I trained as a chemistry teacher. I have taught in Malta and Germany, as well as Scotland and England. I currently live in Canterbury in Kent. You can see my picture on Friends Reunited!
I came to Bell Baxter school in 1969/70, having spend most of my childhood in Zambia. My family emigrated in 1964, and my brother and sister were born in Zambia. My parents returned to Cupar in 1972, and since then I have lived in various places including England, and now live in Glasgow.
Looking back I did not realise how good a time we had at Bell Baxter. It was a great school and although it is sad to see the old building going, it is the right thing to do. Times and people move on.
Mrs Elizabeth Fraser started in Bell Baxter School prior to 1910. She lived in Leslie.
George Robb died at the end of March 1997, aged 54. George was a native of Cupar, and his career was spent working with the Royal Mail, for many years as a Postman and latterly as Postmaster. He had been ill for some time.
St Andrews University recently hosted a promotion of Chemistry for School pupils, with the aim of encouraging interest in the subject. Over 60 young people from Fife Schools, including Bell Baxter, were involved in several laboratory exercises. The pupils also toured the facilities on the campus. Three of the Cupar pupils involved were Emma Bateson, Fiona Roberts and Emma Castle-Smith.
When I left school I became a Laboratory Assistant in a Ministry of Supply organisation called the Chemical Inspectorate (which had very recently lost, after 86 years, the rather grander title of the Department of the War Department Chemist). Its business was to check the quality of chemical related products bought by the armed services and to write and publish specifications for materials such as explosives, plastics, rubbers, paints, fuels and lubricants, textiles and chemicals generally. The Headquarters were at Woolwich Arsenal, but most of the work was done in about 20 ‘outstations’ located within the premises of Ordnance factories and government contractors all over the country.
My first posting was to a TNT factory at Irvine, Ayrshire in September 1940. The Arsenal had been partially destroyed by German bombs about a week before with the unfortunate result that I received no pay for five weeks and had to survive and pay for my lodgings with personal loans from my Chemist-in-Charge - a worrying time for a 17 year old away on his own for the first time. Between 1941 and 1947 I served for varying periods in laboratories in Perth, Bishopton (Renfrewshire). Preston, Leeds, and Darlington gaining experience in the analysis and testing of explosives (high, propellant, initiatory and pyrotechnic), war gases, paints and general chemicals. I ended up at Headquarters in Woolwich Arsenal which was regaining its importance as the main group of laboratories, with only 7 peace-time outstations remaining.
During that time I did not attempt to gain additional qualifications, partly because of wartime conditions and partly because I was moving about so much, but while at Woolwich I met the girl I later married (and with whom I had a daughter and son) and was encouraged to undertake part-time studies for an external London chemistry degree – one afternoon and three evenings per week for 4 years! It turned out I was an apt student and I got a good degree which enabled me to join the elite Scientific Officer Class; my first post was that of Chemist-in-Charge of the Rubbers Laboratory and the second was to return to the Bishopton outstation as the Chemist-in Charge. After 6 years there I came back to Woolwich and mainly desk jobs and was lucky enough to keep moving up the promotion ladder, eventually becoming Deputy Director of the organisation which by that time had returned to the Ministry of Defence and was called the Materials Quality Assurance Directorate. (I think Mr Sutherland, chemistry teacher and rugby coach, would have been surprised!). In the 1970s I learned some Scottish Gaelic and was conductor of the London Gaelic Choir for 7 years (but won no prizes at the annual Mods).
In 1985, 2 years after retirement, my wife and I moved to the Isle of Wight where I have lived ever since, gaining two more degrees for fun in Geology and Mathematics, and being a strong supporter of the local Caledonian Society. My wife died in January 2009 and I am now (at age 87) planning to move into a retirement flat where I shall be glad to lose the stress of looking after an unnecessarily large house.
Clement did indeed move into his retirement home. He died on 5 February 2014, and this entry appeared in the Collessie News section of the Fife Herald on 14 February:
Clem Robertson never actually visited Collessie, although he belonged to Newburgh and lived out his life on the Isle of Wight, but his ancestors are buried here in the churchyard. Clem, born in 1923, died on February 5, aged 91. He was friends with Marjory and Lesley, having known Marjory’s mother at Bell Baxter, and latterly also friends by correspondence with your correspondent here, M. Lines, and a great supporter and avid reader of the Collessie column of the Fife Herald. Clem absolutely loved Collessie. He often wrote that he thought of Collessie as the most beautiful little village ever, a ‘perfect magical place’. Such is the power of words and perhaps homesick longings interest in all activities in Collessie led him to donate to Friends of Collessie Church in its fundraising efforts. His heritage lives on, as his father Andrew Robertson was a local photographer and postman in Newburgh and published postcards of local views which are still to be found in the books, Old Newburgh and Bygone Newburgh. Relatives of the Robertsons still live in Newburgh, and his daughter on the Isle of Wight. Only late on did he discover that his great grandmother Elizabeth Henderson was born in Collessie in 1823, and married Andrew Robertson in Kettle in 1847 where Clem’s grandfather was born, one of three children. Marjory’s keen genealogical study of Collessie Churchyard and its valuable Churchyard Book has revealed that Elizabeth Henderson’s parents and some brothers and sisters are also buried in the churchyard. Such secrets we have here beneath our sacred earth in Collessie. So. finally, here’s to a great man, Clem Robertson, an ‘ancestral son’ of Collessie who was delighted to know that he had a real Collessie connection.