Region remembers late poet Ogilvie on 150th anniversary of his birth

Lord Polwarth and Tom Ogilvie unveil the replacement artwork on the cairn, watched on by Ian Landles.
Lord Polwarth and Tom Ogilvie unveil the replacement artwork on the cairn, watched on by Ian Landles.

Celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Borders poet Will H. Ogilvie’s birth came to a fitting conclusion at the weekend.

Ogilvie was born near Kelso in 1869, lived in Hawick and died in Selkirkshire at the age of 93, but in between he travelled and worked in the outback and became known as one of Australia’s most famous poets.

Kelso Laddies Association unveils a memorial to late poet William H Ogilvie.

Kelso Laddies Association unveils a memorial to late poet William H Ogilvie.

He wrote more than 860 poems, including A Scotch Night, The Australian and Summer Country, but failed to find fame in his Beloved Borderlands until years after his death.

But at the weekend, and over the past two months, Borderers remembered him and his work.

On Saturday the unveiling of the new Ogilvie memorial cairn and re-siting of the commemorative seat took place above Harden Glen.

The Will H. Ogilvie Memorial Trust had been working to replace the tribute, created by Hawick sculptor William Landles in 1993, ever since it was stolen from alongside the Hawick to Roberton hill road in 2016.

The ceremony at Roberton on Sunday.

The ceremony at Roberton on Sunday.

The sculpture, of a book inscribed with his poems and travels in Australia, was never recovered, but an exact replica was produced this year.

Admirers of Ogilvie’s work enjoyed an oration by ex-Langholm Cornet Billy Young, an address by Ian Landles, blessings by Rev. Michael Scouler and recitals from Jim Chisholm and Philip Murray, before the new sculpture was unveiled by Lord Polwarth and Tom Ogilvie.

On Sunday, a service of thanksgiving was held in Ashkirk Church.

Last month. Kelso played its part in remembering Ogilvie, too, with the Ex-Kelso Laddies Club unveiling a new memorial stone at Holefield, where the poet was born in August 1869.

Different aspects of Ogilvie’s life and work were remembered during performances of poems and songs by Irene Chisholm, David Grant, George Halliday, Jim Chisholm and Kathy Hopkirk.

A bagpipe salute was given by pipe major Alan Veitch, before an address by Alasdair Hutton.

Kelso Laddie Mark Henderson and the poet’s granddaughter Rosemary Jeffries unveiled the stone before this year’s lady bussers unveiled two adjacent information boards – one featuring a biography and the other a copy of Ogilvie’s poem The Land We Love, illustrated by Jimmy Fleming.

During Kelso Civic Week’s main rideout to Yetholm last month, the Laddie also unveiled a sign which named the road from the Sainsbury’s roundabout to the town boundary as Will H. Ogilvie Way.

An association spokesman said: “The Ex-Kelso Laddies would like to express their thanks to the many individuals, companies and organisations who helped them with this project.

“Civic Weeks are all about celebrating our community and its history. By this commemoration, we are not only honouring a famous son of the district and helping to keep his memory and work alive but also they are paying tribute, in the area where he was born, to the man who has given us the anthem for all civic weeks ‘The Land We Love’.