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Robert Plant

Rock L
egend in Longformacus???

With thanks to Ronald Richardson for sending us this link - Longformacus has been put on the map by a rock legend! Follow this link to hear our little village being mentioned by none other than Robert Palmer from Led Zeppelin in Knebworth back in 1979. Listen carefully to the introduction, I wonder how he knew how to pronounce the name of the village properly?

Scotland's Greatest Equestri

THE life and times of one of the world’s most famous 19th century circus performers have finally been put to paper. As yet little is known of Biggar resident, Thomas Ord, but Stuart McMillan’s book is aimed at changing that.

Born in Longformacus in the late 1700s, Ord ran away from home to join the circus and by 1804 had set up on his own. He became one of the best equestrian showmen of his time and even advertised a princely sum of £1000 to anyone who could beat him. Ord built circus rings throughout Scotland, in Biggar, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Whitehaven and Wick. This entailed him digging a circle to perform in using the turfs as a border, he returned to these circles regularly on a yearly basis and they became known as Ord’s Rings. Many can still be seen today.

During his heyday Ord would draw crowds of up to 8,000 people to his spectacular shows, performed in the open air where people could see his show and firework displays for free. Ord making his living from those who chose to buy tickets for his lottery. His arrival was always eagerly awaited as it brought colour and happiness into the lives of people in a time of austerity and mass poverty.

Stuart said: “He was loved by the people. Thomas Ord made Biggar his home where he had always been popular. He also built a circus in Biggar in 1843, but this was not successful and was eventually pulled down, as a result of the townsfolk feeling they needn’t pay to see a show they could see for free.

“Ord also brought respectability into a profession that was rare in those days with his appearance at church on Sunday, his ban on drinking and swearing at his circus and his giving to the poor of each community he visited.”

Ord last performed in Thornhill on Christmas Day 1859, when ill health forced him back to his house in Biggar where he died on December 27. His grave is one of the largest in Biggar churchyard.

One of his daughters married Edwin Pinder and his circus duly became known as Ord Pinder’s Circus which performed three times for Queen Victoria at Balmoral. Pinder’s Circus still performs today.

With thanks to David O'Leary from Peeblesshire News for the story

in the Hills

In late October 1939 pilots of the Auxiliary Air Force shot down this Heinkel HE III bomber. It crashed on the top of the Lammermuir Hills not far from Mayshiel. According to the Scotsman:

“The Nazi was obviously engaged on a lone reconnaissance, and as soon as he was intercepted he at once responded with sustained bursts of machine-gun fire. At the outset, the bomber endeavored to exploit the usual enemy flying technique, with which, incidentally, Scots airmen are now becoming familiar. It was unavailing. The Heinkel was harried on all sides by the fighters, and he was relentlessly pursued over the broad fields of the Lothians
. He had little chance of escape. Individual aircraft went in to the attack,
guns blazing. Their dives might be likened to the "stoops" of a hawk at an unfortunate quarry.
The ground on which the ’plane lay riddled with bullets, is about seven or eight hundred feet above sea level, and commands, a wide view of the Firth of Forth and the Pentland Hills. If the wounded pilot, after he first struck the ground had had any thoughts of rising again he must have been daunted by the sight of the Lammermuirs, which formed a solid barrier in his way. When the news that the bomber had been brought down began to circulate men and women, taken with a desire to see an invading craft at close quarters, made their way on foot or by motor car to the moor, until the scene, with its parked vehicles and the crowd on the knoll above them, had all the appearance of some country coursing meeting. Many of those who gathered about the wrecked machine, which they were prevented from approaching at close quarters by a guard, had seen the concluding stages of the fight. They had followed the chase across country, as if they had been following a pack of hounds."