Handwriting Prize for Pelham, 1870s

Every month, I like to add to my Blantyre collection, either through donations of interesting artefacts or memorabilia or buying interesting things with a Blantyre connection using a (very) small budget.This month I bought this little book and for the first time it was a purchase, not entirely for the content of the book.

The hardback little book oozes quality and the subject matter is English Wild Flowers. The book’s cover is embossed with Craigmount House School, The Grange, Edinburgh. A strange purchase, I hear you thinking.

Well, it was bought for 2 reasons. One, it’s old. I knew right away it was very old and in great condition. It’s been very well looked after and has not deteriorated with age. I suspect not opened much. However, the interesting thing which grabbed my attention more, is inside, there’s an inscription that the book was presented to Richard Pelham M Cochrane, whom I knew once lived at Calderglen House, Blantyre during the 1870s and early 1880s.

Richard Pelham Maitland Cochrane was born on 20 Jan 1863 and died tragically very young on 14 Jul 1884 when he was killed on the railway aged 21. At that time he was a Lt. of the 3rd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders and it was for Pelham that the Chapel was built at Calderglen.

The book was presented to Richard Pelham M Cochrane by the school, a prize for his handwriting. He would have left that private school by the age of 15, which means the gift was presented prior to 1878. Assuming the content was for an older pupil, (which is quite heavy reading packed full of Latin names and descriptions of flora), there is a presumption this book dates from 1875 – 1878, making it almost 150 years old. It dates from a time around the years of the Blantyre Mining Disaster and now added to my little collection makes a nice addition.

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  1. Gosh I didn’t know the handwriting competition went back that far Paul, what a great find! Our School, David Livingstone Memorial Primary had a proud tradition with the Handwriting competition. I think our headmaster’s son, Robert Hamilton came first in the British Alphabet Handwriting Competition, Cathy Johnson and I came third equal one year, other years I entered I was “highly commended”, I still have the certificates somewhere, I’ll search them out and post at some point. We were kept in if I remember rightly at lunch time and morning tea, to work on the essays, using nib pens and ink with cursive handwriting. what a memory eh!

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