James Fisher, known as Hamish, 1913 - 2006

My father James, better known as Hamish, was born in Novar in Home Street, Aberfeldy.

His school years were spent at Breadalbane Academy where he passed his examination for the higher grade in May 1926. On 1 Sept. 1926 he was admitted to the higher grade but left school one year later at age 14 (the school leaving age was raised to 14 in 1901 and to 16 in 1973).

After leaving school he worked for a time at Fraser's garage in Dunkeld Street before moving to Glasgow to train as a motor engineer with Albion Motors. Had his parents not asked him to return home and help to run the family business, Aberfeldy Laundry, it is likely he would have made a career in engineering. As it transpired, his engineering expertise was of great importance to the suceess of the business which was always heavily dependent on mechanisation.Hamish and Betty's wedding in 1940

On 10th Feb 1940 he married Elizabeth Fraser MacDonald, known as Betty. She was from Blairgowrie but at the time was teaching in Breadalbane Academy. The wedding was described in the Dundee Courier.

At the same time as Hamish was taking a leading role in the management of the business, he developed an active interest in local affairs. He became secretary of the Breadalbane Academy Former Pupils Club and in 1938, aged 25, he became secretary of the Aberfeldy Merchants Association.

Town Council

During the Second World War, because Fisher's laundry supplied an essential service to military establishments in Scotland, Hamish was not called up to serve in the military although he did serve in the Home Guard. In November 1940, following the death of one of the members of the town council and resignation of another he was co-opted onto the the council but in June 1944 he resigned for reasons which are unclear.

After the war he sought formal election back onto the council. Having written a 'Letter to electors' which set out what he would like to achieve if elected, he topped the polls in November 1945 and again in May 1949.

Hamish recalled that there was always criticism and lively debate, but he believed that the burgh was being well run. Care was taken in the spending of ratepayers’ money, a sound housing policy was established and poor housing eliminated. Aberfeldy was noted for its variety of clubs and organisations, and the way its townspeople participated in local affairs.

During that period there were no dramatic changes in Aberfeldy except that Breadalbane Academy was replaced by a new building. The senior secondary school was a great asset to Aberfeldy, attracting pupils from all over the Highland District of Perthshire, including Pitlochry.

While serving on the Town Council as Cleansing Convener, Hamish Fisher remembers making what turned out to be an unpopular proposal: for the use of dustbins. People were apparently reluctant to lose the dirty middens in their gardens, and even one local doctor signed a petition to prevent the use of dustbins. Even in those days, the value of good communications became apparent. Hamish Fisher wrote and distributed a letter to every house in the town, and no further protests were heard about the proposal.

In 1952, Hamish was appointed the representative of Aberfeldy Town Council on Perth and Kinross County Council. He served on Perth and Kinross Valuation Appeals Committee for twenty years, spending twelve as Chairman. He was also a member of the Perth General Hospitals Board for 12 years and Chairman from 1970-1974 when the Health Service was restructured. He was later a member of Tayside Health Board.

Provost

Hamish became Provost of Aberfeldy on 20th January, 1955.

The main highlight of Hamish’s term as Provost came in 1970, when he had the honour of conferring the Freedom of Aberfeldy on the Black Watch Regiment. This was a great day in the history of the town, with the first battalion of the Black Watch on parade in the local park, complete with band. After the ceremony they marched through Aberfeldy with bayonets fixed and banners flying.

The people of Aberfeldy have always taken a special pride in the Black Watch — their own regiment, which was first mustered in 1740 on the banks of the Tay at Aberfeldy. The occasion is marked today by the Black Watch Monument overlooking the site of that first muster.

The Town Council was abolished in 1975 when local government was reorganised. Hamish Fisher’s considerable service to the community was recognised when he was made a Freeman of the Burgh of Aberfeldy at a ceremony held in the town in 1974 during which he was presented with a framed scroll and casket (left).

The Passing of Hamish Fisher (from the Comment archive)

An era has ended with the death of James (Hamish) Fisher, ex Provost of Aberfeldy, who was born 22 July 1913 and died 1 July 2006 aged 92. His funeral took place on 7 July in the town.

Hamish was born in Aberfeldy and grew up in the Fisher family which ran a small laundry business, largely for the various shooting lodges in Highland Perthshire.

Innovative in thinking, Hamish had an enquiring mind whetted by his early days of engineering experience in Albion Motors, Glasgow, and, with an aptitude for understanding engineering, he developed and introduced machinery appropriate to a changing clientele. With his forward-looking mind he enjoyed working on development and diversification projects.

It is a tribute to the skill of his years of vision building that, based on a small and sparsely populated area, Fishers, with its fleet of light green and white vans, became the Scottish pacesetter in meeting the varied needs of linen-hire for hotel chains and high-standard specifications for cleanrooms.

Involved in many aspects of community life, Hamish was conscientious as provost of Aberfeldy from 1954-1975, and appreciated receiving the Freedom of the Burgh in 1974. He took an active interest in Breadalbane Academy, was a member of Perth and Kinross County Council, and served on Perth General Hospitals Board for 12 years, being chairman from 1970-1974. There were many practical acts of thoughtful kindness unknown to anyone but the recipient.

Hamish had a genuine interest in people of all age groups. Membership of Aberfeldy Parish Church was meaningfull : he had sung in the choir, and recently had pleasure in the completion of the new church centre. He enjoyed travelling, whether in younger days to find out about equipment, or to holiday with Betty, whom he married in 1940 and who predeceased him, as did his brother Ian and sister Lena.

Family life at Torr Hill was always very important to him, being highlighted by the great happiness he took in his 90th birthday party attended by his three sons, Donald, Peter, and Alan and their families.

Page last updated - 4/2/17