A GALASHIELS teacher who made major contributions to the field of geology has been recognised with a commemorative plaque.

Charles Lapworth lived in the town for 11 years between 1864 and 1875, working as the headmaster at Galashiels Episcopal School and marrying a local, Jenny Sanderson.

It was during his time in the Borders that Lapworth developed an interest in geology, frequenting the surrounding countryside to try and comprehend the ground beneath his feet.

Lapworth discovered that by identifying fossilised plankton-like creatures, called graptolites, in rock formations he could recognise the exact formations of rock in the hillsides.

His intensive work around Galashiels led to his publishing, with his friend James Wilson, important papers in the early 1870s.

Many of the theories flew in the face of the prevailing geological wisdom of the day but were subsequently proven to be sound.

The plaque was placed Old Episcopal School, which now houses the office of Galashiels Social Work Department, as part of the Commemorative Plaque Scheme run by Historic Environment Scotland.

The unveiling ceremony was attended by representatives of the town and members of the geological community, including Professor Stuart Monro, former president of Edinburgh Geological Society, who described Lapworth as a “man who made an enormous contribution not just to Scottish geology but to the greater understanding of the subject”.

A class of pupils from St Peters Primary School were also invited to attend the unveiling, having recently worked on a geology project.

The application for the plaque was the work of two retired Galashiels residents, Malcolm Lindsay and David Adamson, who became interested in geology and discovered the connection with Lapworth.

Malcolm Lindsay told us: “David Adamson and I became fascinated by the work of Charles Lapworth who started his geology studies in our area as an amateur–a very early example of a ‘citizen scientist’!

“Through his dedication, brilliance and willingness to challenge previous thinking, he progressed to international eminence in the field of geology - an amazing achievement for a self-taught amateur.

“We were surprised and delighted to discover that his formative work in geology took place during a 11-year tenure in Galashiels while he was headmaster of the Episcopal School, to learn that he married a Braw Lass during that time and that three of his children were born in the Episcopal Schoolhouse.

“He is possibly the greatest scientist to have graced Galashiels and yet his name is so little known here.

“We therefore wanted to commemorate him in this tangible way.

“We hope that the installation of the plaque at his Galashiels workplace and publicity surrounding it will help increase Lapworth’s profile very considerably.

“A lecture on Lapworth to the Old Gala Club is planned for later this year.

“Many children walk past the Old Episcopal School building every school day.

“Perhaps the plaque will stimulate some to find out more and to be inspired by this great scientist.”