On Thursday 6th July 2017, on a wet summer morning, I set off to find the deserted village of Pitmiddle, in the Carse of Gowrie, Perthshire.
What follows is a storyboard of images and text. I have tried my best not to overwhelm with explanatory text and what I present, is by no means, “a history” It is the case that all histories have gaps in them and I would suggest that Pitmiddle is no exception.
To play the film please click here or on the above image.
All brief quotes (within images) come from the novel “All that man is” by David Szalay, which I have just finished reading.
By the time I reached Pitmiddle my map was soaked:
This is a map from the first part of the nineteenth century:
This is how Colin Gibson, in 1955 recorded his first visit to Pitmiddle:
This is Pitmiddle as depicted on the 1st Ordinance Survey map of c1860:
And this was how Pitmiddle was described by the surveyor of 1860:
Pitmiddle survived most of a millennium and was first recorded in1172:
This was how Pitmiddle looked at the century’s turn (early 1900s):
A sketch of one of Pitmiddle’s last occupied houses:
One villager, James Smith, who died in Pitmiddle in 1860 was involved in the Napoleonic wars and whose last vessel was the HMS Semiramis:
In July 1897 some of the Longforgan congregation went on a picnic to Pitmiddle:
This is report from the Dundee Courier of 1896:
Generations of the Gillies family lived and worked Pitmiddle. Here is James Gillies, mason and his wife Margaret Gray pictured on their Golden Wedding in 1903:
There is a lovely account of this Golden Wedding Celebration that can be read here.
James Gillies, Mason died at Pitmiddle in October 1920, aged 87 years:
Unfortunately this report below, from 1891, was overly optimistic. As you can see from the death certificate above, Mary Ellen Clark, aged 45 years, died at Pitmiddle of tuberculosis.
I came across a number of Pitmiddle villagers who had died as a result of tuberculosis, such as Betty White who died aged 36 years of age in 1862.
It is true though that those who did not succumb to the mycoplasma bacterium often lived long lives at Pitmiddle.
This is the 1930 valuation Roll for Pitmiddle (click on image for closer view). Only two houses are occupied:
In 1917 the Inchmartine Estate, including Pitmiddle and its wood, were put up for sale:
This is how David R Perry finishes his account of Pitmiddle’s history:
I find myself wondering what happened to the grandson of James Gillies after he left Pitmiddle:
Pitmiddle is a special place. I am a late visitor. I want to thank all of the following and to acknowledge the sources of material that this post contains. If I have inadvertently omitted any out please let me know. Bon Hambley who has set up a Pimiddle Facebook page and who has been nothing but helpful to me and permitted me to share the old images of Pitmiddle. Pitmiddle Village - by David R Perry (published 1988 by Perthshire Society for Natural Sciences) Soldiering On - a wonderful account of the Gillies family David Szalay - "All that is man is" Scotlands People and Scotlands Places All maps from the National Library of Scotland British Newspaper Archive This beautiful aerial film of Pitmiddle from November 2014