Majestic occasion for unsung tattie king

Chip of the old block: John Marshall at the Old Factory
Chip of the old block: John Marshall at the Old Factory
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People from all over ‘Muchty and beyond have gathered to pay tribute to an unsung potato pioneer who helped put the town on the map.

Archibald Findlay was a potato breeder whose achievements continue to have a far-reaching impact throughout the world.

And now, some 93 years after his death, a plaque has been unveiled in his honour at ‘The Old Factory’ in Auchtermuchty, a former linen mill he used as his seed warehouse.

The plaque, one of 12 awarded by Historic Scotland, was jointly unveiled by six pupils of Auchtermuchty Primary School as generations of relatives, farmers, vintage tractor enthusiasts and members of the the agricultural press looked on.

John Marshall, potato buyer with the long-established firm WCF, had recreated a scene from what the inside of the store would have appeared in 1909, with seed trays, potato riddles, a White’s weighing machine, wicker skulls and sacks of Majestic potatoes against a backdrop of black and white images taken by Archibald’s son Frank.

Following the ceremony, there was a potato planting session in tubs using three of Findlay’s most successful varieties - British Queen, Majestic, and Catriona.

Another tub containing Eldorado potatoes will be grown in the school grounds, having been left with an ‘IOU’ for £30 - the sum paid for a four-ounce tuber in Cupar in 1904. Today, that would equate to several thousands of pounds.

The party then returned to the Community Centre, where the day had begun with tributes to Findlay, where they tucked in to Majestic potato dishes prepared by Neal Robertson from the Tannochbrae Tearoom.

Such was the success of the day that Neal is now actively promoting the idea of an Auchtermuchty Stovies Competition and the Findlay family are organising a reunion.

Originally a publican in Markinch, Findlay moved to Mairsland Farm, Auchtermuchty, as his success grewand used the Old Factory for his thousands of seedlings.