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  • Writer's pictureHeritage Centre

Dr Pyle's Pocket Watch

Updated: May 31, 2022

With so much to see in the Whalsay Heritage and Community Centre, it is easy to overlook the smaller objects. This pocket watch is full of character, and is an interesting part of the story of healthcare on the island, as well as giving an insight into the people. Whalsay History group member, Marina Irvine, became interested in the gold pocket watch during setting up the healthcare display which is part of the seasonal exhibition. It was gifted to a doctor by the people of Whalsay. He had obviously made a huge impression on the islanders.

The pocket watch belonged to a Dr T. D. Pyle. He arrived in Whalsay from North East Scotland in 1925 and stayed with Betty Croskie at Anchor Cottage, Hamister. He stayed until 1929, The watch was presented to him by the people of Whalsay before he left.

The following article from the Shetland Times on October 26th 1929 describes the presentation.

"After the interval the Chairman intimated that he had a duty to perform, which was in one circumstance a very pleasant one, and in another one which he deplored. He, in similar terms to the following, referred to the departure of the island's esteemed doctor, and that he had been asked to voice the appreciation of the people of Whalsay of the zealous and skilful services Dr T D Pyle had rendered, and to convert to the Doctor their best wishes for the future, aslo to present to Dr Pyle, as a mark of that appreciation a gold watch. Mr Shearer spoke at length of the qualities of Dr Pyle - to the effect of how he had endeared himself in the island, and then called on Mrs E M Bruce, of Symbister, to hand Dr Pyle the gold watch bearing the following inscription:

"Presented to Dr. T. D. Pyle by the people of Whalsay as a token of their appreciation of his zealous and skilful services. October, 1929."

On receiving the watch Dr Pyle only fleetingly replied.

(The article does not tell us what he replied, I like to think he was a modest man or overwhelmed with emotion and that is why his reply was 'fleeting'.)

Above, a photograph from Mrs Bruce's personal photo album showing Dr Pyle in the middle of the back row. Mrs Bruce was the wife of last Laird of Whalsay, for more information on the Lairds please click here

It can be added that Dr Pyle, in his tenure of four years here, has made it difficult for his successor. He has been the people's friend as we as their doctor; and that friendship has been based upon conditions which ensures permanence - being such as mutual love and trust, a certain amount of equality, forbearance, and constancy."


The watch was kindly gifted back to the people of Whalsay by Dr Pyle's son and the Whalsay Heritage and Community Centre are proud to have it on display.

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