Obituary: William Henderson Tait, gamekeeper, 77

William Tait. Picture: Contributed
William Tait. Picture: Contributed
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An East Lothian man who became one of the country’s top gamekeepers and angling guides has died aged 77.

William Henderson Tait, best known as Bill, was born in Tranent on October 14, 1935, the eldest child of George Munro Tait, who worked in the lime kilns, and Nellie Macdonald.

His mother, who died when Bill was ten, had two brothers in the Royal Service who were recruited from Yester House, near Gifford, where they were working for Lady Tweeddale.

Bill’s early education began at Crossroads School near Humbie before moving on to Saltoun Primary, and then to Ormiston Junior Secondary, where he left at the age of 15 to work as a motor mechanic at Haddington. He joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers aged 21, serving three years as a regular soldier and four in the reserve.

He saw action during the Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960, as well as contriving to explore the fishing possibilities that Borneo afforded.

When he returned home, Bill worked in the hydroelectric industry before securing his first job as a gamekeeper, at the Rosebery Estate in South Queensferry, where he stayed for five years. He then worked at the Langton Estate for 15 years and then Marchmont, both in Berwickshire, for a further 12.

He married Peggy Kirk, the daughter of a hill shepherd, in 1963 and they had four children. They always used to enjoy spending their family holidays near a river. The village of Durness in Sutherland was a favourite destination. Bill was keen to fish every river and loch in Scotland – “anywhere that offered more than a couple of inches of water”, according to one of his daughters.

His prowess as an angler was lightly worn. While he loved to share his experiences, he was far from boastful about them.

In retirement, Bill and Peggy lived at Fogo Muir, near Duns. An accomplished draughtsman, he produced beautiful drawings of birds and other subjects.

Bill Tait was fishing in the Watch reservoir, near Longformacus, when he fell ill. He died two days later and is survived by his wife and their two sons and two daughters.