Glencoe: Miss Barbara Fairweather MBE 1917 – 2001

If you have never been, Glencoe Lochan is a real treat.  Take the steep road from the village, park up and you walk in to a fairy tale.  This is Hansel and Gretel and Snow White on their Scottish holiday, an otherworldly place to lose yourself in.  The woodland and lochan were designed with love to ease the homesickness of Donald Smith’s (Lord Strathcona) Canadian wife, Isabella.  The couple met in Labrador and Isabella came to live on Donald’s Glencoe estate but, despite the planting of numerous red wood trees and a lochan with a view of the Pap of Glencoe reflected in its still waters, Isabella never settled and they spent much of their time in North America.

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Overlooking the picturesque Glencoe Lochan

This bench with a view over the lochan has a tree stump next to it with memorial plaques to eight different people.  I read them all but it was the plaque to Miss Barbara Fairweather MBE that caught my eye.  This wasn’t just because she was described as a ‘very special lady’, although I have no doubt that she was, but also because we had also visited the lovely Glencoe Folk Museum on our trip.

Barbara Fairweather MBE co-founded the Glencoe Folk Museum with Mrs Rae Grant in 1966 and for Barbara Fairweather this was a life’s work and she collected many of the items on show.  In 1971 the museum was given the two cottages it is now housed in and the museum opened a year later.  The museum collects, preserves and exhibits items relevant to the history of Glencoe, including photographs and is a perfect example of a community museum that has grown with dedication and love.  This isn’t a dry collection of objects, it is a lively and interesting museum that brings alive the people who have lived in the village of valley of Glencoe over the centuries and I can only urge everyone to visit.

Barbara Fairweather also wrote The Folklore of Glencoe in the 1960s and contributed to other local history books.  She was the first editor of the 1745 Association‘s Quarterly Notes and left £500 to the Association for a seat in Kilmuir Cemetery on the Isle of Skye in her will.

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In Loving Memory of MISS BARBARA FAIRWEATHER M.B.E. 1917 – 2001 Founder Of The Glencoe & N. Lorn Folk Museum A Very Special Lady

I do not always get to see a photograph of the people whose memorial benches I write about but in the case of Barbara Fairweather there is a portrait seated in her home with a cat on her lap.  The portrait can be seen in the Museum and Barbara Fairweather looks very relaxed and content in her lovely home.

Barbara Fairweather was the great grandaunt of a young woman from New Zealand, Rachel, who has written a lovely blog post with stunning photographs of her visit to Glencoe where she explored some of her family history.

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The collection of eight memorials on the tree trunk alongside the bench

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