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From ploughman to bike man: Dod Henderson, New Elgin, dies aged 95

George Henderson.
George Henderson.

George Henderson, who has died aged 95, began his working life as a second horseman on farms in Aberdeenshire in the 1930s.

In retirement, he supplied much of the Elgin area with restored bicycles and sent hundreds to Malawi through a charity.

The driveway at his home at Main Street, New Elgin, was covered with bicycles at any time.

Bicycles lined up on George Henderson’s driveway.

Most were donated and Mr Henderson repaired them. His son, also George Henderson, said: “Everyone in the Elgin area knew where to come if they were looking for a bike.

“My father also helped out a Christian charity that sent bikes out to Malawi.”

George (Dod) Henderson was born in August 1925, grew up in the Tarves area and, from the age of nine, worked at Redcroft Croft, after school and at weekends.

He left school at 14 and worked as a second horseman on farms in Aberdeenshire before securing an apprenticeship with Bob Reid at Tarves Smiddy, where he learned to shoe horses and repair agricultural machinery of the era.

George Henderson displays his skill.

George junior said: “Music played a large part of his free time. He was self taught on the accordion, mouth organ and the jaw harp. Many a night was spent in the Chalmer entertaining all his pals.”

After serving his apprenticeship, Dod moved with his parents to Cloghill Farm, Kingswells, where he worked as a blacksmith farrier with Findlater of Kingswell and Brown of Maryculter, where he shod Clydesdale Horses.

During his time at Kingswells he met a young red haired girl by the name of Catherine Jane Hendry.

Marriage

They eventually married in 1947 at Station Hotel, Rothes, and moved to work at the Standfast Smiddy in Craigellachie for six years.

While in Craigellachie, Dod was often dangling from a rope carrying out repairs to the famous Craigellachie Bridge. He was also involved in the local amateur dramatics.

Dod later took a job as foreman with Elgin Central Engineers but was given permission to carry out horse shoeing in the evening and at weekends.

In the mid 1970s, while carrying out work at Drumbain Riding School, Dod was introduced to Princess Anne who had taken a great interest in his horse shoeing demonstrations.

Business

When Elgin/Elbar Engineering closed, Dod opened his own workshop on Pinefield industrial estate, Elgin, next to Hendry Hydraulics.

He later moved to a bigger workshop across from Robertson of Elgin, where he employed workshop staff and an apprentice farrier.

George Henderson with Princess Margaret.

Dod became a member of the Institute of Farriers of  Great Britain. He gave shoeing demonstrations and at one gala at Cooper Park, Elgin, he made a silver horseshoe for Princess Margaret. It was presented to her by his granddaughters Karen and Gayle Henderson.

“My father always welcomed people to his home with a rendition of The Muckin o’ Geordie’s Byre on the mouthie and a tune on the accordion,” said George junior.

“He enjoyed evenings of music at the Forres Fiddle and Accordion Club and appeared on Moray Folk on Moray Firth Radio with host Andy Ross.”

Dod and his wife Cathie also enjoyed many holidays to New Zealand to visit son David and Australia to visit son Ian.

They also spent many weekends away with the Caravan Club all over Scotland.

The couple had four sons, all in the building trade, 10 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

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