Obituary: Ian J Fleming, 97

Ian J Fleming was respected for his knowledge of agriculture
Ian J Fleming was respected for his knowledge of agriculture
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The oldest professional agricultural engineer in Scotland died earlier this month, aged 97.

Ian J Fleming was a member of the Institute of Agricultural Engineers for more than 60 years.

He learned about farming at a time when the land was worked exclusively by horse-drawn machines.

His love of the land dates back to the mid-1920s, when he returned from school in London to spend holidays in Blairgowrie, and then gravitated to one of the nearby farms.

As he looked back over more than 70 years of his involvement in farming, Mr Fleming was conscious that he had been part of the enormous social change in rural life.

Advances in mechanisation, and in plant and animal breeding, revolutionised agriculture during his lifetime.

Born in London in 1915, Mr Fleming was responsible for recording many of the changes of farming life in Scotland since the late 

He scoured the country for examples of agricultural machines of historic interest in his later life before restoring them and donating them to the National Museum of Rural Life at Kittochside.

Mr Fleming went to University College School in London’s Hampstead, remaining there as a boarder.

He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1937 with a BSc in Agriculture and founded 
the university’s ski club in 1936.

After graduation, he joined first the Institute of Animal Genetics, where he made a significant study of the life cycle of the sheep tick on a farm in Ettrick, then moved to the East of Scotland College of Agriculture to teach agricultural engineering.

He joined the army in 1940, and served first in the Royal Army Service Corps, then, after its formation, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

During the war the Duke of Buccleuch opened his London townhouse as a social centre for Scots and it was here that Mr Fleming met his future wife, Margaret Watson. The couple married in 1943.

In 1945, Mr Fleming was back in Edinburgh and his post at East Scotland College of Agriculture.

Now married and with a family on the way, he joined the Scottish Agricultural Industries at Rosehall outside Haddington, which was moving into the agricultural machinery business. He was able to retire early, in 1970, but nevertheless spent ten years as a training adviser to the agricultural machinery 

Mr Fleming was active in the 400th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the University of Edinburgh in 1993, of which he was president in 1978. In retirement he enjoyed time with his grandchildren and then great-grandchildren.