Published: 20/10/2017 12:28 - Updated: 20/10/2017 12:40

Does missing plaque ring any bells?

Alexander Graham BellHELP is being sought to find the whereabouts of a plaque commemorating the three years Alexander Graham Bell spent in Elgin.

Bell famously came up with one of the most useful inventions of them all – the telephone.

What is less well known, however, is the role that Moray played in the development of the man’s ideas.

Between the years 1863-66, Bell taught at Weston House Academy, which used to stand on the corner by the South Street roundabout.

Craig Hunter is the manager of Blackbridge Furnishings, the new furniture shop that opened on the site over the summer. He said: "We’ve had a couple of customers come in separately and ask what we had done with the plaque.

"Apparently, one was created and put up on the wall during the period when this was a Comet store. But Comet closed down five years ago and the site laid empty until we took it over.

"I’m afraid the plaque must have disappeared at some point over that course of time because we have never seen it."

Blackbridge are hoping that whoever now has the plaque gets it touch so they can put it back on the wall. Alternatively, the company says it will have a new one made.

Mr Hunter said: "I didn’t know about the connection between Bell and Moray, and I’m guessing I’m not alone in that. But I reckon it’s definitely something worth commemorating."

Aged just 16, Bell was younger than some of his students in Moray, although they did not know that.

Known as a pupil-teacher, he studied Latin and Greek himself while also providing lessons in music and elocution, for which he received free board and a wage of £10 per term.

During his spare time the teenage Bell was already conducting experiments into sound. A precocious child, he had been just 12 when created his first invention – a wheat dehusking machine – was put to use at a local Edinburgh mill.

Bell came from an academic background. His father, Alexander Melville Bell, wrote The Standard Elocutionist, a textbook on elocution which sold 250,000 copies in the US alone, and had 168 editions in Britain.

But it was his mother, or at least what happened to her, which led to Bell becoming fascinated with sound.

In 1859, while Bell was still aged 12, she began to lose her hearing. Bell subsequently learned both an early form of sign language and lip reading in order to help her.

And it was his work with deaf children in later decades that led him, in a roundabout way, to develop the first practical telephone.

Bell emigrated to Canada when he was 23. However, his connection with Moray continued.

His wife, Mabel Hubbard, was also deaf. After their marriage the couple embarked on a year-long honeymoon around Europe, which included a stay in Elgin where they visited the museum.

This is known because Elgin Museum still has the guestbook where Bell signed his name.

Blackbridge state they are prepared to have a new plaque made themselves, but if anybody in possession of the old one wants to contact the company they are asked to ring 01343 548415.

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