Scotland is well known for its many great inventive and engineering minds and Angus boasts more than its fair share including Buick of Buick Motors and Watson – Watt, inventor of the radar. However, perhaps the most exciting and least recognised of Angus’ famous sons hails from Netherton, a tiny hamlet two miles northeast of Aberlemno. It was at the smiddy here that William C Davidson, father of three of the founders of the Harley – Davidson Motor Company was born and from here that he emigrated to Milwaukee in 1857.
Today Netherton Cottage still stands commanding an impressive view across the Strathmore Valley. In 2008 it was saved from demolition and replacement with a modern house by the Netherton Cottage Development Company Ltd. The cottage is currently part way through a restoration that will return it to how it was when Sandy Davidson, his wife Margaret and their six children lived there. The restoration project is scheduled to be completed by May 2012 after which it will be rented out to Harley – Davidson fanatics worldwide so that they can get a feeling of how life was for the Davidson family in the 1800s.
Since being confirmed as the Davidson family home the cottage has had a chequered history. At the time the current owners tried to purchase it, the property was under offer and taken off the market by the sellers’ solicitor. The purchase was finally made once the actual owner was tracked down and it was found that no offer had formally been accepted. Two and a half years of dealing with red tape and the Planning Department then followed . Harley – Davidson in the USA have been behind the project right from the start and continue to make sure that the cottage has a worldwide audience through articles in HoG magazine.
Passers by will notice that the west gable of the cottage has been rebuilt (the original had been repaired three times in the past) and roof timbers are beginning to appear at last. The roof should be on and sarked before the Christmas break, weather permitting.
We are now well into March and the roof timbers are on and the lower floor walls are being plastered. Windows are also in place downstairs. Once the plastering is completed, the slabs will be re-laid on the floor. We have found a kitchen range (sold originally by G.H. Nicoll in Dundee) which is currently being restored. The septic tank and soakaway are awaiting inspection by Angus Council following which we can start on replacing the rooftiles.