Sir James Calder

James Charles Calder was born in Alloa, Scotland, in 1869. He was the youngest son of James Calder, of Forgandenny, Perthshire. His father was a timber merchant owning the family businesses of Calder, Dixon & Co and Charles Calder & Co. James junior joined the business, proved successful and later merged the two companies into Calder Limited, of which he was chairman.

During the First World War he was made Timber Controller at the Timber Supply Department of the Board of Trade. He served from 1917 to 1919. It was during this period that he purchased the Weeting Hall Estate. The mansion was of little interest to him, it was the trees he was after. As soon as the offer was accepted every mature tree on the estate was listed and marked and quickly chopped down as part of a massive felling programme.

On the 9th September 1925 Calder sold a large part of the Weeting Estate land to the Forestry Commission, some 4,058 acres for the sum of 14,581. He retained the Hall and a clause in the sales agreement gave him the right to fell the remaining mature trees marked out by him. Some time after, the Ministry of Labour bought the Hall and the remainder of the land for use as a training centre for unemployed men from the north of England. They refurbished the mansion and it was used by Calder as a grace and favour residence. It was there that he frequently entertained his great friend Joseph Kennedy, who was the American Ambassador in London (1938-40). He was often accompanied by his son John, who was to become President of the United States.

Calder retired to Ledlanel, Milnathort, where he pursued his hobbies of shooting and fishing. He died at his home in Milnathort on the 22nd August 1962, aged 93

© Gerry Moore 2004