David Binnie was a lot of things.
A former Chief Superintendent of Tayside and City of Dundee Police.
He was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and every bit a family man.
He was an author; fanatically positive about his Dundee upbringing.
And he was organised.
To the extent he had planned this… his own obituary.
So with the help of his family, this is the life story of – and approved by – David Binnie.
Peddie Street and proud
Fiercely proud of his Dundee roots, David Binnie was born in a tiny, two-bedroomed house on Peddie Street in 1930.
He lived there with his family until he was 19 and never let the chance pass to reminisce about those times.
Doug Binnie said: “There was a time just recently where we had gone to see my dad in hospital and almost immediately he said, ‘oh you’ll never guess what? That man over there used to live on Peddie Street.”
A crowded house
So passionate was he about telling the stories of his youth, Doug and others helped him to pen the memories and investigate their family’s background before all the people they could ask questions of were gone.
The memoir, Crowded House, is a wealth of Dundee and Peddie Street tales.
“From time to time, it felt lie there was no place else in the world quite like it and I was happy and proud to live there.”
Doug added: “My brother Richard and I came to learn that Peddie Street was much more than a family home. It was a neighbourhood with a unique culture and was part of a caring and friendly society, embedded in a way of life that has changed forever.”
His mother Jean and dad, Peter, raised five brothers and two sisters in that house and until recently David and his surviving sister, Jean – in Canada, kept in touch by video call.
Not like today
One thing that struck Doug and Richard was how different their dad’s life was to life now.
“When they left in 1950, it’s hard for us to believe that there was a mother and father and, at that time, five sons and two daughters in their 20s, in a house with one sink and very cramped sleeping arrangements. There would be nothing like the privacy that teenagers – and adults! – expect today!”
David agreed. “My mother cooked for her big family on one single gas ring and an open fire but I don’t ever remember coming home without a meal being there for me.
“At one stage my brother Sandy was a joiner and he brought home a two-ring burner and grill that was being thrown out from a house he was working in. We thought it was wonderful!
“The kitchen sink was used for everything from shaving to peeling tatties but we went to the public wash house regularly.
“The Glasgow steamies may have become more famous because of the successful play but here in Dundee, it was always the ‘washie’! And, of course, there was an outside toilet at Peddie Street!
“My mother was a great character and kept us all going with her love and support. She was very much my heroine, really, I thought so much of her.”
Adult life in Dundee
He married Margaret Jean McLaggan in 1953 and they lived in a number of areas of the city, including Charleston, Trottick, Broughty Ferry and as newlyweds, in the city centre.
After attending Blackness and Logie schools – and being evacuated to Montrose during WW2 – David started his working life as a painter and decorator before being encouraged to join the police.
He started his police career with the Dundee City Police force in March 1954 having just completed National Service with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.
He went back to his painting and decorating job but a local ‘bobby’ convinced him he should consider the police.
The height minimum was 5’8” which David exceeded considerably.
He was given the number 145 and his initial service was as a beat officer in the Fleming Gardens area of the city, and then onto the Kirkton beat, which launched his police career.
He climbed the ranks quickly going from Sergeant to Inspector then Chief Inspector in the space of seven years from 1966 to 1973.
He was then appointed as Director of Studies in the Senior Division at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan.
His secondment lasted three years and he returned not to City of Dundee Police but to Tayside Police following regionalisation.
David was briefly part of the Training Department before being posted as Divisional Chief Inspector in Dundee.
Another promotion to Superintendent followed in 1979 before becoming Chief Superintendent, Divisional Commander in 1982.
He retired in December 1984 having loved every minute of his policing career.
In his spare time…
He was a member of the old Broughty East Church later becoming a member of the Congregational Board and also joined the Broughty Probus Club. He also became quite an accomplished artist.
He loved foreign holidays – especially cruises, and enjoyed seeing the world and visiting siblings who emigrated to Canada and Brazil.
However, his close family had his heart, and were in always in Scotland so a static caravan at Bridge of Cally satisfied both.
He took up golf, but his real passion was lawn bowls.
He became club champion and president of Broughty Bowling Club, having been match secretary, club coach and most recently Honorary Vice President.
His love of the game rubbed off of on Richard and Doug, who both now also play the game.
As a young man he watched Dundee FC but like so many others it was the brilliance of the Dundee United team of the 1980s that turned his attention, and his allegiance, to Tannadice Park.
Life and love
For the eight years into his retirement from the police he worked as the group co-ordinator for PS Ridgway, a major haulage firm in Dundee, but had to give up the post, to look after his wife, Margaret, whose health was deteriorating.
She sadly died in 1994 aged only 62.
A few years later had a second chance at love, marrying Dorothy.
The were married for 23 years and the latter few years of David’s life she was a devoted carer as well as a loving wife.
After a stroke seven years ago, David’s life suddenly and dramatically changed.
The man who was the life and soul of any party, was forced into a more subdued and more challenging lifestyle.
Richard said: “It had been his lack of mobility more than anything that has transformed his life.
“For his 80th birthday as a joint venture we helped him write Crowded House.”
His health condition more recently meant more confinement to home, where he would read and watch crime dramas, war movies, gangster films and football.
David is survived by his wife Dorothy, sons Doug and Richard, and their wives Lynne and Marilyn.
He was also grandad to five grandchildren, and great Grandpa to nine great-grandchildren.
Matt Hamilton, former Chief Superintendent with Tayside Police and National President of the Retired Police Officers Association Scotland, shared his memories of David.
He said: “I knew Dave Binnie personally from the time I joined Tayside Police in 1979 as a Constable.
“He had a long and illustrious career from joining Dundee City Police in 1954, the year after I was born, to his retirement as Divisional Commander in Dundee in 1984.
“He was proud to be able to serve the people of Dundee and was a member of the Retired Police Officers Association for over 36 years.
“He will be sadly missed by all of his ex-colleagues and the police family in general.”
A service celebrating his life will take place at Dundee Crematorium at 12.30pm on Wednesday, July 28.
According to Covid restrictions attendance will be limited to 100, but the family are keen that all family members and friends who wish to attend do so.
Track and trace contact information will need to be confirmed in advance.
Richard added: “We were very, very proud to have such an outstanding personality and man, as our father. The valuable lessons we learned from him when we were younger, we try to instil in our children, and children’s children, to allow him to be part of our future generations.”