Our Story

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Episodes

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0101Doric Language2013070120140506 (RS)

One of the most unique aspects of the North East of Scotland is the language. Doric is spoken throughout the area but it can vary dramatically from one place to another. In the past, it was frowned upon in schools but now children are actively learning Doric in the classroom. Mark Stephen explores the origins and idiosyncrasies of the language and finds out if there is a bit of a Doric revival afoot.

Mark Stephen starts with an exploration of the origins of the unique Doric language.

0102The Granite City2013070820140513 (RS)

What do the Forth Rail Bridge, the London Cenotaph, the Scottish Parliament and the fountains of Trafalgar Square have in common? All were constructed in part from granite, extracted from the many quarries in Aberdeenshire.

Today in "Our Story" Mark Stephen hears stories of living and working with the stone which gives much of the North East its distinctive appearance, and led to Aberdeen being nicknamed "The Granite City".

Mark Stephen hears stories of working with the granite that gave Aberdeen its nickname.

0103Farming In The North East Of Scotland2013071520140527 (RS)

Mark Stephen hears how farming life has changed over the last century.

It's hard to believe how much farming in the North East of Scotland has changed in the past century. From working the land with Clydesdale horses to state-of-the-art satellite-driven tractors. In this programme, Mark hears the memories of farming folk from as far back as the 1930s and finds out what different challenges farmers face today.

It's hard to believe how much farming in the North East of Scotland has changed in the past century. From working the land with clydesdale horses to state of the art satellite driven tractors. In this programme Mark hears the memories of farming folk from as far back as the 1930's and finds out what different challenges face farmers today.

01042013072220140101 (RS)

The exploration for oil in the North Sea began in the 1960's. As discoveries of oil grew, companies from across the UK, Europe and America moved in and with them came personnel from all over the world. In the following years the wealth generated by the oil industry changed life in the North East and Aberdeen became the Oil Capital of Europe.

Mark Stephen looks at the effects of the influx of people and money on the city and surrounding areas and hears the personal stories of those who worked in the industry and whose lives were changed by the arrival of oil.

0105The Eastern Cairngorms2013072920140701 (RS)
20141228 (RS)

The mountains around Upper Deeside were out of bounds for the masses up until the mid twentieth century. Groups of young climbers started exploring Lochnagar, Ben a Bhuird and the Eastern Cairngorms, jumping on the 3.15 Strachans bus from Aberdeen out to Ballater and Braemar on a Saturday afternoon, and returning to the city on a Sunday evening. Because of the long walks in, a particular kind of bothy culture emerged, which continues to this day. Certain characters of the hills like gamekeeper, Bob Scott became famous for their very special sort of hospitality towards young climbers.

One pioneering group of young men in the 1950's decided to build their own Secret Howff in the foothills of Ben a Bhuird, to make accessing the crags in winter easier. The sole survivor of this group, Ashie Brebner, shares his memories of that exciting time, dodging gamekeepers and carrying roofing materials on the bus for the Howff. Mark Stephen joins climber and author, Ian.R Mitchell on a journey to the Secret Howff, which is still standing, and discovers that the whereabouts remain private knowledge. We also hear from composer and mountaineer, Matilda Brown, who has worked with children from Braemar Primary School to create music which reflects their experiences of being out and about within these mountains.

Mark Stephen explores the relationship the people of the Cairngorms have with the area.

010620130805

Mark Stephen packs his deck chair and his knotted hankie for a trip to the seaside to hear our stories of Aberdeen's beach attractions. Mark experiences the thrills of Codonas Amusement Park, revels in nostalgia at the Beach Ballroom and hears memories of Harry Gordon's Pavilion, the old Beach Baths and happy summer days at the beach.

010720130812

Mark Stephen hears the stories of the North East's distinctive past. This week - a look at some of the old traditions and customs relating to pregnancy and birth.

From giving the new baby a silver coin for luck to not bringing the pram into the house before the new arrival, Mark discovers with the help of folklorist Margaret Bennett and midwife historian Lindsay Reid that some of the old superstitions are still very much alive to this day.

0108 LAST20130819

Mark Stephen hears the stories of the North East's distinctive past from those who are part of its rich history. This week we spend the morning at Fintry Primary School near Turriff to get a sense of how our approach to educating children has changed over the generations.

0201Marriage Customs2013110420140526 (RS)

Treacle, fish guts, cat food and grease....just some of the lovely ingredients the prospective bride and groom can expect to be doused with before a wedding takes place here in the North East! Mark Stephen explores the customs and traditions surrounding marriage and courtship. He talks to experts Margaret Bennett, Sheila Young and Sheila Sedgewick and hears the personal stories of North East folk.

Mark Stephen looks at the customs and traditions surrounding 'the big day'.

0202Cinema In The North East2013111120140729 (RS)

Mark Stephen delves into the history of cinema in the North East.

Mark Stephen takes a look at how cinema has changed since it first arrived in the North East in 1896. At one time Aberdeen had more picture houses per head of the population than any other city in the UK. From the nostalgic days of the silver screen to the emergence of the modern day community cinema, we chart the rise, and fall, and rise of this pioneering industry, through memory, archive and the living experiences of today.

0203The Dee20131118

Famous the world over for its Royal associations and its salmon fishing, Deeside is a very distinctive valley. From high up on the remote plateau of Braeriach where few people venture , to Aberdeen's bustling industrial harbour, Mark Stephen follows the River Dee from source to sea, hearing the stories past and present of those who have lived and worked by this characterful river.

Mark follows the River Dee from source to sea.

0204Death20131125

Mark Stephen hears about customs and superstitions surrounding death in the north east.

Mirrors were covered, clocks were stopped and a lock of hair was nailed to the door....all these traditions were observed when a death occurred. Mark Stephen finds out about the customs, omens and superstitions surrounding death in the North East of Scotland.

0204Death Traditions2013112520140610 (RS)

Mark Stephen hears about customs and superstitions surrounding death in the north east.

Mirrors were covered, clocks were stopped and a lock of hair was nailed to the door....all these traditions were observed when a death occurred. Mark Stephen finds out about the customs, omens and superstitions surrounding death in the North East of Scotland.

0205 LASTFishing20131202

Mention fishing and you picture a fisherman in oilskins but women have always played an important role in the fishing industry in the North East. It's clear that the supporting role of women - baiting lines, mending nets and preserving and selling fish - was invaluable. But for thousands of herring lassies who followed the fleet down the coast, it was a life changing experience.

0205 LASTWomen's Role In Fishing2013120220140911 (RS)

Mark Stephen hears about the role that women have played in fishing in the North East.

Mention fishing and you picture a fisherman in oilskins but women have always played an important role in the fishing industry in the North East. It's clear that the supporting role of women - baiting lines, mending nets and preserving and selling fish - was invaluable. But for thousands of herring lassies who followed the fleet down the coast, it was a life changing experience.

0301Nigerian Community In Aberdeen2014070720140708 (RS)

Mark Stephen explores the historic links between Nigeria and Aberdeen.

The first Nigerian student graduated from Aberdeen University in 1876. Now the city is home to Scotland's largest population of expat Nigerians. Mark Stephen looks at the appeal of Aberdeen for Nigerians past and present, and gets an insight into how they maintain and adapt their culture in a city far from home.

03022014071420140715 (RS)

Mark Stephen visits Carnoustie and meets people whose lives have been shaped by golf.

In the early 1900's, over 300 men from Carnoustie left the town and spread their knowledge and enthusiasm for golf around the world. Mark Stephen tests out his handicap on the famous Championship course, meeting people along the way whose lives in Carnoustie have been shaped by golf.

03032014072120140722 (RS)

50 years on, Mark Stephen hears memories of the Aberdeen typhoid outbreak.

TYPHOID 50 YEARS ON.

In 1964, Aberdeen was a city under siege as hundreds of people were quarantined after an outbreak of typhoid. Mark hears the memories of those directly involved and discovers that cutting edge research being undertaken in the city now is informing new ways of tackling this deadly global disease.

03042014080420140805 (RS)

Mark Stephen charts the history of the salmon-netting industry and the culture around it.

On many of the beaches around the North East of Scotland, the remains of salmon netting stations are still evident. From the end of the 19th Century through to the 1970's, this method of capturing wild salmon was thriving. The decline came about as salmon farming grew, and wild salmon stocks decreased in numbers. Now in the North East two new salmon netting stations have opened in the past two years, despite objections by environmental lobbyists and anglers. Mark Stephen charts the history of this unique industry and the particular culture that has grown up around it.

03052014081120140812 (RS)

Mark Stephen charts the rise of Aviemore from small village to outdoor capital.

Aviemore - Scotland's First Outdoor Capital - As the popularity of skiing in the Cairngorms grew from the 1960's, Aviemore itself grew from a small village into a buzzing holiday town. These days it's still a very popular family destination with all sorts of outdoor activities on offer, from windsurfing, to mountain biking, zip wiring to white water rafting. Mark Stephen charts the rise of Aviemore as Scotland's first outdoor capital, and looks at some of the more embarrassing moments too!

03062014081820140819 (RS)
20141226 (RS)
20151115 (RS)
20160102 (RS)

'Dear Minnie. I now take up my pen to fulfil my promise of writing to you. You will be thinking by the time you get this that I have forgot about you, but I will never do that.'

In 1902, a young joiner called Alexander Middleton left home in Glenesk in Angus to seek his fortune in the Gold Rush of North America. Over a hundred years later, a box containing 55 letters from him to his sweetheart, Minnie Lindsay, was discovered at the Glenesk Folk Museum. It contained evidence of a love affair no one in the Glen knew about.

Through exclusive readings from Alex's love letters to Minnie - spanning the early part of the 20th Century - we get an insight into life in Glenesk during that time. And Mark discovers that many of the places and social events described in these letters are perfectly preserved to this day.

Mark Stephen visits Glenesk in Angus and unearths a love affair from the early 1900s.

04012014121820141219 (RS)
20141221 (RS)

Mark Stephen visits Speyside to hear how the whisky industry has changed over the last century along with the lives of those who worked in it.

Mark Stephen hears how the whisky industry in Speyside has changed over the last century.

0402The Cotton Walk2014122520141228 (RS)
20151226 (RS)

On the 25th of December each year, the villagers of Inverallochy join together not to celebrate Christmas but to mark a long standing community tradition, The Cotton Walk. With musical accompaniment, the villagers known as Cottoners march along their village streets in a custom that has taken place for almost 175 years.

In Our Story, Mark Stephen visits Inverallochy to discover the origins of the annual walk and how it continues to survive today.

0403The Draper's Van2014122920150104 (RS)

Mark Stephen takes a trip in Alfie Bruce's van to hear about the history of mobile shops.

Dress shirts, boxer shorts, tights, pyjamas, ETBs... You can find them all in Alfie Bruce's van which has toured the north-east of Scotland for decades. There used to be hundreds of these mobile shops travelling around Scotland selling everything from fish to furniture - but they've all but been replaced by supermarket vans and couriers delivering online shopping. Mark Stephen takes a trip with Alfie to hear the history of these vans - and to discover what exactly a pair of ETBs is.

0404The Burning Of The Clavie2015010820150109 (RS)
20150111 (RS)
20160110 (RS)

For the Moray town of Burghead, 11 January is a significant date. For them, it is New Year and to mark the occasion, they burn The Clavie. Dating back to the 1750s, the annual fire festival is still going strong. Mark Stephen visits Burghead to discover the origins of the tradition and witness the spectacle first hand.

Mark Stephen visits Burghead for their New Year celebration, the Burning of the Clavie.

04052015011520150116 (RS)
20150118 (RS)

Mark Stephen explores the stories of the Shetland men who went whaling in the Antarctic.

Shetland's links with whaling go back as long as the islands have been inhabited, but the heyday of commercial whaling was in the mid-20th Century. It was an industry largely run by the Norwegians, but they relied heavily on Shetlanders crewing the ships that sailed down to the Antarctic for several months every year. But why were men from Shetland so valued as crew on these ships, and as workers on the shore stations of South Georgia? And what do those men think now about their involvement in an industry which is almost universally shunned by the international community? Mark Stephen meets the Shetland ex-whalers.

04062015012220151226 (RS)

In Our Story this week Mark Stephen finds out about Shetland's knitting traditions and speaks to some of the people who keep the skills alive today.

Mark Stephen finds out about Shetland's knitting traditions and speaks to some of the people keeping the skills alive.

050120150805

Mark Stephen goes behind the scenes of one of Scotland's iconic roadside eateries.

These days travellers on the A90 associate The Horn as much with the model cow on the roof as with the bacon rolls served inside. But this week in Our Story Mark discovers how the business began over 50 years ago in a tartan wooden hut as one of the earliest farm shops in Scotland.

05022015081220150816 (RS)

In Our Story this week, in the first of two programmes, Mark Stephen goes back to a town where he lived as a boy as they prepare for one of the most significant and exciting events in the calendar year - The Bo'ness Children's Fair Festival.

05032015081920150823 (RS)

This week in Our Story it's Fair Day in the town of Bo'ness as they celebrate the historic Bo'ness Children's Fair Festival.

05042015082620150830 (RS)
20160102 (RS)

The Shetland Fiddlers Hjaltibonhoga have been going down a storm for the second year at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performing live each night with their rotating band of 40 fiddlers. Mark Stephen goes behind the scenes to find out what it takes to get a group of traditional musicians of all ages and abilities ready for one of the greatest shows on earth.

Mark Stephen hears the stories of Scotland's distinctive past.

Mark Stephen hears the stories of Scotland's distinctive past from those who are part of its rich living history.

05042016033020160403 (RS)

Mark Stephen visits Musselburgh as the racecourse celebrates its bicentenary.

In Our Story this week Mark Stephen spends a day at the races as Musselburgh Racecourse celebrates its bicentenary.

050520150902

This week, Mark follows the Burryman of South Queensferry in a unique and living tradition. Every second Friday in August, the Burryman is clad from head to toe in burrs and walks the streets of the town drinking only whisky. The first record of this dates back to 1742 but it is thought that its origins are much older. The folk of the town believe the Burryman takes away bad luck. Mark follows the 2015 Burryman, Andrew Taylor, from picking the burrs, getting dressed and then walking around the town.

06012015112420151129 (RS)

Mark Stephen assesses the social impact of Cockenzie Power Station on local communities.

On 26th September 2015, the two chimneys of the Cockenzie Power Station in East Lothian were blown up. They've been a landmark in the community for almost 50 years, used by pilots and fisherman to navigate their way home. But ultimately, the pollution created by the coal fired power station was no longer acceptable in 21st Century Scotland.

In this edition of Our Story, Mark Stephen assesses the social impact of the power station on the communities of Cockenzie and Port Seton and finds that their existence is a very divisive and emotive subject.

06022015120120151206 (RS)

In the 1970s, during an era long before the end of the Cold War, a small village in the North West of Scotland found itself at the heart of an international fishing bonanza, as dozens of huge fish processing ships from the Eastern Bloc arrived in the bay.

Today Our Story belongs to "The Klondykers" as Mark Stephen travels to Ullapool to find out how the community lived and worked with their visitors.

06032015120820160328 (RS)

If you were born before the 1980s you grew up with the threat of nuclear war, and you perhaps wondered what you were going to do if the famous 'four minute warning' of nuclear attack sounded. Well some people didn't wonder - they knew. The men and women of the Royal Observer Corps were trained for this very thing - they were the field force of the UK Warning and Monitoring Organisation who were supposed to monitor where nuclear bombs had dropped and to give warnings of fall out. They were volunteers from all walks of life whose ordinary lives and jobs were twinned with a secret life underground, staffing the hundreds of observation post bunkers dotted across the country. They would report back to their group and sector headquarters where scientists would plot bombs and fall-out on on a map and pass warnings to the military, regional government bunkers, emergency services and the civilian population. Mark Stephen meets the Scottish ROC volunteers who were on the Cold War front line and finds out their story.

07012016030220160306 (RS)

Over 70 years ago a group of Austrian refugees arrived in the North East of Scotland and, inspired by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, set about creating an inclusive community. From this group of pioneers emerged the Camphill Movement which now exists in 119 countries around the world providing support for adults and children with special needs.

This week in Our Story Mark Stephen finds out more about the origins of Camphill and meets one extraordinary lady who, although not one of the very first early pioneers, arrived here in Scotland to join the group shortly after.

07022016030920160313 (RS)

Mark Stephen visits the Product Design Engineering Department at Glasgow School of Art.

Behind the doors of the Glasgow School of Art, a small department is quietly going about its business. Created 25 years ago as a joint initiative betweeen the School of Art and Glasgow University, the department of Product Design Engineering has been producing graduates who go on to design for gobal brands such as Dyson, Apple and Jaguar Land Rover. Mark Stephen meets Professor Dugald Cameron whose brainchild the course was a quarter of a century ago, Craig Whittet, the current head of Product Design Engineering and Robin Smith, a former graduate of the course who designed the Queen's Baton for 2014 Commonwealth Games.

070320160316

Mark Stephen hears the stories of Scotland's distinctive past from those who are part of its rich living history.

070320160323

Mark Stephen visits the Island of Canna and explores the Canna House archives, a treasure trove of photographs, audio, folklore and song preserving Hebridean culture.

07052016040620160410 (RS)

Mark Stephen looks back at 40 years of Scottish Women's Aid.