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 Originally made as a plaster in 1937, this bronze version was installed in 2001.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.

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


  1. Hi Anabel – that tidal basin is a thing of delight in the right weather … but an interesting place – lovely statues – to visit … lots of history. I wish I wasn’t so far away – cheers Hilary


  2. I love the Traill Pavilion, it’s a great colour and looks very Art Deco in style, but my favourite is the wrecked car, it makes a very interesting foreground subject 🙂


  3. I’m not sure where the birds were the day you visited. Last time I was there the basin was heaving with all kinds of sea birds. Montrose was one of the places we often visited on a day trip when I was a child. We did a lot of what would now be termed ‘wild swimming’ there and at Lunan Bay. We just called it swimming! I look forward to the next blog. Thanks, Anabel


  4. Looked a little wild. I’m having to get used to taking photos on my iPhone on many a grey day in Scotland. I guess this is where proper cameras come into their own, allowing more light in. However, I’m not sure I want to be backpacking with a camera and a phone.


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