Saturday, 29 October 2011

Frederick Pattison Pullar, Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire

The following is a transcription of an article written by James Chumley, (Challenger Office, Edinburgh) Secretary to Sir John Murray on 27th February 1901.


A melancholy interest attaches to the paper on the Scottish Lochs which appears in this number of the Geographical Journal and Scottish Geographical Magazine, owing to the tragic death of one of the authors, Mr F. P. Pullar, since the paper was passed for press.

On February 15, while several hundred persons were skating on Airthrey Loch, in the grounds of Airthrey Castle, near Bridge of Allan, the ice suddenly gave way, and a number of people were precipitated into the water. Mr Pullar, who was a strong, muscular young man and a powerful swimmer, at once rushed to the rescue of those who were immersed, plunging into the water and floating ice with his skates on. He successfully assisted three of them to land, and then went to the succour of a young lady who was in an exhausted condition. It is confidently asserted by spectators, some of whom were submerged in their efforts to assist, that he might easily have saved himself had he relinquished his burden : this he refused to do. He supported the young lady for some time, but before help reached them his strength failed, and they both sank, their bodies not being recovered till three-quarters of an hour afterwards. This sad event cast a gloom over the whole district, and great sympathy was expressed for his bereaved parents, and for his only sister, who had just left the ice before the accident occurred. On February 19 he was buried in Logie Churchyard, attended by an immense concourse of mourners, and amid every expression of sorrow and sympathy.

Frederick Pattison Pullar was born at Bridge of Allan on the 20th December 1875, and was the only son of Laurence Pullar, Esq., of The Lea, Bridge of Allan and his wife Ellen Ferguson Pattison, and was a nephew of Sir Robert Pullar of Perth. In his earlier years he was rather a delicate child, and much of his education was conducted at home under private tutors. Later on his health improved, and his education was continued at the Stanley House School, Bridge of Allan, and the High School of Stirling. Afterwards he attended the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College in Glasgow, where he exhibited a marked ability for mathematics, mechanics, and applied science generally. He ultimately entered his father's business, but devoted a good deal of his time to scientific pursuits and studies. By his frank and genial nature he became endeared to the large number of workpeople employed by the firm of Robert Pullar & Sons.

About five or six years ago, while cruising in his father's yacht, the Freya,, he, under the guidance of Sir John Murray, commenced to take an interest in oceanographical observations and problems, exhibiting a lively devotion to the practical work carried on at the Marine Biological Station, at Millport. He enthusiastically embraced the study of meteorology, and established at his father's residence at Bridge of Allan a complete meteorological observatory, his instruments including deep earth thermometers. He became a member of the Royal Meteorological Society and of the Scottish Meteorological Society, sending in reports regularly to the last-mentioned Society during the past five or six years. He presented a complete set of meteorological instruments to the Scottish Hospital which proceeded to South Africa last year under Professor John Chiene. A room in his father's house was fitted up as his own private workshop, in which he had many ingenious and interesting mechanical, electrical, and photographic contrivances, together with considerable geological collections. He was an enthusiastic cyclist, and within the last year or two had three or four kinds of motor vehicles. He had an intimate knowledge of these machines, and his advice was frequently sought by automobilists; indeed, he proceeded to the scene of the disaster in a motor car, which was standing at the side of the loch when he met his death. He was an Associate of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and an active member of the Automobile Club.

About three years ago, in conjunction with Sir John Murray, he undertook a systematic bathymetrical survey of all the lochs of Scotland, and here his mechanical knowledge and inventive genius were at once exhibited by the improvements he made in the apparatus for taking the soundings. A portable machine was constructed from his designs, which could be firmly and rapidly fixed to the gunwale of the boat from which the soundings were to be taken. He also carried out many improvements in the methods of taking temperatures by means of deep-sea thermometers, in the plungers used for procuring samples of the deposits, and in the apparatus for the capture of organisms at intermediate depths. At the time of his death, among other improvements, he had in contemplation the construction of a motor engine which could be applied to the propulsion of both a car and a boat, so that he might carry with him from his home a boat for taking soundings, transfer the engine to the boat, and re-transfer it when the work was finished to the car again.

The publication of the results of the researches in the Scottish lochs was commenced last year, the first instalment, dealing with the lochs of the Callander and Trossachs district, being published in the Geographical Journal and Scottish Geographical Magazine in April last; and the present number contains a further instalment, dealing with the remaining lochs in the Forth basin. The survey of some other lochs has been completed,but the results are not yet in a state for publication.

In September last Sir John Murray left Britain for the purpose of carrying out explorations on Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, and it was arranged that the paper in this Number should be put into form and passed for press by Mr Pullar, with assistance in the Challenger Office. Sir John Murray returned to London on the evening of February 16, and on arrival at his hotel was handed a telegram announcing the death of his young friend on the previous day. They had made arrangements to devote most of the coming summer to the sounding of the lochs, with a view to the speedy completion of the entire survey : this important work will necessarily be interrupted by Mr Pullar's lamented death.

Mr Pullar was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1896, and he was also a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society ; last month he was admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Mr Pullar was beloved by all who knew him. He was a man of great bodily and mental activity, lively disposition, generous and brave, knowing no fear. His friends were justified in believing that a great future lay before him. His promising career has been cut short by an act of devotion. He sacrificed his life in an heroic endeavour to save the life of another.

His life was gentle ; and the elements
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ' This was a man !'

Logie Kirk

The Memorial Bronze on the Pullar stone in Logie was by Sir G. A. Frampton, R.A.

Further information on the Bathymetrical Survey of the Fresh-Water Lochs of Scotland
can be found at the National Library of Scotland, see:

No comments:

Post a Comment