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First historic figures revealed for Scotland’s Commemorative Plaque Scheme

11 November 2013

Dundee based illustrator Dudley D Watkins, famous for illustrating Oor Wullie and The Broons is one of the twelve historic figures to be honoured in the first year of the Commemorative Plaque Scheme for Scotland.

This was announced by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs.  The Commemorative Plaque Scheme is designed to celebrate the life and achievements of significant historic figures, through the erection of a plaque on their home where they lived, or the building that was particularly synonymous with their achievements.

The nominations were submitted by the public and the final twelve chosen by an independent panel of experts with the first year of the Scheme celebrating the Year of Creative Scotland.

Dudley D Watkins (1907-1969) made an enormous contribution to Scottish popular culture through his work for publisher DC Thomson.  He is best known for iconic Scottish characters Oor Wullie and The Broons which he drew for The Sunday Post from 1936 until his death in 1969.  Dudley also illustrated characters such as Lord Snooty for The Beano and Desperate Dan for The Dandy amongst others.

Ms Hyslop said: “The Commemorative Plaque Scheme highlights the range of incredible creativity shown by the talented people in Scotland, celebrating individuals such as Dudley D Watkins, illustrator for DC Thomson whose illustrations of well-loved characters from Oor Wullie and The Broons still bring humour and joy into our lives.

“It also commemorates historic figures who have made a significant contribution to Scotland and the world including television pioneer John Logie Baird,  steam pioneer James Watt, Scottish colourist Cadell and Archibald Findlay, Fife potato geneticist who  produced the first blight-resistant potato, making the food safe from disease.”

Dudley D Watkins was nominated by Frank Boyle, the cartoonist for the Edinburgh Evening News.   He said: “I was delighted to nominate Dudley D.Watkins for a commemorative plaque. I absorbed his cartoon strips as a child and he had a big influence on my own work.

“I went to art college in Dundee and I started my career at D.C.Thomson, so it was good to return to the city to see the plaque unveiled. I hope it helps to give Dudley D.Watkins the respect he deserves and to increase the prestige of cartooning as an art form.”

For information:

The first winners to be chosen in the Year of Creative Scotland are:

Dudley D Watkins   -  Dundee based illustrator for DC Thomson.
Born in Nottingham, Dudley D. Watkins (1907-1969) was an illustrator who made an enormous contribution to Scottish popular culture through his work for the Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson; Watkins is best known for those iconic Scottish cartoon characters Oor Wullie and The Broons which he drew for the Sunday Post from 1936 until his death in 1969.

Watkins showed artistic talent from an early age.  He displayed work at an annual art competition in his hometown of Nottingham at the age of just 11.  After gaining a scholarship, Dudley studied art on a full-time basis at Nottingham School of Art before being spotted by a representative of DC Thomson at age 18.  In 1936 his most famous characters Oor Wullie and The Broons were born after RD Low noticed his rare ability to combine the comic with reality.

John Logie Baird – Television pioneer and inventor.
Helensburgh-born John Logie Baird was a Scottish engineer and the first person to demonstrate a working television. On 26 Jan 1926 he gave the world's first demonstration of true television before 50 scientists in an attic room in central London. In 1927, his television was demonstrated over 438 miles of telephone line between London and Glasgow, and he then formed the Baird Television Development Company.

Archibald Findlay - Fife potato geneticist, father of 75% of modern crop.
Maris Piper and Rooster, are two of the highest profile potato varieties in the supermarket vegetable aisles throughout, whose pedigree/family history traces them back to potato pioneer Archibald Findlay.  A more detailed scrutiny of all the potato varieties used today in GB suggests 70% have been derived from his early work. Globally his contribution to the food industry has been immense.

Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir - Gaelic poet
Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir (1724-1812) was one of the leading Gaelic poets of his time. He had three editions of his poetry published in Edinburgh, in 1768, 1790, and 1804, and thus counts as one of the pioneers of Gaelic publishing. His poetry has stood the test of time, and has never been out of print. Most genres of Gaelic poetry are represented in Donnchadh Bàn’s work

Louis Dickson - Bo’ness cinematographer and film pioneer.
Louis Dickson 1880-c.1960 was founder of the Bo’ness Hippodrome and for 50 years documented the fairs, festivals, schools, sports fixtures and celebrations, of Bo’ness on camera, which survive to this day in the Scottish Screen Archive.

Adam Christie - Sculptor and artist from Shetland
He spent almost fifty years of his life at Sunnyside hospital, and it was during these years that the artistic side of his personality began to flourish and produced over 200 sculptures. Eventually a small display, and latterly a small museum was established in the grounds of the hospital, to showcase some of his remarkable sculptures. His story is now documented in the archives of NHS Tayside.

Louisa Stevenson and Christian Guthrie Wright
Founders of Queen Margaret College and Edinburgh School of Cookery and leaders in social equality movement. These two remarkable Edinburgh women essentially founded Queen Margaret University in 1875 when they created the Edinburgh School of Cookery. Their vision for a creative, fairer and healthier society and their contribution towards enhancing the lives of others has survived and flourished.

The founders supported the principles of the mid Victorian "Women's Movement" campaign for better education and improved career opportunities for females.

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell - ‘Scottish Colourist’ of the late 19th century.
Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883-1937) is one of the four artists popularly known as ‘The Scottish Colourists’, along with S. J. Peploe, J. D. Fergusson and G. L. Hunter. Cadell’s work is perhaps the most elegant of the four: he is renowned for his stylish portrayals of Edinburgh New Town interiors and the sophisticated society that occupied them; equally celebrated are his vibrantly coloured, daringly simplified still-lives of the 1920s, and his evocative landscapes of the island of Iona.

Norman McLaren - Stirling born experimental filmmaker and electronic music pioneer.
Norman McLaren is a genius of the moving image, an experimental filmmaker and electronic music pioneer, a celebrated animator and world-renowned artist, whose legacy within the National Film Board of Canada is respected and admired by generations of animation film makers around the globe.

Hamish MacCunn – one of Scotland’s outstanding composers.
Born in Greenock in 1868, despite living in London for all his professional life, MacCunn retained his Scottish identity and an interest in Scottish artistic life. He was vice-president and an active supporter of the Dunedin Association, founded in 1911 with the aim of providing a forum for the promotion of Scottish music and literature. At its zenith, the association had some one thousand members including many notable figures.

Francis (Fra) Newbery  - Former Head of the Glasgow School of Art.
As Head of the Glasgow School of Art from 1885 to 1918 he was responsible for a total transformation of the institution which saw it develop into the Art School which has had (and continues to have) such a dominant position in Glasgow, Scotland and the U.K.

It was his leadership and vision which saw Charles Rennie Mackintosh be given the task of designing and building the iconic Glasgow School of Art which continues to be so important today, both as a working building and as an attraction to architects and tourists alike.

James Watt- Steam pioneer, commemorating his early work at Kinneil Estate.
Dr. John Roebuck, who was living in Kinneil House, and who leased many of the local pits from the Duke of Hamilton, called in inventor James Watt to help him with a problem. His problem related to the pits he owned; the early steam engines were not pumping out the water quick enough, and so the pits were flooding. Watt was tasked with improving the steam engine.  His work is recognised as extremely significant in the revolution of the steam engine.

Notes to editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.


  • 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at www.visitscotland.com/natural

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For further information


Jennifer Johnston-Watt
Media & PR Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8070 or 07827 956 866
jennifer.johnstonwatt@scotland.gsi.gov.uk