I want to share a press cutting passed to me by a Westhill resident, Tony Thomasson. This story featured in the Press & Journal on 22nd September, 1980 and was written by Joan Elrick under the title “Happy solution to a bumpy problem”.
“Community Action had good news for a young Westhill couple, who found that a rocky short-cut was wrecking their pram.
“For the gravel which was washed away from the steep path will be reinstated and there are plans for it to be tarmacadamed.
“The problem was brought to light when Mr Anthony Thomasson of 1 Eastside Green, Westhill, told Community Action desk. He said “Can something be done to have the walkway that runs behind the houses of Eastside Drive properly surfaced?”
“The present surface totally inhibits the use of a pram to get down to Kinmundy Avenue.”
His wife, Carole (pictured above on the walkway) explained that the walkway takes 15 minutes off the journey from her home to the shops or health clinic. But when she sets off with Jennifer (4), James (2), and Jeffrey (five months) in the pram, the walk takes on the aspect of an obstacle course having to guide the pram round the biggest rocks and away from the muddy ruts.
The walkway runs between the junction of Eastside Green and Eastside Drive, and Kinmundy Drive at the bottom of the hill.
Mrs Thomasson said “there used to be lots of gravel on the path and we were told that once people had trampled it down, the path would be firm. However, after one or two heavy rains, it was all washed away.”
Her husband commented: “Sometimes, after it has rained, you can see the gravel where it has washed out on to Kinmundy Drive”.
The path is owned by the Persley Development Co. who were taken over by Kildonnan Group earlier this year. A spokesman told Community Action: “The gravelling was done by Persley, and there are plans for that path to be tarmacadamed. Normally this is done by first planting grass verges, then trimming them back and tarmacadamed against the established verge.”
The problem arose because the firm do not yet know whether the “grassing” part of the operation has to be done by them or by Gordon District Council. Persley are still awaiting a reply to a letter sent to the council, and the spokesman pointed out that – because there are only a couple of weeks left when planting can be done – it would probably be Spring before this is carried out. But he added: “Persley will have the gravel on the path reinstated some time during September.”
JUST A FEW WEEKS LATER, A SECOND ARTICLE IN THE P&J APPEARED
Titled “End of the road for Westhill’s bumpy path”
“An Aberdeen firm have moved in to solve a bumpy road problem at Westhill….. just missing the bad weather which might have forced them to wait until Spring (writes Joan Elrick).
Persley Development Co – who were taken over by Kildonnan Group earlier this year – had already pledged to replace gravel which had been washed away from the path behind Eastside Drive, leaving rocks and muddy ruts.
At the time, a Persley spokesman said there were plans for the path to be tarmacadamed, but because of a hold-up in the essential “grassing” part of the operation, there had been a delay. The firm were waiting to hear from Gordon District Council about who would plant and trim the grass verges. As it was mid-September there were only a few weeks left for planting.
But just one month later, Community Action received a call from a delighted Mr Thomasson, of 1 Eastside Green, Westhill, who had first brought the path to our attention. He said “The path was surfaced about 10 days ago, and they’ve done a really fine job. Our neighbours on Eastside Green and Braecroft are just as pleased as we are, and I’d like to thank Persley.
“When Community Action told us the gravel would be reinstated, I was pleased but I was surprised to see them tarmacadam it. It’s like a big black spider, and it is just right for walking on.”
Fast-forward 35 years and the little girl (Jennifer) seen in the first picture to the right of the pram is in the picture here – back row, third left, with her dad Tony Thomasson, second left. Her mum Carole, no longer struggling with a pram, but having a well-earned seat, is front row, right. They are part of the group of residents who have been actively pursuing the siting of a bench on “spider hill” to provide a resting place for people coming back up the hill from the shops and other local services. I was delighted to be able to help when local resident Bett Stewart contacted me on behalf of the group.
The whole path/steps network in the older part of the town is beginning to crumble and I along with colleagues have asked Aberdeenshire Council to work in partnership with the Community Council and others to come up with a strategy to repair and maintain the vital walking infrastructure which is a key feature of our town.