Music legend Sir Jimmy Shand’s collection goes on display in Dundee

Jimmy Shand
Jimmy Shand

Newly-restored rare musical manuscripts collected by the legendary Sir Jimmy Shand are to go on display in Dundee.

Jimmy Shand
Jimmy Shand
Sheena Wellington with one of the manuscripts that belonged to Sir Jimmy Shand

The books and sheet music were donated to the Wighton Centre at Central Library in 2013 after they were acquired at auction by the Friends of Wighton.

Following a lengthy restoration process, which led to some books having to be conserved page by page, the volumes are now ready to be enjoyed by the public.

A launch ceremony is being held at the Wighton Centre today at 11am, which will be attended by Sir Jimmy’s son Jimmy Jr and his wife Margaret.

Jimmy Jr and his family also contributed additional material to the rare collection of classical Scottish scripts.

Members of the Friends of Wighton’s instrumental classes will play a selection of tunes from the collection.

Sheena Wellington, of the Friends of Wighton, said Sir Jimmy, pictured right, had been a discerning collector of books and manuscripts, some of which are hundreds of years old.

Sheena – who like Sir Jimmy is an inductee of the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame – said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have them on display and we have some real rarities.

“There is a collection of 19th Century books bound into one volume that we believe could be a first edition.”

Among some of the other treasures are an 18th Century collection of harpsichord songs and a book of ancient Orkney melodies from 1885.

There is also is a volume of ballroom songs from 1870, of which no catalogue record exists in any library in the world – making it unique.

Jimmy Jr said his dad – who died in 2000 at the age of 92 – would be “overwhelmed” to know his collection was being shared with the city.

“I’m delighted about it all – my father would have been delighted too, that it is now something the public can enjoy,” he said.

“We wish the Wighton Centre every success with the collection and hope a lot of folk come to see it.”

In total, the collection comprises 23 volumes, some of which will be on public display.

The rest can be viewed on request, under the supervision of a librarian.

Funding for the conservation was provided through fundraising efforts and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The careful work was carried out by hand, by local professional book expert Emma Fraser.

Sheena said that Emma, who runs The Book and Paper Studio on Union Street, had done a “beautiful job”.

While the legendary accordion player is often linked with Auchtermuchty, Sir Jimmy spent many years in Dundee and lived in Lochee for 20 years.

The City of Discovery had a unique part to play in his story.

He was already an accomplished player of the melodeon – similar to an accordion – when he discovered the instrument that would make him famous.

Sheena said: “He walked by Forbes’s music shop on the Nethergate and saw an accordion in the window.

“I believe a pal said to him to go in and have a wee go.

“He started to play and the owner realised he was a bit special and gave him a job selling accordions.

“The rest, as they say, is history.”