Scots TV legend Tom Weir remembered in Festival song


By Martin Graham

FAMOUS for his woolly bobble hats, fairisle jumpers and plus-four walking trousers, Tom Weir is fondly remembered by generations of Scots.

The broadcaster, climber, writer and environmentalist became a household name through his long running series ‘Weir’s Way’ which explored the geography, history and people of Scotland through his affable personality and keen sense of curiosity.

Now the legendary outdoorsman, who died in 2006, will be celebrated at the Edinburgh Festival when Sandy Wright and the Toxic Cowboys perform their song ‘Tom Weir’ at St Bride’s Acoustic Music Centre.

Songwriter Sandy said the musical tribute was a bid to see Weir remembered on the world stage.

He said: “He was a huge name in Scotland through his TV show Weir’s Way.

“He was an environmentalist and won the John Muir Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of that and it is only fitting that he is remembered on the world stage.”

Tom Weir was born in Springburn in 1914, the son of a railway engineer.

His love of the outdoors developed from a young age, and he would spend as much time as he could exploring the hills and open spaces around Glasgow, with Loch Lomond being a particular favourite destination.

Weir once said Scotland’s landscape was his inspiration and often found himself gazing at the hills he “longed” to roam in while stuck at work.

He said: “I worked in a grocer’s shop all week.

“I could see the Campsie Fells and longed for weekends when I could hike and camp in them.”

He took part in an expedition to the Himalayas in 1950 and was among the first to explore the previously forbidden mountains of Nepal in 1952.

But it was through his series for Scottish Television that Weir became a household name.

A typical episode would feature the veteran presenter walking in an area, meeting with local people to learn about their lives and discussing the history and geography of the area.

What could have been a dull and worthy experience for viewers was magically transformed by Weir’s genuine love for the land and interest in its in people.

His work earned him an MBE in 1976, and he was named STV’s personality of the year in 1978.

The Weir’s Way TV series has found a new generation of fans through late night screenings and web chatrooms, and a DVD box set continues to sell well.

Weir’s sister Molly was a successful actress, best remembered as Hazel the McWitch from the BBC children’s series Rentaghost.

Sandy Wright and the Toxic Cowboys are performing every day at 11am until the end of the festival.