After studying at Ruskin Hall and Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts, Syd taught art in various colleges, but it was only after marrying Elizabeth Ritchie and moving back to her home town of Montrose that he set up his own business – a shop in Bridge Street, with nearby pottery and gallery - in 1957.
Artist Syd Walker, who died in 2015, was born in Birmingham in 1926. He grew up in Bournville, where his parents worked at Cadbury’s. During World War Two he was called up as a Bevin Boy and worked in the coal mines until he was invalided out in 1946.
In 1968 an articulated lorry jack-knifed into the shop, completely destroying it.
The couple began looking for replacement premises and bought a former newsagent’s shop beside the Ballhouse. It was during renovations that they discovered the building included stables and a close, which they turned into The Coffee House, opening exactly one year after the Bridge Street accident.
In 1972 Syd and Elizabeth bought an old coach house down the Queen's Close, which they converted into a three storey gallery, pottery and studio. Called The Stables Art Centre, it ran successfully for more than 30 years, providing a showcase for Syd’s pottery and painting as well as the popular amateur art exhibitions and other events.
In 1994 he began work on a two-year project to paint a panoramic painting of Montrose Basin. Comprising 10 panels which form a circle, it depicts the Basin as seen from the centre, looking towards land. This broke all visitor records when displayed in Montrose Museum in 1996. It was later taken to Luzarches, the French town twinned with Montrose.
Syd’s work has been exhibited in Britain, France, Holland and the USA, and his work is in private collections throughout the world, including those of the Royal Family.
One of Syd’s great passions was encouraging people to enjoy art and he ran painting classes in Montrose for many years. As a Scottish Arts Council lecturer, he became well-known throughout Scotland, travelling all over to give painting and pottery demonstrations during the winter months.
In 1998 his services to art in the community were recognised when he was awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List.
Syd’s other interests were many and varied. He loved playing the guitar and was an active member of Montrose Folk Club, as well as a member of Trefor Jones' male voice choir in the 1960s. He enjoyed several principal roles in Montrose Amateur Operatic Society productions from 1982 until 1995.
A keen diver, he was a founder member of the Montrose branch of the British Sub Aqua Club and the North East Divers. He was also a member of Montrose Angling Club for many years and a Past President of Montrose Rotary Club.