Bert Scott photographer and grandpa
My grandpa, Bertrum Edwin Ebenezer Scott was born in the garden city of Bangalore in 1915. As a young boy he enjoyed the complete freedom of the spacious grounds that surrounded his family’s pleasant bungalow. The family’s bungalow was at no 3 Campbell Road and it was in the very heart of Bangalore’s residential district, it was surrounded by orchards with mature mango trees, guava and aubergine, the family used these fruits making pickles and chutney that they exported as far a field as the United states. Our family still makes pickle from these old recipes
He said that as a child he would run rings around his grandparents and he told me he could remember exhausting them. I can still picture the mischievous grin that grew across his elderly face when he told me that he behaved like a real bugger sometimes, he laughed to himself when he recalled these childhood memory’s. He told me that after he had behaved particularly naughty he would be sent to stay with the ‘Andree sisters’ who were his Aunts at their bungalow near the Lal Bhag a short distance away in Bangalore, just to give his grandparents a break.
Bertie was born to an Anglo India father named Algernon Edwin Scott and a french mother called Desiree Leferve. His father, who was known affectionately as ‘Algee’, spent much of Bert’s young life away from home. Algee was first of all stationed in Mesopotamia (Iraq) from 1916 to 1919 and after World War one he was sent to the North Western Frontier frontier province (Pakistan) until 1921 when he was finally discharged from the army, reaching the rank of lieutenant. Algee, then went on to work for Burma oil from 1925 onwards. For a reason I have not yet ascertained, his mother did not seem to play much of a part in his life at all. I often asked my grandpa about his mother but he strangely did not seem to recall much about, it was the one bit of his amazing memory that always appeared to be blank. He could only remember the fact that she was the daughter of a French professor of English who came from Pondicherry near Madras.
Bert was educated at the famous South Indian school, Bishops Cottons. Bishop Cottons grounds were less that than one mile away from the family bungalow. Bishop Cottons had a reputation as the most elite schools in the British Empire , it was known internationally as the Eton of the East he told me he excelled at sports but was academically useless. In his own words he said “I was bloody useless at everything, apart from sport”. He used to laugh as he told me that how he ever ended up working as a photographer for the ‘intelligence unit’ at GHQ Delhi during World War Two was a complete mystery to him.
After spending his youth at Bishops Cottons school he went on to study at St Josephs College in the small town of Conoor in the Nilgree Hills. Whilst there he continued with his sports, excelling in athletics. He was selected to run the mile for the British Olympic team for the infamous Berlin games of 1936 when unfortunately whilst training in the mountains at high altitude, he strained his heart and very nearly died. He recovered but his dreams for running for the British Empire were shattered and he left college with little or no idea of what he was going to do as a future career and he returned home from the hills and moved back in with his grandparents.
Whilst he had been at college in the Nilgree Hills Bert met his first true love, a young woman called Margaret Mumford. She was one of three sisters who studied at Lovedale school in Ooty. Bert’s father Algee had a house near Ooty and Bert must have spent some time in the hills with him and this is where he must have met Margaret. They became a huge part of each others lives and when Bert got as job as a press photographer for The Times of India newspaper Margaret also moved to Bombay and the large amount photographs of the couple together in my grandpa’s collection suggest that they spent every spare minute with each other.