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