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David Ritchie Watt family album

David Ritchie Watt family album
David Ritchie Watt family album
This exhibition represents a family photo album loaned to us for digitisation by David Ritchie Watt, a descendant of Edinburgh clockmaker, James Ritchie. The album is a great addition to our collections providing a candid view of a family’s life in Edinburgh in the first half of the 20th century. The pages and prints from the album are displayed side by side giving a sense of the physical item and how it was compiled and cherished over the years.

David’s mother was Catherine Ritchie, a member of the well-known Edinburgh clockmaking family. David was born in 1927, and in this photo album are gathered hundreds of images spanning through the years from c1919 to c1947, including pictures with his grandfather Leo, who until his retirement in 1953, ran the James Ritchie & Son business; a business which put its mark on all areas of the city from swimming pools to parks and landmarks.

Throughout the album we see photos of family holidays, particularly to the seaside. We see children building sandcastles and playing on the rocks in North Berwick and Dunbar, and families posing for the camera.

David’s Aunt "Nannie" and Uncle George Scotland lived in India for a while where George was the manager of a coffee plantation. Their three daughters, David's cousins, were born in India and there are several photos of the time the family spent there, including a visit from Santa!

David’s childhood was spent in the family home in Willowbrae Road before moving to nearby Durham Road in Portobello where he started school at the fee-paying Royal High Preparatory School aged 5. In 1939 he was due to be transferred to the Senior Royal High School but the outbreak of war in September 1939 saw him being evacuated to Buckie in the north-east of Scotland.

David left school in July 1944 aged 17 and started to work at the wholesale printers and stationers Blair & Davidson where his father was a director and where he had worked part-time from 1940 delivering parcels at a penny a time. Conscription for military service continued and in early July 1945 he reported to Dreghorn Military Camp to start training in the General Service Corps. After three years’ service he returned home and continued to work at Blair & Davidson. Attending classes while working full-time, David was accepted to study for a Bachelor of Commerce Degree at Edinburgh University, where he graduated in 1952.

David married Elaine in 1964. He continued his career at Blair & Davidson becoming a director and worked there until it ceased trading in 1997.