and Civil Servant
was the first person from Kilmarnock to be elevated to the peerage.
It would appear that his career at Kilmarnock Academy was interrupted
- perhaps because his parents had to withdraw him due to inability to
pay school fees - for when he enrolled in 1887 he had a previous admission
number. He left school in 1888 to work for Johnny Walker, working his
way up to become joint managing director of the company. He was credited
with having coined the phrase 'Born in 1820 - still going strong', one
of the most successful advertising slogans in Scottish industry.
World War I he worked for the government in the Ministry of Munitions,
being made a baronet in 1917. After the war he held a number of government
posts and he chaired the committee responsible for the British Empire
Exhibition in 1924-5. After the Exhibition it was proposed that the
stadium erected for it in Wembley, north London, should be demolished.
Stevenson successfully fought for its preservation. Its twin towers
still stand as the most-prominent feature of Wembley Stadium, 'the home
of English football'. In 1924 he was made Baron Stevenson of Holmbury.
When Lord Stevenson died in 1926 the Gold Berry, the Kilmarnock Academy
school magazine (see Kilmarnock Academy: Extra-Curricular Activities),
carried the following obituary of him:
late Lord Stevenson must be mentioned here as an old pupil of Kilmarnock
Academy. That "the child is father of the man" is well shown in Lord
Stevenson's case. The vigour of youth was followed by amazing work and
versatility later in life. While in business in the employ of Messrs.
John Walker & Son's, he cultivated the literary and musical tastes which
the Great War the title of Baronet was conferred on him in recognition
for his services. During ten years he toiled unceasingly, and produced
the brilliant work which earned his reward. He is, however, chiefly
known as Chairman of the Standing Committee of the British Empire Exhibition-known
as "the man who saved Wembley" by his excellent handling of the tangled
affairs. His reward was the elevation to the peerage
successful career was due to to his pleasant disposition, tact, and
ability at the head of affairs. Old pupils who knew him feel regret:
present pupils feel, on the other hand, pride that the first commoner
of Kilmarnock to receive a peerage was also a pupil of the Academy.
(1926) ©Kilmarnock Academy