EYE Celebrates 100th Edition

31 Jul 2007


The ‘Johnshaven Eye’ first looked out on the world – well, the world of Benholm and Johnshaven at any rate, in September 1978 - except that the first edition of the Community Council’s newsletter had neither name nor logo.

Put together by Ken Leiper and Clark Simpson, it consisted of eight pages, typed on stencils and run off on a Gestetner machine and saw the light of day because councillors felt there was “a need to link up local activities and focus on current events within the community.”

The content comprised a review of the Community Council’s current concerns by its Secretary, John Simms, articles on the Putting Competitions at Wairds Park and the Youth Club, a diary of local activities and a feature by Ken Leiper on the biggest issue of the day, or indeed for many a day – a proposal by Grampian Regional Council to re-zone the coastal school pupils from Mackie Academy in Stonehaven to Mearns Academy in Laurencekirk.

It also included a competition to choose a suitable name for the news-sheet. The intriguing titles submitted were, JAB GAB, THE VILLAGE GAZETTE, HERE AND THERE, FLASH, JONNERDATA, CONTACT, INTOUCH, HAVEN GAZETTE; but, “The winner was…… THE JOHNSHAVEN EYE”, Mrs E. Johnson receiving £2 for her originality and vision.

For the next 11 years the newsletter continued in the same style and in the same format, reporting on the activities of the Community Council and local organisations whilst also introducing features by individual contributors such as Frank Raynor on “Three Lime Kilns” in April 1980, a seasonal article on “December” by Peg Hall in November, “Home for Hogmanay” by a festive visitor in 1982, while in 1983 the Community Council commissioned Paul Murton to write “Johnshaven from the Earliest Times to 1930.” Tourism was the focus in 1984, the Community Council preparing the text for a Tourist Information Board at the lay bye on the A92. Sandra Beedie wrote about her “Holiday in Royal Deeside” in 1985 and in 1986 the Station Place houses were completed.

Innovations such as word searches, handy hints recipes and Letters to the Editor also began to appear. However, in July 1989 an editor could not be found just at the time when a Community Council working group was formed with a view to presenting a heritage exhibition in the village and so there was no newsletter for almost two years.

When it did re-emerge at Christmas 1990 the style had changed to an A5 booklet, stapled with a single coloured cover, featuring a drawing or sketch. It was now set up on a computer and commercially printed. The “Eye” logo, designed by John Simms, made its appearance in the Spring 1991 edition and in the autumn, for the first time, contained advertisements from local businesses to help defray the considerable cost of production. However, the format remained pretty much the same although there was now a school page, and throughout 1991 and 1992 a series of articles on local history by D.C.S. and “The Wild Life of Benholm” by D.C.B. However, the big story of 1991 was when, in an unprecedented turnout, 147 people attended the Village Hall to vote at the Community Council’s AGM.

The years 1993 and 1994 were productive ones for the “Johnshaven Eye”: the Mill of Benholm featured prominently, the Hardgate Project got its first mention, a proposal by Grampian Regional Council to close South Street raised a few hackles, Lyall Thompson wrote two very detailed articles on “The Birds of the Coast” and there was an intriguing battle of words between Joann Beattie and the late Sandy Pittendreigh over the names of rights of way in the village.

After this high there was a hiatus of over two years from Spring 1995 until Summer 1997 and when the “Johnshaven Eye” again hit the streets the type face had changed, as had the printer. The contents list was back on the front cover but the pattern remained very much as before. Soon, though, another success was reported. “With financial support from local businesses, brown tourist signs were erected on the A92.” Fascinating snippets from the Statistical Accounts of Scotland began to appear regularly while poems gave the pages a cultural hue. Coverage of the Heritage Society’s first Fish Festival took up a lot of attention in 1997 and, although there seemed to be less emphasis on the workings of the Community Council and a greater reliance on reports from local organisations, the ‘Johnshaven Eye’ was able to acknowledge the granting of Conservation Status to most of the village and the restoration of street lights down the New Road in 1998. 1999 was quieter but the Millenium year of 2000 kept the Editor busy reporting on the presentation of Mementoes to all the children in the village. Also featuring was the results of the Village Survey carried out by the Community Council and the building of two new Aberdeenshire Housing Partnership homes in Fore Street and three in East Street.

Into 2001 and Don Marr and Richard McBay were off in the Kelvin Launch to the re-opening of the Forth and Clyde & Union waterway while closer to home the entrance to the village was graced by the Heritage Society’s decorative boat at one side of the New Road and a flower bed maintained by the Horticultural Society at the other.

And so to the 80th edition of summer 2002 when the style again changed, giving us the ‘Eye’ as we now recognise it - a high quality, glossy, publication with full colour cover, computer technology and digital photography enabling the editor to be much more innovative than was possible 30 years ago.

However, despite all the changes which have taken place since 1978, the ‘Eye’; re-titled in March 2006 to reflect the wider area which it serves, continues to look out on to its world and to fulfil its original purpose of “focussing on current events within the community”, with imagination, creativity, a sense of history and a touch of humour.