Letters to the editor

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Can you help Bill’s picture search?

Sir, – I realise this is a request out of left field but the Falkirk Archives suggested that I approach your newspaper.

I was hoping that you might be able to help me to solve a mystery surrounding the origins of a painting of a young woman, whom I believe might be an ancestor of Dunbar family members living in the Bo’ness and Falkirk areas today.

Her name was Anne Agnes Dunbar and the portrait was painted around 1840, probably by an artist known as ‘Munro of Novar’ or, to give him his full name, Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro.

He owned lands in northern Scotland, including an estate on which Anne’s family resided.

For many years after that, the portrait was probably in the possession of one of her sons, James Jack Dunbar, who was living with his family in Bo’ness in the 1890s, after their return from India, where he served in the 92nd Regiment.

In 1887, James’s older brother, Hugh A J M Dunbar, also a retired army man, emigrated with his family to Australia from Aberdeen.

I believe that on their last meeting, James gave Hugh a photograph of their mother, made from the portrait painted over 40 years earlier.

The photograph was taken at The Studio, run by the Brown brothers, Andrew and Joseph, in Vicar Street, Falkirk.

It has passed down to me through my mother’s Dunbar lineage and it has been a challenge tracing its connections to the earliest known members of the family.

The last piece in the puzzle is to see if the original portrait still exists, perhaps in the possession of a descendant of James Jack Dunbar, who died in Queensferry in 1909.

I’ve discovered there are many Dunbar names in this part of Scotland and was hoping that some might be descendants of James Dunbar.

It would be wonderful if publicity through the pages of your newspaper resulted in the portrait coming to light. Of course, I’d be happy to share what I know about its origins.

I live in Melbourne, Australia, so obviously getting to Bo’ness or Falkirk represents a geographical challenge, although I have visited Edinburgh several times before I realised there was a family connection to the area. – Yours etc.,

Bill Birch,

by email.

Sir, – I hope you might be able to help.

I am researching a new Testimony Films (www.testimonyfilms.com) ITV documentary for the centenary of World War One.

The documentary will explore the stories of World War One soldiers who joined pals battalions in northern towns and cities.

Across the UK, men enlisted to their local pals battalion with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbours and work colleagues.

Sadly, many of the pals battalions suffered heavy casualties meaning that individual communities back in Britain suffered a huge number of losses.

We would love to find the relatives of soldiers – sons, daughters, grandchildren – to share their stories with us to help remember these brave individuals.

Testimony Films has made a number of critically acclaimed and award-winning documentaries including Veterans ( BBC1), David Suchet: In Search of Agatha Christie (ITV1), and 9/11: Emergency Room (Channel 4). The company has also made numerous World War One programmes.

We really hope an appeal in your paper will help us discover some stories for use in the programme. 
We look forward to hearing from your readers, hopefully in the very near future. – Yours etc.,

Lizi Cosslett,

Testimony Films, 12 Great George St, Bristol, BS1 5RH

Email: lizi.cosslett@testimonyfilms.com

Sir, – I knew the late Simon Martin, and his wife Mary, from the 1980s when he was pit delegate at Kinneil, which shut just before the miners’ strike.

I also knew him through my contact with the Bo’ness community when my wife Margaret was headteacher at Kinneil School in Bo’ness.

He served on Falkirk District Council for many years and on Falkirk Council after reorganisation.

He stepped down when he developed a serious illness but fought that off to live on for a long life thereafter.

Simon was an excellent representative for his community in Bo’ness, rooted in the mining folk for whom he was a source of support and assistance.

I enjoyed working with Simon.

He was an excellent example of the mining heritage; quiet, determined, honest and true to a fault. – Yours etc.,

Michael Connarty MP,

Linlithgow & East Falkirk constituency.

See P14 for obituary