Friday, 14 January 2011
Peeblesshire militia 200-year-old uniform purchase bid
From the BBC News website:
A campaign has been launched in the Borders to save a 200-year-old uniform from ending up in a private collection.
Museum supporters have set themselves a £4,850 goal to buy the uniform of an officer serving with the Peeblesshire Local Militia. Such units were set up to protect the population in the event of an invasion from French military leader Napoleon.
The Supporters of the Chambers Institution Peebles (SCIP) have a 6 February deadline on their rescue plan. There are virtually no traces left of the militia group - formed in 1808 but disbanded in 1816. However, the existence of an officer's bright yellow and red coatee and white trousers has emerged.
The private dealer selling the rare outfit has agreed it would be preferable if it could remain in Peeblesshire.
SCIP - a group which tries to provide financial backing for their local museum - has until next month to come up with a rescue plan. They have now launched an appeal with the local community to donate money so that the uniform can be returned to Peeblesshire and be exhibited at Tweeddale Museum in Peebles.
SCIP spokeswoman Amanda Clydesdale said the item was in "incredibly good condition" and would probably have been ordered and paid for by the officer himself. It is thought the whole uniform was made by Edinburgh outfitter G Aubin.
"Our local museum does not hold any materials from Peeblesshire Local Militia, so this would be a really significant addition to the local collection," said Ms Clydesdale.
The Peeblesshire Local Militia was a separate organisation from the Peeblesshire Militia, and was created in 1808 by Act of Parliament under George III, at the height of the invasion threat from Napoleon. The local militia was designed to protect the population but could also be used to contain riots or civil unrest. Recruiting was done by ballot with names drawn randomly from a list of all Peeblesshire men aged between 18 and 30. Men who came forward voluntarily were given two guineas and were expected to carry out up to 28 days training every year.
People could only be excused from duty if they were married and had two or more children, or if they could pay someone else to take their place. If they did not turn up, there was a hefty fine of £10 to £50 to pay.
Rosemary Hannay, curator at Tweeddale Museum, said they were very keen to acquire the uniform for the local collection. She said: "This is a rare opportunity to acquire an item of great local interest and importance and it would be wonderful if the local community could assist in raising the funds needed to secure its future in Tweeddale Museum.
"Scottish Borders Council Museum and Gallery Service will be applying for 50% of the cost from the National Fund for Acquisitions and if we are successful it would be a great boost for the fund."