Obituary: Andy Scott,  skilled blacksmith dedicated to preserving craft's traditions

Andy Scott, blacksmith. Born: 24 September, 1931, in Selkirk. Died: 8 July, 2021, in Borders General Hospital, aged 89.
Andy Scott pictured in the late 1960s at T & R Keddie’s Heatherlie smiddyAndy Scott pictured in the late 1960s at T & R Keddie’s Heatherlie smiddy
Andy Scott pictured in the late 1960s at T & R Keddie’s Heatherlie smiddy

Blacksmithing is recognised as one of the world’s oldest and noblest crafts, and Andy Scott made it his life’s work to maintain the industry’s traditions and standards. Mr Scott died on July 8th in the Borders General Hospital, after a short illness. He was 89.

Living as he did adjacent to the family firm’s Heatherlie smiddy in Selkirk, meant Andy Scott found himself on duty virtually round the clock.

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Such was Mr Scott’s work ethic, no “out of hours” request was ever turned down – once having to leave his family’s Christmas Day celebrations to repair one of the council’s damaged snow ploughs.

The son of Selkirk baker Frank Scott and his wife Maggie (née McKnight), who had come to the town to work as housekeeper at Bannerfield House, Adam Anderson Scott was born in Croft Terrace on September 24th, 1931. He had two siblings, Doug and Nancy.

Educated at the Burgh School and at Selkirk High School, Andy left the latter at the age of 14 to begin an engineering apprenticeship in the town’s Gardiner’s Mill.

Three years later he joined the Selkirk firm of T & R Keddie, blacksmiths and farriers, owned by his uncle, Jim Scott.

Attending block release courses at Ramsay Technical College, in Edinburgh’s Inchview Terrace, he quickly became proficient in all aspects of the industry.

Having played rugby for Selkirk Youth Club, Andy’s senior playing career at Philiphaugh was unavoidably cut short, since he was always expected to work on Saturdays. He nevertheless took out a Selkirk Rugby club membership each year, and avidly followed the team’s fortunes.

A keen horseman, Andy once picked up a mount at Cappercleuch on the Thursday before the Common Riding. He rode it down to Selkirk, before taking it round the marches on the Friday and then riding it back up to Cappercleuch on the Saturday (a distance of over 17 miles).

Joining the Selkirk Incorporation of Hammermen in his teens, in 1953 Andy was appointed Hammermen’s Standard Bearer, riding the marches that year then casting the Incorporation’s flag in the town’s Market Place – believed to be the only Hammermen’s Standard Bearer ever to do so.

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Like many of his generation, romance bloomed for Andy on the dance floor of the Volunteer Hall (the “Gala Palais”), where he met his future wife Sheila Roseburgh, whose father was a barber in Galashiels.

The couple were married in St Paul’s Church, Galashiels on June 21st, 1959, and remained devoted to each other for the rest of their lives. They went on to have two sons – Robin being born in 1961 and Alan in 1963.

Following the death of his uncle Jim in 1964, Andy took over the firm of T & R Keddie, and in 1978 Robin followed his father into the business. Five years later, Robin himself was appointed Hammermen’s Standard Bearer.

Alan opted for another career path, albeit one which also required technical skills, qualifying and working as an engineer with telecommunications giant BT.

Under the stewardship of Andy Scott, the firm of T & R Keddie flourished, managing to adapt to rapidly changing times. Horseshoeing ceased at the smiddy in 1978, when a new set of shoes cost just £3 but remained back-breaking work.

Over the years local farmers came to rely on Andy’s talents for repairing machinery and fashioning all manner of replacement parts on the smiddy’s lathe – invariably urgent jobs, coming as they often did bang in the middle of silage-making, harvesting or ploughing.

One of the firm’s biggest customers was Philiphaugh Estate, and this week Sir Michael Strang-Steel paid tribute to Mr Scott.

“I met Andy when I returned to Selkirk to farm in 1980, and at our first meeting mistakenly referred to him throughout our conversation as Mr Keddie, although he didn’t let on!

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“He was an utterly charming man, and was always incredibly obliging when it came to mending broken bits of machinery. He had a wonderful sense of humour, and I remember how proud he was when son Robin joined the family business.”

In retirement, Andy enjoyed spending time with grandchildren Sarah, Carly, Andrew, Callum and Caitlin, taking special delight at the arrival of great-grandson Jasper.

Mr Scott was buried in Selkirk’s Shawfield Cemetery on Thursday, 22 July, and is survived by sons Robin and Alan, daughters-in-law Linda and Mandy, and by his grandchildren and great-grandchild.

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