Rabbie’s had his say, as has his ill-fated cousin, we’ve seen a melancholy lament about a nineteenth century fishing disaster, a local resident has described the antiquities of a village house in rhyme and even the local press heralded the saving of Findon, Downies and Portlethen in a poem.
Now it’s my turn to put a few of my own words into verse to give my own personal twist on how things have developed in Portlethen, from the distant past up to the present day.
If you can’t be bothered fighting your way through the complete website, yet are still interested in the history of our fishing villages through the ages, then look no further – it’s all here in a summarised and shortened version. Enjoy.
For better or worse, Portlethen in verse.
Rabbie had some words tae say aboot a lass fae Porty,
Aboot the Monarch’s lust for her, in a work o’ poetry.
His cousin too, he told a tale, aboot a stormy nicht,
Of sna’ an’ wind, a place to stay, an’ a ghost tae gie a fricht.
But a’ o’ that was in the past, and a lang, lang time ago,
An’ now it turns tae me, Portlethen’s story here tae show.
Pittin’ these words tae paper, I dinna ken fit tae expect.
O’ a’ the characters and stories, fit eens div I select?
Finnan, Doonies an’ Portlethen, let’s go an’ tell their story,
Of history and anecdotes, we’ll recapture a’ their glory.
Their rise and fa’ and rise again, their tales there are a few,
I’ll try an’ tell ye some o’ them and gie a guid review.
Now auld steen circles we hae a few, in fact we hae quite ample,
The ring foon’ at Cairnwell was aince a guid example.
So man wis here afore BC, that’s Jesus in case ye wonder,
An’ lang afore the Vikings wi’ their murder an’ their plunder.
The Causey Mounth they hid tae build, a guid and proper track,
Fae een toon tae anither, nae Moss wid haud it back.
Ye’ll still see signs for Causey Mounth, the odd een here an’ there,
The road itsell ye micht nae find, its maistly noo thin air!
De Fyndon was an early laird, the first that we could find,
His estate was that o’ Finnan, an’ some others he combined.
He wis a fan o’ Langshanks, and followed the English men,
But Bruce’s rise in Scotland, sent him hame tae think again.
Twa lairds they hid a feud, for reasons we dinna ken,
It ended up wi’ Menzies ambushed by Forbes’s men.
He wis strollin’ alang the road ae day tae see some birds o’ prey,
When Forbes raised his dagger in this merry month o’ May.
Then Buchan built a landmark kirk abeen a local hill,
The reed kirk o’ Portlethen, the parishioners they got a thrill,
It’s chinged a bit ower a’ the years wi’ buildin’s a’ close by,
But still it sits in perfect place, a view ye canna deny.
The villages often suffered wi’ their harbours, creeks and shores,
Nae protection fae the elements o’ the great ootdoors.
Ae laird he turned tae Telford tae mak a harbour plan,
A plan wis done, a price wis said, but it a’ went doon the pan.
Finnan wis famed in days of yore for it’s fine an’ tasty haddies,
They disappeared lang ago, afore oor Granda’s were laddies.
At Finnan Ness ye’ll ay get a catch, it’ll likely be a cod,
An’ captured fae the rugged rocks wi’ a shinin’ reel and rod.
Portlethen and the Doonies, for white fish were renowned,
An’ for a’ their shipwrecks, an’ men lost and drowned.
Wi’ fearful seas an’ muckle gales, an’ mony a waitin’ rock,
Is it ony wonder, some boats ne’er reached their dock?
The Teutonia, the Dunstaffnage, the ship called Aiberdeen,
A’ washed ashore near Finnan, smashed tae mony a smithereen.
An’ jist because it’s fine an’ calm, it disnae mean ye’re safe,
The fog will sneak ahent ye, and surroond ye like a wraith.
Despite these wrecks an’ losses sometimes there were some tales,
That show at times its possible tae beat they south east gales.
Step up George Craig fae Porty, at seventy he wis some man,
He saved three men fae droonin’ wi’ a rope an’ a cunning plan.
Ye cannae mention rabbits, a salmon, pig or hare,
The very words said aloud, oor fishermen they will scare.
An’ dinna let ony wimmen staun on a vessels deck,
Or the result is sure to be; that boat will end a wreck.
In the nineteen twenties, the fishin’ hid almost gone,
Young men set aff tae Torry, seekin’ their ain new dawn.
Those ithers left were auld and tired, their hooses startin’ tae tumble,
The talk was o’ “the auld days”, an’ forever they’d moan an’ grumble.
By the nineteen fifties, the villages were a’ near deid,
So the planners got thi’gether, wi’ a new plan in their heid.
Let’s close the clifftop villages an’ start again anew,
We’ll build a brand new village, an’ bid these ruins adieu.
The locals wirnae happy, and pit up ae big fecht,
Tae get some rinnin’ watter, the ‘lectric and some licht.
They battled lang an’ hard an’ won, tho’ it wis nae easy ride,
An’ they didna hae tae move to a hoose at Burnside.
Portlethen an’ the Doonies, an Finnan’ toun as well,
Saved fae rack an’ ruin, noo bonnie places tae dwell.
Whitewashed wa’s and smoke hooses nae langer there tae see,
Replaced wi’ modern artefacks like a smoke-free, gas barbie.
Tak a walk richt doon the coast an’ find the clifftop track,
Hae a look aboot ye but fae the cliff staun’ back.
Ye’ll see a guid variety o’ birds like queets an’ plings,
An’ sometimes jist occasionally a school o’ wild dolphins.
But fit aboot the new toon, the een beside the station?
The een the planners wanted, their wonderful new creation.
It’s sprawled an’ grown o’er scores o’ years an’ still it’s spreadin’ oot,
But a marvel o’ creation? O’ that there is some doot.
So fit’s the matter and fit’s gaun wrang, is it plain tae see?
Is it a’ the planners that noo beg tae disagree?
I think I see the problem, for that ye needna be sae smart,
The new toon o’ Portlethen appears tae lack a heart.
Noo oor chosen cooncillors, fa need a brand new theory,
Hae hired a team o’ specialists to rid us o’ a’ oor weary.
They’ll hum an’ hey an’ hum again, an’ gie us a’ some choices,
But when it comes tae mak a pick, will they listen tae local voices?
So fit wid Dodie Batty say, or even Rabbie Burns?
O’ a’ oor local history an’ a’ its twists an’ turns.
Wid auld George Craig jist shak his heid, an’ hae a silent smile,
An’ say that “evr’y minit wis mair than jist worthwhile”.