred thousand persons”.

©Trustees of the British Museum

Copenhagen Fields continued to be used for gatherings. In April 1834 there was a meeting in support of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, who had been sentenced to transportation to Australia for forming a trade union. Walter Thornbury provides the following description: “an immense number of persons of the trades’ unions assembled in the Fields, to form part of a procession of 40,000 men to Whitehall to present an address to his Majesty, signed by 260,000 unionists on behalf of their colleagues who had been convicted at Dorchester for administering illegal oaths”.

The final large meeting to be held in Copenhagen Fields was in 1851 in support of an exiled Hungarian revolutionary leader. The role of this rural location was about to change very dramatically.

Smithfield in the city was originally London’s main cattle market however during the first half of the 19th century the volume of animals passing through the market and the associated activities such as the slaughter houses were getting unmanageable in such a densely populated part of central London.

The City of London Corporation settled on Copenhagen Fields as the appropriate location for London’s main cattle market and purchased Copenhagen House and the surrounding fields in 1852. The site was ideal as it was still mainly open space, close enough to London, and near to a number of the new railway routes into north London.

Copenhagen House was demolished and the construction of the new market, designed by the Corporation of London Architect, James Bunstone Bunning was swiftly underway, opening on the 13th June 1855.

A ground penetrating radar survey of the area commissioned by Islington Council in 2014 identified the location of Copenhagen House as (when viewed from the park to the south of the Clock Tower) just in front and to the left of the Clock Tower.

The sheer scale of the new market was impressive. In total covering seventy five acres and built at a cost of £500,000. There were 13,000 feet of railings to which the larger animals could be tied and 1,800 pens for up to 35,000 sheep.

Market days were Mondays and Thursdays for cattle, sheep and pigs, and Fridays for horses, donkeys and goats. The largest market of the year was held just before Christmas. In the last Christmas market at Smithfield in 1854, the number of animals at the market was 6,100. At the first Christmas market at the new location, numbers had grown to 7,000 and by 1863 had reached 10,300.

The following Aerofilms photo from 1931 shows the scale of the market. The clock tower at the centre of the market is also at the centre of the photo with the central market square along with peripheral buildings in the surrounding streets.

The 1930 edition of Bartholomew’s Handy Reference Atlas of London shows the location and size of the market:

As well as the cattle market, the construction included essential infrastructure to support those working and visiting the market. Four large public houses were built, one on each of the corners of the central square. The following Aerofilms photo from 1928, shows three of the pubs at corners of the main square. The two large buildings to the left of the photo are hotels, also constructed as part of the market facilities

The clock tower is located in the middle, at the base of the clock tower are the branch offices of several banks, railway companies, telegraph companies along with a number of shops.

A 19th century drawing shows the clock tower and the long sheds that covered much of the market:

By the time of the First World War, the cattle market had started to decline and was finally closed in 1939 at the start of the Second World War, with the site then being used by the army.

After the war, the slaughter houses around the market continued to be used up until 1964, when the London County Council and the Borough of Islington purchased the site ready for redevelopment. The Market Housing Estate was built on much of the site, although by the 1980s the physical condition of the estate had started to decline significantly, and the estate had a growing problem with drugs and prostitution. Housing blocks were built up close to the clock tower and there was limited green space with many concrete paved areas surrounding the housing blocks and the clock tower.

A second redevelopment of the area was planned and planning permission granted in 2005. The last of the Market Estate housing blocks was demolished in 2010 and it this latest development which occupies much of the area today.

In 1982 a number of murals illustrating the history of the market were painted on the ground floor exterior of the main Clock Tower building of the original Market Estate. In 1986 my father took some photos of the murals during a walk round Islington. As far as I know, these murals were lost during the later redevelopment of the area.

The introductory mural providing some history of the market:

A scene showing the opening of the market by Prince Albert in 1855. A lavishly decorated marquee hosted a thousand invited guests to mark the opening of the market.

The central clock tower painted on the Clock Tower building of the housing estate:

Other scenes from around the market:

As well as the photos of the murals, almost 40 years earlier in 1948 my father had taken a photo of the aftermath of a fire. I was unsure where this was and I published the photo below a few weeks ago in my post on mystery locations.

One of the messages I had in response to this post (my thanks to Tom Miler), was that the building at the back of the photo looked like one of the pubs at the Caledonian Market.

I took a walk around the periphery of the site trying to work out which of the streets and pubs could be the location of my father’s photo and found the following:

This, I am sure, is the location of my father’s photo. The street is Shearling Way running along the eastern edge of Caledonian Park. I probably should have been a bit further back to take the photo, however the rest of the road was closed and full of cars unloading students into the student accommodation that now occupies the southern end of Shearling Way – an indication of how much the area has changed.

The pub is hidden behind the tree, although it is in the same position and the chimneys are clearly the same and in the right position. The old yards and sheds that had burnt down on the right of the original photo have been replaced by housing.

I was really pleased to find the location of this photo, it is one I thought I would not be able to place in modern day London.

This Aerofilms photo from 1948 shows the pub from the above photo at the top left of the main market square with the road running up to the right. Above the road is the area that was the scene of the fire.

This is another photo of the scene of the fire and the housing in the background can also be seen in the above Aerofilms photo, further confirming the location.

Walking down the street I took the following photo of the pub, the front of the pub has the same features as on the 1948 photo.

The pub was The Lamb, unfortunately, as with the other pubs on the corners of the old cattle market, it is now closed.

To the left of the first half of the street, adjacent to the park, the original market railings are still in place:

A short time after the opening of the Cattle Market, a general or flea market had become established alongside. This market grew considerably and was generally known as the Cally Market, a place where almost anything could be found for sale. By the start of the 20th century, the size of the Cally Market had outgrown the original Cattle Market.

The journalist and author H.V. Morton visited the market for his newspaper articles on London and later consolidated in his book “London” (published in 1925) and wrote the following:

“When I walked into this remarkable once a week junk fair I was deeply touched to think that any living person could need many of the things displayed for sale. For all round me, lying on sacking, were the driftwood and wreckage of a thousand lives: door knobs, perambulators in extremis, bicycle wheels, bell wire, bed knobs, old clothes, awful pictures, broken mirrors, unromantic china goods, gaping false teeth, screws, nuts, bolts and vague pieces of rusty iron, whose mission in life, or whose part and portion of a whole, Time had obliterated.”

The Cally Market was also used during both the first and second world wars for major fund raising events. This poster from the first world war:

Along with the murals, my father took a photo of the Clock Tower in 1986. The original housing blocks that reached up to the clock tower can be seen on either side. The clock tower is surrounded by concrete paving.

This is the same scene in 2015 from roughly the same point (although I should have been more to the left). The old housing blocks have been demolished and the clock tower is now surrounded by green space.

Looking at the above photo, the wooden steps that provide the route up inside the Clock Tower can be seen through the two windows.

Join me for tomorrow’s post as I climb the tower to the viewing gallery at the top for some of the best views across London.

Our History

“Caledonian Club to be formed in Bermuda” read a front-page headline in the November 20, 1936 edition of The Royal Gazette and Colonist Daily. The meeting on November 29, St. Andrew’s Eve, at the Inverurie Hotel in Paget, was held to form a club and discuss its aims and objectives. All those who were Scottish by birth or parentage and ‘wives of Scotsmen’ (no husbands of Scotswomen presumably) were invited to attend.

The Society which was subsequently formed had as its aims the promotion of friendliness among Scots in Bermuda provision of relief to members in times of adversity and assistance of Scots residing in Bermuda the preservation and promotion of Scottish history, culture, literature, and music of Scotland, and the encouragement of community caring by raising of funds for local charities.

The first function of the Bermuda Caledonian Society was a dinner and dance at the Hamilton Hotel on January 25, 1937 to celebrate Burns’ Night. Hailed “a Huge Success”, the dinner was attended by the Colonial Secretary, the Hon. A. G. Grantham, and Mrs. Grantham, and the Mayor of St. George’s and Mrs. Meyer. His Excellency the Governor and Lady Hildyard, accompanied by his ADC, joined the company later in the evening following a prior engagement at the English Speaking Union. The Chaplain of the Society, Rev. James W. Purves, recited the Selkirk Grace, and the Haggis “wi’ a’ the Honours” was piped into the dining room amid cheering by Mr. Thomas Aitchison. During dinner the Myles Standish Trio played Scottish melodies, and Miss Claire Dillon sang “Annie Laurie.” The evening was presided over by the President of the Society, Mr. Lawrence H. Smart, who though not a Scot himself, was the son of an officer in the Highland Light Infantry. Vice President Mr. Robert Aitken proposed the toast to the Immortal Memory, the toast “The Land O’ Cakes” was proposed by Rev. Purves, “a stout Lowlander”, and the last Toast “The Land we Live in” was proposed by Mr. E. A. McCallan. An Eightsome Reel was danced by three sets, and following the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” the evening concluded with dancing in The Grill”. Mr. McCallan’s speech was printed verbatim in the January 27 issue of the daily.

The first meeting under the new constitution was held at the residence of the President, The Old House, Point Shares on Friday June 11, 1937, at which Rev. Purves gave a speech on “an interesting Scottish subject”: conditions in Scotland today compared with those of the past. About 40 gathered at the Smarts’ residence, and in addition to the lecture, those attending were treated to Scottish tunes played by piper Tom Aitcheson. This was followed by a less formal gathering on July 1 at “The Rowleys”, Riddles Bay when about 25 members played various outdoor games and enjoyed light refreshments. Later that year on November 12 the annual meeting, attended by more than 60 members, was held and was followed by a social gathering. In addition to a talk by Rev. Purves, there were a raffle, Scottish songs, and eightsome reels to pipe music. Tickets were 2/-. There was no celebration of St. Andrew’s Night, but plans were made to hold the annual Burns’ Night dinner on January 25 the following year.

The committee elected for the following year was as follows: President Lt. Col. Gourlay, Vice Presidents Miss K. Wingate, and Mr. R. D. Aitken, Hon. Secretary Mr. Hugh Davidson, Hon. Treasurer Mr. Charles Fuller, Chaplain Rev. Purves and Executive Committee Mrs. M. A. Gibbons, Mrs. S. Clark, and Mr. J. M. Waterson. Mr. T. Aitcheson continued as the Society’s piper.

In April 1937 a memorial service at Christ Church, Warwick was held for soldiers of the Black Watch regiment buried in the churchyard. The following year plans were made for the erection of a memorial to the officers and men of the Black Watch interred in the churchyard while the regiment was stationed on the Island from 1842 to 1852. To raise funds for the memorial, the Society held a “Floor Show and Dance” at the Hamilton Hotel, with tickets costing 4/-. The memorial was unveiled with Scottish and military honours on the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, 1938. Special features of the ceremony included “a letter from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth who was honorary colonel of the regiment, tartan plaids of the Black Watch covering the memorial, sent from the regiment’s headquarters in Scotland for the occasion, and two claymores used in the trouble days of the Stuart rebellions, to combat which the regiment of the Black Watch was first raised.

The Burns Night Soiree of 1941 was somewhat different from the dinners of previous years, as it was held as an aid to the Bermuda War Fund, to which the Society had already made several

donations. In 1942 they invested funds in War Savings Certificates, and adopted a Cameron Highlander prisoner of war in Germany at a cost of £24 per annum. Thus began a long-established tradition of giving back to the community in which they had settled.

After the war, with the establishment of regular flights of the British Overseas Airways Corporation from the UK, the haggis was flown in especially for the Burns’ Supper and presented to the Society’s president with much ceremony.

In 2000 a third gala event was added to the Society’s eagerly anticipated events, a Hogmanay Ball, which included the singing of Auld Lang Syne twice: once at 8 pm (midnight in the UK) and again at midnight local time.

Funds raised through raffles held at the two balls have allowed the Society to make significant contributions to various local charities over the years.

The Caledonian Society of Bermuda
(Registered Charity #896)
was formed on November 29, 1936
to share and promote the rich
traditions and culture of Scotland
within Bermuda.

Just for Fun

You know you’re an expatriated Scot in Bermuda when:

• you regularly lament the lack of chip shops.

• you were forwarded the article about the Buckfast ban in Bermuda by everyone you know at home.

• you regularly make a special trek to Lindo’s and/or Miles, even if you live nowhere near them, just to pick up supplies of Irn Bru and Tunnock’s Teacakes.

• you smirk to yourself when anyone complains about the Bermuda weather during a three-minute downpour.

• you regularly have to explain your vocabulary because nobody knows what numpty, eejit, or square-go means.

• even if you normally hate the Proclaimers, Runrig, Deacon Blue, Big Country, etc, you feel a swell of pride when they are played in a Bermuda bar.

• regardless of how long you’ve lived here, you turn into some sort of half-human/half-lobster creature for the first few weeks of summer.

• when someone mentions “Sunday breakfast” you think of square sausages and black pudding before codfish and potatoes.

• you think of House of India as a taste of home.

• you lie when anyone asks you what’s in haggis.

• you get tired of people asking where in Ireland you’re from.


Though obviously proud of our Scottish heritage,
we are equally proud to be a fully inclusive
organisation. We boast a broad membership that
includes Scots and non-Scots alike, with our only
joining criteria being a mutual love of fun, community,
Celtic culture, and the island on which we live.

The Caledonian Society of Bermuda
(Registered Charity #896)

Our History

Noble Caledonia was established in 1991, the same year the Gulf War ended. Probably, not the most auspicious time to start a new company. Leisure travel was particularly badly hit, but in such times, opportunities can present themselves. All around the world cruise vessels were laid up waiting for the travelling public to return. Such a vessel was the Swedish owned small expedition cruise ship Caledonian Star.

Andrew Cochrane, a travel industry expert of considerable experience contacted the owner of the vessel, Christer Salén with a proposal to create a new specialist travel company. A plan was set in motion to market the vessel in the UK and from this point onwards things snowballed quite quickly. Within two short weeks Noble Caledonia was formed and trading and the first responses from advertisements in national newspapers were very encouraging.

Happily the first Caledonian Star cruise in 1991 was a success. Since then the company has prospered offering hundreds of different cruises and tours to every continent. The company is fortunate in having a marvellously supportive following of travellers with many having travelled twenty, thirty and some over 50 times. Noble Caledonia has been built on responding to the wishes and ideas of our regular clients. Our aim was and remains to always provide a unique, interesting and educational travel experience a journey shared with like-minded travellers. Whilst our repertoire has expanded over the years what has remained constant is our knowledge and expertise. Our London based staff and those in the field have grown with us and their dedication and experience has helped us to shape the high level of planning, quality and personalised service that has become our hallmark.

Over a quarter of a century on, Noble Caledonia goes from strength to strength. From our modest beginnings we have grown to the point where we are now generally recognised as being the leading small ship cruise specialist, with a loyal following and an ever-developing portfolio of innovative and enticing tours and cruises.

Along the way, there have been some changes but many of our staff and clients have been with us since our establishment and continue to play an important role in our growth. Andrew Cochrane recently retired as Managing Director and the position is now held by his son Tim, assisted by his sister Laura who is the Director of Marketing and Sales. In 2006, the majority shareholding passed from Christer Salén to his daughter Katarina Salén and her husband Per Magnus Sander. Both are from a travel background and offer great support and enthusiasm. Since then the company has benefitted from the purchase of the three sister vessels, the MS Island Sky, MS Caledonian Sky and MS Hebridean Sky. Carrying just over 100 passengers in great comfort, the company is fortunate in having some of the most highly regarded and finest expedition vessels in the world.

Noble Caledonia is a rarity in today&rsquos cruising world where the vast majority of vessels are owned and operated by multi-nationals. Being an independent company where the owners are involved in all aspects puts us in a unique place. From this position of freedom and not having to pander to shareholders and financial institutions we operate for the benefit of our passengers who reward us by travelling with us time and time again. We are immensely proud of our fleet and continue to develop inspiring itineraries aboard our own ships and others which we charter to cover all regions of the world.

Watch the video: The Animated History of Scotland