Montrose and its Basin

The House of Dun and Violet Jacob featured in my last post. Also within walking distance of our cottage in Wester Dun was the Montrose Basin, the enclosed estuary of the River South Esk. This nearly circular tidal basin has a variety of habitats within it from exposed tidal mudflats to saltmarsh, reedbed and fen, and is surrounded by arable farmland and pasture. We visited two of the hides but, despite being promised a plethora of bird species we didn’t see much. Most of the birds must have been out that day. The wrecked car on the way out to the second hide was more interesting!

Also, there were good views across the Basin to Montrose itself which we visited a few days later – in very different weather. It was miserable! Though I liked the Public Library and the ghost sign (Radio & ??? – not sure exactly what it says).

Plenty of statues too, but not a woman in sight (although apparently there are some elsewhere). Below left is Joseph Hume (1777-1855), a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Member of Parliament for Montrose, and a supporter of the 1831 Reform Bill (to give more men the vote), schools savings banks, and free trade. On the right is Sir Robert Peel (1788-1846), a well-known 19th century politician who became Prime Minister in 1834. I don’t think he has any Montrose connection – like Queen Victoria, he gets everywhere. We have statues of both in George Square in Glasgow.

The gentleman with the sword (below left) is James Graham (1612-1650), 5th Earl and 1st Marquis of Montrose (along with many other titles). He was reputedly born in Castlestead, the building behind the statue, in 1612. During the Civil War of the 1640s, between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, he won several battles for the Royalist cause until he was defeated at Carbisdale in April 1650. He was captured, taken to Edinburgh to face charges of treason, and executed without trial: hanged, drawn and quartered. His body parts were displayed in cities across Scotland for the next 10 years until Charles II was restored to the throne and gave him a state funeral. Our political discourse in the UK may not always be terribly civilised, but we have made some progress!

Next to James Graham is Bill the Smith, a sculpture by William Lamb (1893-1951) a native of Montrose who used local people as models. Originally made as a plaster in 1937, this bronze version was installed in 2001.  The model was William Windsor Laurence, known as ‘Bill the Basher’, who worked as a blacksmith. This is by far my favourite, he has such a gentle face.

We then decided to walk along Montrose Bay, but we didn’t last long – you couldn’t see much and the rain was driving into us by this time.

However, the Traill Pavilion and another William Lamb sculpture added a bit of colour. The Minesweeper’s job was to patrol the dunes in World War 2, watching for mines that might be swept into the harbour on an incoming tide.  The original was exhibited in the RSA in 1944, but this statue was cast and installed on the Montrose esplanade in 2000.

Finally, before we leave Montrose, a few pictures that John took while out on his bike: I love this bridge over the River North Esk and the daffodil field.

Still more to come: lighthouses, castles, and beaches in better weather.


  1. So, here we go…
    I’ve been to Montrose – once, many years ago. It was to celebrate the marriage of a former colleague, originally from Stockport, who’d moved up there to work for Glaxo and had hitched up with a local lass! My daughter was just a baby so we’d arranged for her to stay with mother in law so that entailed driving south to Altrincham early Saturday to drop her off then drive all the way up to Montrose, as fast as possible to make it in time for the “do”.
    We stopped overnight and then had to do the reverse journey after we’d had breakfast as I was working on the Monday. We didn’t have time to see anything of Montrose so it’s interesting to see your photos!


  2. Good on Scotland weather and yes we all appreciate those brighter days. I do love the sculptures and the colourful houses. Do you know why many houses weren’t painted in places around Scotland?


  3. Is this the sort of weather a Scot would call ‘driech’? I heard that a lot in Edinburgh. Montrose looks lovely though, regardless of the weather. Love the ghost sign, wonder if the other word was ‘sound’?


  4. To be hung, drawn and quartered is absolutely the most gruesome way to die! Especially since most executioners weren’t really all that skilled at it. Ick.

    That really is a lovely bridge.


  5. You two venture forth through rain sleet and snow and capture some great photos and teach a bit of history. The car just looks right in place as it should be. That man, to die like that and can you imagine the stench? I can picture a poor peasant, happily walking, enjoying nature and then coming across a carcus with ravens pecking at it. Yichhhh!
    I do like boy and the minesweeper very well done. That pavilion is so pretty but looks lonely. What a lovely city you visited and love that bridge.


  6. Typical Scottish weather although the east coast is usually sunnier and drier than the west. I’ve motored past Montrose and the basin several times now. A guy passed me today on a modified electric bike and he was really moving yet on a slight upwards incline without peddling. I was really surprised how fast they can go. Around 20 to 25 mph by the looks of that one as I was driving in my car along the road yet he still shot by and disappeared round a corner in an instant.


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