The Edinburgh Geologist
Issue no 40

A complimentary dinner

by Alan Fyfe with help from Richard Batchelor and Norman Butcher

When Tony Wier, a Fellow of the Edinburgh Geological Society, died last year, his friend and colleague at St Andrews, Richard Batchelor, discovered amongst his belongings a copy of a menu for a dinner held in Crawfords Restaurant in Edinburgh in 1937. The dinner had been held in honour of John Pringle, who was then retiring from the Geological Survey aged 60. It was surrounded by the signatures of some 79 folk. It would be impossible and probably unwise to list them all, but we have looked into the history of a few of the most notable.

John Pringle was employed by the Survey in 1901 as a fossil collector and was later promoted to Palaeontologist to the Survey in 1934. There were at least 15 colleagues from the Geological Survey. These included Murray MacGregor, the Assistant Director (Scotland) from 1926 to 1945, Edward Bailey, Vic Eyles and Archie MacGregor. There were some retired Survey men as well including Walcot Gibson, who had been Assistant Director (Scotland) until 1925. It was at this dinner that Murray MacGregor recited the poem The Aged Palaeontologist, the words of which graced the pages of The Edinburgh Geologist some years ago (Issue 3, Spring 1978).

There were several people from the University Department including Robert Campbell, the Petrologist, R.M. Craig, who lectured in Economic Geology, and Thomas Finlay, the Palaeontologist. There is more information on all of these characters in the article on Donald McIntyre on page 12 of this issue.

Of course, there was John Weir, the finding of whose copy of the menu is the reason for this article. He was a palaeontologist at Glasgow University,  no doubt present to celebrate the retiral of a fellow fossil man. John Weir was also a Clough Medallist for 1957-58, but he is not the only one. There are James Livingston Begg (1942-43), Murray MacGregor (1944-45), James Wright (1946-47), Robert Campbell (1948-49), John Simpson (1953-54), Edward Bailey (1961-62), Archie MacGregor (1967-68) and James Phemister (1971-72). I wonder whether there has ever been an event when so many future Clough Medallists were gathered together.

Other signatures include Norman Falcon, an oil geologist who was one of the first geologists in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company when it metamorphosed into British Petroleum. And there is A.E. Trueman of the University of Glasgow, who wrote The Geological Scenery of England and Wales and went on to be Chairman of the University Grants Committee. There was also a D. Haldane, about which we have found nothing. However, below the artwork of the menu, illustrated opposite, were the initials 'DH'. Perhaps the draftsman was the only one to sign the menu twice!

see 'Leftovers' in Issue 41 for further information on D Haldane

A replica of the central part of the menu that was surrounded by 79 signatures

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