On this page Sheila Sedgwick relates tales of some notable characters who lived in Ballater in the 19th Century. At least one, Charles Davidson lived into the 20th Century as is evident from the reference to motor cars in his poem. It would seem that he was not a great fan of the new invention.These are not stories about the 'great and good' but about ordinary people who inhabited the village.
Charles Davidson joined the railway service in 1883 and ten years later he became signalman at Ballater. A keen Free Mason, a musician and a poet, Charles Davidson was a mild man, of quiet speech. One situation showed him in a rather different light. When he had to deal with the Tsar's arrival in 1896, the Russian language and the mountains of luggage were too much for him on a pouring wet day. Charlie put some 'immediately needed' luggage in a horse-drawn vehicle. He ignored, or deliberately did not hear incomprehensible shouts by a Cossack. The latter, in a rage with this inferior stupid Aberdeenshire peasant was about to hit Charlie with his stick. "Stop" yelled Charlie at the top of his voice, "That's maybe a' richt in Russia, bit it winna work in Ballater". Locals were lining up on Charlie's side when a Russian detective stepped in, spoke to the Russian and pacified Charlie in what a local referred to as 'Christian Scotch'. Charlie's later comment, - 'I suppose 1 micht hae been shot in Russia'.
I quote one of Charlie Davidson's poems. It is one of his poorer ones as poetry, but it gives a picture of Ballater in the latter half of Victoria's reign:-
TH£ SEASON AT BALLATER.
time's ceaseless whirligig
varied hues of leaf and flower
scene of bustle meets the eye
those who, in real old-world style
Mime, Braemar, at 10a.m.
galore for pleasure drives
lovers of the 'ancient game'
by Dee's pellucid stream
putting greens like velvet smooth
mair in 'hydro' water cure
ither spot in braid Scotland
When the Railway came to Ballater, the village centre moved from Bridge Square to Station Square. Plaques in the road in Station Square commemorate the Railway Age.
Davidson the Cooper:
When he was in Ballater, young people frequently tried to play tricks on John. It delighted them to see him roused, threatening all sorts of vengeance. On one occasion, a large log was placed against John's door. When he opened it in the morning, the weight pushed open the door with such force that John was knocked flat on his back. Uttering all kinds of deadly maledictions on the perpetrators, John was in a rage. They would of course be long gone!
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|Introduction||A History of Royal Deeside||The Deeside Railway||The Old Military Road||Old Kirkyardst|
|Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside||John Brown, Loyal Servant||Francis Farquharson||Lord Byron, poet||Alexander Gordon|
|Macbeth and Braemar||Braemar Gathering and Highland Games||History of Braemar||Clan Farquharson||Bridges of Ballater|
|19th Century Ballater||History of Dinnet area||Aboyne History||Aboyne Wartime Poetry||Aboyne Great War Records|
|History of Dinnet||History of Tarland||Scott Skinner, the Strathspey King||Glen O' Dee Hospital||Brunel's Bridge|
|AA Box 472|
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