Michael Alexander meets Falkland violin collector and Violin Shop owner Bob Beveridge – and discovers he has more than a few strings to his bow
Retired Scottish Crime Squad detective Bob Beveridge can recount many colourful tales about the last 40 years he has spent collecting – and selling – violins from his shop in Falkland.
From the times he got to know legendary American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash and his daughter Rosanne Cash who were researching their Fife roots, to the day he found an unexploded Luftwaffe bomb during his daily run up the East Lomond and caused “panic” when he carried it down the hill to be made safe.
From his shop front being used for several scenes in the British-American TV drama Outlander to gifts he’s recently received from Russian visitors, he admits it’s “never been a dull moment”.
But the 75-year-old becomes subdued when he thinks back to the day almost 40 years ago when he decided to cut short his police career and work full-time in the violin trade.
One Sunday morning Bob was working in the identification bureau with Glasgow CID when he was called to the police mortuary to fingerprint three murder victims.
One had been stabbed, the second shot and the third had been kicked to death after a farewell party.
That grim scene, coming soon after Bob had to photograph the charred remains of three boys after a house fire, convinced him that working seven days a week sometimes nearly 24 hours a day was not for him or his family.
So after 15 years in police work he decided to make a clean break and set up his Violin Shop back home in Fife – a string to his bow that he has been plucking ever since!
Raised in Kingskettle, Bob first became interested in violins as an 11-year-old when his family inherited a house containing old instruments including a cello.
His aunt played the piano and his dad was a member of Kettle Brass Band.
But Bob never learned to play the violin and his guitar playing abilities were cut short after he broke his finger in the Ben Nevis Race one year- an injury which he carries to this day.
Leaving school at 15, and working for a spell with J&G Innes at Edenside Works, Cupar, he joined Fife Police aged 19 in 1962.
While with Glenrothes CID, he investigated the ‘Unknown Bairn’ who was found dead on Tayport beach in May 1971 and dealt with many “harrowing and disturbing” murders after being seconded to the Scottish Crime Squad in Edinburgh.
When he decided to go full time in the violin trade, however, he found his training with Glasgow CID helped him identify forgeries and fakes.
“I had been picking up old violins from junk shops since 15 years of age and had a huge collection, so I decided to go into business as a violin dealer which I have been doing ever since,” he says.
“When I left Glasgow Police I started selling violins at the famous Barras Market in Glasgow’s East End.
“Today, I do a lot of business with solicitors – house clearances and auctions.
“The most I’ve paid for one is £2000 – £3000.
“But the main problem when you buy an old violin is they are not strung up properly. A lot don’t have strings on them. At the point I’m thinking of buying them you often can’t test them out.”
Bob says what he enjoys most is meeting people from all over the globe.
“It’s the palace that attracts them,” he adds. “Once you’ve been to the palace in a wee place like Falkland they often finish up in my shop.
“The Russian people in particular have left a great impression. You often wonder about this apprehension of East and West and Cold Wars, but if it was down to ordinary people on the street there would never be any wars.”