22 July 2013
Hamish Brown, editor of a new anthology of the work of Tom Weir, talks about the adventures of the much-loved explorer and TV personality. ...
Tom Weir died in 2006 at the ripe old age of 92, one of the best known and much loved figures on the Scottish scene. Siblings William, Tom and Molly Weir were Springburn bred in an area where the great railway works employed hundreds of people.
Tom’s father was killed in the Dardanelles and Tom had to leave school to help support the family until his brother William had finished at university. Having discovered the great outdoors, Tom quit the hated grocery shop and was his own man thereafter.
By the end of his life, Tom was known to millions for the long-running and oft-repeated TV series ‘Weir’s Way’ which ran from 1976 to 1987, and for the forty-plus years he spent writing a ‘My Month’ column for ‘The Scots Magazine’.
Through these mediums he explored and passed on many aspects of Scottish landscapes, wildlife and Scottish people – a henspeckle figure in his toorie bunnet, breeks and boots, and with a rich, engaging accent.
Tom Weir’s initial wanderings and apprentice writings were cut short by World War Two in which he served as a gunner but still found time to retell pre-war escapades which appears in his first book ‘Highland Days’. Published in 1948, this was a narrative which included many, including the author of this feature.
Several of Tom’s books were compilations of his articles, lectures and broadcasts, and he wrote a popular series on the various Highland railway lines, as well as studies of the Scottish lochs, all illustrated with his own photographs. His ‘Weir’s Way: An Autobiography of Sorts’ was written when he was in his eighties and is a fascinating read about his action-packed life.
Tom won the Scottish TV Personality of the Year Award in 1978 and in 200, the inaugural John Muir Lifetime Achievement Award. He also had a MBE from the queen and was a president of the Scottish Mountaineering Club.
Less well known but close to his heart were his worldwide explorations among mountains in Greenland, Norway, Kurdistan and the Himalayas.
In 1950, Tom Weir, Douglas Scott and Bill Murray mad a postwar expedition to the world’s greatest mountains. The men were unsponsored and quit their jobs for the exhibition but this small, visionary exhibition would begin the course that saw Everest climbed a few years later.
Hamish Brown is the editor of ‘Tom Weir: An Anthology’ published by Sandstone Press. Hamish knew Tom from the 1960s onwards and was occasionally involved in Tom’s activities. He is an explorer, lecturer and photographer.