Robert Douglas

 

wpe1.jpg (19848 bytes) Robert Douglas was born and raised in Scone. At an early age he and his brother Charles left for America. There he prospered. He became President of the great Certo Corporation, later sold to the giant General Foods Corporation of America. Throughout the years he remembered his birthplace and retained his affection for it.

The father of Robert Douglas was David Douglas. It was he who founded the Scone Jam Factory when New Scone was about 80 years old. Here his sons learnt the business of jam making and when they went to America they devised a means of extracting from fruit, mainly apples, a setting agent called fruit pectin which was used by preserve manufacturers. They later commercialised the product under the name of Certo for the use of the housewife which proved to be highly successful.

There is an inherent desire in nearly every individual, especially after middle age, to return in spirit, if not in person, to their native heath. Indeed, the urge of all animals to return to their homes when they are freed seems to indicate that this is a deep natural instinct. Where men have left their homelands and found their fortunes in distant parts it seems that this instinct is fulfilled by giving thought about the wellbeing of the people still living in the place they have left, making some provision for them, their children and their children’s children. Such was the case with Robert Douglas.

When preparing his will Robert Douglas directed that a portion of his estate should be devoted in perpetuity for the benefit of the people of New Scone and the vicinity, and to the betterment of living conditions in the village. He directed his trustees in America to establish in New Scone a Douglas Foundation Trust to carry out his wishes. The trustees were to be responsible for and to direct the administration of the various ramifications of the Foundation and manage its finances.

Sir Stanley Noire-Miler, Bt., of Murrayshall, was invited to be Chairman. He accepted. Now he [is still] Chairman and the only surviving member of the original trustees. The Robert Douglas Foundation Trust was registered in Edinburgh in August 1936, and the 35th anniversary is to be celebrated at the Robert Memorial Institute in New Scone on Saturday, 4th September, 1971.

Before the Trust was formed in this country the American Trustees had carried out a great amount of work and spent considerable sums of money since Robert Douglas died on 28th May, 1929.

Their efforts had achieved:

The erection of a new school in Scone;

The laying out of the public park;

The building of the Memorial Home and Cottages;

An extension to the public hall;

An addition to the Perth Royal Infirmary called the Douglas Memorial Wing.

In the course of time the school and the extension to the public hall have been taken over by the County Council. The wing of the Infirmary, along with an endowment fund, has been annexed by the Regional Hospital Board under the National Health Act.

The park, which was presented to Scone by the late Charles Hutchinson, has continued to be maintained by the Trust, assisted by a grant from the County Council. It has been laid out by the Trust with shrubberies and serpentine paths throughout. A bowling green, putting green and tennis courts have been made and suitable club houses built. Large areas have been sown to grass for football, cricket and other sport. All this has combined to provide the people of New Scone with a much appreciated social amenity.

The Memorial Home along with the cottages form a further asset to the village. The residents there are comfortably accommodated in their own environment where they can freely and easily be visited by friends and relations. Dr. Allan Douglas, M.B., Ch.B., medical officer for the trust, makes regular visits attending to the wellbeing of residents and that general comfort of the Home. As it is not practicable for sick nursing to be given in the Home, where necessary invalids are temporarily moved to a suitable hospital.

Following the building of the new school, the old school premises were taken over by the Trust. Considerable alterations were carried out to make it suitable for social gatherings and many forms of indoor activities, and the Douglas Memorial Institute was created.

The Institute is an amenity which many villages would greatly envy. It is appreciated by old people who can throughout the day rest and read in comfortable surroundings. It is made use of by church and school and by various organisations for the playing of games and other activities for which it provides such excellent opportunities.

There can be no doubt that there is great scope for young members who are prepared not only to enjoy the facilities available to them, but also to assist in running the internal sports clubs and eventually qualify for a position in the management of the Institute.

It is to be hoped that residents who are not yet members will take the opportunity of the Anniversary celebrations to make up family parties to take a look at what goes on inside the Institute and discover how much they would benefit by taking up membership at the very nominal fee.

A membership in proportion to the increased population of the village would be an encouragement for those who now give much of their time to the management of the Institute’s affairs for the benefit of others. Such a membership would certainly tend to influence the degree of continued assistance from the funds of the Douglas Memorial Trust. While all the undertakings with which it is concerned were well endowed when they were first established, due to inflation and the changing state of the economy, the resources are now barely adequate for the maintenance of the various projects of the Trust. There is consequently a danger that some of its activities must eventually be curtailed unless other sources of income are created.

Much has been said here of the generosity of Robert Douglas. It would be wrong, however, to overlook the fact that Scone itself was created through generosity of the 3rd Earl of Mansfield. It was he who, about the year 1804, granted free feus to those who wished to move from the Royal City of Scone to build a home in the area.

Throughout the years the community has been blessed by many other benefactors who have given money or effort or both to the embellishment of the growing village.

It would be invidious to describe Robert Douglas as the great Douglas benefactor when the family as a whole has been so generous in an unostentatious way. His sister, Miss Isabella Douglas, who took an unpretentious pride in the success of her brother, is a typical example.

New Scone has been fortunate that the Douglas family made this their home and it is to be hoped that future generations will appreciate what has been done by them and in their name.

 

Contributed:

Robert Douglas's family owned the Jam Factory in Scone (The ‘Jeely Works) and my father, Dr. Allan Douglas, remembered it between the wars when the plant and machinery included a steam wagon for transporting raw and finished materials. Robert Douglas and his family made their fortunes out of patenting a process for the commercial production of pectin to set jams and preserves.

The works closed... probably due to the larger businesses, like Keillors in Dundee, cornering the market. It became a grain drying plant owned by the Angus Milling Company which originated in Kirriemuir, birthplace of JM Barrie. The company trademark/brand name was Peter Pan and a statue of the eponymous boy hero was placed at the Scone works. Unfortunately the company retrenched and closed Scone running its operations from the mills in Kirriemuir.

 

Places named for Robert Douglas:
•  Robert Douglas Memorial Primary School
•  Robert Douglas Memorial Home

 

 

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This page was last updated on 21 February 2018

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