Last month Lyn Beard from Australia contacted the Voice to help her investigate a family connection with Arran, and the Allison family of Brodick. Here is what she writes:
I am researching a family connection to the Allison’s of Brodick.
My father-in-law, Des Beard, died in Perth, Western Australia in 2012 and recently I was given a shoebox of his treasures, probably because I have become the family historian.
Des was one of the first West Aussies to enlist at the outbreak of World War II and saw service in Palestine and Greece before being captured when the Germans occupied Crete in 1941. He spent the remainder of the war in a camp in Germany.
After being liberated in early 1945, he went to Eastbourne Transit Camp. From there he must have made arrangements to visit Aunty Mina in Brodick, Arran. His train ticket to Dunoon and Gourock was in the shoebox – dated 6 May 1945.
We have several photos of him and a woman we presume is Mina in front of a house and one with a small child on a bicycle. Also there is a photo of another woman and child and writing on the back says “Our wee Scottie. Jimmie Allison Allan with his mother at the back door St Helens. Aug 1947. 13 months old.”
Mina was Wilhelmina Allison but it seems she was a friend of either Des’s mother or father rather than an aunt by family relationship. Sadly all of the generation who would remember how she was connected to our family are now gone and while some can recall snippets of stories we do not know enough to fill in the whole picture.
I am hoping that someone on Arran can supply us with some stories about the family or may even remember the young Aussie soldier who stayed on the island for some months after the war.
From the research I have done online I have found that she seemed to have owned the Invercloy Boarding House in Brodick, and her or another family member owned St Helen’s house. Helen Allison was possibly her sister who died in 1933 and Mina in 1952. We think Mina had possibly befriended Des’s mother Martha when she travelled to England and Scotland with her sister and brother-in-law, John and Mary Wilkie, possibly in the 1890s. The Wilkies gave their grand new house in Perth, WA, the name of Invercloy, and Martha and her husband called their home Arran, so the ties must have been very strong.
My husband and I drove around Scotland in 2017 and came across to Brodick, drove around Arran and went across to Kintyre, without realising that we were so close to following in his father’s footsteps. We bought some lovely prints of land and seascapes from Arran Art Gallery and have them hanging in our hallway.
Lyn is keen to hear from anyone who has a connection with the Allisons or knows anything about the history of Des Beard’s visit to Arran after the war and his friendship with the family. Please contact the Voice and we will pass on any information to Lyn.
Hoping to stir someone’s memories – two photos taken on Arran in the 1940s.