A Drunken Sailor – by Duncan Harley

Known locally as ‘The Mannie’, Oldmeldrum’s Sailor Boy Statue is a well-travelled life-size stone sculpture of a mariner clad in period costume, which nowadays lies proudly outside the Meldrum Arms Hotel on South Road. 

Rumours abound regarding his provenance. Few know his true origins and some even claim that Spanish gold lies buried beneath his feet. Originally, he held a clay pipe in one hand and a small anchor in the other. Clad in the style of a 19th-century French sailor, he is sculpted from Portland Stone - the same material that Whitehall’s Cenotaph is made from.

Mysteriously and many years ago The Mannie is said to have been purchased by Alford’s Postie Lawson - inventor of the steam-powered Craigievar Express - at a local farm sale for just five shillings. A factoid confirmed by Grampian Transport Museum who state that the statue stood outside Lawson’s house, at Craigievar until 1938, when it was relocated to Oldmeldrum.

If the Portland Stone claim is accurate, before taking up residence at Meldrum, the old salt may have made his way Northwards to Aberdeenshire via Dorset, where he is rumoured to have been commissioned by the widow of a drowned seafarer.

Nowadays a Grade C-listed statue, Oldmeldrum’s Mannie seems to have taken a tumble from his plinth today. Perhaps the mystery of his Spanish gold is at the centre of this fall from grace.

Duncan Harley is the author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire and the recently released The Little History of Aberdeenshire. Both titles are available from Amazon.


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