Anne Lean celebrated her 105th birthday yesterday.
Annie Barrie Beattie was born on November 3, 1909 – before the sinking of the Titanic and Scott’s expedition to the South Pole – in the village of Fushiebridge near Gorebridge.
Shortly afterwards the family moved to the village of Temple a few miles away.
There was no electricity or sewage system in the village and water was drawn from a well on the pavement opposite the house she lived in. There were no cars so, for example, when the doctor was required he came from Gorebridge on horseback.
Anne’s father was at sea for many years then became a coal miner, during which time he broke his back and wore a metal support for the rest of his life.
Her mother was a midwife who delivered 92 babies and lost none. When anyone in the village was sick Anne’s mother was there with a plate of broth. When scarlet fever raged through the village it never touched the family – it seems they had built up resistance because of Anne’s mother tending to the sick.
Anne’s mother milked cows at the local farm and made her own butter, cheese and bread. Anne became accomplished at sewing, knitting, embroidery, dressmaking, cooking and baking.
At school in Temple she was top of her class. Anne had a very happy childhood with three brothers and a younger sister.
When she left school she became companion to a doctor’s wife in Trinity, Edinburgh. This was followed by a spell as a silver table maid with Salveson, the shipping company.
In 1932, after courting for several years, she married Tommy Lean, a friend of her brothers and a garage mechanic. They moved to Dalkeith. Tommy was later elected to the council and followed his father – the town’s first Labour councillor – as provost and magistrate. Anne was very active behind the scenes.
Tommy was a member of Dalkeith Burgh Brass Band for 40 years and Anne was an ardent follower. Anne was also a member of the Women’s Guild in Dalkeith. She had three sons and a daughter. Once they were older, Anne worked for Saxone shoe shop in Princes Street, then R&W Forsyth leather goods shop. She also worked in a small shop on George IV Bridge.
When Tommy retired they moved to Galashiels where they opened a bed-and-breakfast establishment. There at the age of 74, Anne learned to swim and eventually swam a marathon over several days. She was a keen dancer all her life.
They finally retired when Anne was 80 and bought a new bungalow in Newtongrange. Even at 80, Anne was lifting concrete paving slabs while Tommy laid them. Tommy died in 1990.
When she was 90, Anne sold her bungalow and moved into a residential home in Musselburgh. And at 99, she moved to her current home at Archview Lodge, Dalkeith.