Special event for famous Mearns son

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One of the Mearns’ most famous and celebrated historical figures will be officially recognised today (Friday)in a special ceremony.

Auchenblae-born James Taylor, left the area aged 17 to work on a coffee plantation in Sri Lanka. He went on to become the “father of the Ceylon tea enterprise” in Sri Lanka

He experimented with tea as a hobby, and when coffee blight hit the estates and wiped out the coffee, he planted a few acres of tea and turned it into a commercial enterprise. That was 150 years ago.

There are museums and memorials throughout the tea areas to James, and he’s still known as Sami Dorai, the Master who is God.

Today will be an exciting one in the history of the Mearns, with the unveiling of a statue, and the launch of a book about “the father of the Ceylon tea enterprise.”

The unveiling will take place within the library of the Mearns Academy Community Campus, of a bust of James Taylor, kindly donated by Mlesna Tea, Sri Lanka.

It will be carried out by Professor Angela McCarthy of Otago University in New Zealand - who has recently published a book about James Taylor: Tea and Empire - and the Lord Provost of Aberdeenshire.

Later on, from 2pm, Professor McCarthy will be giving a talk on James Taylor, followed by a question and answer session before signing copies of her book in the nearby Dickson Hall in Laurencekirk. Entry is free and all are most welcome. Afternoon tea will be served to all attending the event. To avoid disappointment book on 01561 377501, or just turn up on the day.

The Book - “TEA & EMPIRE James Taylor in Victorian Ceylon” is a wonderful read covering the life and times of this particularly entrepreneurial Scot who is publicly celebrated in Sri Lanka for his efforts in transforming the country’s economy, and shaping the world’s drinking habits.

Authors Angela McCarthy and Sir Tom Devine provide us with an unusually detailed and fascinating reconstruction of a British planter’s life in Asia at the high noon of empire.

In July, a World Record Tea Party was held in Auchenblae, the birth place of James Taylor who was born at Mosspark, Auchenblae in 1835. The event was a huge success and followed on from a weekend of events held in the area in 2014, under the banner of “Scotland’s Tea Festival”, to spread the word about James Taylor both locally and nationally.