Aden Arms and Aikey Fair

Old Deer: A local scene

Aden Arms Hotel was quite a mecca for local droughties—especially on Wednesdays, which was Maud market day.

Maud and Peterhead Marts were held on Wednesdays and Fridays—but by 1920's only one auction was held at Maud. "Reith and Anderson" (also of Kittybrewster Mart) took over and Wednesday Mart grew in size. The pens and "shoppies" are still there [No longer, Ed.] but the quantity of cattle especially has diminished.

Many a cycle was propped against the wall of the Aden Arms when the farm lads (& others) decided to refresh before going home . . . There were special monthly Marts (when local publicans, including Crichie, had beer tents) and even larger turnouts on "Feein Market" days (Term days of May and November). These caused quite a shift in the farm servants' population, but because of its very prosperity, and its reliance on the big estates, especially Aden, Old Deer had less of a moving population than may rural communities. But the Marts made the money go round!

Mrs Bisset, the landlady of Aden Arms in my youth, was always at the ready for her "loons" coming in. The kitchen was as welcoming as the bar, and a broth pot was at the ready. The hotel had a "Croft" as well, with cows, a horse, a pig and ducks and hens—out houses and fields . . . The landlady was a jovial soul, and many a good night the locals had there.

Must mention our notorious "Red-Letter" days—Aikey fair. Whatever its origins—Some have it that a packman crossing the Ugie (before the Biffie Bridge was built—which was built at the onset of the railway—a bridge needed for that) fell in and consequently soaked the contents of his pack. Packmen were common in the early 1900's—and housewives often purchased household good from them. These men knew their routes and their customers knew the worthwhile ones too.

So, the story goes, the contents being wet, they were laid out on the heather of Aikey Hill to dry. He sojourned to the village, told his tale, and the astute housewives, sensing a bargain, we to see. They got bargains—he came another year—more bargains (though not for the same reason) and so started "Aikey".But, as a horse-fair it certainly had its day.

The village dreaded the weeks of "Aikey", roughs, toughs, cheats, thieves & drunks all foregathered—with many brawls and much foul language. Stallion grooms were particularly foul-mouthed! So everyone locked everything—gates were barricaded, sheds locked—and bairns kept in-doors—especially on Sundays.

I only once was at Aikey. It was deemed better that I should be at Buckie with my Aunt and Uncle!

But hundreds walked, cycled, were bussed in–and the noise was shattering.

(Revision date: Tuesday 21st February 2012)