Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies: what’s in a name?
Macdonald, Alastair A
The veterinary school that was established in Edinburgh in 1823, almost two hundred years ago, has had an interesting and rich history. Recent studies have revealed details of some of the personalities who created its academic foundations, and these investigations have also shown that the early beginnings can be traced back to the 1600s. Other studies have given substance to the architectural structures that this school, and its neighbouring veterinary schools, took from inception. The lives and contributions of several of the main characters that played important roles in the development of this school have been sketched out and these recent studies have added to the information that was published earlier. Nevertheless, in this process of exploration, various other gaps in our appreciation of the veterinary school have begun to make themselves more obvious. For example, what the veterinary school was called by people locally, nationally and internationally really mattered to the ones who worked and studied there. This example naturally raised a further series of specific questions; how was the veterinary school referred to in the past; what events caused it to change its name; how did the school come to have the name it now bears? The assemblage of information that comprises this article seeks to explore the answers to these questions. It shall also try to show that notions of 'presence', 'style' and 'quality' reflected, characterised and still contribute greatly to the perception of Edinburgh's veterinary school, both locally and more widely. The personal ambition and confident appreciation of self worth inherent within the school's founder, William Dick, coupled together with consistently correct guidance from a well-connected early mentor, Dr John Barclay, the presence of an appropriately organised agricultural environment, The Highland Society, and the educational legacy of the Scottish enlightenment, each contributed to the creation of a veterinary school with character, in Edinburgh.