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Edinburgh Caithness Association

Amalgamation of Edinburgh Caithness & Edinburgh John O'Groat Associations

That great assembly knew that arrangements for the union of The Edinburgh Caithness and the Edinburgh John O’ Groat Associations - which had been initiated as far back as 1911 - had been well nigh concluded by the committees of the two societies, and that the final settlement would be reached at their annual general meetings in the following month - 26th March 1923.

In the latter days of the Edinburgh Caithness Association one of the popular places for its meetings had been Dowell’s Rooms, 18 George Street. Mr Dowell, the original proprietor of the famous sale-rooms, a Caithness man, and a stalwart member of the Caithness Association from 1838 until his death in 1914, had been in the habit of gratuitously granting the use of his rooms for the business meeting of that body.

Most appropriately, though un-designedly, the office bearers of The Edinburgh Caithness Association and of the Edinburgh John O’ Groats Benevolent Association decided to hold their last meetings as separate institutions and their first meeting as one society within the building that had heard so many Caithness discussions on the very matter that was now to become an accomplished fact.

There on the evening of Monday 26th March 1923, were assembled, in different rooms, the office bearers of both societies. The President of the John O’ Groat, Mr W J Campbell, after the formal business of the Association and of the year’s work had been concluded, moved “That the Edinburgh John O’ Groat Benevolent Association do now amalgamate with The Edinburgh Caithness Association”. Ex President William Angus seconded the motion which was unanimously carried. The directors and office bearers of the Edinburgh Caithness Association were then called in.

As this meeting was to mark an important period in the annals of the two Associations, due regard was taken to make the ceremony of union one befitting so important an occasion. As the representatives of the Edinburgh Caithness Association proceeded in single file to the front of the President’s chair the members of the John O’ Groat Association stood as a mark of respect. Mr Alfred W Lowe, the Hon. Secretary of the Edinburgh Caithness Association, after formally introducing his fellow representatives, stated that his society had that evening at their Eighty-fifth Annual General Meeting pass unanimously a resolution to amalgamate with the Edinburgh John O’ Groats Association. They were present in order that the necessary joint confirming resolution for the amalgamation of the two societies - long desired and much hoped for - might be proposed, seconded and carried by the members of both societies.

The President of the “John O’Groat” (Mr Campbell) expressed on behalf of himself and of his society the pleasure felt in welcoming the representatives of so venerable and so useful a society as that of the ‘Edinburgh Caithness’. Having honoured the directors with chairs on his right, Mr Campbell paid tribute to the important work accomplished by the Edinburgh Caithness Association during their long period of eighty-five years. After a spirited account of the rise and development of both societies and in the belief that amalgamation would result in an organisation of even greater vigour, greater importance and stronger influence, he moved “That the Edinburgh John O’Groat Benevolent Association, and The Edinburgh Caithness Association, in accordance with the Constitution and Rules (already adopted by both Associations) now laid upon the table”. The resolution was seconded by Dr William N Elder, a director of The Edinburgh Caithness Association, who supplemented the recital of the president in a speech replete with reminiscence extending back to the long distant days of his early membership of both Associations.

No “End of an auld sang”. Was there here, but a blending of two old harmonies. The election of office-bearers offered no difficulty to the members of the combined Association, whose choice of a president was wholly in favour of Mr Campbell, the proved and much esteemed chief of “John O’Groat.” Of the two vice-presidents elected, Dr Elder had an unrivalled knowledge of the varying fortunes of both societies, which knowledge he always placed for the benefit of members, he was in fact the Nestor of the united Association and conformed to the high standard of excellence, the prerogative of the approved Caithnessians, “Loyal, sincere and warm-hearted”. Mr Donald Miller, the other vice-president, served well and faithfully his apprenticeship to his office in the onerous duties of Treasurer. Mr Alfred W Lowe was appointed to the important office of Educational Convenor, with Mr F C Shearer, as his colleague. Mr William A Mackie, was appointed Secretaary, and Mr Murdo Mowat, Treasurer.

This admirably officered the united Association continued to maintain all the objects for which each of the two societies - “The Edinburgh Caithness” and the Edinburgh John O’Groat” was instituted.

As an augury of what might be expected of the “Groat” members on whom the mantle of the “Edinburgh Caithness” had fallen, mention may be made of the first administrative act of President Campbell in announcing his donation of a bursary to the best of the pupils attending Halkirk Public School.

At the date of amalgamation the membership of The Edinburgh Caithness Association was about fifty and the funds £2,198. Nearly all the members of that association were also members of the Edinburgh John O’Groat Benevolent Association which at the date of amalgamation had a membership of about 1,200 and funds amounting to £898.

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