IN DUNDEE, SCOTLAND
The Willoughby District Historical
Society in Sydney, Australia was recently presented with 8 books and
associated loose papers relating to elocution competitions in Dundee,
Scotland at the end of the 19th century. The books were
found in a house at 10 Bourmac St, Northbridge, Sydney.
Unfortunately, we do not have any further information on their
provenance. Our assumption, based on written information in the
books, is that a James R Watson may have migrated from Scotland to
Australia at some stage (as the books appear to have belonged to
The two main identities featured in the
books are James R Watson and Ross Campbell.
Perhaps the most interesting of the
books is a hard-covered notebook of James R(obetrson). Watson,
Dundee, 1889. There are a number of newspaper clippings in the book
(unfortunately undated) but likely c.25 April 1889. The clippings are
Courier and Argus
The clippings tell the story of
dramatic recitals and elocution competitions held in the Gilfillan
Hall on 25 April 1889. It appears that an elocution teacher (Ross
Campbell) recited at the competition but that also one of his pupils,
J.R. Watson was awarded a gold medal for his recital. The silver
medal was won by a Mr David Pae. There are a number of other local
names cited in the articles.
This book, owned by J.R Watson appears
to contain various handwritten story's, poems and plays that were
used for elocution practice and performance, For the majority of
passages the original source is acknowledged. However, there are some
passages that may, or may not be original pieces.
There are another two notebooks that
appear to have also been penned by Watson. One of them is a 'Sight
Protecting Manifold Order Book'. It has numbered pages plus 'carbon
copy' facility to make a duplicate copy. The fascinating thing is the
apparent lack of carbon (and smudging) on the pages. The highest
quality carbon-copy I have seen (but I am no expert).
There are also a number of handwritten
sheets with similar content to the note books.
There are 5 printed books:
Campbell, Ross, (undated), Original
Humorous Character Sketches, W & D. C. Thomson, Weekly News
Office, Dundee. There is a name inside that looks like W (?) B.
Bo(a)ucher. This would likely be the Ross Campbell, the teacher
referred to in the news clippings.
Stewart, Andrew (Ed.), (undated),
Humorous Readings, John Menzies & C0. Ltd. Edinburg and Glasgow
Stewart, Andrew, (undated) Readings,
Pithy and Pawkey, John Menzies & C0. Ltd. Edinburg (name inside
J, Robertson Watson
No author (undated) Games and
Amusements (no publisher)
No author, 1908, Barefoot Sketches, no
publisher. Preparatory Noteby B.J.G.M. June 1908. The sketches were
first given to the public serially in The Northern Scot.
have been unsuccessful in gleaning more information about Watson and
Campbell. There were some elocution competition in Australia in the
early 20thcentury, but nor=t many in Sydney.
If anyone has an
interest in the artefacts they should contact the Willoughby District
Historical Socity at the details below.