Wick: WILLIAM BAIN THOMSON (TOSHY) 1927-1992

The town of Wick in Caithness in the north of Scotland was once Europe’s busiest herring port. There are still fishing boats in Wick harbour but when we visited the boats going to and fro were installing a large off-shore wind farm. We took an afternoon walk around Pulteneytown, on the south bank of the River Wick whose mouth the town sits on. Thomas Telford designed Pulteneytown for Sir William Pulteney, as well as working on improvements for the harbour and a bridge to improve the connection between the north and south bank of the river. The development includes as its centre piece the charming Argyle Square. From Pulteneytown our walk naturally gravitated to the activity of the harbour and there I found this interesting memorial bench.

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Wick harbour in the sunshine

The memorial bench to William Bain Thomson, known as Toshy, was erected by his family. Anyone who stops to read the plaque will gather that William Thomson worked on a boat called the Good Hope and lived to around 65 years of age, dying in Fort William. The words, ‘My ear will be soothed by the sound of the sea,’ suggest William Thomson lived and died a sailor and fisherman.

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ERECTED BY HIS FAMILY IN LOVING MEMORY OF WILLIAM BAIN THOMSON (TOSHY) FORMER CREW MEMBER OF GOOD HOPE BORN WICK 1927 DIED FORT WILLIAM 1992 MY EAR WILL BE SOOTHED BY THE SOUND OF THE SEA

I wonder if William Thomson’s middle name Bain is after Alexander Bain (1810 – 1877). He was an inventor and engineer who was born in Caithness and began his working life as an apprentice clock maker in Wick. Alexander Bain was the first to patent the electric clock and installed railway telegraph lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

I found references to a boat registered in Wick, Good Hope WK209 that moved to Fleetwood in Lancashire and is now lying derelict near there. Today this fishing boat is celebrated in a whisky. The Pulteney Distillery in Wick, founded in 1826 at the height of Wick’s herring boom, celebrates Good Hope WK209 as it was the first boat in Wick to use echo sounder to help find the herring.

Watten, Wick: Swati Datta 2 June 1951 – 20 May 2016

Drive between Wick and Thurso and you will pass Loch Watten.  Isolated, green and flat, Caithness  is a land of big skies.  About three miles long, the loch is known to anglers for its brown trout.  We turned off the main road at Watten and pulled into the small parking area that has a view north-west across the still water of the loch.  This was a perfect serene place for our morning coffee stop, made even more ideal as I found a memorial bench here to sit on and enjoy that wide open view.

During the Second World War this remote place was chosen to imprison dangerous and high-profile Nazi prisoners of war.  An old army barracks at Watten became Camp 165, the harsh surrounding landscape making escape almost impossible.

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Loch Watten

Today Loch Watten is a peaceful and glorious place to visit.  This beautifully-placed bench by the parking area remembers Swati Datta, who sadly didn’t quite reach her 65th birthday.

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in loving memory of Swati Datta (2 June 1951 – 20 May 2016) Wick

I have found no reference to Swati Datta online but world renowned surgical academic, now retired, Mr Pradip Datta worked at Caithness General Hospital in nearby Wick.  In 2008 he was awarded the prestigous Farquharson Award by the Royal College of Surgeons.  Mr Pradip Datta developed a course for aspiring surgeons that students from across the world attended.

I wonder if Mr Pradip Datta and Swati Datta are related and if he still comes here to sit and remember her.

 

 

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