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London Caithness Association 

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The Centenary

So we come to the Centenary celebrations in 1956.  A gathering in January was the first function.  Held in the Royal Scottish Corporation, it was attended by a large number of members and friends, also presidents of kindred Scottish societies in the Metropolis, and Past Presidents, RM Phimister, RR Tait, David Houston and WJ Taylor.  Mr Duff Dunbar, the president then holding office, was in the chair, and Mr Joseph Grimond, Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland, was one of the speakers.  Mr Duff Dunbar paid tribute to the diligence of Mr Taylor, who with the assistance of the editor of the John O'Groat Journal had compiled a complete list of the office bearers since the founding of the Association.  Research in the Groat had been necessary owing to the destruction of the records during the Blitz.  He also paid tribute to Miss Madge Harwood, who would compere the ensuing musical programme and whose talents on the social side of the activities had rendered the Association very much in her debt.  After reading numerous messages of goodwill from sister associations, he said that this centenary gathering was intended to be a friendly family occasion.  He reviewed the history of the past hundred years, and said that in the first fifty years the Association had contributed about 1000 to charitable purposes and yet in 1907 its Reserve Fund was no more than 190, but that it now stood at 2000.  He spoke of the difficulties ahead, of the counter attractions of television and said there would have to be renewed efforts to enlist younger members to take over the burden in due course. 

Mr Grimond congratulated the Association on attaining its hundredth year, made jocular remarks about the relationship of Orkney and Caithness in the days of the Vikings, especially the fact that at a battle in Orkney, every Caithness man had been killed, while the Orkney men had sustained little loss.   Whether this was fact or fancy, said Mr Grimond, the story was usually told at Orkney gatherings amid great applause.  In a more serious vein, he went on to say that he was quite sure that the London Caithness Association would go into its second hundred years in spite of the attractions of television and the other distractions of modern life.  It would play its part in maintaining the bonds, which united the people of the far north and would carry on for another hundred years of achievement and good will. 

The dinner and dance was held in March of that year, at Grosvenor House, and the event was held to be one of the most impressive Caithness gatherings ever held in the Metropolis.  It was reported later as being the happiest dinner ever attended, and credit was given by the President Mr Duff Dunbar, to the Dinner Convenor David Houston, the honorary treasurer W J Taylor and to his daughter the honorary secretary Miss Margaret Taylor.  A message of greeting from Her Majesty the Queen Mother was read, in which she also said that the Association might well be proud of the long period during which it had fostered the interests of those who came from their own county, in which she too now had a home.  She was pleased to mark the occasion by becoming Patron of the Association.

The toast of the County of Caithness was proposed by the Earl of Caithness, whose family have been identified with the Association since its beginnings.  He said that the last Earl of Caithness to have a home in the County was the fifteenth Earl, whose residence was Barrogill Castle, now the Caithness home of Her Majesty the Queen Mother.  His own dearest wish was to have a son and heir, and to have a house in Caithness.  As it happened, his son attended the dinner in 1972, having then succeeded to the title on the death of his father, and gave an excellent speech in praise of the County, in which it too was his wish to own land.

Next 1957 - 1976