The chance discovery of the Admission Register at Logie Primary School, listing every child who entered the school between 1881 and 1979, inspired the school’s administrator, Moira Dennis, to search for the stories behind some of the names. The tales that were told reflect the evolution of a rural community, charting changes in healthcare and education, in the role of women at home and in employment, in transport, travel and farming and in personal ambitions. The Register is illustrated with portraits of the storytellers at their childhood homes, taken by Paul Heartfield, a professional photographer whose daughter attends Logie Primary today. The Register is a celebration of the school’s past and the people who formed the community around it.
It was Lenny Nicol's family who really inspired The Register. The farm his family worked, Sleughwhite, is on the cover of the book, lit from the inside by the photographer Paul Heartfield, but normally standing empty and abandoned, the door barred to keep out sheep, the steadings long since fallen out of use. Very near my home, it's a place I'd wanted to know more about, and just after starting work at Logie Primary last year, the opportunity came my way.
I discovered the Admission Register on a shelf in the school office. It listed the names of every child who had entered the school between 1881 and 1979 - and as I opened it, the name 'Sleighwhite' (as it was spelt by the school) leapt off the page. I immediately wanted to know more about the Lachlan Nicol who had lived there, listed as having joined the school in 1898, and by the time I'd turned a few more pages, finding dozens of very local place names and familiar surnames, I wanted to know more about many others, too. I put a notice in the Forres Gazette, hoping to hear from anyone who might find their name or the name of an ancestor in the register. How had their lives turned out?
Reading the register is just a pleasure in itself. I love the careful script, the varying styles of handwriting, the occasional ink blot and crossing out, reminding me of predecessors who didn't have a delete button to cover their tracks. It's lovely to turn pages that people have turned before, now that records are kept online. More than all that, though, I love the many insights it offers into life in Dunphail over the decades. It's irresistible to run your finger down the page and start to trace the history of this place. Scott Taylor, whose name is on the very last page, grew up as the son of the Logie gamekeeper: right at the front, I found the child of a 19th-century Logie gamekeeper, a thread to bind the pages together.
How to Buy a Copy of 'The Register'
At Logie Steading: Logie Steading Bookshop and Logie Steading Art Gallery (open every day, 10am to 5pm)
In Forres High Street: R&R Urquhart (open Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm)
This beautiful hardback book filled with photography is £20, and all profits go to Logie Primary School Fund to support their ethos of 'No Child Left Behind'.