Arbroath

Arbroath (/ɑːrˈbrθ/) or Aberbrothock (Scottish Gaelic: Obar Bhrothaig[2] [ˈopəɾ ˈvɾo.ɪkʲ]) is a former royal burgh and the largest town in the council area of Angus, Scotland, with a population of 23,902.[3] It lies on the North Sea coast some 16 miles (25.7 km) ENE of Dundee and 45 miles (72.4 km) SSW of Aberdeen. There is evidence of Iron Age settlement, but its history as a town began with the founding of Arbroath Abbey in 1178. It grew much during the Industrial Revolution through the flax and then the jute industry and the engineering sector. A new harbour created in 1839; by the 20th century, Arbroath was one of Scotland's larger fishing ports. It is notable for the Declaration of Arbroath and the Arbroath smokie.[4] Arbroath Football Club holds the world record for the number of goals scored in a professional football match: 36–0 against Aberdeen Bon Accord in the Scottish Cup in 1885.

Arbroath

Arbroath from the south
Arbroath
Location within Angus
Population23,940 (mid-2016 est.)[1]
OS grid referenceNO641412
 Edinburgh45 mi (72 km) SSW
 London371 mi (597 km) SSE
Council area
Lieutenancy area
CountryScotland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Historic county
  • Angus
Post townARBROATH
Postcode districtDD11
Dialling code01241
PoliceScotland
FireScottish
AmbulanceScottish
UK Parliament
  • Angus
Scottish Parliament
  • Angus South

History

Toponymy

The earliest recorded name was 'Aberbrothock', referring to the Brothock Burn that runs through the town. The prefix Aber derived either from the Gaelic 'Obair',[5] or the earlier Brythonic term Aber for confluence or river mouth.[6][7] The name Aberbrothock was spelt numerous ways. The earliest manuscripts available have it as "Abirbrothoke" (in a letter to Edward I confirming the Treaty of Salisbury, which agreed that the Queen regnant, Margaret, Maid of Norway would marry Edward I)[8] and "Aberbrothok" (in a subsequent letter of consent to the marriage).[8] In the Declaration of Arbroath, it is seen as "Abirbrothoc".[9] Early maps show a number of variants including Aberbrothock,[10][11] Aberbrothik,[12] Aberbrothick,[13][14] and Aberbrothwick.[15]

The modern name Arbroath became commoner in the mid-19th century,[14] the older name being largely dropped by the time of the first Ordnance Survey edition.[16] However, variants of 'Arbroath' had been used since the 17th century, including 'Arbroth'[17] and Aberbreth.[18]

Early history

Drosten Stone

The area of Arbroath has been inhabited since at least the Neolithic period. Material from postholes at an enclosure at Douglasmuir, near Friockheim, some five miles north of Arbroath, have been radiocarbon dated to about 3500 BCE. The function of the enclosure is unknown – perhaps for agriculture or for ceremonial purposes.[19]

Bronze Age finds are abundant in the area. They include short-cist burials near West Newbigging, about a mile north of the town, which yielded pottery urns, a pair of silver discs and a gold armlet.[20] Iron Age archaeology is also present, for example in the souterrain near Warddykes Cemetery[21] and at West Grange of Conan,[22] as well as better-known examples at Carlungie and Ardestie.

The area appears to have had importance in the early Christian period, as shown by Pictish stone carvings found during restoration of St Vigeans Church, now housed in the small museum there. The stones had been used in building the old church and many were badly damaged. One of them, the 9th century Drosten Stone, is among the few Pictish artefacts with a Latin inscription: DROSTEN: IREUORET [E]TTFOR CUS'. This has been variously construed, but is thought to refer to the Pictish King Uurad, who reigned in 839–842 CE.[23]

Medieval history

Ruined Arbroath Abbey, built from local red sandstone

The first modern development in Arbroath was the Abbey founded by King William the Lion in 1178 for monks of the Tironensian order from Kelso Abbey. It was consecrated in 1197 with a dedication to Saint Thomas Becket, as the King's only personal foundation; he was buried within its precincts in 1214.[24] The Abbey was not finally completed until 1233.[25]

King John, also in the 13th century, exempted Arbroath from "toll and custom" in every part of England except London.[24]

The Battle of Arbroath in 1446 came after a series of clashes between the Chief Justiciary of Arbroath, Alexander Lindsay, third Earl of Crawford and Bishop James Kennedy of St Andrews, which resulted in Lindsay sacking the bishop's lands and burning his properties. Lindsay was excommunicated and it was felt this conflicted with his role as Chief Justiciary. The monks of Arbroath Abbey selected Alexander Ogilvy of Inverquharity as his replacement and the insult led to pitched battle in the town, leaving 500 dead, including Lindsay and Ogilvy. Large parts of it were destroyed in the aftermath by the Lindsay family.[26]

The abbey soon fell into disuse and eventual disrepair after its dissolution at the Reformation. The roof lead is rumoured to have been used in the 16th-century civil wars and the stonework plundered for housebuilding in the town. The ruins were a popular site for travellers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Finally in 1815, they were taken into state care. They are now administered by Historic Scotland.[4]

On 6 April 1320 the Scottish Parliament met at Arbroath Abbey and addressed to the Pope the Declaration of Arbroath, drafted by the Abbot of the time, Bernard. This detailed the services which their "lord and sovereign" Robert the Bruce had rendered to Scotland and eloquently affirmed Scots independence.[9]

Arbroath was created a royal burgh in 1599 by James VI.[27]

In the 17th century, communion was not held for several years at the church of St Vigeans, near Arbroath, as villagers believed there was a curse on communion were held there: it would fall into a large subterranean lake.[28]

Modern history

The Jacobite rising known as the Forty-Five turned Arbroath into a Jacobite town. A high proportion of its able-bodied men joined the Jacobite army.[29] It was one of the main ports where men and supplies could be landed from France. It and other Jacobite ports along the north-east coast collectively formed 'an asset of almost incalculable value' to the Jacobite cause.[30]

The Industrial Revolution expanded Arbroath's economy and population. New housing appeared to house the influx of workers. Arbroath became known for jute and sailcloth production, with 34 mills with 1,400 looms producing over a million yards of osnaburg cloth and 450,000 yards of sailcloth in 1875. Arbroath is believed to have supplied the sails for Cutty Sark.[31] In 1867, the mills employed 4,620 people.[32] Arbroath was also prominent in the making of shoes and lawnmowers; the local firm Alexander Shanks was founded in 1840 and based at Dens Iron Works,[33] supplied mowers to the Old Course at St Andrews and the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.[4][34][35][36] Shanks was taken over in the 1960s by another local firm, Giddings & Lewis-Fraser Ltd.,[36] which had evolved from the business of Douglas Fraser, established in 1832 and mainly concerned with manufacturing flax and canvas. In later 19th century the firm, by then Douglas Fraser & Sons, moved its focus onto machine manufacture, after the success of a braiding machine designed by Norman Fraser. The firm had interests in South America and India. In 1959 its firms were taken over by the US company Giddings & Lewis and renamed Giddings & Lewis-Fraser. Its headquarters were Wellgate Works, Arbroath.[37]

Arbroath today is best known for its ties to the fishing industry. After the harbours of the 14th–18th centuries had given way in 1839 to a larger one, the council sought fishermen willing to migrate to Arbroath to take advantage of the facilities. It took on men in nearby Auchmithie and further afield, including Shetland. The industry grew. In peak years up to 1980 some 40 whitefish and pelagic vessels worked from Arbroath, employing hundreds on board and hundreds more ashore to service vessels and process the fish. Quota cuts and decommissioning took their toll in Scotland from the 1980s to present. Arbroath remains a whitefish port open for landing shellfish.[38] There is now only one vessel working regularly from Arbroath; a further three Arbroath-owned vessels work from Aberdeen and ports further north. Fish processing remains a big employer, but the fish come from Aberdeen, Peterhead and even Iceland, Norway and Ireland.[4][39][40]

The 19th century brought health-care development in Arbroath. In 1836 a dispensary was set up by subscription to give medical care to the poor. In 1842 a typhus epidemic led to a small isolation ward. The next year, subscriptions began to turn this into Arbroath Infirmary, which opened in 1845 and found new premises in 1916.[41]

Governance

Royal Burgh of Arbroath's Coat of Arms
Arbroath Town House

Arbroath was made a royal burgh in 1178 by King William the Lion, when the Abbey was founded. The burgh of regality permitted monks to hold a weekly market, dispense basic justice and establish a harbour. In 1559, the town's burgh of regality was confirmed by King James VI of Scotland. A provost and town council were appointed.[4]

In 1922, Lord Inchcape became burgess. He was presented with his ticket to the office in a silver casket engraved with the burgh coat-of-arms and views of the locality.[42]

Arbroath remained controlled by Arbroath Burgh Council, which was based at Arbroath Town House, through to 1975, when Arbroath (and the county of Angus) were amalgamated with Perthshire and Dundee City into Tayside, controlled by Tayside Regional Council. Angus, along with Dundee City and Perth & Kinross were re-established under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994.[43]

Local government

Arbroath is represented on Angus Council by two wards: Arbroath West & Letham; and Arbroath East & Lunan. Four councillors are elected from each. At the 2012 local elections they were Alex King (Scottish National Party), David Lumgair (Scottish Conservative and Unionist), David Fairweather (Independent) and Ewan Smith (Scottish National Party).[44] Those from the Arbroath East & Lunan ward were Donald Morrison (Scottish National Party), Bob Spink (Independent), Sheena Welsh (Scottish National Party) and Martyn Geddes (Scottish Conservative and Unionist).[45]

Parliamentary representation

For the House of Commons, Arbroath forms part of Angus constituency. Since 2001 the seat has been held by Michael Weir (SNP), who increased his majority of 3,800 votes at the 2010 General Election.[46] Arbroath falls in the Angus South constituency of the Scottish Parliament (having been in the Angus constituency until its abolition in 2011), which has different boundaries from the Westminster one. It returns a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) to Holyrood directly and is part of the North East Scotland electoral region with regard to additional Members of the Scottish Parliament. The current MSP is Graeme Dey of the Scottish National Party.[47]

Geography

At 56°33′31″N 02°34′58″W, Arbroath lies on the North Sea coast, 17 miles (27 km) north-east of Dundee, within the Angus region. Geologically, it sits predominantly on Old Red Sandstone. Lower-lying parts were below sea level until after the last Ice Age.[48]

Arbroath lies 98 miles (158 km) north-east of Glasgow, 50 miles (80 km) south-west of Aberdeen and 77 miles (124 km) from Edinburgh. Neighbouring villages of St Vigeans, Carmyllie, Friockheim, Colliston and Inverkeilor are taken as part of Arbroath for council representation, and along with Carnoustie share its 01241 telephone area code.

Panorama of Arbroath Cliffs in winter

Climate

Arbroath has a typical British marine climate influenced by its seaside position. There are narrow temperature differences between seasons. January has an average high of 6.4 °C (43.5 °F) and July of 18 °C (64 °F). The climate is somewhat dry and sunny for Scotland, with 628.6 millimetres (24.75 in) of precipitation and 1538.4 hours of sunshine. The data are sourced from the 1981–2010 averages of the Met Office weather station in Arbroath.[49]

Climate data for Arbroath 15m asl, 1981–2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.5
(58.1)
15.3
(59.5)
21.0
(69.8)
22.6
(72.7)
24.3
(75.7)
27.5
(81.5)
28.4
(83.1)
28.8
(83.8)
24.8
(76.6)
21.4
(70.5)
15.7
(60.3)
14.4
(57.9)
28.8
(83.8)
Average high °C (°F) 6.4
(43.5)
6.7
(44.1)
8.5
(47.3)
10.4
(50.7)
13.1
(55.6)
16.0
(60.8)
18.0
(64.4)
17.8
(64.0)
15.5
(59.9)
12.3
(54.1)
9.0
(48.2)
6.7
(44.1)
11.7
(53.1)
Average low °C (°F) 1.6
(34.9)
2.0
(35.6)
2.9
(37.2)
4.5
(40.1)
6.6
(43.9)
9.4
(48.9)
11.4
(52.5)
11.3
(52.3)
9.6
(49.3)
7.0
(44.6)
4.1
(39.4)
1.9
(35.4)
6.0
(42.8)
Record low °C (°F) −11.2
(11.8)
−11.7
(10.9)
−10.5
(13.1)
−4.3
(24.3)
−1.7
(28.9)
1.2
(34.2)
4.0
(39.2)
2.8
(37.0)
−0.5
(31.1)
−3.8
(25.2)
−8.5
(16.7)
−10.1
(13.8)
−11.7
(10.9)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 55.1
(2.17)
38.7
(1.52)
42.4
(1.67)
44.1
(1.74)
55.9
(2.20)
48.3
(1.90)
51.7
(2.04)
58.9
(2.32)
57.8
(2.28)
72.4
(2.85)
55.8
(2.20)
47.6
(1.87)
628.6
(24.75)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 59.7 83.3 126.0 161.2 197.1 184.6 183.5 176.8 136.0 103.9 74.7 51.8 1,538.4
Source: Met Office[50]

Demography

Residents of Arbroath are called Arbroathians[51] but often call themselves Red Lichties[52] after the red lamp that shone from the harbour light and foghorn tower at the harbour entrance, as an aid to shipping entering the harbour.

At the 2001 census, the population of Arbroath was 22,785. About 88.9 per cent were born in Scotland 97.7 per cent in the United Kingdom as a whole. Most Arbroath residents are between 16 and 65, with 19.8 per cent under 16, 59.5 per cent between 16 and 65, and those over 65 making up 20.7 per cent. There are 47.1 per cent males to 52.9 per cent females.[3]

Arbroath has a moderate unemployment – some 2.7 per cent claim job-related social welfare benefits.[53]

Economy

Arbroath has no sizeable employers outside of the public sector; most workers commute to Dundee.[54] Arbroath itself has an economically active population of 9,192, with the public sector (21.8%) the largest employer of town residents, followed by manufacturing (16%) and retail (15.4%). The fishing industry accounts for 0.4 per cent (fewer than 50 people), although the processing sector is counted separately under manufacturing and the figure of 50 relates directly to the catching and support sectors.[55][56]

History

Arbroath's prospects originally revolved around the harbour. The original harbour was constructed and maintained by the abbot within the terms of an agreement between the burgesses and John Gedy, the abbot in 1394 AD.[4] This gave way to a more commodious port in 1725,[4] which in turn was enlarged and improved in 1839, when the sea wall, quay walls and breakwater were added to the old inner harbour, at a cost of £58,000.[57] Arbroath became a major coastal shipping port and in 1846 there were 89 Arbroath-registered vessels, totalling 9,100 gross tons. In the same year, 599 vessels docked at Arbroath, 56 from foreign ports (mainly Baltic ports) and the remaining 543 employed on the coastal trade. Bark, flax, hemp, hides, oak and fir timber, and guano for manure, groceries from London, and numerous articles of Baltic produce were imported via Arbroath, with manufactured goods (mainly sailcloth) exported.[35]

Arbroath Harbour

Driven by the needs of the fishing and sailing industry, Arbroath-based sailmaker Francis Webster Ltd perfected in 1795 the art of adding linseed oil to flax sails, creating an oiled flax.[58] This developed in the late 19th century into waxed cotton, which drove Arbroath as a manufacturing centre until the early 1970s, when it began to decline. A major employer, Keith & Blackman, closed in 1985 and Giddings and Lewis-Fraser wound down about the same time, with the whole plant later demolished to make way for a supermarket.[59][60] Alps Electric Co. was a large employer in Arbroath from 1990 to 2001, employing 180. All were made redundant when the plant closed.

Armed forces

Arbroath is home to 45 Commando of the Royal Marines, which has been based at RM Condor since 1971. The barracks were built in 1940 and commissioned as RNAS Arbroath/HMS Condor, a Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) until 1971. The Royal Marines moved to Arbroath in 1971 and remain a contributor to the local economy; in addition to the Marines stationed at Arbroath, some 600 residents are employed by the Ministry of Defence.[56] In 2004, there was speculation that RM Condor would be transferred to the Army as a replacement for Fort George and the barracks become a permanent base for a battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. This went on further than the planning stage. In 2005 it was confirmed the Marines would remain.[61]

Housing

House prices in Arbroath in April–June 2006 were just £99 below national average: £113,646 compared to a national £113,745.[62] The average house price across Angus rose by 14.9 per cent to £124,451 in the year up to November 2006.[63] Angus Council suggests the upgrading of the A92 between Arbroath and Dundee to a dual carriageway has lured Dundonians to Arbroath, which may be boosting house prices.[64]

Tourism

Tourism plays some part in the Arbroath economy, with Arbroath Abbey attracting over 14,000 visitors a year.[65] Attractions in the summer months include the Seafront Spectacular, which includes an airshow, and the Seafest, themed around Arbroath's maritime heritage. There is also a re-enactment of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath (the declaration of Scottish independence) and in past years a mock Viking invasion, culminating in the burning of a longship.[66]

Kerr's Railway, seen here in August 2019, just over a year before its closure in October 2020.

Arbroath was home to Kerr's Miniature Railway, the oldest miniature railway in Scotland, which had been operating since 1935 and at its height, in 1955, saw 60,000 visitors. The railway was operated as a hobby by a group of volunteers and remained popular with locals, tourists and railway enthusiasts until its closure in October 2020.[67][68]

The town features a multimillion-pound Harbour Visitor Centre close to the Town Quay. This multimedia experience for visitors is maintained by the Scottish tourist company VisitScotland. It explains the town's fishing history and hosts a restaurant and gift shop.[69]

Transport

Arbroath railway station

The A92 road connects Arbroath to Dundee and Fife to the south-west, and Stonehaven in the north-east. The A92 joins the A90 north of Stonehaven and leads to Aberdeen further north. The A92 is dual carriageway from the southern outskirts of Arbroath to the northern outskirts of Dundee. It then proceeds through Dundee before crossing the Tay estuary into Fife via the Tay Road Bridge. The A90 can also be reached at Dundee heading both north (to Aberdeen) and south (to Perth and Edinburgh).

Arbroath has a modest public bus system, with Arbroath Bus Station as its main terminus. Stagecoach Strathtay and Travel Wishart (part of National Express) operate most local services and Stagecoach Strathtay most rural services. Arbroath has a railway station, a short walk from the bus station, with regional services to the east coast of Scotland, Edinburgh, Perth and Glasgow. Intercity trains reach English destinations such as Newcastle, Birmingham, York and London. Passenger services at Arbroath are provided by Abellio ScotRail, CrossCountry, Caledonian Sleeper and London North Eastern Railway. Dundee has a regional airport with flights to London City Airport five times a week.[70] The airport has a 1,530-yard runway capable of serving small aircraft and lies 1.8 miles west of the city centre, adjacent to the River Tay. The nearest international airports are in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Arbroath has a sizeable airfield at the Royal Marines military base on the western outskirts of the town, but this remains a dedicated military airfield.

Education

Arbroath has a further education college, Angus College, based in the former Arbroath High School buildings. There are two secondary schools and 11 primary schools. One primary school is Roman Catholic, the remainder non-denominational. There were 2,260 pupils in primary-school education in Arbroath and 1,720 pupils in secondary education in 2007.[71]

Secondary schools

The two secondaries are Arbroath High School and Arbroath Academy. The high school (the older of the two), was originally a grammar school and the academy a comprehensive. The Academy is near the Mayfield area and the High School near Keptie Pond. Both are well regarded, with exam results and reading and writing performance indicators above the national average.[72] Arbroath High is the larger with some 1,200 pupils. The Academy has around 600 pupils.

Noted alumni of Arbroath High School include Michael Forsyth, former Scottish Secretary[73] and Andrew Webster, a professional footballer who plays for St Mirren.

Further education

Angus College, a further education college, has around 8,500 students, with 80 per cent passing the course for which they enrol. There are about 1,700 full-time students, with part-time students making up the majority. Arbroath is not a student town and there are no student residences. The student population is solely local students living within commuting distance of the college. Angus College offers courses up to Higher National Diploma (HND) level in a variety of trade-related and academic disciplines from construction to social sciences, and a large number of programs relating to computing, information technology and office administration. Many of the student body are mature students taking evening classes in computing, digital photography and various software packages.[74]

School leavers going on to study at university have the choice of several local institutions – the University of Dundee, the University of Abertay Dundee, the University of St Andrews and the University of Aberdeen all within around one hour's travel from Arbroath.

Places of worship

The Old and Abbey Parish Church

The neighbouring villages of St Vigeans, Carmyllie, Friockheim, Colliston and Inverkeilor are considered part of Arbroath for the purposes of council representation.

The Church of Scotland has a number of congregations that meet in Arbroath. The Old and Abbey Church is located in the centre of town at West Abbey Street and will shortly welcome Rev. Dolly Purnell as its minister.[75] St Andrews Church, Arbroath is located in Hamilton Green, and the minister is Rev. Dr. Martin Fair with associate minister Rev. Stuart Irvin.[76] Knox's Church[77] is located in Howard Street and the minister is Rev Dr Nelu Balaj. The West Kirk is located in Keptie Street and the minister is Rev. Alasdair Graham.[78] Dr Fair has been nominated serve as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2020–2021 – the first time that a minister of a congregation in Arbroath will have served as Moderator.

There are also a number of Church of Scotland kirks in the surrounding villages. St Vigeans Church,[79] St Vigeans is linked with Knox's Church in Arbroath and services are led by Rev Dr Nelu Balaj. Arbirlot Church is linked with Carmyllie Church. Colliston Church is linked with Friockheim and Kinnell Church and Inverkeilor and Lunan Church. The minister of these three churches is Rev. Peter Phillips.

There is an Episcopalian congregation based at St Mary the Virgin Church in Springfield Terrace. The minister is Rev. Peter Mead.[80] St Mary's Church evolved from a meeting house set up in 1694 by Episcopalians forced out of Arbroath Parish Church. The present church building dates from 1854.[81] The Scottish Episcopal Church in Arbroath is part of the Diocese of Brechin. There is also a Scottish Episcopal Church in Auchmithie: St Peter's.

The Roman Catholic Church meets at St Thomas of Canterbury Church in Dishlandtown Street.[82][83] The priest is the Rev. Fr. Andrew Marshall. The church is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dunkeld.[84] The parish includes a primary school and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1998.[85]

The Methodist Church has one of its earliest established churches in Arbroath, St John's in Ponderlaw, which opened in 1772. Services are led by David Nicoll.[86]

Other groups that worship in Arbroath include the Arbroath Corps of the Salvation Army, which meets in Marketgate, the Elim Pentecostal Church, led by Alan Herd, which meets in Ogilvy Place;[87] the independent, non-denominational church who meet at Life Church Arbroath in James Street, the Jehovah's Witnesses, who meet at the Kingdom Hall in Lindsay Street, the Springfield Christian Assembly, which meets in the Gospel Hall in Ponderlaw Lane;[88] and the Arbroath Town Mission, an interdenominational group led by Dr Robert Clapham, which meets in Grant Road.[89]

Followers of other faiths and denominations travel further afield to worship.

Culture

Arbroath's Webster Theatre has featured among others Harry Lauder, Jimmy Tarbuck,[90] Charlie Landsborough, the Illegal Eagles, the Drifters and the Chuckle Brothers and was the first venue the Alexander Brothers, a Scottish easy listening act, performed in as a professional duo.[91] The Webster Theatre went through a multi-million-pound refurbishment and opened in February 2008.

There are several amateur theatre and musical societies based in and around Arbroath, the best known being the Angus Minstrels group, the last group in Britain to regularly perform blackface. In 2005, after pressure from Angus Council, which feared legal action, the show began with normal stage makeup and the group changed name from "The Angus Black and White Minstrels" to "The Angus Minstrels". The move to stop performing in blackface received wide UK press coverage.[92][93]

Beginning in 1947, a pageant commemorating the signing of the Declaration has been held within the roofless remains of the abbey (last full-scale event 2005). This was run by the local Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, now Arbroath Abbey Timethemes, a registered charity, and re-enacts the story and history of the signing. The group also spearhead Scotland's Tartan Day celebrations on 6 April in association with Angus Council as well as educational visits to local schools.[94]

Arbroath Male Voice Choir was founded in 1934 and is now one of only a few male voice choirs left in Scotland. At 2012 the choir has over 45 members drawn from Arbroath, Angus and Dundee. The musical director is Sheena Guthrie. The choir sings a mix of songs from classical, through Scottish, show tunes and pop. It performs two main concerts each year, one at Christmas, another in spring, and offers several smaller events for good causes. The choir is notable for attracting well known, often international singers to its annual spring concert as guests. In recent years they have included, Jamie McDougall, Karen Cargill, Gordon Cree, Cheryl Forbes and Colette Ruddy. March 2012 saw the international diva Lesley Garrett as the choir's special guest.

The author Sir Walter Scott's famous Waverley series of novels includes Rob Roy and Ivanhoe. Scott is known to have visited Arbroath three times, and his personal favourite in the series, The Antiquary (1816), features fictionalised versions of Arbroath ("Fairport") and Auchmithie ("Musselcrag").[95]

Arbroath has one museum, the former Bell Rock Lighthouse Signal Tower. In 1807 Arbroath became the base of operations for the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse. The shore station for the lighthouse – the Bell Rock Signal Tower – was completed in 1813 and acted as a lifeline for the keepers offshore. Signal Tower Museum was opened in 1974 as a visitor centre, detailing the history of the lighthouse and the town of Arbroath.[96]

Arbroath Art Gallery occupies two galleries above Arbroath Library. It hosts changing displays of artworks from the collection of Angus Council and elsewhere. Highlight of the collection include two large oil paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, The Adoration of the Magi and Saint John Preaching in the Wilderness.[97]

Hospitalfield House, a baronial mansion to the west of the town, houses an educational charity promoting contemporary arts.[98]

Arbroath smokies

Local Delicacy: The Arbroath Smokie

Arbroath smokies, known nationally and internationally, have been made solely in Arbroath since the award of Protected Geographical Indication in 2004, which limits their production to within 4 km of Arbroath. Smokies are made from haddock by traditional methods dating back to the late 19th century. The fish are first salted overnight to preserve them, then left tied in pairs to dry. Next, the dried fish are hung in a covered barrel containing a hardwood fire. After about an hour of smoking, the fish are golden brown and ready to eat.[99] The preparation of smokies remains a cottage industry in Arbroath, centred almost exclusively on the harbour area. However, one larger processor, RR Spink, supplied Arbroath smokies to several UK supermarket chains. It appears that, nowadays, the firm concentrates on smoking other fish such as salmon or trout and no longer supplies the Arbroath Smokie. The company holds the Royal Warrant as a fishmonger to the Queen.[100][101]

Sport

Arbroath has one professional football team, Arbroath, who play in Scottish Championship, the second tier of the Scottish Professional Football League. Arbroath plays its home matches at Gayfield Park, which holds the record for being the closest stadium to the sea in European football (around 5½ yards from the high tide line).[102] Arbroath holds the world record for the largest winning margin in a senior football match, 36–0, in their Scottish Cup match against Bon Accord (a scratch team from Aberdeen) on 12 September 1885.[103] Further goals were disallowed either for offside or because it was unclear whether the ball had gone into the goal.[104] For this reason the AFC supporters' club is called the 36–0 club in memory of the event. Arbroath are nicknamed the Red Lichties, after the red light used to guide fishing boats back from the North Sea to the harbour (lichtie being a Scots word for light). Arbroath and the surrounding areas are home to several amateur senior and junior teams competing in the various amateur leagues, such as Arbroath Victoria and Arbroath SC.

Arbroath has an outdoor Arbroath Lawn Tennis Club.[105] It was upgraded in 2014–2015 from fundraising and a grant from Sportscotland.[106][107]

Arbroath has a rugby union club, Arbroath RFC, and several bowls clubs, with former World, British and current Commonwealth Games singles champion Darren Burnett a native of Arbroath.[108]

Arbroath has a successful cricket club. It won the CSL Eastern Premiership in 2013 and the Scottish Cup in 2015.[109]

Arbroath is a popular location for angling.

Public services

Arbroath and the surrounding area are supplied by Scottish Water. Along with Dundee and parts of Perthshire, Angus receives water from Lintrathen and Backwater reservoirs in Glen Isla. Electricity distribution is by Scottish Hydro Electric plc, part of the Scottish and Southern Energy group.

Waste management is handled by Angus Council. There is a kerbside recycling scheme that has been in operation since May 2004. Cans, glass, paper and plastic bottles are collected on a weekly basis. Compostable material and non-recyclable material are collected on alternate weeks.[110] Roughly two-thirds of non-recyclable material is sent to landfill at Angus Council's site at Lochhead, Forfar and the remainder sent for incineration (with energy recovery) outside the council area.[111]

There is a recycling centre at Cairnie Loan. Items accepted include, steel and aluminium cans, cardboard, paper, electrical equipment, engine oil, fridges and freezers, garden waste, gas bottles, glass, liquid food and drinks cartons, plastic bottles, plastic carrier bags, rubble, scrap metal, shoes and handbags, spectacles, textiles, tin foil, wood and yellow pages. Angus council publishes details of where and how each product is processed.[112] There are also glass banks at Timmergreens Shopping Centre, the Abbeygate Car Park, Morrisons Car Park and East Muirlands Road.[113] The Angus Council area had a recycling rate of 34.7 per cent in 2007/2008.[110]

Healthcare is supplied by NHS Tayside. Arbroath Infirmary can be found at Rosemount Road, at the top of the hill[114] and Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.[115] Primary Health Care in Arbroath is supplied by Abbey Health Centre in East Abbey Street and Springfield Medical Centre in Ponderlaw Street. Arbroath, along with the rest of Scotland is served by the Scottish Ambulance Service.[116]

Policing is provided by Police Scotland, with the police station located in Gravesend,[117] and Arbroath is served by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.[118]

Arbroath has had its own lifeboat since 1803 and is currently the last remaining slipway-launched lifeboat in Scotland. The lifeboat station houses two RNLI lifeboats, an inshore D-Class IB1 lifeboat, the Duncan Ferguson, and an all-weather Mersey Class Lifeboat, the Inchcape, named after the rock that the Bell Rock Lighthouse is on.

Notable people

In alphabetical order:

  • Gus Alexander (1934–2010), footballer
  • Marion Angus (1865–1946), poet[119]
  • Neil Arnott FRS LLD (1788–1874) invented the waterbed and the hot air stove.[120]
  • David Dunbar Buick (1854–1929), founder of the Buick Motor Company. Inventor of the enamelled bathtub and the overhead valve engine
  • James Chalmers (1782–1853), inventor of the adhesive postage stamp and promoter of the Penny Post
  • Dominik Diamond (born 1969), TV presenter[121]
  • Ned Doig (1866–1919), Scottish footballer
  • Martin Fair (born 1964), Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2020–2021 and minister at St Andrew's Parish Church, Arbroath
  • John Ritchie Findlay (1824–1898), proprietor of The Scotsman newspaper and philanthropist.[122]
  • Graham Gano (born 1987), American football placekicker for the Carolina Panthers of the NFL
  • James Glen Sivewright Gibson (1861–1951), architect[123]
  • George Gordon (1829–1907), civil engineer working in the Netherlands, India and Australia
  • Patrick Hennessy (1915–1980), realist painter
  • Harry Lauder (1870–1950), Scottish singer and comedian. He lived in Arbroath until age of 14[124]
  • Durward Lely (1852–1944), opera singer, especially Gilbert and Sullivan[125]
  • Bernard de Linton (died c. 1331), Abbot of Arbroath, Chancellor of Scotland and Bishop of the Isles (also known as Bernard of Kilwinning) widely credited since the 18th century as the author of the Declaration of Arbroath; Abbot at Arbroath Abbey from 1309 and immortalised in the town in a statue with Robert the Bruce holding aloft the Declaration sited at the West (or Cricket) Common
  • David Nicoll Lowe FRSE (1909–1999) botanist[126]
  • James Mackay, 1st Earl of Inchcape (1852–1932), Chairman of the P&O Line and the British India Company[60]
  • Gareth Murray (born 1984), player/coach of Glasgow Rocks, represented Great Britain at seven or more major tournaments.[127] Grew up in Arbroath.
  • Morris Pert (1947–2010), Scottish composer, drummer, percussionist, and pianist. Recorded with many musical artists including Phil Collins[128]
  • George Scott Railton (1849–1913), Scottish missionary, first commissioner of The Salvation Army and 2nd in Command to William Booth
  • Ally Riddle (born 1941), footballer
  • Alexander Ross (1895–1972), first-class cricketer
  • Robert Sievwright (1882–1947), international cricketer for Scotland
  • David Frederick Skea (1871–1950), was a Scottish association football player (1890s).[129]
  • Andy Stewart, (1933–1993), musician and entertainer, lived in Arbroath as a boy and retired to Arbroath.[130]
  • Gavin Swankie (born 1983), footballer
  • Paul Tosh (born 1973), footballer
  • Kerr Waddell (born 1998), footballer for Dundee F.C.
  • Andy Webster (born 1982), footballer and Scotland international with 22 caps to date;[131] he captained Dundee United to Scottish Cup victory in May 2010.

See also

  • Aber and Inver as place-name elements
  • Arbroath smokie
  • List of places in Angus

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