Re­union hailed huge suc­cess for friends of the ‘Boom Town’

The Oban Times - - News 5 - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

IT WAS a night to re­mem­ber as old school­mates and ‘ Boom Town’ res­i­dents got to­gether for a cel­e­bra­tory re­union at Oban’s Glen Ho­tel last Satur­day.

The re­union was over­whelm­ing for some, as friends of more than 50 years met up again - long since their ‘idyl­lic’ child­hood days grow­ing up on the west coast.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, more than 240 fam­i­lies moved from the naval ports in the south east of Eng­land to a town that had ‘boomed’ over night - Dun­beg.

Dun­beg had be­come an im­por­tant strate­gic port dur­ing the war, re­pair­ing dam­aged boats for the D-Day land­ings.

The chil­dren who moved to Dun­beg were en­rolled in Oban’s Rock­field pri­mary school, and many de­scribed it as the ‘ best years of their lives.’

Brian Wood­ward and his sis­ter, Ann Hol­man, from Brighton, who made the re­turn trip to the west coast, re­called with af­fec­tion their years in Dun­beg.

Brian, who is a fit look­ing 78-year- old, said: ‘ We came in 1943 and left in 1945 when the war fin­ished. There was such a free­dom grow­ing up in Dun­staffnage. We had it all - the sea, the for­est, the hills - plenty of places to play and hide.

‘And there was a real com­mu­nity spirit. There was even a fan­tas­tic sweet shop in Oban - it is still there at Han­nah’s on Steven­son Street. Our fam­i­lies all had a naval back­ground. Ba­si­cally, peo­ple were here to ser­vice dam­aged boats in a safe place.

‘I re­mem­ber hun­dreds of boats be­ing in the bay in Oban shortly be­fore they headed down to the D-Day land­ings. It wasn’t hard to fit in here at all as we were made very welcome - although there were a few lan­guage dif­fi­cul­ties at first. My first teacher asked if I had brought my pieces with me. My mum had no idea that this meant sand­wiches!’

Brian Allen, who now lives in Devon, said: ‘It truly was the best days of our lives. We were very sad when we had to leave be­cause the peo­ple here be­came our true friends.’

The driv­ing force be­hind the event was Shirley Inglis and Vary Fer­gu­son. It was Shirley’s de­sire to know more about the history of Dun­staffnage and that pro­vided the ini­tial spark for the re­union. She grew up in the area and now lives in Dun­beg with her hus­band and three chil­dren.

Vary Fer­gu­son be­longs to Dun­beg and is one of the ‘Boom Town’ chil­dren.

And both women were over­whelmed by the re­sponse from the for­mer res­i­dents.

FUN NIGHT: Morvern Smith, Joan Drum­mond and Betty McLen­nan all from Dun­staff nage

HISTORY GIRLS: Vary Fer­gu­son and Shirley Inglis who or­gan­ised

the event

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