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A photograph of Mervyn Hill

Mervyn Hill

The Hogmanay bonfire in Pulteneytown

Born: 1964

Duration: 16m 36s

Type: Audio

Filesize: 24Mb

Recorded: 21 November 2019

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About this recording

Generations of local people have enjoyed attending the New Year bonfire in Pulteneytown, an annual fixture that is part of a tradition of winter fire festivals celebrated in other towns across Scotland and beyond.

In this recording, Mervyn Hill talks about the origins of Pulteney’s Hogmanay bonfire and its various locations before it moved to its present site at the Bignold Park. He explains how he took over the running of the event from his father-in-law, the well-known Wick historian Iain Sutherland.

Mervyn describes the team effort that goes in to getting the fire set up and the friendly atmosphere as Hogmanay revellers gather around the roaring flames to tell stories, wish each other well and perhaps share a Hogmanay dram. On New Year’s morning he is back over at the park starting the task of clearing away the charred debris.

He explains why he believes it is important for the community to keep the bonfire tradition burning bright.

“That’s my Hogmanay and I’ll keep doing it,” he says. “We’ve got to keep the tradition going because people before us have kept it going.”

Mervyn and his wife Helen run the Nethercliffe Hotel in Wick. In the autumn of 2019 Mervyn stood down from the fire and rescue service in Wick after more than 35 years.


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A photograph of Mervyn Hill