Dingwall Players (Drama Club)
Dingwall Players is a vibrant drama club which has, over the years, gained a reputation for producing quality entertainment. The present clubrooms are situated in the Old Academy, where they have been since the late 1970s.
Dingwall Players was formed in 1949, when there were 39 members. In the period up to 1960 the Dingwall Players appeared in the Scottish Finals of the SCDA’s One-Act Play Festival four times. In 1982 the Dingwall Players gained third place in the Scottish Finals with Act One of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, and have won accolades for technical expertise, winning stage presentations awards frequently.
The Club usually performs at least one full-length play every year and offers family entertainment at the Christmas season. The pattern for Christmas shows was set in 1978 with a production of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. The cast list shows 37 names on stage and a backstage crew of 19. The success of this led on to the staging of traditional pantomines, involving up to 80 people, both on stage and offstage. The profits from these shows have been used to finance the rest of the year’s activities.
The Club also organises Theatre Workshops and Olde Tyme Music Halls and started the Dingwall Folk Club.
Dingwall Players Drama Club is a club that has been successfully producing many aspects of live theatre for 50 years. It is a vibrant, community-based drama group which combines enthusiasm with expertise to stage quality productions under difficult circumstances, viz,.the lack of suitable performance venues and of clubroom premises, including storage accommodation.
Dingwall Players’ Production of The Wizard of Oz, December 1999
[Alexander Glass, 2003]
Dingwall Probus Club
PROBUS, from the words PROfessional and BUSiness, is an association of retired and semi-retired men and women in self-governing clubs worldwide.
Dingwall Probus Club meets fortnightly on Tuesdays at 2.30pm from September to April in the British Legion Hall, High St., Dingwall, and visitors are always made very welcome.
Activities include carpet bowls, visiting speakers, and, when a four can be found, bridge.
The club runs annual outings for members and their wives to places of interest within and furth the Highland area, and holds an annual dinner.
Arthur Brocklebank, President
Accordian & Fiddle Club
The club was set up in 1979.
Venue – National Hotel, Dingwall.
Musical evenings held on the first Wednesday of the month from September to June, i.e. 10 per year. January may be on the second Wednesday if New Year’s day is too close.
For the past few years membership stands at around 100-110.
Charges – Membership = £3.
Admission – Members and OAP’s = £2, non-members £3.
The aim of the club is to foster and encourage interest in music and in so doing, organise musical evenings giving club members and guests the opportunity to hear local musicians and invited guest artistes.
Musical evenings commence at 7.30pm. The first one and a quarter hours is taken up with the local players including most of the younger players. The next half to three quarter hour is devoted to guest artistes. There is then an interval of approx. a quarter hour, when tea and/or stovies are available. The second half commences at 9.45pm with the more mature local players until around 10.30pm. Followed by a second spit from the guest artiste finishing at 11.15pm.
Normally we have 15 + local players. They may play solo or in small groups. We aim for a good standard of guest artistes. We may have a solo player but more often we have duos or trios. We occasionally have full bands but these can be expensive. Quite a few artists come from the Central Belt or even further afield.
There is no provision for accordion tuition in the schools and there are not many good tutors available locally. For the past few 5 or 6 years the club has established accordion tuition. It has arranged for Alastair Hunter the well known band leader from Aberdeen to travel to Dingwall on a Saturday once per month. He takes 9-10 pupils for one half hour individual tuition as each unit. The club pays fully half the cost. The council did assist financially for a time but this has now ceased.
Chairman – J. A. Stephen, Tullich, Proby Street, Maryburgh.
Treasurer – Mrs Christine Matheson
Secretary – D. R. Gordon, Culbokie by Dingwall. Tel: 01349 877483.
The Club, which holds musical evenings on the first Wednesday of each month from September to May, has met in the National Hotel, Dingwall, during the 40 years of its existence.
From its birth in September 1979, when Bobby Macleod was the guest artiste, the group has held many memorable nights when established talent from around the country has performed, and newcomers have gained invaluable experience through live performances.
The Club celebrated its 40th anniversary during the customary musical evening which included a celebratory cake baked locally.
DINGWALL DISCOVERY GROUP
DINGWALL DISCOVERY GROUP began in 1994, with a small group of those in the 50 + age bracket, keen to find interesting and worthwhile ways of spending their retirement years. Affiliation to the Discovery Award Association helped them explore the possibilities of making new friendships, in good company and at the same time having fun as they pursued a variety of activities at both personal and group level. Some members have undertaken personal challenges which have led to Achievement Awards.
Today, we have 38 registered members. A committee of elected members ensure our yearly programme of outings, visits, activities and speakers is wide, appealing and fulfils our original aims.
Interested? Join us in the Community Centre, Tulloch Street, on Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm.
For further information, contact Margaret MacLeod, Tel. 01349 865121 or Nan Lynch Tel. 01349 861792
Dingwall Highland Games
On August 3rd 1946 a games day was held in the Victoria Park, Dingwall. Following this event the Dingwall Highland Games was founded by the Dingwall Fire Brigade Club in 1947 and the Highland Games were held annually, enjoying the support of spectator crowds numbering from 2 to 4 thousand for many years who came to see a programme which included pipe band contests, piping and highland dancing, track and field events, tug of war, cycle races, horse racing and jumping events, side-shows and many other attractions.
Sadly due to the growth of other leisure attractions the fire brigade club decided in 1964 that they could no longer subsidise the games in its present format opted to change to amateur status which was increasing in popularity at this time. This action also failed to bring in spectator and financial support and the games ceased to function after the 1965 games.
The games went into abeyance in 1976 Jock Watt, the former director of Ross and Cromarty leisure and recreation committee convened a meeting of interested parties to re-start the games. Some 20 to 30 people attended this meeting and agreed to put Dingwall back on the games circuit. Office bearers were duly elected and the first games were held on the second Saturday of July 1976 in the Jubilee Park and continued for 21 years. Several of the games were successful with regards income, the others were somewhat affected by Inverness starting Highland Games on the same day which attracted the tourists who would normally attended Dingwall. The 1996 games was a financial disaster and the committee decided that they could not possibly carry on.
An approach to some Dingwall business men who had been very supportive over the years resulted in the formation of a new committee and office bearers, some of the former committee were retained.
The 1997 games went ahead and was a complete success as were the 1998 and 1999. A new date and venue was made for the 1999 games. The new venue in the Dingwall academy sports field was voted the best ever by spectators and competitors with a noted increase of locals in attendance. The organisers are to be congratulated on their good work which benefited the community and ensured the continuity of the Dingwall Games hopefully for many years to come.
[Sadly, the Dingwall Highland Games has been in abeyance for a number of years.]
DINGWALL DROP-IN YOUTH KAFE
Dingwall Youth Kafe will take up residence in the Temperance Hall just before the close of the Century. One historical event to mark the turning of another. The Kafe was set up in 1994 and operated out of the Community Centre one evening a week until such time as it became a victim of its own success when membership became too large for the Centre facilities available. Throughout 1999 all energies were put into the refurbishment of the Temperance Hall, fund-raising and recruiting staff.
The Kafe is a voluntary community project for young people living in and around the Dingwall area. Its aim is to provide a facility in Dingwall for teenagers of all backgrounds who live within the catchment area of Dingwall Academy. The first phase of the project will include a Kafe/Alcohol-free Bar/Kitchen and Games Room. Phase 2 will see the refurbishment of a large hall area completed, study/counselling rooms; an office; and information room. Fundraising for Phase 2 will begin as soon as possible after the opening of Phase 1. The information service will include a small reference library; computer/internet facilities; self-help/harm reduction information; career/financial advice. All these issues may be covered through social interaction, leisure pursuits and recreational facilities to develop the physical and mental capacities in a comfortable and informal meeting place of their own and to encourage them in interests and hobbies.
A Project Leader will work with the young people with the help of a Youth Worker Assistant. The Kafe will be for 8 hours to begin with until such time as funds have been identified to allow for a full time service to be provided.
The Youth Management Committee take responsibilty for all decisions on the day-to-day running of the project with the Board of Directors offering advice and guidance on major issues.
Making links with other youth organisations and Youth Kafes from other areas using the collective stronger voice to influence policy on issues concerning youth.
Helping each other, encouraging those who are socially excluded or marginalised to take part in the Kafe activities eg:
Taking part in local community events
Looking after the decoration and interior of the Kafe.
Fund raising events.
The national face of football in Dingwall has been dominated in the media by Ross County Football Club which has been a reckonable force in the National League. To leave it here, however, would be doing the Dingwall football fraternity a great disservice. Football is one of Dingwall’s main sport and boys and girls participate regularly from early primary school age onwards.
One of the most exciting developments has been the introduction of Soccer Sevens as a non-competitive game in a relaxed atmosphere. The well known Dingwall Vics helps young footballers progress to the full sided game, and from their amateur league side Dingwall Thistle caters for adult players.
Ross County Football Club has developed a community wing with the appointment of a Community Coach and an Assistant Community Coach. This caters for the up and coming players of the future as well as providing an excellent community service.
Dingwall is justifiably proud of its football as youngsters not only have ready access to the sport, but also have an obstacle free pathway from when they first kick a ball right through to the professional game as their ability and desire allows.
DINGWALL CAMERA CLUB
In 1972 a public meeting was advertised to discuss the proposed formation of a camera club in the burgh. There was a fairly healthy attendance but some people got the impression that the majority present were in favour of a cosy holiday snap appreciation society. Fortunately the enthusiasm of the latter dwindled and a hard core of fifteen fairly dedicated photographers emerged to draw up the constitution of the present club. At least half of these were keen print workers mainly in mono as amateur colour work was in its infancy at that time.
Thanks to prudent management and a forward looking committee, by 1978 the membership had soared to 45 (later it reached a peak of 60) and after some success in an SPF sponsored national competition it was decided to launch a National Slide Exhibition on an annual basis. It was the only one in Scotland – and still is. At that time there was a nucleus of expert slide workers and the reasons for the venture were to put Dingwall firmly on the map and give it some prestige on the British scene which would encourage Southern lecturers and judges up to our Highland isolation. This has certainly happened but there were some members who felt that after the initial enthusiasm and perhaps the eventual departure of the elite nucleus the club might be left with quite a heavy ball and chain every year. However, we have soldiered on – it is a big chore for a small club but we hope that our regular customers consider it worthwhile. The original Exhibition Chairman, Roy Millett, APAGB, left in 1979 to work in Derbyshire and started the Claycross Exhibition which is run on very similar lines to our own which produces a live A/V show with music and commentary to at least a dozen clubs on both sides of the Border.
Premises were always a problem and at one time we had to post a member at a couple of previous venues so that arrivals could be redirected to a third hastily arranged room or small hall. One such place was the old Academy Buildings where the janitor appeared every Monday evening at 9.20 pm. looking ominously at his watch ! The big break came in 1982 when the District Council agreed to give us Eagle House, an ancient listed building beside the Town Hail, for a nominal rent provided we took it over in its very sorry state and brought it up to modern standards. That winter very enthusiastic work parties including joiners, electricians and painters worked every weekend to transform the dingy premises into its present welcoming state which includes a projection room for forty people completely surrounded by black wall panels for print display. Upstairs there is a darkroom, studio and committee room.
Competitions form quite a large part of our syllabus. Every AGM produces a heated debate on “Open versus Set Subject” and at the moment “Open” is winning. Unfortunately the total entry always drops for “set” subjects. Our judges are requested to award credits to 20% of the entries for all categories and these are added at the season’s end to find the various cup winners. A three tier system operates but due to natural progression we now find that the advanced section is more than top heavy leaving the “general” almost empty therefore some drastic action will need to be considered at the AGM. Somebody suggested promotion and relegation and it sounds like a good idea.
Most work is well above average and presentation has improved vastly over the past few years. We have a well equipped darkroom big enough for practical lectures which even at £1 hire per session is grossly underused. This is possibly a sign of these affluent times when after a couple of teaching sessions the pupil goes out and invests in all the necessary gear.
Bob Hunter – President – (Dec. 1999)
Dingwall Highland Fling
Ross and Cromarty Heritage Society is grateful to Dingwall Fire Brigade
Community Group for permission to reproduce their Highland Fling 2009 booklet.