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Tartan Ferret

Capt. T. Stuart Davidson (1917 ~ 1988)

Capt T Stuart Davidson

Captain Stuart Davidson was born on the 8th October 1917 at Baling, Middlesex where his father, Dr James A Davidson, was in medical practice. His grandfather, Thomas Davidson, was a fish curer in Aberdeen. He was educated privately in the South of England at Hurst Grammar School and at Epsom College, Surrey. Captain Davidson formerly served in the London Scottish Territorial Association and was commissioned in the Gordon Highlanders, in which he served from 1938 until the end of the Second World War.

Captain Davidson was a well known figure at the Aboyne Highland Games, where for some 40 years he acted as a judge of Highland Dancing. He has sisters in Johannesburg, South Africa and Houston, U.S.A. and he leaves a widow Anne and a daughter Fiona.

Captain Stuart Davidson, who died on 18th October 1988, will always be remembered as the person who convened the first meeting of the founder members of the Scottish Information Centre, later to become the Scottish Tartans Society. Though others had talked of forming such an organisation it was he who took the initiative. It was in the school holidays of December 1962 to January 1963 that the Prep School Maths teacher from Stirling decided that if anything was to be done he had to take action himself. He visited the Scottish Office, Lyon Office, Register House and many other places. In his own words "The reception was similar in each case 'Good idea. Wish you all success. Let us know how you get on old chap'".

As a result of the advice he received from Bill Nicholson of the Tourist Board, he visited William MacFarlane Grey, Provost of Stirling, who proved to be sympathetic. Within a few weeks the embryo Society had been granted a room in the Tolbooth at Stirling at £5 a year. Later, on 11th May 1963, the Tartans Information Centre at Stirling was officially inaugurated by the late Lord Lyon, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney. That day was a tribute to Captain Davidson's tenacity and enthusiasm. In retrospect, it must be regarded as one of the most important in the world of tartan and Highland dress.

In spite of Captain Davidson's efforts, however, progress was slow. By late 1966, there were still only twenty members. As the Secretary of the Society, Captain Davidson was kept busy preparing research reports on clan names and tartans, and answering queries from correspondents. He soldiered on at Stirling until 1972 but by then the future of the Society was bleak.

Moultrie R Kelsall, the late President and Chairman recalled a meeting held in that year between Captain Davidson, Joe Ritchie and himself. The three men came to the inescapable conclusion that it was impossible to keep the Society going in Stirling, particularly as Captain Davidson was faced with major surgery and already burdened with ill health to an extent that would have turned most men into chronic invalids.
Mr Kelsall felt that a move to Broughty Castle, Dundee held every promise of a new birth for the Society and the fulfilment of Captain Davidson's dream.

Captain Davidson bravely guided the Society to its new home. In Spite of the initial optimism and all the help received from dedicated Members of the Society and James Boyd, Director of Dundee City Council's Art Galleries and Museums, the sojourn of the Society at Broughty Castle proved to be only temporary. In 1975 the Dundee City Council requested the Society to leave, following an external report on the city's amenities. Once again, Captain Davidson's hopes seemed doomed to come to an untimely end.

At this point, Dr Micheil MacDonald, a resident of Comrie, invited the Scottish Tartans Society to relocate at Comrie. Captain Davidson accepted the offer and so was born the Scottish Tartans Museum under the curatorship of Dr MacDonald. Captain Davidson moved to Comrie where he took on the post of Co-ordinator of Research, replying to an ever increasing volume of enquiries and continuing the work of building up a stock of tartan research reports.
On 27th October 1979, Lord Elgin, the then President of the Society, unveiled a stone plaque, presented by the Chairman of Council, on the facade of the Museum to commemorate the founding of the Society by Captain Davidson and its formal inauguration by the then Lord Lyon, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney.
Looking back, that day was the climax of Captain Davidson's active work in the day-to-day running of the Society. In the following year he retired and returned to live in Stirling. He had found it increasingly difficult to share the running of the Society with his new colleague.
He was elected to the Council of the Society in 1986 but resigned on health grounds in May 1988.

It is indeed poignant that Captain Davidson should die in the very year that the Society celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Fortunately, however, there are many dedicated men and women who will ensure that the seed planted by Captain Davidson in convening the first meeting of the Founder Members will continue to grow and develop in the years to come such that future generations also will with pride.



A short appreciation from Jamie Scarlett

Son of a doctor in Ealing and the epitome of those exiled Scots than whom there are none more Scots. A militant wearer of the kilt, extremely gruff, bristly and forbidding in appearance - was once likened to a tartan hedgehog - but actually one of the kindest and most understanding people I have ever met.
He was extremely trusting and inordinately impressed by rank and apparent wealth or importance and I fancy that most of his post-war career was spent in being taken in by people who saw him coming.
He was really quite unworldly; I drove his car once - it was not something one did twice - and all the dashboard lights came on when I turned on the ignition. His memory was non-existent and he carried his reliance on files to the point of worship; as he would not allow papers to be fixed in files and invariably forgot where they came from, the results could be moderately chaotic but in the end it turned out to be greatly to my benefit.
When I met him he was teaching at a boys school in Stirling (Hurst Grange School) and he went from that to run a craft shop at Inverallan, where I believe the owners pulled a fast one on him.
His great achievement undoubtedly was to found the Society but he was squeezed out of that and Gordon Teall tried hard to take the credit from him.


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