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Gardening at Melsetter
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Gardening at Melsetter

Willie writes:
"This is a pic of my grandfather, William Watters the 1st, with the grasscutting machinery at Melsetter House. He was gardener there until about 1957 when the navy left. No sit on mowers then. The ponys look a bit small for that."

Date estimated.
Picture added on 18 September 2006
Willie was the gardener at the big hoose all through the war when the navy were in Melsetter House. One day the Admiral whose name I forget at this moment, but he was at the battle of the River Plate, anyway this top ranking chap says to Willie 'I think its about time the drive was dutch hoed Watters!!' Willie who had fought in France and Belgum throught the Great war and was not tugging his forlock to anyone replied "Bue yae might hiv chased the Graff Speay bit thoul no chase me". Willie was a solid principled man who I had the privilege to know and respect. If more of the world was like owld Willie Waters there would not be so much inrest to day.

Added by John Budge on 15 November 2009
Further to me comment aboot owld Wullack o the Binks and his address tae the Admiral o the Fleet.
I think hid wid hive been Admiral Harrwood, can anyone confirm that he was at the battle o the River Plate? Anyway Sapper Watters of the Great war did not give a fig!!.
And anyway Willie was employed by Mrs Middlemore the Navy were squatters on his patch!!.
Added by John Budge on 17 November 2009
A story goes in our family that when my grandfather was in France during WW1 he was passing a row of horses when one neighed at him. He took a look at the horse and he was able to identify it as the one of the horses he used to work as a ploughman on a farm before the war. He saw a scar on it's leg caused by the horse having torn it on a fence. It wasn't only the young men who were called up.
Added by William Watters on 18 November 2009
Yes John, Commodore Harwood as he was then, was the senior naval officer in command of the squadron consisting of H.M.S Exeter,H.M.S. Ajax & H.M.N.Z.S Achilles at the battle of the River Plate. He came to Melsetter as a vice admiral and Harry Berry was his coxwain. I think he was a fine enough man.

Wilson Nicholson caught him on his land at Muckle House shooting ducks and gave him a dressing down. The admiral apologized and asked Wilson if there was anything he could do for him. Wilson replied that he would like to go to Rackwick to see relatives, that he had not seen for years. On the following Sunday the admirals car arrived in Brims, complete with uniformed driver and Wilson and Mary set off on their adventure, pursued initally by all the urchins in Brims, who had never experienced such grandeur.
Added by Fred Johnston on 18 November 2009
At the battle of the River Plate he was Commodore Harwood, promoted Admiral after the battle.
Added by William Watters on 19 November 2009
A great story Fred, Wilson Nicholson like Wulluck o the Binks wiz a veteren o the first warr and by hivens he wiz a hard bu**er. Like Wully he widna given a damn about rank or fortune .
I feel so lucky to have known these men- wae used tae go up tae visit Wilson and Mary on a Saterday night late on, for the craak. Wilson wid swing oot o the box bed in his draars and tell yarns till fower in the mornin. Jist whit young anes like tae hear. If young folk were tae do that noo they wid be done for harasment!!.
Added by John Budge on 20 November 2009
Admiral Harwood's son comes tae Orkney wae Sir and Lady Jock Sclater and I have met him. May I say I took delight in recounting the Willie Waters story and he remembered Willie when he was a boy .He remembered his father had called Wullack Speedy on account of his slow dogid determination to do a good job at his pace!! Nothing wrong wae that is there.
Added by John Budge on 20 November 2009
Wilson Nicholson used to tell some good stories.
The actor Anthony Quayle played the part of Commodore Harwood - H.M.S. Ajax in the film The Battle Of The River Plate. A piece of useless info but I'm an old film fan.
Added by Beryl Simpson on 21 November 2009
Hadn't heard the story about Wilson Nicholson (my great uncle) and the admiral before. It's a good one. He's probably have been going to Rackwick to see his cousin John Nicholson, father of Bella (Mrs Mowat).
Added by Jane Harris (née Ross) on 30 January 2010
Ah these names and stories ring so many bells with me. It was indeed Admiral Lord Harwood and I have a photo of him, his wife, and his dog which was presented to my Mum and Dad when Harwood left. (All the staff received them I believe). My Mum Lilian Smith worked as a domestic help in Melsetter and met my Dad (Francis Sinden) there as he was a Naval Steward in the house. I shall dig out the photos and share them on here shortly.
Added by Ian Sinden on 22 January 2016
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