Plaque honours Ballater scientist

A PLAQUE has been unveiled in Ballater to mark the birthplace of one of the town's most famous residents

Sir Patrick Geddes, a highly acclaimed Scottish scientist and town planner, was born in Ballater on October 2, 1854.

He was knighted shortly before his death in Montpellier, France in 1932 where he had been the founder of the College Des Ecossais, an international teaching establishment.

Geddes was considered as being ahead of his time with his concerns for the environment and was credited with coining the phrase 'Think global, act local.'

The exact whereabouts of Geddes' birthplace had been a mystery as he had only stayed in Ballater for the first couple of years of his life before moving to Perth.

However research led by historian Walter Stephen managed to pinpoint the location of his birth.

A piper led a procession, which included members of the Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust and the Ballater Geddes Group, from the Victoria and Albert Halls to the identified site in the town's square next to the John M Pringle gift shop last Wednesday (April 2).

Walter Stephen, a former chairman of the Sir Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust, said: "The unveiling of the plaque went very well and we had a very good turnout. We couldn't put the plaque on the original building where Geddes had been born as it was demolished in 1906.

"We identified a site near to the Pringle gift shop as being where the original building had stood so we have erected the plaque there."

Walter believes that Geddes is an inspirational figure that the people of Ballater can be proud of.

He told the Piper: "I believe that Sir Patrick Geddes is a very worthy local hero for the people of Ballater because he tried to make things better. He didn't just talk about doing things but he actually went into the world and tried to make a difference.

"He is a great Scot but unfortunately nobody knew where he was born so we couldn't put up a plaque in his honour.

"Now after a huge amount of research we have finally been able to trace where he was born."

The project has been co-funded by Aberdeenshire Council, who helped design the plaque, along with the Ballater Geddes Group and the Sir Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust.

Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside councillor Marcus Humphrey unveiled the plaque, which he described as "a fitting tribute to one of Aberdeenshire's most original thinkers."

The day also marked the launch of a publication entitled Where Was Patrick Geddes Born? written by Walter Stephen.

Walter, 74, added: "Just over a year ago a collection of essays about Geddes called A Vigorous Institution was published. I had written an essay asking where Patrick Geddes had been born and came up with some answers. However in the summer I was unhappy with the finished piece.

"I wrote the new publication to tie up the loose ends. It is only 28 pages and about 10,000 words in length so the actual writing didn't take that long but the research took the best part of a year."

Five hundred copies of Where Was Patrick Geddes Born? have been published, which are available by contacting Walter Stephen by post at Hills of Home, 82 Pentland Terrace, Edinburgh. EH10 6HF. Copies cost 4 each and postage is paid.