Tullibody History Group

Robert Dick

Robert, with his sisters and brother, attended the Barony School in Tullibody. The school was founded and partly funded by the Abercromby family and Robert was an apt scholar. Plans to send him to college were prevented, when his father remarried and started a second family. When Robert was ten the family moved to Dam’s Burn near Menstrie. The Ochil Hills rose right behind the house and Robert could ramble up the burn and explore the hills, where his love of Nature flourished and his interest in plants and stones began.

Robert returned to Tullibody aged 13 when he was apprenticed to the baker, Mr Aikman, whose shop stood at the crossroads where the post office is now. While delivering bread to neighbouring villages he continued to build up his collection of local plants and insects.
In 1830, at the age of twenty, Robert followed his father who had been posted to Thurso and there set up his own baker’s shop. Working hard to make a living as a baker he continued to collect plants and study the geology of the Caithness area. He corresponded with and was visited by eminent botanists and geologists and formed a particular friendship with the geologist Hugh Millar.
After his death in 1866 a memorial obelisk was erected in Thurso Cemetery to celebrate the work of this self-taught natural scientist, but it was not until 1918 that the people of Tullibody honoured their famous son. Then a tablet provided by public subscription was placed on the wall of his former family home in Main Street.
(The house was demolished in 1958 and the plaque is now in the Alloa Museum collection).
Wording on the plaque is

“IN THIS HOUSE WAS BORN,JANUARY 1811

ROBERT DICK,

BAKER, THURSO BOTANIST AND GEOLOGIST

WHOSE LIFE, SPENT IN THE PURSUIT

OF SCIENCE,AMID MANY DIFFICULTIES,

IS AN INSPIRATION AND EXAMPLE”

21ST SEPTEMBER 1918

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