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A photograph of Alice Calder

Alice Calder

I am really proud that I was born in the mill

Born: 1928

Duration: 21m 31s

Type: Audio

Filesize: 19.2 Mb

Recorded: 21 October 2022

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About this recording

Alice Calder was born in Castletown Mill. In this interview, recorded shortly after her 94th birthday, she shares some childhood memories and tells of some of the families who lived in the mill at different times.

She explains that she is the last surviving grandchild of mill owner Benjie Calder. "I was born in the mill in 1928," Alice says, "so the very first view of Caithness I had was the beautiful bay of Dunnet Bay looking out through the mill windows."

She remembers playing "hoosies" in the mill when it was used as a store for the military.

She also gives an insight into the work carried out at the mill and describes its internal layout.

Her family moved to Hull, and eventually Alice would lose her Caithness accent ("which I'm disappointed about but I can't help it"). However, her parents' home in England was an "oasis of Caithness" and the family made regular visits back to their native county. Alice would remain in Castletown during World War Two. "I feel as pure Caithness as anybody," she says.

Alice inherited her father's artistic flair and she went to art school for five years, learning to be a potter and a sculptor, before going into teaching. She returned to Caithness in 1993 with her husband.

Alice has her own art studio as part of her home near Castletown.

Several years ago Alice produced an illustrated booklet about the history of Castletown Mill.

Alice is pleased that the mill complex is now being given a new lease of life as part of an ambitious redevelopment by Dunnet Bay Distillers.

She says: "I am so pleased that it has now been bought and is being turned into a useful building again. And my father would be very pleased that it's going to be a distillery because he did enjoy a dram!

"It has always been a very big part of our lives. The place that you were born in does stay in your head and it really is a very important part of your personality somehow.

"And I am really proud of the fact that I was born in the mill and that my grandfather was the miller."


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