Memoirs of Hopeman Holidays —- “THE BROONS”

By May Stewart  aged 81 (2005)

The ‘Provan’ family was introduced to Hopeman in 1947-1948 following a visit to friends in Pluscarden who said they would take us for a run in their car and show us a ”beautiful little place called Hopeman.” Little did we think that was the start of a lifetime of lots of good times in this wee place and the people of the Moray coast, which has stood the test of time and has continued with most of us moving to Hopeman at one time or another.

We all lived in Glasgow, and during ”Glasgow Fair” the family started coming to Hopeman for their summer holiday. I was a married to Eddie Stewart and we travelled up north on the overnight train from Glasgow to Inverness and at that time had to get off at Aviemore and wait on the platform till morning to continue our journey to Forres on the first train. I remember it was usually freezing cold.


1960 - BROONS on holiday in Hopeman at the Beach

1960 – BROONS on holiday in Hopeman at the Beach

Photo taken Braemou Bay 1960.

Over the years our family numbers just grew and grew and it was decided that the best way of getting us all to Hopeman was to hire a bus. Latterly we filled a single decker bus from Hays of Elgin. We were all excited about our holidays and the night before we all took our cases to uncle Jimmy’s and left them overnight to make it easier in the morning. The driver, Big George, would pick us up and we used to break the journey at Kingussie and have a picnic, in the early days, then thought we were posh when we could afford a fish supper on the journey. The kids thought we were never going to get there, but we would eventfully be dropped off in Harbour Street at Mielie’s. We had a pipe band piping us into Hopeman. One year we were brought to the attention of the media – we appeared on television. They had us running down the beach.

It is hard to put into words the feelings we had about Hopeman. We didn’t have a lot of money and only came with what was our weeks pay and that had to last us, for there was nothing else. The thing was everybody was the same back then, no one had much but what they had was shared.

When we first came up there was a lack of accommodation but the good people of Hopeman opened their doors for us. Mrs. Sutherland in Duff Street rented out her caravan to us. There would be myself with three children and my sister with her three children. We used to rent rooms from people in their houses, we would get to use the cooker and kitchen sometimes, the woman who owned the house would say: “1 have made too much dinner, would you like some for the family,” they were that nice. I remember if you were sitting having a blether after dinner, before you could look about you the dishes were done. They were very good to us. The kids loved Hopeman because of its beach, the water, and all the playing areas. The adults would all go in swimming as well and you could spend all day on the beach. We used to go over to the Cove for a day for a change, fancy that, we had this lovely beach, and there we were looking for another one. We walked over and everyone had to carry something, it seemed a long way then.

The lads used to play football on the green and over the years it became an event The Broons Bashers v Hopeman Hashers. All those who played had to dress up. I remember a time I had to start the game off and I was dressed as Marilyn Munroe. The football became an annual event and monies raised were donated to charity.

1959 - Houpman Hashers v Broons Bashers football game at the green.

1959 – Houpman Hashers v Broons Bashers football game at the green.

Aberlour Orphanage had a house on Forsyth Street and the children would come down for their holidays. They loved the beach and we invited them to join in our games. Sometimes someone would give them a shilling, that was a lot of money then, but the children had nothing. The men would go for a pint, in those days the women would not go into a pub, it would never be thought of. Bill Hewitt had the Station Hotel and if the weather was bad he would let the children in to watch a slide show.

We used to go to dances in the memorial hall, when we done a lot of daft things, we would see the locals nudging each other as if to say ”look what they are up to now,” but this was just the way we were. The locals seemed impressed because we knew all the latest dances – what fun we had. The first wedding dance we were invited to was Elsie and Ronald Main – it was lovely. Everybody was wonderful and made our family so welcome. There was another family who came from Fife – wee Hughie was a piper.

I remember Mr. MacDougal had a shop where the caravan park is now, selling ice cream, buckets and spades and he also rented out deck chairs. Jenny and Happy had the chip shop where the hairdresser’s is now and they lived in the flat above.

Over the years various members of the family moved to Hopeman and have settled.

People in Glasgow would not have believed us if we told them about Hopeman, this wee place on the Moray Coast, that we were treated the way we were, piped into the village, fries of fish, the kindness of the people, it is hard to tell how it was then.

When I look back it was just special.

May Stewart – July 2005