Dr Walter Watson's lichen collection found in garage

A man clearing out his garage in Somerset has discovered an important piece of ecological history.

Bob Lyon from Edgeborough near Kingston St Mary found a box containing a collection of mosses, lichens and fossils.

On investigation, it was found to have belonged to a well-known early 20th Century scientist, Dr Walter Watson.

Mr Lyon said: "It was nice to hear that actually it was important and it was of interest and I hadn't thrown it away."

Dr Watson was a nationally-renowned expert on botany and ecology and wrote a number of scientific papers and books on his findings.

Although born in Yorkshire in 1870, he was based in Somerset in his latter years and was Head of Science at Taunton School before he retired in 1939.

Finding Somerset particularly interesting botanically, he decided to stay in the county for the remainder of his life. He died in 1960.

A part of his collection was already held within the Museum of Somerset, and Mr Lyon has decided to to donate the box he discovered to them.

Curator Dennis Parsons said: "It's tremendously exciting because we don't have many of his lichens, but we have a lot of his mosses.

"It would be really nice to have those as part of the collection so that when people come to research the plants of Somerset we actually have examples of lichens here so they don't have to travel to London to see them.

"We welcome that part of the collection when it comes and I'm very much looking forward to seeing them."

Mr Lyon added: "It was very nice to hear that it's going to find a place where people are interested in it and it was worth following up."

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