ONE of Scotland's most colourful lairds -- the octogenarian, motor

cycle-riding Alexander Chinnery-Haldane, 27th Laird of Gleneagles --

died at his ancestral home yesterday.

The laird, 86, a hero of the Dunkirk evacuation and a spirited

defender of the name of Gleneagles, had suffered from ill health for a

number of years. It is thought he had a heart attack.

Mr Martin Haldane, 52, the laird's cousin, who was picked by the laird

as his successor over his own brother, Brodrick, found the body on the

kitchen floor of Gleneagles House near Auchterarder early yesterday.

Alexander Chinnery-Haldane was described by those who knew him as the

epitome of the Boy's Own hero. Educated at Harrow and Oxford, he served

with the Royal Scots, leading his men with ''conspicuous bravery''

during the Dunkirk evacuation. He had a passion for cars, planes, and,

particularly, motor cycles, and was renowned for roaring across his

7000-acre Perthshire estate on a Triumph Thunderbird until well into his


His brother, society photographer Brodrick Haldane, 81, said yesterday

that his brother was a wonderful, remarkable man and a very fine head of

the family.

From his home in Edinburgh, he added: ''I cannot begin to express my

feelings at losing the kindest and most generous brother anyone could

wish to have.''

In a decision which led to Debrett's removing the family from their

listing, the unmarried laird appointed Mr Martin Haldane as his

successor instead of his brother. Mr Brodrick Haldane said yesterday

that he was now the head of the family while Mr Martin Haldane became

the 28th Laird of Gleneagles.

He said that his brother, despite his colourful character, had been a

very shy man. ''He was extraordinarily shy and he was very good with

children. It is very sad that he never had any.''

Alexander Chinnery-Haldane was born in Edinburgh in 1907 to a family

whose ranks included the British philosopher and War Minister Viscount

Haldane, and biologist and one-time communist Professor J. B. S.

Haldane. There is also a family link to Sir Walter Scott.

He became laird in 1941 on the death of his father and moved to

Gleneagles and its 7000-acre estate. The house has the largest

collection of Joshua Reynolds portraits in the world.

Gleneagles Hotel is close to the estate, and the laird waged

unrelenting war against it for its use of the Gleneagles place-name.

The royal family became involved when the laird protested at the use

of the Gleneagles placename in the title of Captain Mark Phillips's #3m

riding centre at the hotel.

In 1977, Mr Chinnery-Haldane divided the family home in half, keeping

one wing for himself and giving over the other as a country home for Mr

Martin Haldane and his wife Petronella.

Author and long-standing family friend Michael Thornton said yesterday

there had been worries about the laird's health for some time and that

he suffered from circulatory problems in one leg.

Mr Thornton confirmed that chartered accountant Martin Haldane would

become the 28th laird.