PSNS People 1980-2020

Dr Margaret Stewart MBE (1907 – 1986)
Dr Stewart joined PSNS in 1937, served on Council and was a Vice President in 1949. She set up the Archaeological Section in 1948. Dr Stewart was an acknowledged authority on Bronze Age pottery. In Perth, she ran study groups and classes in archaeology and meticulously trained Section members in excavation techniques. Together they excavated sites such as Elcho Nunnery and the stone circle in Scone Woods. Further afield they worked on prehistoric sites such as highland ring forts in Strathtummel and Bronze Age burial cairns. Dr Stewart helped groups in Crieff and Aberfeldy to establish archaeological and heritage societies and helped set up the Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee and was a founding member of Perth Civic Trust and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Valerie McLaren Thom (1929 – 1998)
Valerie Thom worked in Agricultural research then moved to the newly established
Countryside Commission to work in conservation education. She was Secretary and Chair of the PSNS Ornithological Section from its inception in 1965 to 1972. Nationally known, she was Wildfowl Count Organiser for Scotland and President of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club. She is best remembered for her book, Birds in Scotland, published in 1986.

James Aitken (1913 – 2003)
James Aitken joined his father’s nursery business at Orchardbank, on Kinnoull Hill. He
helped to design and build the rock garden at Branklyn Garden and developed his own outstanding rock garden at Orchardbank. He was a member of PSNS for 70 years, joining in 1933, and was Society President for 16 years. He was a popular lecturer, with an easy, informal but informative style. On his death he left a large sum of money for the renovation of the arboretum on Deuchny Hill.

Dr WH Findlay (1911 – 2006)
Dr Findlay was a chest consultant at Perth Royal Infirmary. He was President of PSNS for 10 years and presided over the centenary celebrations of 1967 commissioning the Society’s carved noticeboard. He was later President of the Photographic Section and from the 1950s to the 1980s amassed a huge collection of photographs of Perth’s townscape. Dr Findlay’s family have recently made his entire collection of over 25,000 photographs available to PSNS and some can be viewed here on the Society’s website.

Kenneth M MacAlpine (1908 – 1994)
Kenneth MacAlpine joined PSNS in 1937, after he moved to Perth to take up the first
dedicated geography teaching post established in Scotland, at Perth Academy. His main
interests were geology and ornithology and he was also a keen photographer. He was
elected Treasurer in 1944 and held that position until he retired from Council in 1990. The
first lecture in the winter lecture series is named, The MacAlpine Lecture, in his memory.

Rhoda Fothergill BEM (? – 2019)
Rhoda Fothergill is a well-known and highly respected local historian. She taught at Kinnoull Primary School before becoming depute head at Caledonian Road School. Joining the PSNS Council in 1965 she gave 50 years’ service to the Society becoming Secretary in 1968 and is now Honorary Life President. In 2014, she accepted the British Empire Medal in recognition of her many years of dedicated research on Perth history.


Personalities of Perthshire : Current and Past