Sheffield-born Donald MacLachlan’s interests in Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson came after a ride on a London Underground train in 1955, when he was 13 and his family lived in Earl’s Court.
The eastbound District Line train from Earl’s Court went through what was then an open triangle of land bounded by the Earl’s Court, Gloucester Road and High Street Kensington stations. (Later, the triangle was covered from 1957-84 by the BEA West London Air Terminal, and the site now houses a Sainsburys shop.)
This triangle, Donald thought, must be where foreign spy Hugo Oberstein supposedly heaved the body of Arthur Cadogan West onto the roof of a briefly stationary Circle Line train. This in the Sherlockian tale The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans.
Donald found that ‘Caulfield Gardens’, Oberstein’s street, did not exist under that name. But there were indeed houses with rear windows that overlooked the Underground tracks (although the story confuses the issue of exactly which track.) Happily ignoring all the No Trespassing and Danger signs, and carefully crossing the live rails, Donald explored the area. Only to determine that it would take a man of superhuman strength to toss a body onto the roof of a train anywhere there.That led to further and deeper interest into the Holmesian stories. Then, later, he heard how Jeremy Potter, chairman of the Richard III Society from 1971-89, had invited a senior member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London to a Richard III Society dinner. That, in turn, led Donald to a study of Richard III, and the thought that Richard’s alleged murder of The Two Little Princes in the Tower was a mystery worthy of Mr. Holmes (or, indeed, of Dr. Watson.)
A move to Canada in 1962, and a journalism career that ended in 1993, interfered with further research. During a subsequent career in public relations (the last stop as director of public affairs and media relations for Canada’s Simon Fraser University) he gathered boxes of books and research material, and in 2007 began bit by bit to write a book that was published in 2013 by Baker Street Studios Ltd., under the title of The Adventure of the Bloody Tower.
Now retired, Donald and wife Cailleach (who is herself working on a historical novel about the Glencoe Massacre of 1692) live in White Rock, British Columbia, with 19 large bookcases – and more of them in mind. He is a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and of several Richard III societies.
Books by Donald MacLachlan
The Adventure of the Bloody Tower (Irregular Special Press)
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Crippen