JOHN NORMAN LANG (1890-1965)

Our donor John Norman Lang was born in 1890. He was the son of Robert Lang and Margaret White Lang. On 25 November 1942 he presented to the Glasgow City Council a painting named Portrait of a Boy by David Gauld.

He came from a family whose name is famous and important among the mechanical engineering profession. The firm originally started with the grandfather of our donor John Lang senior, who was the founder of the world-famous engineering firm ‘John Lang and Sons of Johnstone, Renfrewshire near Glasgow’.

In 1874 John Lang senior, who had risen to the position of foreman in the engineering works of Messrs. Shanks of Johnstone, started his own engineering company with two of his sons John and Robert. They built small premises in Laigh Cartside Street, Johnstone. [1] Although he did not have much capital, he had the ability, pluck, and some fresh ideas on the subject of iron-turning, and with his sons they worked together to develop their business. Robert was the father of our donor.

The new firm called Lang quickly became one of the most important engineering firms in Britain and had a large work force in Johnstone. They had customers across the world, from Europe to Hong Kong to Russia [2] and accomplished a large variety of engineering jobs. At first, Messrs Lang undertook any kind of engineering work they could get, but gradually they discovered a special line in the making of lathes. [3] This discovery led to far greater success. Their little machine shop of about 70 ft by 30 ft. was gradually extended until it filled the whole space between Mary Street and Cartside Street.

In 1895 they had a visit from the representatives of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. [4] Encouraged by this, the firm later took on 15 acres on the other side of Mary Street and erected splendid machine shops and a modern foundry on part of the ground. This whole plan of the new buildings indicated that further extensions were both possible and anticipated.

Although the town of Johnstone originally got its wealth from coal mining, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, the main industry was cotton spinning. The rapid growth of the town was mainly due to the success of the thread and cotton industry. The first mill in Johnstone was built in 1782 on Mill Brae. The others quickly followed until there were 15 to 20 mills at the peak of the industry. [5]

However, the cotton industry declined towards the end of the nineteenth century, and in Johnstone, engineering took over as the main industry. Many engineering firms had developed alongside the mills, servicing their needs. Among these, John Lang & Sons Ltd. was now one of the most prominent tool-making engineering firms. It was a part of the Associated British Machine Tool Makers Ltd. which was a much larger group of machine toolmakers. It had its registered offices at 17 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1 and had agents and offices worldwide. In 1966, John Lang & Sons Ltd became Wickman Lang Ltd., but remained in Johnstone until about 1968, when they became Wickman Ltd. and listed their offices as 40/44 Colquhoun Avenue, Glasgow, Scotland. In 1991, a Wickman Machine Tool Co. Ltd. was based in Coventry, England. [6]

The first time we meet John Norman Lang’s name is as a one-year-old in the 1891 Scotland Census with his mother Margaret White Lang and his father Robert who was one of the original founders of the company. Then, he also appears in the 1901 and 1911 Scotland Censuses with his brothers William and Lawrence. In the 1911 Census, John Norman, who was now 21 and his brother William who was 20 were both recorded as ‘Apprentice Engineer’. His other younger brother Lawrence, who was 14, is recorded as a schoolboy.

On 27 November 1919, John Norman Lang was married to Jeanie Jackson Biggart. In their marriage certificate, his occupation is described as ‘Master Engineer’. This means that he was now a qualified engineer and worked in John Lang & Sons Ltd.  

There were also two notable Provosts of Johnstone, besides being engineers, in the family. These were John and William, our donor’s uncles. In particular, William was knighted [7, 8] for his services to his country and industry in 1937, the same year in which he was elected a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Sir William Lang died 17 February 1942 in his seventy-fourth year.

Our donor seems to had lived a very quiet life, as there are very few records to be found about him. Outside the usual biographical milestones in his life, there were no other records apart from a shipping record found in Ancestry.com. According to the shipping record our donor and his wife Jean J. Lang were on board SS Empress of France sailing from Montreal and Quebec to Liverpool arriving on 19 June 1953. Clearly, they were coming from the Americas after a holiday trip. We just know that on 25 November 1942, he donated the above-mentioned picture to our Gallery through the City of Glasgow Council and at that time, he was living at Thornwood, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire.

When he died, there was a notice of the death of John Norman Lang in the Glasgow Herald of 21 August 1965 viz.:

Deaths:LangPeacefully at Thornwood Bridge of Weir on the 19 August 1965 JOHN NORMAN husband of the late Jeanie Jackson Lang – Funeral on Monday 23 inst. to Woodside Crematorium Paisley. Friends desirous of attending please meet there at 3p.m. No flowers or letters please.

References
[1] http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/John_Lang
[2] https://www.nms.ac.uk/explore-our-collections/stories/science-and-technology/john-lang-lathe/
[3] Op.cit. [1]
[4]https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/1895_Institution_of_Mechanical_Engineers:_Visits_to_Works#John_Lang_and_Sons

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnstone#History

[6] Reference:  gb 248 GB 248 UGD 048.  Held at Glasgow University Archive Services. https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/57851a2e-95a4-38f0-84a8-6810dce2fc88?terms=Wickman%20Machine%20Tool%20Co.%20Ltd

[7] Op.cit. [1]

[8]  http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/William_Biggart_Lang

MACLEHOSE SISTERS

On 27 March 1908 Miss Sophia MacLehose wrote a letter to the Provost of Glasgow Corporation asking him to accept on behalf of the Corporation a present of a picture, which was entitled Ben Ledi painted by Charles N. Woolnoth (1820-1904), she and her sisters Sophie Harriet, Louisa Sing and Annie Russell were making. [1]

At the time of the presentation that was made to the Kelvingrove Gallery, the sisters were living together at their late brother’s house named Westdel, in Dowanhill, Partick. The red sandstone villa was designed by Edinburgh architect George Washington Browne and was built for Robert MacLehose, their brother who lived there with his wife, Seymour Martha Porter. Furthermore, during 1898-1901, the Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh was responsible for designing the second-floor bedroom of their house. It included a dormer window and adjoining bathroom. This was one of Rennie Mackintosh’s first recorded ‘white room’.  The house still exists, but the room was dismantled. Furniture and fittings from the room as well as the original plans are held in the Hunterian Museum. [2]

THE FAMILY MACLEHOSE

As our donors’ name is very much entangled with their family, it is found that here a short introduction to their family may be suitable here.

The ‘MacLehose’ name had a special meaning in the publishing world, it is appropriate to start with the father of the donors, James MacLehose.  According to the 30 March 1851 Scotland Census [3], the father, James MacLehose, was the son of Thomas MacLehose, a weaver. James was born on 16 March 1811 in the District of Govan of the Burgh of Lanarkshire, Glasgow, Scotland.  In 1823, he was apprenticed for seven years to George Gallie, the Glasgow bookseller. In 1833, he made his way to London to Seeley’s, a well-known publishing house. Then, in 1838, he returned to Glasgow, where he began his business at 83 Buchanan Street with his business partner, Robert Nelson as ‘J. MacLehose & R. Nelson’. In 1841, he took over the business and continued in his own name.  In 1850, he married Louisa Sing, the eldest daughter of Mr John S. Jackson, a Manchester banker. The census records show that they lived at 1 Kelvingrove Place, Glasgow and Mr James MacLehose’s occupation was recorded as Bookseller and Stationery. It is interesting to note that David Livingstone, a missionary and explorer, and a friend of our donors’ father had visited his friend on the morning of his first visit to Africa as a missionary. The two breakfasted together. [4] 

The 1861 Scotland Census [5] shows that their first daughter Sophia Harriet was born in 1852 and then, their second daughter Louisa Sing in 1853. This was followed by Robert in 1854, Jeanie Maclean in 1855, James Jackson in 1858, Norman Macmillan in 1859 and finally Annie Russell, in 1862. [6,7]  James MacLehose was appointed as the Glasgow University’s bookseller in 1864, and then as publisher to the University in 1871. [8] Having assumed his sons Robert and James into the business which had become known as ‘James MacLehose and Sons’ in 1881, James MacLehose senior died on 20 December 1885. [9]

His sons Robert and James both graduated from Glasgow University with MA degrees and continued the publishing business. [10] The other son Norman MacMillan MacLehose also graduated from Glasgow University with an MA in 1882 and became a surgeon. [11] On 6 March 1886, Norman Macmillan MacLehose married Olive Macmillan, daughter of the late Alexander Macmillan, publisher in London, and they lived in London. Robert MacLehose married Seymour Martha Porter and in 1896, James married Mary Macmillan another daughter of Alexander Macmillan, hence, cementing a long great friendship between the two great publishing houses of Great Britain. Norman MacMillan MacLehose died on 30 August 1931. [12]

Our donors, the Misses Maclehose

Our donors studied at the ‘Glasgow Association of Higher Education for Women’ from 1879 to 1883.  They studied Logic, Moral Philosophy and Physiology in the class lists from 1877 onwards.

A name which is mostly associated with the ‘Glasgow Association of Higher Education for Women’ at the end of nineteenth century was one Janet Campbell (always known as Jessie Campbell) who promoted the need for higher education for women in Glasgow.  She proposed that lectures be given by professors from Glasgow University and these lectures were very successful and continued until 1877 when the ‘Glasgow Association for the Higher Education’ for Women was formed. [13]

In spite of being deprived of a University education, it is clear that the MacLehose women received a very good education as we see from their contributions. The eldest daughter Sophia Harriet and her sister Louisa Sing were both authors in their own rights. Sophia was the author of two books:

(1) Tales from Spencer.

(2) From the Monarchy to the Republic in France 1788-1792.

Both of these books were published by their family firm:

Glasgow, James MacLehose and Sons, Publishers to the University, I90I

These books are still available and can be bought from bookshops.

Sophia Harriet MacLehose died on 22 June 1912. [14] 

In 1907 a book entitled Vasari on Technique written by Giorgio Vasari, an artist, architect and a biographer of the artists of the Renaissance, was published in London by J M Dent & Co. The book was printed at the University Press by Robert MacLehose & Co. Ltd. and for the first time translated from Italian into English by Louisa Sing MacLehose, the translation being done during her stay near Florence.

Due to the fact that her brother Robert MacLehose passed away just before the book was published, there is a note from the author, his sister, on the first pages of the book.

The original book written by Giorgio Vasari was first published in Italian in the 1550s. Louisa Sing MacLehose’s translation into English was reprinted in 1960. Furthermore, Louisa S MacLehose was thanked by the editor of the Scottish Historical Review (issue October 1913) for her translation of some letters, written in 1543, from Italian into English. [15]

Louisa Sing MacLehose died on 7 April, 1917. [16] Her home address at the time of her death was recorded as Westdel, Dowanhill, Partick, and Glasgow.

The third eldest daughter of the MacLehose Family was Jeanie MacLean. She was born on 6 Sep 1855 and she last appears in the 1881 Scotland’s Census when she was 25. There is no record of her been married. But there is a record of her death in Ancestry.com pages of as ‘Death 30 October 1888 • Antwerp, Belgium’ [17] and no other references were given.

Annie Russell was the youngest of the MacLehose Family. She was born in 1862. She appears on the English census during a visit to London. She she also travelled to New York in 1924. She travelled back via Montreal, Quebec. On her return she stayed at Westdel.

Annie R MacLehose died on 1 December 1950 in Edinburgh in the Church Hill Hotel Edinburgh. [18]

References

[1] 1908 minutes of the Glasgow Corporation, Mitchell Library.

[ 2] Design for a fireplace, for the upper bedroom, Westdel, Glasgow c.1898,

http://www.culturegrid.org.uk/static/showResource/2929199

Also see additional Notes below at the end of the References.

[3] 1851 Scotland Census.

[4] Memoirs and Portraits of 100 Glasgow men,

http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/mlemen/mlemen101.htm

[5] 1861 Scotland Census.

[6] 1881 Scotland Census.

[7] 1891 England Census Record.

[8] The University of Glasgow Story,

http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/site-map/

[9] op cit. [4]

[10] ibid. [p. 345]

[11] op cit [8]

[12] Notice of Norman Macmillan MacLehose

Ancestry.co.uk (MacLehose Family)

[13] Jessie Campbell

https://www.worldchanging.glasgow.ac.uk/gallery/?id=UGSP00479

[14] op cit .[12]

[15] http://www.electricscotland.com/history/articles/papal.htm

[16]op cit [12]

[17] ibid.

[18] ibid.

Margaret Helen Garroway

(1860-1947)

Our donor Margaret Helen Garroway was the daughter of Robert Garraway, a well-known nineteenth century Scottish industrialist, and Agnes Garraway, formerly Agnes McWilliam. She was born on 24 August 1860 in Rosemount, Cumbernauld Road, Shettleston, Glasgow. [1] Her father Robert Garroway, a surgeon by training, graduated from Glasgow University and later became a manufacturing chemist [2]. He set up business with his brother James Garraway at 694 Duke Street, Glasgow, which became known as R&J Garroway, Netherfield Chemical Works [3]. Robert Garraway’s brother, James, died in 1877 and left quite a big fortune in his will to be distributed among his family and some of the workers in the factory. The total sum of his fortune was recorded as £52,218-6s-09d. [4]

The Garroway Family prospered during the Industrial Revolution which, as well as changing the world, brought great fortunes to those who were able to invest in the inventions andother developments. In Glasgow, most of the industrialists spent some of their fortunes on grand houses and objets d’art to decorate them. The Garroways were one of these families. Our donor’s uncle, James had a house in Helensburgh and father Robert had a house called ‘Thorndale’ in Skelmorlie in Ayrshire which is now a B-listed house. [5]

The Garroways were manufacturing chemists by profession. The factory that they founded was one of the notable firms engaged in the exemplification of Glasgow’s great chemical industry in the nineteenth century [6]. Their factory ‘Netherfield Works’ occupied over eight acres. The factory manufactured a variety of chemicals as well as chemical fertilisers for the home and export markets. They were awarded the gold medal at the Edinburgh International Exhibition of 1886 for excellence of manufacture.

Glasgow was a major centre for chemical manufacture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Garraway’s company survived until 1970. Since then, fertiliser manufacture has been abandoned, but the works were still producing sulphuric acid in 2002 [7].

It may be appropriate at this juncture to mention that the Garroway family was also very active in their civic duties. Between 1890 and 1893 a general reordering of the choir of Glasgow Cathedral was carried out. [8] The Garroway Family was one of the prominent donors of this major architectural renovation. In particular, the older brothers of our donor, John and James Garroway, made significant contributions to the City of Glasgow. In 1880, John Garroway donated a ‘new bell’ and James Garroway donated the ‘communion table’ to the Cathedral. It must be mentioned that, because of their contributions during the general reordering of the choir of Glasgow Cathedral, between 1890 and 1893, the father, surgeon Robert Garroway and brother, Major John Garraway, of our donor, were both buried at the Glasgow Cathedral. Also their names were carved on a memorial stone in the cathedral’s gardens.

However, our donor, Margaret Helen Garroway has been very elusive during this search, though she appears on every census since 1861. There are no records of a marriage.  There is also no indication that she held any position in the company that was run by her father and her brothers. Her occupation was described as ‘living on her own means’  on the census recordings. There is no mention of her name in any of the local or national press. However, there is one public announcement that she made and that was through her solicitors. That was the bequest she made to the Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Gallery, just before her demise. This was recorded in the Minutes of the Council of City of Glasgow Art Gallery and Museums held on 11 March 1947 in Paragraph 4 mentioning the bequest made by Miss Margaret H. Garroway to the Kelvingrove Gallery [9].  It said:

Figure 1. Andreotti, Federico; The Violin Teacher; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org)

Bequest made by late Miss Margaret H. Garroway.
There was submitted a letter by Messrs Kidstons and Co. solicitors of 86 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, intimating that the late Miss Margaret H. Garroway of Thorndale, Skelmorlie, had offered the Corporation under her settlement the choice of her collection of ivories, pictures and engravings, the selection to be postponed until after the death of her two nieces, Mrs Todd and Miss Haldane. The two nieces in question were agreeable to the corporation making their selection now. There was also submitted a report by the Director stating that he had inspected the collection and recommended acceptance by the Corporation of the complete set of ivories, the following pictures, three of which are shown, viz. –

Medium                Artist’s Name                          Name of the Painting

Oil                          Frederigo Andreotti                A Violin Teacher
Watercolour          Eduard Detaille                         The Drummers
Oil                          Lucien Gerard                           Young Man Reading
Oil                          Paul Grolleron                          The Scout
Oil                          Charles-Louis Kratké               French Army on the March(1848-1921)
Watercolour                   A P Robinson                     Highland Loch
Oil                          Adolphe Weisz                          Going to Mass

Figure 2. Kratke, Charles Louis; French Army on the March; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org)

There was also a number of engravings which would be useful for the library of period prints. The committee agreed that the Director’s recommendation be approved.‘Glasgow. A collection of approximately ninety pieces of oriental Ivory has been presented to the Art Gallery by the Trustees of Miss Margaret H. Garroway’.Margaret H. Garroway was brought up with her two brothers and three sisters. She was the youngest in the family. At that time, the Family Garroways had a house on Cumbernauld Rd, called Rosemount. They also had a house at Skelmorlie in Ayrshire. It is possible that our donor was educated privately, as was the custom of wealthy people at that time. 

It appears that Miss Margaret Helen Garroway either inherited or possibly bought the above paintings and the collection of ivory. In her later life, our donor moved to her final home Thorndale, Skelmorlie in Ayrshire.

Figure 3. Grolleron, Paul Louis Narcisse; The Scout; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org)

Margaret Helen Garroway died on 24 January 1947, when she was 86 years old. Her death was reported in the Deaths column on the first page of the Glasgow Herald of 25 January 1947. [11] It read:

‘Garroway: At Thorndale Skelmorlie, on 24th January 1947 Margaret Helen, daughter of the late Dr Robert Garroway. Funeral Private’.

There were no obituaries. The Scotsman of 23 May 1947 reported in its Wills and Estates on page seven that her estate was worth £53,248. [12]

Although our donor Margaret H. Garroway appears in all relevant Scotland Censuses, she is invisible all throughout her life until she makes her donation to Kelvingrove Gallery.

References:

[1] www.ancestry.co.uk 1861 Scotland Census.

[2] www.ancestry.co.uk 1851 Scotland Census

[3] Index of Firms (1888)  http://www.glasgowwestaddress.co.uk/1888_Book/Index_of_firms_1888.htm

[4] The will of James Garroway (About 1811-1877), Downloaded from Scotland’s People.

[5] http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/sc-50045-skelmorlie-15-shore-road-thorndale-with-b#.WIcjaVwcxg4

[6] op cit.[3]

[7] http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/spw048761?ref=2778

[8] http://www.mackintosh-architecture.gla.ac.uk/catalogue/names/display/?rs=1&nid=GarrJas#s012des5

[9] Corporation Minutes 1946-1947, p. 882 Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

[10] www.e-periodica.ch/cntmng?pid=ast-002:1947:1::200

[11] Glasgow Herald 25 January 1947. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=GGgVawPscysC&dat=19470125&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

[12] The Scotsman 23 May 1947, p.7 Wills and Estates.

George Bowie Sawers(1855-1923)

In the minutes of the Corporation of Glasgow of 5 February 1919 (page 615) [1], it was reported that: ‘the sub-committee agreed to accept an offer made by Mr G B Sawers of 1 Belgrave Terrace, Hillhead to present to the Corporation two pictures entitled:

1-Skaters on a Frozen River after Peeter Bout 

2-A Village Festival attributed to Mathys Schoevaerdts

 and to accord the donor a cordial vote of thanks therefore.’

The paintings that our donor presented to the Corporation in 1919 are displayed below. Dutch and Flemish paintings were popular with Glasgow collectors and it is possible that our donor had bought these paintings in Glasgow where there was a number of well-known art dealers, among them Alexander Reid and Craibe Angus who had contacts in Europe. These dealers could help buyers with their purchases of what was available in the art market.

Our donor, Mr George Bowie Sawers was born on 3 February 1855 [2], in the Tradeston District of Glasgow, in 14 Kenning Street. His parents were Robert Sawers, and Janet Anderson Sawers of Perth. His father’s occupation was recorded as ‘a pattern designer’. He was born into a family three boys and two girls.

Most of our donor’s career was spent in the locomotive industry in Glasgow. Initially, he workedfor the Hyde Park Locomotive Works and when the Company joined with the North British Locomotive Company [3], he became the joint secretary of the new firm.  

According to the 1881 census, our donor was living with his parents at 1 Belgrave Terrace, Glasgow and also spending some time in Dunoon where his father had a house. He was a very civic minded person and although his demanding position in a large company kept him very busy, he managed to find time to be a member of the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteersandreach the rank of major. [4] The Volunteers was initially a Scottish Volunteer Unit of the British Army and it was raised in Glasgow in 1859. During WWI, the Unit served on the Western Front and Ireland. All of our donor’s business-life was spent in the service of Messrs Neilson, Reid and Co., Glasgow, afterwards known as the NB Locomotive Co. Apart from his usual company work, he appears to have been an elected member of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. His name appears in Volume 28, 1912 – Issue 12 of the Proceedings of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

He retired approximately seven years before his death. However, his name appears on the passenger list of s/s Etruria on 9 September 1898, on the return journey from New York, USA to Liverpool, England. This indicates that he had managed to have some free time to travel. When he retired, he moved to Hunters Quay in Dunoon and bought a house named Tignacoille. He was a well-known personality in the area as he had spent many years on holiday in his father’s house at Kirn. Although public life had no attraction for him, it appears that he liked playing bowls and he was still involved in the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. It was after taking part in such a match at the Green that he felt unwell and later died of heart failure in his house. In the report of his death in the local paper [5] it was mentioned that ‘he was a most generous subscriber to all deserving objects’. The report continued:

Major Sawers died 7 August 1923 aged 69 years at his home Tignacoille, Hunter’s Quay Dunoon. [6] He was in his 69th year when he died; he leaves a number of nephews and nieces. The cause of his death was heart failure. In accordance with his express wish, his remains were conveyed to the Crematorium at Maryhill on Friday, 10 August 1923.

A remembrance note printed in the 11 August 1923 edition of the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard after his death stated that he had lived in his residence Tignacoille, Hunters Quay, which he bought about 20 years before his death. [7]

His will dated 27 January 1923 [8] was recorded at Dunoon on 8 October 1923. His estate was valued at £12,286: 7s: 3d.

As our donor spent most of his working life in the North British Locomotive Company (NBL or North British) and because  NBL is an important development in the history of steam locomotive, it is important at this point to introduce the NBL and give a short history of it from 1903 until it closed down in 1962.

The NBL was created in 1903 through the merger of three Glasgow locomotive manufacturing companies: Sharp, Stewart and Company (Atlas Works), Neilson, Reid and Company (Hyde Park Works) and Dübs & Company (Queens Park Works), creating the largest locomotive manufacturing company in Europe. [9]

The main factories were located at the neighbouring Atlas and Hyde Park Works in central Springburn, as well as the Queens Park Works in Polmadie. A new central Administration and Drawing Office for the combined company was completed across the road from the Hyde Park Works in Flemington Street by the architect James Miller in 1909.  Hugh Reid, who was a well-known engineer and philanthropist of his time, became Deputy-Chairman and chief   Director. William Lorimer was the chairman. The building later became the main campus of Kelvin College.

The new company produced 5000 locomotives (the 5,000th one was produced in 1914) and the company had 7000 employees at that time. 

The Company [10]

1903 The largest Locomotive Company in Europe was created through mergers.

1905 Hugh Reid was the joint inventor with David MacNab Ramsay of the ‘Reid-Ramsay’ steam-turbine electric-locomotive, which underwent some trials but was not placed in service.

1914 The 5,000th locomotive was produced.

1914 Specialities: all types of locomotive engines; contractors to home railways, government railways of India, South Africa, Australia etc., state railways of France, Norway, Chile, Argentina, Japan, China, Egypt etc., also to railways and docks companies, steelworks, mines etc. Employees, 7,000.

1914 WWI Made 1,400 locomotives.

1918 The factory produced the first prototype of the Anglo-American Mark VIII battlefield tank for the Allied armies, but with the Armistice it did not go into production.

1924 Construction of the Reid-MacLeod turbine-driven locomotive, designed by Hugh Reid and James MacLeod. The turbine developed 500 HP at 8000 rpm. The reversing turbine developed 70% of the forward power. Boiler pressure 180 psi. 4-4-0+0-4-4 wheel arrangement.

1927 See Aberconway Chapter XV for information on the company and its history

By the start of WWII 8,850 locomotives had been completed.

1951 NBL acquired a controlling interest in Henry Pels and Co. (Great Britain), Ltd. Thereafter machine tools were made at the Queens Park works.

1961 Engineers and locomotive builders.

1962 The company ceased trading.

NBL had supplied many of its diesel and electric locomotives to British Rail (BR) at a loss, hoping to make up for this on massive future orders that never came. This, with a continuing stream of warranty claims to cure design and workmanship faults, proved fatal – NBL declared bankruptcy on 19 April 1962. Andrew Barclay, Sons and Co acquired the goodwill. They had built 11,318 locomotives since 1903.

Whilst highly successful as designers and builders of steam locomotives for both its domestic market and abroad, NBL failed to make the jump to diesel locomotive production. In the 1950s it signed a deal with the German company MAN to construct diesel engines under licence. These power units appeared in the late 1950s BR designs, later designated Class 21, Class 22, Class 41, Class 43 (Warship) and Class 251 (Blue Pullman). None of these were particularly successful (constructional shortcomings with the MAN engines made them far less reliable than German-built examples). A typical example of this was the grade of steel used for exhaust manifolds in the Class 43s – frequent manifold failures led to loss of turbocharger drive gas pressure and hence loss of power. More importantly, the driving cabs of the locomotives would fill with poisonous exhaust fumes. BR returned many NBL diesel locomotives to their builder for repair under warranty and also insisted on a three-month guarantee on all repairs (a requirement not levied on its own workshops). This and the continuing stream of warranty claims to cure design and workmanship faults proved fatal – NBL declared bankruptcy. Because of the unreliability of its UK diesel and electric locomotives, all were withdrawn after comparatively short lifespans.

NBL built steam locomotives for countries as far afield as Malaysia and New Zealand. The Colony of New South Wales purchased numerous of their locomotives, as did the State of Victoria as late as 1951 (Oberg, Locomotives of Australia), and in 1939 it supplied locomotives to New Zealand Railways, some of which were later converted to other classes. In 1949, South Africa purchased over 100 engines from the company. Some still operate tourist trains on the George-Kynsa line. Additionally South Africa also purchased some engines from the company between 1953 and 1955. These successful engines, with various in-service modifications, survived until the end of steam in South Africa in 1990. NBL also introduced the Modified Fairlie locomotive in 1924.

In 1957, the last order for steam locomotives was placed with the company and the last steam locomotive was completed in 1958. Although the company was making small industrial diesel locomotives, and received some early main line diesel orders from British Railways, the orders were never big enough to maintain the company. Other locomotive manufacturers, who had acted swiftly in transferring from steam to diesel and electric production, were becoming more successful. Messrs Andrew Barclay Sons & Co (Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland) acquired NBL’s goodwill.[11]

References

[1] Minutes of the Glasgow Corporation Minutes of 5th February 1919, Volume November 1918-April 1919, page 615.

[2] Birth Certificate, obtained from Scotland People.

[3] Archives of North British Locomotive Co., Springburn Museum (Mitchell Library, Glasgow).

[4] The London Gazette, 31 October 1899. Page 6531.

[5] Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard, 11August 1923. Archives of Argyll and Bute Council.

[6] Death Certificate, records from Scotlands People.

[7] op.cit. [5]

[8] Confirmations and Inventories 1923 (Vol. M-Z), Mitchell Library.

[9] https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/450f1232-3643-3c24-b8b9-9df92d152798

[10] https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/North_British_Locomotive_Co

[11] https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/450f1232-3643-3c24-b8b9-9df92d152798

 

 John Weir (1873-1957)

Our donor John Weir made a donation of a painting entitled Christ lamenting over Jerusalem by Sir Charles Eastlake P.R.A. to the Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum in February 1928 and a copy of it is shown below.

Eastlake, Charles Lock, 1793-1865; Christ Lamenting over Jerusalem

Christ Lamenting over Jerusalem by Charles Lock Eastlake; © CSG Glasgow Museums. (http://www.artuk.org)

John Weir was born in Rothesay on 23 July 1873. He was the eldest child of John and Mary Weir. His father was a boilermaker and plater. When John was still a young boy, his family moved to Govan, then, to Dumbarton and settled there. [1] He attended Rowallan Public School, between 1880 and1883. [2] He then attended College St. School in Dumbarton between 1883 and 1887. In his last year he became the Dux Gold Medallist. Between 1888 -1892 he attended Dumbarton School of Science and Art, where his technical education began. After graduating he attended the Glasgow Athenaeum Commercial College 1892-1897. In his last year, he was once again a Dux medallist. [3] The Glasgow Athenaeum Commercial College was then an important establishment in Glasgow. [4] having first started in 1847 in the Assembly Rooms, Ingram Street, and the inaugural address was  given by Charles Dickens. [5] It was originally built as a centre of adult education and recreation. Fundamentally, it was a go-between the Mechanic’s Institute and the University. However, in 1888 the commercial part of the Glasgow Athenaeum was separated from the Music, Drama and Art sections and became the Glasgow Athenaeum Commercial College. In 1915, it became the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College and in 1955 the Scottish College of Commerce. Nine years later the Scottish College of Commerce combined with the Royal College of Science and Technology to form the University of Strathclyde. [6]

After completing his education, John Weir started work at William Denny and Brothers Limited in Dumbarton as an apprentice clerk between the years 1887 to 1892. It should be noted here that William Denny and Brothers Limited was often referred to simply as Denny or Denny’s which was a very important British shipbuilding company based in Dumbarton, Scotland, on the River Clyde. It built a total in excess of 22,000 vessels in its working life. Although the Denny’s Yard was situated near the junction of the River Clyde and the River Leven, the yard was on the Leven. Denny’s was always an innovator and was one of the first commercial shipyards in the world to have their own experimental testing tank. This is now open to the public as a museum in Dumbarton. [7] During the time he was working at Denny’s John Weir was a Private Secretary to James Denny, who was the son of William Denny, and also to the late Walter Brock, one of the directors.

Between 1897 and 1901, our donor had already left Scotland and gone to London. During this period, he served as Secretary and Estimates Clerk to the Superintendent Engineer of the New Zealand Shipping Co. Ltd., Royal Albert Dock, having been appointed by the Chairman of the Company, the late Sir Edwyn S. Dawes. [8] In 1901 John Weir married Mary Thomson. [9] Mr. and Mrs. Weir lived in West Ham in East London. However, before long, John Weir became a founder director of the shipping firm Silley Weir in London. [10]

In and around 1907 the Thames shipbuilding industry was in decline. One of the larger ship builders of the Blackwall Docks, R. & H. Green Ltd. continued to build ships until 1907. Then, in 1910 they amalgamated with Silley Weir & Company and became R. H. Green & Silley Weir Ltd. The new company grew rapidly until the outbreak of the First World War and then became one of the largest ship building companies in London. Throughout the war the firm constructed and repaired munitions ships, mine-sweepers, hospital-ships and destroyers. Their contribution to the war effort was acknowledged by a visit from King George V in November 1917. [11]

John Weir always considered himself to be a Dumbartonian. [12] He kept in touch with Dumbarton and in 1902, became a founder member of the London–Dunbartonshire Association. [13] He was the Association’s first secretary and for many years the chairman. It was largely due to his interest that the gift of amountain indicator’ was placed on Dumbarton Rock and also the memorial fountain, which was erected and dedicated at Dumbarton Cemetery shortly after the end of World War II. [14]

Our donor’s interests spread quite widely. Among them was geography, so much so that he applied for a fellowship to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) on 20 February 1913. [15] His address on his application form is given as: Dunbritton, Alderton Hill Loughton, Essex. He stayed at this address until his death. [16] Around this time there were some notable artistic and scientific communities as well as quite a collection of ship building magnates also living there. Among them were William Brown Macdougall (1868-1936), a Scottish artist, wood engraver, etcher and book illustrator and his wife Margaret Armour (1869-1943) the translator, poet and playwright, both of whom lived at Elm Cottage, Debden Road where a BLUE PLAQUE commemorating them was unveiled in 2012. They were both members of the New English Art Club. William died on the 20 April 1936 in Loughton and after his death Margaret returned to Edinburgh where she died in 1943. [17]

Our donor was also a friend of James Howden Hume [18] who was a keen collector of art and was President of the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts between 1919 and 1924 and more information about Mr Hume may be found in a previous blog under his name at this website.

 He also devoted a great deal of time to social and welfare work in the East End of London. For many years he was the Chairman of the St. Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children Plaistow. [19] From 1915-32 he was a member and chairman of the London County Council’s School of Engineering and Navigation in Poplar, where a hall was named after him. [20] He was also a permanent magistrate at West Ham Court. He was considered ‘Father’ of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, as he was then the oldest member of the Court. [21]

In The Scotsman of 26 September 1949 a news article appeared announcing under the title of GESTURE FROM “BLITZED” LONDON:

Memorial at Dumbarton

There was unveiled and dedicated in Dumbarton Cemetery yesterday a memorial fountain built to the design of Mr Hugh Lorimer, A.R.S.A., and erected by the London-Dunbartonshire Association to commemorate Servicemen belonging to Dunbartonshire who fell in the last war and those of the county who lost their lives by enemy action. The dedication was performed by the Rev. K. Goldie, clerk to Dumbarton Presbytery, and the memorial was unveiled by Major-General A. Telfer-Smollett, Lord-Lieutenant of the county, who formally handed it over to the Town Council for perpetual upkeep. Provost H. Brown accepted custody on behalf of the Town Council.

Mr John Weir, chairman of the London-Dunbartonshire Association, emphasised that the memorial was a county one and was a gesture from “blitzed” London to “blitzed” Dunbartonshire. After the ceremony Major-General Telfer-Smollett took the salute at a march past of detachments and units of His Majesty’s Forces.

It might be of some interest here to mention that a letter written by John Weir on headed notepaper of “R & H. Green and Silley Weir”, the “Ship and Engine repairers” of the Royal Albert Dock in the East End of London in 1926 to the Royal Society of Arts was on sale on e-bay recently (in 2006). [22]. The letter [23] was a request by John Weir for application forms for the competitions for the Fothergill Prize (for the studies in history and philosophy of sciences) and the Thomas Gray Memorial Trust Prize (for the advancement of the Science of Navigation and the Scientific and Educational interests of the British Mercantile Marine). It is signed, in ink by John Weir, and relates to his position of ‘Vice Chairman of the advisory committee of the LCC School of Engineering and Navigation’. It has been stamped with the Royal Society of Arts receiving mark. It is not known if the letter was sold on e-bay.

John Weir’s wife Mary Thomson, who both together were a Freeman of the city of London. [24] Mrs Mary Thomson died aged 71 years old in October 1944. [25] There were no children. John Weir died on 16 November 1957, at the age of 85. There was a funeral service held for him at The Crown Church Covent Garden, London. His family and friends and all the local dignitaries attended. [26]

The remains of John Weir were brought to Dumbarton for interment in the cemetery on Friday, 22 November 1957 according to his wishes. A large gathering was present at the ceremony. [27]

Acknowledgements

The author would like to express her thanks to Sarah Strong, Archives Officer, Foyle Reading Room, Royal Geographical Society, Mr Graham Hopner, Dumbarton Library Study Centre, Cllr C Pond, the local historian of Loughton, Essex for their generous help.

References:

[1] 1891 Census Book-9, Dumbarton Library Archives.

[2] UK Mechanical Engineer Records 1847-1838 for John Weir; Sequence No 20,875.

[3] ibid.

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Conservatoire_of_Scotland

[5] http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Glasgow/AthenaeumGlasgow.htm

[6] https://www.theglasgowstory.com/image/?inum=TGSS00017&t=2

[7 https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/William_Denny_and_Brothers

[8] op. cit. UK Mechanical Engineer Records 1847-1838 art. 15

[9] 1901 England Census

[10] The Lennox Herald, Saturday, 23rd Nov. 1957, Dumbarton Library Archives.

[11] British History online:
https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols43-4/pp565-574

[12] op. cit. [10]

[13] ibid.

[14] ibid.

[15] Communication with Sarah Strong, Archives Officer, RGS, London.

[16] ibid. and op.cit. [10]

[17] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Brown_Macdougall

[18] Glasgow Council Minutes, February 1928, Mitchell Library Archives.

[19] op. cit. [10].

[20] ibid.

[21] ibid.

[22] Correspondence with Cllr C. Pond.

[23] e-mail by Cll. C Ponds informing a letter written by J. Weir sold on e-bay.

[24] op. cit.[10].

[25] England and Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 for Mary T. Weir.

[26] The Times,18 November 1957, p.12.

http://archive.timesonline.co.uk/tol/ archive/

[27] op. cit. [10].

 

Mrs Anna Walker (1866-1948)

On 11th October 1948 the following 3 paintings were presented to Kelvingrove Galleries from Mrs Anna Walker’s Trust, per Messrs. Inglis Glen and Co., 223 West George St., Glasgow, C2:

On 11October 1948 the following three paintings were presented to the Kelvingrove Galleries from Mrs Anna Walker’s Trust, per Messrs. Inglis Glen and Co., 223 West George Street, Glasgow, C2:

  1. A Bunch of Flowers, an oil painting by Victor Vincelet (1840-1871).
  2. Peonies, a watercolour by Andrew Allan (1905-1982).
  3. Cathedral Interior, a watercolour by James Holland (1799-1870).

When a female donor makes a donation using only her married name and with no other details, it is difficult to find out much information about her. Our donor is a prime example of this. Apart from her name and the pictures that she donated to the Gallery, there is no other information. However, what was obvious about her was her enthusiasm for flowers which is very clear from the above two paintings that were presented to Kelvingrove Gallery (See 1 and 2).

Figure 1. A Bunch of Flowers, an oil painting by Victor Vincelet (1840-1871) © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (http://www.artuk.org)
Figure 2. Peonies, watercolour by Andrew Allan (1905-1982) © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

As the search started, it was clear that it would be expedient to write something about the historical background. This was the mid- Industrial Revolution age which saw tremendous social changes as well as certain scientific awareness and discoveries which affected everybody in this country as well the whole world.

The Industrial   Revolution took hold in Glasgow at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Linen was Scotland’s premier industry in the eighteenth century but at the beginning of the nineteenth century the manufacture of cotton and textiles increased rapidly. Immigrants from the Highlands in the 1820s and from Ireland in the 1840s formed the workforce.  The city then diversified into heavy industries like shipbuilding, locomotive construction and other heavy engineering that could thrive on nearby supplies of coal and iron ore. Between 1870 and 1914, Glasgow ranked as one of the richest and finest cities in Europe. [1]

As all this industrialisation was going on, it was clear that certain breathing spaces of the City must be built in the form of parks and botanic gardens as the lungs of the City.  Thomas Hopkirk, a distinguished Glasgow botanist, had founded the Botanic Gardens in 1817 with the support of a number of local dignitaries and the University of Glasgow. [2] The Gardens were originally laid out on an 8-acre site at Sandyford at the western end of Sauchiehall Street (at that time on the edge of the city). The Royal Botanical Institution of Glasgow owned and ran the Gardens.  They agreed to provide the University of Glasgow with teaching aids, including a supply of plants for medical and botanical classes. It is worth noting that one of the future famous plant-hunters, David Douglas, who was born at Scone near Perth, had taken up a post at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens in 1820.  

Professor Hooker, who was Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University in 1820 and later became the first official director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1865, took a great liking to Douglas and the two men made a number of botanical trips together to the Scottish Highlands while Hooker was writing his book Flora Scotica. It was on Hooker’s recommendation that the Horticultural Society (not yet ‘Royal’) employed Douglas in 1823 as an explorer. It should be noted here that when David Douglas was exploring North-West America in the 1830s, he sent home seeds of Pseudotsuga, now commonly known as the Douglas Fir. David Douglas had also introduced more than 200 species of plants to gardens in Europe. [3]

Until the 1840s Glasgow’s West End consisted of open countryside, isolated farmhouses and the country dwellings of Glasgow’s most wealthy citizens. The completion of the Great Western Road and the re-location of the Botanic Gardens to the Kelvinside Estate in the early 1840s was the catalyst for a rapid change to the character of the area. [4] The Botanic Gardens and Glasgow Green are prime examples of these developments of the time.   ln 1852 the Council purchased some land from the Kelvingrove and Woodlands estate to create an area which is now Kelvingrove Park and which was to be the new home for the famous Kibble Palace. [5]

There was definitely some desire to experiment growing and cultivating new breeds of plants brought in by scientists and other enthusiasts from the faraway lands of India, China, Japan and the Americas. These plants were either acquired in seed form or as complete plants to the newly established Horticultural Society and the like.

This enthusiasm for bringing plants from faraway lands continued into the beginning of the twentieth century, when we meet our donor Mrs Anna Walker.

She was on holiday in Northern Italy, when she accidentally discovered a heather. It was propagated by her gardener Robert Howieson-Syme and it was then sent to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at Wisley and in 1925 named by F.J Chittenden, the then Director of the RHS. Initially, this new variety of heather was called Springwood which was the name of the house in Stirling where Anna lived with her husband. Later it was named Springwood White on the appearance of another variant called Springwood Pink by F. J. Chittenden in 1925. [6] The preferred name for the plant is Erica Carnea f1  Alba  Springwood White. [7] It is remarkable that our donor Mrs Anna Walker had discovered her heather at a time when the main part of the Industrial Revolution had ended. Furthermore, World War I was over. However, the endeavour for the appreciation and growing plants from foreign lands was still alive.

The above information obtained from the article in the Heather Society [8] was the key to discovering the identity of our donor Anna Walker – her age, date of birth and her family’s details. In the 1881census [9], Anna was 14 years old and described as a scholar. She was born in 1866 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Her father, William Gibson, born in 1841, was a cloth merchant and her mother Isabella S. Gibson was born in 1844. In the same census record, it is recorded that she had a brother George who was 10 and a sister Jeannie T. who was 12. The Gibson Family lived in 1 Burnbank Gardens, Glasgow, Barony Lanarkshire with two servants.

Anna Gibson married Ralph Wardlaw Thomson Walker, a ship broker in 1890 in the Glasgow district of Partick. [10] Also in the 1891 census [11] it is recorded that the Gibson family was living in Doune, Perthshire in Castle Bank Cottage. Ralph WT Walker is shown to be in the same dwelling with his now wife, Mrs Anna Walker. Furthermore, the same household appears to have a guest, William Linklater, a minister of the Free Church in their house.

Our donor’s husband, Ralph W.T. Walker, was born in 1865. His father’s name was Robert Walker and his mother’s name was Mary Ann (Donaldson). The couple lived for a time in 3 Bruce Street Glasgow where Ralph had lived and had been living for a few years before he married.  In the 1891 census [12], Anna’s brother George Gibson is described as a mercantile shipping clerk.

In the 1901 census [13], Mr and Mrs Walker are shown to be living in 4 Athole Gardens at Partick Burgh, Glasgow. Ralph’s profession is now recorded as ship owner. This is a large house and our donor Mrs Anna Walker now employed two servants – one as a table maid domestic and the other as a cook domestic. There is an impression that Mr and Mrs Walker were keen travellers, because apart from their travel to Italy in the 1920s, both of their names also appear on the First Class passenger list of the ship Duchess Of Atholl belonging to the Canadian Pacific Line bound to a West Indies cruise from the port of Greenock on 30 January 1930. [14]

Our couple stayed in Athole Gardens until 1915 and then moved to Stirling .  The name of the house is Springwood and is B-listed. It was built about 1870 and they lived there from the early twentieth century until Anna died on the 24 July 1948. Earlier, Ralph had died there too in 1943.

In the Glasgow Herald of the 26 July 1948 there was a notice [15] which is printed below:

 At Springwood Stirling on the 24th July 1948 Anna, wife of late Ralph W.T.Walker, ship owner.  Funeral private.  No Flowers.

References

[1]https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/scottishhistory/victorian/trails_victorian_glasgow.shtml
 [2] https://www.glasgowbotanicgardens.com/the-gardens/history/
 [3] ibid
 [4] https://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/pats-guide-buildings-architecture-history-glasgows-west-end/.
[5] op.cit [1]
[6] https://www.heathersociety.org/heathers/erica-hardy/erica-carnea/carnea-corolla-pure-white/springwood-white/
[7] Correspondence from  Mr Chris Moncrieff, Head of Horticultural Relations, Royal Horticultural Society
 [8] op.cit [6]
[9] 1881 census
 [10] Marriage Cert. from Scotland’s People.
 [11] 1891 Census
[12] ibid
[13] 1901 Census
[14] West Indies Cruise, UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 for Ralph W T Walker
[15] Glasgow Herald of the 26 July 1948, Anna’s death notice.

 

James Welsh (1881-1969)

Figure 1. Ancill, Joseph; James Welsh, Lord Provost of Glasgow (1943-1945); Glasgow Museums; © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection. http://www.artuk.

Introduction

Having presented his portrait, Mr Welsh suggested that it might hang in the People’s Palace, Glasgow in view of his association with the East End of the city.[3]

In the 1946-47 minutes of the Corporation of the City of Glasgow Art Gallery and Museums [1], it was minuted that the Ex Lord Provost, James Welsh, had presented an oil portrait of himself painted by Joseph Ancill (1896-1976) who was born in Leeds and attended the Glasgow School of Art.[2] He specialised in portrait painting and engraving.

Shortly after writing an earlier draft version of this blog, it was discovered that Dr James Welsh’s grandson David Welsh had already written his grandfather’s biography for his family and after corresponding with him, he suggested that he could give me a wider perspective of his grandfather’s life as well as earlier relatives, information which is not available in the public domain.

The early Years of Welsh Family

To give an overall picture of the beginning of the life of the Welsh family in Scotland, it will be appropriate to start with the great-grand parents of our donor, James Welsh.  Sometime before the 1841 Scottish census, our donor’s great-grandfather Michael Welsh and his wife Elisabeth McCulley came across to Scotland from Ireland.[4] Both, Michael Welsh and Elisabeth McCulley were born in Ireland in about 1790.  According to the 1841 Scottish census [5], their four children were all born in Low Glen Cairn, West Side, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. They were listed in the census as: William (18) a carpet weaver, Robert (15) a calico printer, Cathrine (12) and Michael (10). There is no record of Michael Welsh in the next census in 1851. Therefore, it is assumed that he died sometime before then.[6] Michael’s eldest son, William, was married to Agnes Johnstone on 3 January 1851 and they were living at 92 Sanbed Street, Dickiesland, Kilmarnock together with William’s mother Elisabeth and his father in-law, William Johnstone (57, also born in Ireland).[7]

William, the grandfather of our donor, continued with his profession in Kilmarnock where they had settled and had their six children. The first two were born in Kilmarnock. After his second child William was born in 1854, he and his family moved to the Paisley area where he started a quilt making business and where his other four children were all born.[8] The 1861 census records all the family’s address as 64 Love Street. William and Agnes settled in Paisley where they were to live for the remainder of their lives. By the time of the 1881 census, William (junior) had left the family home after having married Mary Ann Young on 1 April 1875. In 1881, William and Mary Ann were living at 18 Causeyside Street, Paisley where James was born on 29 January.

Although 1882 was just like any other year for the happily married couple living with their four children, William, our donor’s father, decided to pay a visit to Boston, Massachusetts where his uncle was living. He boarded a Boston-bound ship on 23 February 1882 to see him. However, after receiving a short note from his home, in reply to his own letter in June, and learning that his young son William, who was born in 1876, had died from scarlet fever on 16 June 1882, he sailed for home. Soon after this tragedy, William Welsh and his family including our donor James, who was one year old, moved from Causeyside Street, Paisley to Queen Mary Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow.[9] Perhaps one of the reasons for this move was that the textile industry, aided by the mechanisation of cotton spinning, prospered and the associated trades such as 15 bleach works and dye works were also thriving.[10] The Industrial Revolution took hold in Glasgow at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The manufacture of cotton and textiles, chemicals, glass, paper and soap increased rapidly. Immigrants from the Highlands in the 1820s and later from Ireland in the 1840s formed the workforce.[11]

Early Life of Our Donor

Our donor, James Welsh, was born on 29 January 1881 in Paisley, Renfrewshire as the fourth child of Mr. William Welsh and Mrs Mary Ann Welsh, who went on to have two more children David (born in 1882) and John (born in 1887). Young James had his formative life in Bridgeton.[12] Although, there is very little known about young James’s first few years there, it is known that he went to his first and only school, Hozier Street Public School in 1886 at the age of four and a half years. He did very well at school and was permitted to leave two years early (at the age of 11 rather than 13 according to the education legislation of the day). The only leavening of the school day was a limited amount of singing, drawing, woodwork, cookery and drill. Much of the time was spent learning tables by rote, copying from the board and facing oral tests in English Grammar and arithmetic, allowing little or no opportunity for self-expression.  There was also little or no secondary education; the leaving age at the elementary (primary) school being 13 with a mere handful of pupils staying on beyond that birthday. Young James was an exceptionally good pupil and won a prize for being punctual which is still in his family’s possession today. [13] He was allowed to leave at age 11 indicating that he had attained a high standard of achievement.

It didn’t take long for James Welsh to find work after leaving school. His first job was as a message boy with W & J Martins of Brunswick Street, Glasgow.[14] James stayed with Martins for two years and in 1894, at the age of 13, he was taken on as an office boy with James Templeton & Co., the famous carpet makers with several factories in the Bridgeton area. By the time James started work with the firm, the factory beside Glasgow Green, (the Doge’s Palace), had been built, had collapsed and had been re-built. [15] But it was the Crownpoint Road factory that saw James rise from the position of office boy to assistant-foreman during his fourteen years with the firm. A newspaper article, written about him some years later, stated that five of the Welsh family were employed with Templeton’s. He certainly made a name for himself in the firm and proved to be a highly respected member of the workforce. When he left the firm in 1908, he was presented with a magnificent roll-top desk which he kept and used all his life.[16]

Political Life and Civic Career

After leaving Templeton’s, James Welsh was now to move in a completely different direction when he became an agent for the insurance company, Scottish Legal Life, where he stayed for four and a half years. The times spent at Templeton’s and Legal Life were James Welsh’s formative years. It was during this period that he attended night school and evening lectures, developed his musical interests, became heavily involved in politics, enjoyed the fellowship of the Clarion Scouts, and became generally involved, as he said later, in the ‘progressive and humanist movements’. He also witnessed the beginnings of the cinema revolution and saw its potential, experiencing at first hand the tragic consequences of alcohol abuse. It was during this period, in 1896, that the family moved from 41 Queen Mary Street, the short distance to 40 Dalmarnock Road, a stone’s throw from Bridgeton Cross, where father, mother and five growing young adults were to be found in the 1901 census.

The year 1910 was a highly significant and pivotal year in James Welsh’s life for three reasons:

  • His name was to be included for the first time on the electoral register for 1909 -10 and he was entitled to vote in the two General Elections of 1910, helping Labour to achieve its best results up till then, 40 seats in January and 42 in December.
  • Along with his friend and partner George Smith he was to take the first tentative steps in the cinema world when they converted an empty hall in Alexandria Parade into The Parade Cinema.
  • But the most important change was to take place on 7 July 1910 – the day of his marriage to Helen Greig in Anderston Registry Office, Minerva Street, Glasgow.[17]

At the age of nearly 30, James Welsh married Helen (Nell) Greig, who had been born on 22 May 1881 in the township of Skene, north of Stonehaven and a few miles to the west of Aberdeen. Her father, Frederick Murray Greig, whose family was very much centred in Stonehaven, was a saddler to trade.[18] Helen retained a warm affection for the villages and the countryside of the North East coast throughout her life. Both before and after their marriage, Mrs Welsh was interested in theatrical entertainment and she was known under the name of Nell Greig as an accomplished actress and elocutionist. In her stage career she appeared in a number of plays some of which were written by her brother Frederic Greig, with whom Nell came to Glasgow around 1901. Frederick Greig’s ambition was to be a playwright. Later rising to prominence in the business world and becoming the General Secretary of the Rotary Club of London, he was perhaps better known as the husband of Teresa Billington, the celebrated suffragette.[19] The 2018 statue of Millicent Fawcett, the suffragist leader and social campaigner, in Parliament Square, London, is a work by the Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing where the name of Theresa Billington Greig is also carved. [20]

After their marriage, Mr and Mrs James Welsh lived in 41 Esmond Street, Yorkhill where their only child, Frederick Welsh was born on 31 March 1911. It was a small flat where James had lived before his marriage and it was becoming too small for a growing family. Therefore, they moved in 1914 to a larger place in Smith Street, Hillhead. Built in the 1880s the individual apartments were of varying sizes but the one chosen by the Welsh family was a two bedroom flat with kitchen/living room and bathroom.

At this time, James Welsh started taking an increasingly active interest in politics. In 1913, when the Municipal Elections were held in Glasgow, on the division of the City of Glasgow, James Welsh was the Labour candidate representing Dalmarnock Ward. The election was a victory for Labour and also for James Welsh, as this was the beginning of his political career. He represented the Dalmarnock Ward from 1913-1929.[21] In June 1926 our donor and his family moved and settled in 1 Endfield Avenue, Kelvindale, Glasgow W2.[22]

On the outbreak of war in 1914 James Welsh enlisted for service in the army but was turned down on medical grounds. It was discovered that he had a heart murmur so there was no question of his signing on. He was immensely disappointed.

During the time he was a member of the Corporation of the City of Glasgow, he was a Bailie of the Burgh from November 1920 to November 1923. After resigning from his post in the Corporation in 1929, he stood as a Labour candidate to represent the people of Paisley and he was elected MP for Paisley in May 1929. After 2 years, in 1931, he was defeated by the Liberal Candidate in the general election and withdrew from politics and contemplated not continuing as a Labour candidate in Paisley. After a break of eight years he returned to the Council in 1937 as a representative of the Maryhill Ward and continued his service until 1949 when he did not seek re-election. During this time, he was involved in The Empire Exhibition which was held in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow and opened by King George VI and Queen Mary on 3 June 1938. The opening ceremony held in the Ibrox Stadium was attended by 146,000 people.

During 28 years of membership he gave service in many aspects of local government, but he will be remembered particularly for his outstanding contribution as Convenor of the Parks, Municipal Transport and Parliamentary Committees. He was Lord Provost from 1943 until 1945, in which latter year he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, LL.D by Glasgow University. His period of office as Lord Provost (2 September 1943 – 5 November 1945) was particularly onerous, coinciding as it did with the last two years of the Second World War and all the problems and adjustments which required to be met at that time, but he guided the Council through the difficult period and identified himself with much of the early post-war planning of the city. Apart from his civic duties, he devoted much of his time to the development of the arts and he held numerous offices in various cultural societies and associations.[23] James Welsh stepped down from his post as Lord Provost in November 1945 and did not seek re-election.[24] However, he remained as an elected councillor until 1949 when he retired.[25]

During the time when James Welsh was a member of the Corporation City of Glasgow and later the Lord Provost, T.J. Honeyman was the director of the Art Galleries and Museums of Glasgow. The two men got on extremely well and had a harmonious relationship. It was at this time that a decision was made by Sir William Burrell that his collection (now known as The Burrell Collection) should belong to the City of Glasgow.[26] John Julius Norwich writes in the Introduction to the book The Burrell Collection[27]:

 Let there be no mistake about it: in all history, no municipality has ever received from one of his native sons a gift of such munificence as that which in 1944 The City of Glasgow accepted from Sir William and Lady Burrell.

Honeyman also mentions James Welsh in several places in his book Art and Audacity.[28]

Contributions to Glasgow Cinema

Apart from his interest in politics, James Welsh also had an interest in the art movements in Glasgow. Among these was the new form of entertainment of the time, the cinema. One of his close friends, George Smith, shared the same interest. George Smith, a lifelong friend, was a Labourite like himself, who had been born and brought up in the Bridgeton area. Like James Welsh, Smith was deeply involved in the Labour party and was to follow James into the City Chambers where he was to remain a Councillor for many years. This interest in cinema had stemmed from them being staunch socialists and their intense desire to give something to the people rather than their self-monetary interests. Over the years, working together, they managed to raise their name to be amongst the pioneers of cinema in Glasgow at the beginning of the twentieth century. Their venture in this endeavour began in 1910 when James and George rented a hall in Alexandria Parade in Dennistoun and together, they turned it into a cinema and they called it the Parade. One of the first films that was shown was a Western called The Range Rider and also an interest film Glimpses of Bird Life. The prices were 2d and 4d, with separate houses nightly at 7pm and 9pm. [29] The Parade was very popular with the people of Dennistoun and this encouraged the partners to open another one in 1912. The second cinema was in Church Street, Hamilton and called the Cinema House. It was equally successful. Now, they owned two separate companies – The Parade Picture Houses Ltd and The Hamilton Cinema Company Ltd. So successful was their emerging and growing cinema business that James Welsh felt able to devote all his time to that business and relinquish his position as an insurance agent. By this time the cinema had become a popular form of mass entertainment and picture shows were being held everywhere. In mid-1912, there were about 50 cinemas in Glasgow.[30]

Up until 1921 their two cinemas had been halls, originally built for other purposes. In 1921 the Welsh-Smith partners built their first cinema just round the corner from their existing one in Dennistoun. The (old) Parade had been on Alexandria Parade itself but the New Parade was built at 200 Meadowpark Street, just off the Parade. The cinema was designed by the architect Mr D MacKay Stoddart and was a substantial building with a well finished hall and a lofty auditorium, seating more than 1,400 people. The New Parade cinema was retained by the two partners throughout the twenties but was sold to a Gaumont subsidiary in 1928.[31] During Mr Welsh’s election campaign, located in the Cathcart district on the south side of Glasgow, the new Kingsway Cinema opened on 8 May 1929.[32] It was built for and operated by the independent Kingsway Cinema Ltd. which was owned by a conglomerate of shareholders, among them were James Welsh and George Smith. James Welsh was also named the Cinema Director and George Smith the Manager of the newly formed Kingsway Cinema Ltd. The cinema was designed by noted architect James McKissack in what was described as a Spanish-American style. Inside the auditorium, seating was provided in stalls and circle levels.[33]

This was to be Welsh-Smith’s fourth cinema and the first in south Glasgow.[34] However, on 7 January 1950 it was sold to George Singleton Cinemas Ltd. chain and was re-named the Vogue cinema, a name Singleton gave to all the cinemas in Glasgow that were operated by Singleton’s Circuit.

After building the Kingsway cinema, the architect James McKissack (also responsible for the La Scala) built two more cinemas for Welsh and Smith. The first one was the Mecca Picture House in Balmore Road, Possil built in 1933, to an imposing design by McKissack, to serve the new Corporation housing estate. It was opened in August 1933 and originally seated 1,620, (1,140 in the stalls and 430 in the balcony and served the older tenement area of Possilpark.[35]

The second cinema was one of the most important cinemas built by McKissack. This was the Riddrie Cinema which stands at 726 Cumbernauld Road, Riddrie. Perhaps, at this point, it is worth noting that the former Riddrie (later to become Riddrie-Vogue) cinema is one of the best preserved 1930s suburban super-cinemas in Scotland. [36] It was listed Category B by Historic Scotland in 2008. This was one of McKissack’s best designs and it seems no expense was spared by Smith and Welsh in its construction. On 7 January 1950, the same date as the Kingsway Cinema was sold to Singleton Circuit, the Riddrie was also sold to the Singleton’s and as before was renamed the Vogue (the Singletons also owned the McKissack-designed Cosmo – now the GFT (Glasgow Film Theatre) – and numerous other cinemas in the West of Scotland).[37] The Riddrie-Vogue remained a cinema until April 1968, when it went over to full time bingo.[38] It must be noted here that combining the two roles of a busy councillor and manager of two cinemas was very time consuming for our donor and it was no surprise that in 1940 Mrs Helen Welsh was appointed Manageress of the Mecca Cinema in Possilpark. Mrs Helen Welsh was a very capable and popular manageress who took to her new role with consummate ease. She dealt firmly but fairly with staff, had a good head for figures and mixed easily with the customers.

She had to make the complicated journey between Kelvindale and Possilpark and back every day the cinema was open. She had to carry the evening’s takings home with her each evening and one night in October 1942, she was the victim of a hold-up in Kelvindale Road. Three men were later arrested and a report of the Sheriff Court case appeared in the News of the World later that year. All three admitted assaulting Mrs Helen Welsh, wife of Mr James Welsh, a Glasgow Town Councillor, and threatening to shoot her. They also admitted assaulting the woman driver of Mrs Welsh’s car, and robbing Mrs Welsh of a handbag containing £96.[39]

The contribution made by our donor, James Welsh, to the world of cinema in Glasgow has been extremely impressive. Without a doubt, James Welsh’s and his colleague George Smith’s names will be among the pioneers of the cinema in this country.

The Final Years

On 2 September 1943, James Welsh was elected Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow.[40] He was the nominee of the Socialist Party. He remained Lord Provost until 5 November 1945 when he demitted his office at midnight of that day. However, The Glasgow Herald of 5 October 1945 reported this news, as well as the all the retiring councillors before the imminent council elections, on 6 November 1945.[41]

His wife, Helen, worked all her life and was always there supporting her husband, especially as the wife of the civic head of the City of Glasgow.  In later life, it was an easy transition for her to undertake the supervision of one of the cinemas in which her husband was interested. In the management, especially of the Mecca picture house, she found work agreeable. Mrs Welsh was remembered by the cinema goers as a well-dressed petite lady who wore a different hat every night.[42] Nell Greig Welsh died on 28 February 1945.[43]

Unfortunately, she died too early for her to see her husband receiving his L.LD from Glasgow University on 26 October 1945. The event was reported on page 4 of the Glasgow Herald of Monday, 28 October 1945.[44]

Our donor had long been interested in the Scottish Orchestra. He had also been especially concerned with the promotion of the cultural side of the civic activities, such as the development of music, open air theatres and the Glasgow Art Gallery as he had been the Convener of the Art Galleries. Therefore, almost a year later our donor was again honoured in October 1946 when he was appointed a Member of the Arts Council of Great Britain.[45]

In the announcement of Deaths column of the Glasgow Herald of 17 December 1969, a small notice had appeared announcing that James Welsh died on 16 December 1969 and would be cremated in Linn Crematorium on 19 December 1969.[46] On page 8 of the same newspaper[47] under the columns entitled Death of Lord Provost of Glasgow, an obituary is printed where a summary of his life and achievements are listed and the following sentence was also included:

He combined his work with assiduous attendance at evening classes, studious reading of history, economics and widening his acquaintance with the world of art which his natural taste for music was already a passport.

Acknowledgement

I should like to acknowledge and thank Mr David Welsh for his help and time in providing me with a wider perspective of the life of our donor, Dr James Welsh, his grandfather in producing this blog. He very generously gave me a copy of his Grandfather’s unpublished biography ‘Just call me Jimmy’ A portrait of my grandfather, Dr James Welsh that he had meticulously and engagingly researched.

References

[1] City of Glasgow Corporation Minutes 1946-1947, Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

[2] http://www.artbiogs.co.uk/1/artists/ancill-joseph.

[3] Private Correspondence with Mr David Welsh and his unpublished biography  of our donor “Just call me Jimmy” A portrait of my grandfather, Dr James Welsh.

[4] ibid.

[5] 1841 Scottish census.

[6] Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[7] ibid.

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

[10] ibid.

[11] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/scottishhistory/victorian/trails_victorian_glasgow.shtml

[12] Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[13] ibid.

[14] ibid.

[15] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_On_The_Green

[16 Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[17] ibid.

[18] Obituary of Mrs Helen Welsh The Glasgow Herald – Mar 1, 1945 p6.

[19] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Millicent_Fawcett

[20] ibid.

[21] https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=GGgVawPscysC&dat=19131105&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

[22] Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[23] ibid.

[24] The Glasgow Herald – Oct 5, 1945 p.6.

[25] Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[26] Honeyman, T J, Art and Audacity. Collins, 1971

[27] R.Marks et al, The Burrell Collection with an Introduction by John Julius Norwich. Collins, 1983

[28] Honeyman, T J. 87,135,171,223,229

[29] Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[30] ibid.

[31] http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/50797

[32]http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/23293

[33] ibid.

[34] Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[35] http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/glasgow/mecca_possil.html

[36] http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/glasgow/riddrie/

[37] http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/23293%20

[38] http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/glasgow/mecca_possil.html

[39] Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[40] The Glasgow Herald – Sep 3, 1943 p.4

[41] The Glasgow Herald – Oct 5, 1945  p.6.

[42] Priv. Corresp. Op.cit.

[43]Obituary op.cit.

[44] The Glasgow Herald – Oct 28, 1945 p.4.

[45] The Glasgow Herald – Oct 26, 1946 p.6.

[46] The Glasgow Herald – Dec 17, 1969  p.8

[47]  ibid.

Allan McLean (1851 – 1928)

In the minutes[1] of the Corporation of Glasgow from November 1927 – April 1928  the following note concerning our donor Allan McLean was included. There was submitted a letter of date 6th ultimo, from Messers, R& J M Hill Brown & Co. Intimating on behalf of the trustees and executors of their late partner Mr Allan McLean that the deceased had by his testamentary writings made a bequest for the Corp. of the following pictures & Bronzes, which was agreed to accept upon the terms and conditions in the deceased’s settlement, viz.:

The person that the letter was about was our donor Mr Allan McLean and the donations that he made to Kelvingrove Gallery. Three of these paintings from his bequest are:

1) The Wood Nymph (oil) by William Stott of Oldham;

2) The Hudson River (oil) and 3) St. Ives, Cornwall  (oil) both by T.Millie Dow.

These are shown below.

Stott, William, 1857-1900; The Nymph
Figure 1. The Wood Nymph. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org)

 

Dow, Thomas Millie, 1848-1919; The Hudson River
Figure 2. The Hudson River. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org)

 

Dow, Thomas Millie, 1848-1919; St Ives, Cornwall
Figure 3. St Ives, Cornwall. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org).

Our donor’s Life 

Allan McLean was born in 1851[2] and his parents were Mr Allan McLean, a property owner and slater and his mother Margaret McLean, nee Finlayson. He was a Lawyer by profession. In 1884, he married Miss Mary Millie Dow[3] , who also came from a family of lawyers. Mary was the sister of Thomas Millie Dow.

Allan McLean had bequeathed to the Kelvingrove Gallery a very interesting and valuable collection of art effects on his death. Although he was always interested in art, after his marriage to Mary Millie Dow and finding himself in the company of artists thorough his brother-in-law and his artist friends made him much more interested in art. Therefore, it is important to mention something about Thomas Millie Dow and his artistic life at this juncture, as someone who may have influenced Allan McLean.

Thomas Millie Dow was born 28 October 1848 at Dysart, Fife, a son of the town clerk and destined to a career in law, which he studied in Edinburgh and was expected to follow his father and brother into the family law firm in Kirkcaldy. But he did not complete his apprenticeship and deciding against a career in law, Dow left Scotland and went to Paris in 1877 and enrolled for classes at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts under Jean-Léon Gérôme. Later, in 1879 he registered with the ateliers of Rudolphe Julien and Carolus Duran. Of his earlier instruction in painting and drawing little is known except for the encouragement he received from his uncle Alexander Millie who was an amateur artist[4]. 

Two young men among the many British and American students registered for classes in Paris in the late 1870s became Dow’s particular friends. They were the Englishman William Stott of Oldham and the American Abbott Handerson Thayer. Both men were to remain important figures in Dow’s personal and professional life and, as both had strong personalities and strong ideas about art, they came to exert a considerable influence over the artistic choices he made. Among other friends studying in Paris at the time were the Glasgow-based artists John Lavery, Alexander Roche, James Paterson and Alexander Mann[5]. Thomas Millie Dow was later to be known as one of the Glasgow Boys. But he was not a Glaswegian just like Lavery and some others.

Our donor Allan McLean and his wife Mary Millie(Dow) McLean lived at:   2 Lorraine Gardens, Glasgow with 2 servants (cook and housemaid)[6]. He was a solicitor and partner with the Glasgow law firm R&JM Hill Brown & Co. and stayed with the firm until his death in 1928[7].

From his youth he had an interest in art. His marriage to Mary Millie Dow, who was a member of the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts[8] and a sister of the artist Thomas Millie Dow (one of the Glasgow Boys), introduced him to artistic circles. He was also a friend of the artist William York MacGregor[9] (also a Glasgow Boy).

Together with his wife, Allan McLean paid regular visits to the Continent and visited the principal galleries and exhibitions. During his life, he gathered a considerable collection of pictures and books on the history of art[10]. From the year 1896 until his death, Allan McLean acted as secretary of the Incorporated Old Man’s Friend Society and Old Women’s Home, and devoted a great deal of time and attention to the affairs of the Institution[11].

For some time before her death, Mrs McLean was in bad health and her husband took care of her during her illness abandoning most of his outside interests. Her death ended a very happy marriage[12]. 

The following information, which was found in relevant documents, relates to milestones in Allan McLean’s career and they are displayed below in chronological order:

From the Scottish Law List (directory of law agents) [13]

  • He was apprenticed on 1st December 1872, at the age of 21, and started on a monthly wage of £6.
  • He was described as affable, charming and meticulous. He drafted documents “very carefully” and in what could be considered longwinded by today’s standards.
  • In 1880 he was assumed partner.
  • In 1881 (firm R & JM Hill Brown & Co) where he was listed as having qualified lawyer in 1874.
  • Last entry 1928 (firm still listed as R & JM Hill Brown & Co).
  • Admitted as a member of the Faculty of Procurators 18th November 1887 and he was a member until his death on 30th January 1928.

The following were found in the Faculty of Procurators Council Minutes[14].

  • Served on the Library Committee 1905-1909.
  • Appointed as a member of the Glasgow Register of Public Streets Committee 1907.
  • Elected as a Council member 9th June 1910 (served on the Council until 5th June 1913).
  • Appointed as a Trustee to the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow Infirmary Trust 7th December 1916.
  • In 1896 he became the Honorary Secretary to the Incorporated Glasgow Old Men’s Friendly Society and Old Woman’s Home.

Between 1885-87, Thomas Millie Dow (Mary Millie Dow’s brother) stayed with the McLeans. Mary is thought to be the model for Lady in Black (by Thomas Millie Dow) which is in a private collection. At that time Thomas shared a studio with William York McGregor[15].

Allan McLean died at home at 2 Lorraine Gardens on 30th January 1928. He had no children[16,17]. 

Acknowledgements

The author would like to express her thanks to John McKenzie, Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow for his help.

References:

[1] Corp. of Glasgow from November 1927 – April 1928. Vol. C1/3/28, Page 987 (parks). 2nd March 1928, 1927-1926, Vol.11, Mitchell Library Archives.

[2] 1901 Census; Scotlands People Archives:

https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[3] ibid. Marriage Certificate Scotlands People Archives1884.

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Millie_Dow

[5] ibid.

[6] op.cit. 1901 Census.

[7] Archives of Glasgow Herald of 1st February 1928; Death Notice p.1; Obituary p.13.

[8] Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts Records, Mitchell Library Archives.

[9] op.cit.  Wikipedia-Thomas_Millie_Dow.

[10] op.cit. Archives of Glasgow Herald.

[11] ibid.

[12] Death Cert. Mary Millie Dow in1926; Scotlands People Archives.

[13] Private correspondence John McKenzie, Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow.

[14] ibid.

[15] op.cit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Millie_Dow

[16] op.cit. Archives of Glasgow Herald.

[17] The death certificate of Mr. Allan McLean, Scotlands People Archives, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marc A Béra (1914-1990)

Introduction

On 30th June 1948, M Marc A. Béra of the Institut Français d’Ecosse, 13 Randolph Crescent Edinburgh presented Kelvingrove Gallery with an oil painting named Apres la Guerre painted by Lucien Simon[1]. The name of the painting has since been translated into English as After the War and it is now known by this name in The Oil Paintings in Public Ownership series of catalogues and also in ART UK©.

The painting is shown below in Fig.1.

After the War painted by Lucien Simon (1861-1945)

Simon, Lucien, 1861-1945; After the War
Fig. 1 Simon, Lucien; After the War; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. http://www.artuk.org/artworks/after-the-war-86073

The office of Institut Français d’Ecosse [2] in Edinburgh was contacted and I learned that our donor Marc A. Béra had been its First Director in 1946. A further search on the Internet revealed an article in the Scotsman of 22nd June 2002 which gave the address of the French Institute in Edinburgh. [3] An extract from that article is printed below:

HEROES of the ‘French resistance are to reunite in Edinburgh tomorrow to mark the anniversary of a safe house opened by their country’s most famous Second World War general, Charles de Gaulle. The building in Regent Terrace, now home to the French Consul General, was opened by General de Gaulle in 1942 as a place for members of the Free French movement to recuperate between missions. After the war, the French government declared that the house was to be the permanent residence of its representative in Scotland. During the conflict, the building was particularly popular with members of the French naval forces, and tomorrow senior members of the French Admiralty will join resistance heroes at a special anniversary celebration organised by the Consul General of France for Scotland, Michel Roche.

There has always been a strong link between France and Scotland. War time was very difficult and it was vital at that time to stress the importance of historical links, because the Free French had to impose their existence on the world’s attention. We had long-term links with the Scots, but it is easy to forget about such connections when things are going well. But it is in difficult times of war that the strength of these connections is really tested.
said Mr Roche.

Marc André Béra (1914-1990)

Marc A Béra was born in Paris in 1914 and studied and graduated from the prestigious l’Ecole normale supérieure in Paris in 1935. He became the first Director of the Institut Français d’Ecosse in Edinburgh [4] when it opened in November 1946. He married the celebrated pianist Nadia Tagrine (1917-2003), whom he had met when she was touring in Scotland in 1947. They had two children. Their son, Michel Béra had become a mathematician and their daughter, Nathalie Béra-Tagrine, a pianist, who was as equally celebrated as her mother and often performed with her.

He stayed in Edinburgh until 1952. From 1953 to 1957, he was appointed Director of the Centre Culturel de Royaumont which was an Abbey in France built in the thirteenth century. It was partly destroyed during the French Revolution and had gone through several transformations. During the First World War, the family who owned the site made it available to the Scottish Women’s Hospital, which cared for more than 10,000 wounded soldiers between 1915 and 1919. Later, in the 1950s, it became a cultural centre.

Under our donor’s directorship, Royaumont established music, literature and philosophy firmly at the heart of the Abbey. This was exactly as Henry Goüin, who was the owner of the Royaumont estate had wished as he once remarked ‘a meeting place where attention is focused entirely on the mind and the intellect’. [5]

Our donor was an extraordinary man of his time. He made a colossal number of contributions during his life and most of them related to British scientists, authors and philosophers. In 1990 Marc A Béra was listed as Maître de Conférences at the l’Ecole polytechnique and l’Ecole des Sciences politiques de Paris – an important position in these two very prestigious institutions.

It is important to mention here that, apart from the contributions he made in the fields of literature, music, general art and science while he was living in France and Scotland, he also became a specialist in the works of two very important British scientists of the twentieth century.  They were Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) and James Gerald Crowther (1899–1983). Alfred North Whitehead was a British mathematician and a philosopher known for his work in mathematical logic and the philosophy of science. [6] His most notable work in these fields is the three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910–13), which he wrote with his former student Bertrand Russell.

On the other hand, J.G. Crowther was Britain’s very first official science correspondent. [7] During World War II, as Director of Science for the British Council, he furthered international links between scientists, which he thought could be a model for peace and cooperation between nations.

Royaumont Abbey

As mentioned earlier Royaumont Abbey played an important part in the life of our donor Marc A Bera. Therefore, it is appropriate to give some more information about it. Scotland has a strong connection with the Royaumont Abbey [8] which was built between the years 1228-1235 for the Cistercian order of monks, which was dissolved during the French Revolution in 1789. From 1914-1918 the Abbey was turned into a hospital. The Abbey was owned by the Goüin family from 1905 and when the war started, they made the site available to the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH).  The SWH was founded by Dr Elsie Maud Inglis [9] (1864-1917) who was a remarkable person in her own right [10]. She was born in India to British parents and was educated privately. She was then enrolled in Dr Sophia Jex-Blake’s newly opened Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women and completed her training under Sir William Macewen at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. She qualified as a licentiate of both the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Edinburgh, and the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1892 – a remarkable achievement for women in those times.

A little anecdote relating to Dr Inglis’s life is as follows. During World War I, Dr Elsie Maud Inglis approached the Royal Army Medical Corps to offer them a ready-made Medical Unit staffed by qualified women. However, the War Office told her ‘go home and sit still’ [11]. It was, instead, the French government that took up her offer and the first hospital was based at the Abbey of Royaumont which worked under the direction of the French Red Cross.

In 1918, the Helensburgh born Scottish artist Norah Neilson Gray [12], went to Royaumont and served as a voluntary aid detachment nurse at one of the ten hospitals run by the SWH. She was also doing some paintings in her spare time. It should be mentioned here that she was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to record the staff and the patients at the hospital in her paintings for their collection.

 

Gray, Norah Neilson, 1882-1931; A Belgian Refugee
Fig. 2  Gray, Norah Neilson; A Belgian Refugee; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. http://www.artuk.org/artworks/a-belgian-refugee-84289

Norah Neilson Gray, who was also one of the painters known as the Glasgow Girls, [5] painted very interesting works during the war. As early as 1916, she had painted a sensitive portrait of a Belgian Refugee (see Fig 2. Above) who had come to live in Glasgow when his country was invaded by the Germans. The painting of the Refugee shown above won the Bronze Medal in Paris 1921. Another one of the paintings she made Hôpital Auxillaire d’Armee 301-_Abbaye de Royaumont is often displayed in the Helensburgh library and it is depicted below in Fig3.

Gray, Norah Neilson, 1882-1931; Hopital Auxiliaire d'Armee 301 - Abbaye de Royaumont
Fig.3  Gray, Norah Neilson; Hopital Auxiliaire d’Armee 301 – Abbaye de Royaumont; Argyll and Bute Council; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/hopital-auxiliaire-darmee-301-abbaye-de-royaumont-163952

The other painting that Nora Neilson Gray made in Royaumont is called The Scottish Women’s Hospital and it is in the Imperial War Museum [14].

Conclusions

Our donor, Marc André Béra was a great specialist of Britain (he was agrégé d’anglais).[15] He was a shining example of a French intellectual and was a very competent person in many areas of literature, science and art to mention just three areas of human endeavour. He had made translations from the English Language to French of many plays by Shakespeare as well as works of many scientific articles and books. He also translated works of other scientists (i.e. by J. G. Crowther) and in addition to these, he wrote many books about various subjects himself.

A list of most widely held works by Marc André Béra is given in Reference [16] where his contributions at various dates in his life are listed.

Marc André Béra and his wife Nadia remained married for nearly 40 years until Marc André Béra died on 31st March 1990.

Acknowledgements

I should like to thank my colleague Caroline Steel and her husband James Steel for putting me in touch with their friend Prof. John Renwick of Edinburgh University to whom I am indebted for his invaluable help.

References

[1] Record of donor’s gift to Kelvingrove Gallery.

[2] Institut Français d’Ecosse 13 Randolph Crescent Edinburgh. (Please note the new address of Institut Français d’Ecosse is West Parliament Square, Edinburgh, EH1 1RF.

[3] https://www.scotsman.com/news/french-salute-to-city-safe-house-1-844615

[4] Private correspondence with Senior Honorary Professorial Fellow Prof. John Renwick,  MA (Oxon), MA (Cantab), PhD (Glasgow), DLitt (Glasgow) FRHistS, FRSE, University of Edinburgh.

[5] Royaumont estate https://www.royaumont.com/en

[6] Alfred North Whitehead https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/whitehead/

[7] JG Crowther https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/d56f811d-2417-38ea-9486-f230c94f4653

[8] Op.cit. Royaumont estate

[9] Maud Inglis https://www.ed.ac.uk/about/people/plaques/inglis

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Noble, Stuart (Ed.) 200 years of Helensburgh. Argyll Publishing,  pp.166-67

[13] BurkHauser, Jude (Ed.) Glasgow  Girls. Cannongate, 1990

[14] Op.cit. “200 Years of Helensburgh”

[15] Op.cit. Private correspondence.

[16] WorldCat Identities http://worldcat.org/identities/lccn-no00104229/.

 

 

Mr. Charles Carlton (1855 – 1933)

Charles Carlton

Fig.1 Mr Charles Carlton

In the minutes of the Corporation of Glasgow on  28th March 1924, ex-Bailie Mr Charles Carlton (see Fig. 1) had offered to present to the Corporation an oil painting entitled The Old Boating Station (1880) on the South Bank of the River Clyde, opposite Glasgow Green, by John MacNiven (1819-1895)RSW (as shown below in Fig.2). This painting is now called The Glasgow Regatta, The Closing Stages.

 

MacNiven, John, 1819-1895; Glasgow Regatta, the Closing Stages
Fig. 2  MacNiven, John; Glasgow Regatta, the Closing Stages; © Glasgow Museums; http://www.artuk.org

Our donor, Mr. Charles Carlton came from a large Glasgow family. His father, also Charles Carlton, was a Master Painter with his own Painter Decorator Company employing 25 men and 7 boys [1]. In the 1871 Census, it is recorded that the family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Carlton and 7 children, including our donor who was 16 at that time. They all lived at 72 Bath Street, Glasgow. The Family also had a servant living with them.

After leaving school, our donor was trained as an apprentice clerk [2]. At that time his father was in partnership in a Glasgow painting and decorating firm which was headed by Hugh Locke Anderson (c. 1818–1888) for 43 years. On 5th February 1883 it was reported in the Glasgow Herald [3] that the partnership of M.L. Anderson and Charles Carlton, House Painters and Decorators located at 141 St Vincent Street Glasgow, was dissolved [4]. It was then our donor came into his father’s new firm, now named Charles Carlton & Son, Painters and Decorators [5]. Our donor’s father had started his own firm of Painter, Decorator and Gilders in the1840s [6] and his son took over as sole principal in 1886.

In 1886 Charles Carlton was now a married man, after marrying on 23rd April 1885 Miss Jessie McLean, daughter of William McLean, a carting contractor, and his wife Janet McLean, as well as being the sole proprietor of a well-known painter and decorator firm. They celebrated their marriage at the Grand Hotel in Glasgow after which they moved to 2 Athol Gardens, Kelvinside, Glasgow [7].

One of the first big contracts after becoming the sole principal of the firm Charles Carlton & Son, was the contract for painting the dome and main avenue of the 1888 [8] International Exhibition building. Another big contract came soon after for decorating the Industrial Hall for the 1901 International Exhibition in Glasgow [9].  Other commissions included the redecoration of Ardrossan Parish Church and work on the Municipal Chambers, the Mitchell Library and the City Hall [10].  Furthermore, it may be mentioned that Messrs Charles Carlton & Son were also responsible for decorative painting of the principal hotels and numerous halls, churches and mansions throughout the country [11].

In 1911 Charles Carlton was elected to Glasgow Corporation as a Council member for the Blythswood Ward, and served as convenor of the Committee on Art Galleries and Museums. He was also a member of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts.  He traveled widely on the continent, partially in connection with his work and he showed a keen interest in societies connected with his business. He was a Fellow of the Incorporated Institute of British Decorators, a former president and member of the Council of the Master Painters of Scotland, a member of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, and a director of the Glasgow Master Painters Association. He was Vice-President of the architectural section of the Glasgow Philosophical Society and acted as chairman of the Art Union in Glasgow. He was a member of the Conservative Club and also the Royal Clyde Yacht Club. Furthermore, he was on the Municipal Buildings Committee and the Parks Committee, where he did sterling work. His most prominent endeavour was for the preservation of the Tollbooth in Glasgow.  It was while he was convenor of the Parks Committee that the Lynn Estate at Catcarth was acquired for Glasgow. As convenor of the Committee on Art Galleries and Museums he was instrumental in carrying through improvements at the southern front of the Kelvingrove Art Galleries [12].

According to the archives of the Glasgow Art Club [13] Charles Carlton was admitted as a lay member in 1886 and was elected Vice-President in 1916 and 1917. He was one of the first people admitted when the Club opened up for lay members. Prior to November 1886, only “artists” could obtain membership by being elected [14].

Furthermore, he was one of those people who, in 1891, appended their names to a list requesting that the Corporation of Glasgow buy Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black No2, a portrait of Thomas Carlyle [15] who was a Scottish philosopher, writer, historian, mathematician and teacher. The Corporation had agreed that the painting be bought and it hangs now in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

The picture depicts a boat race with the winner at the closing stages. You can almost hear the crowds of people who have gathered on the banks of the Clyde cheering the winners. Judging by the size of the crowd in the picture, it is clear that the boat races were in those days extremely popular.

When you look at the painting  above, it tells the story of the Clyde and the people who used it. The artist John MacNiven (1819-1895) was employed by the town council. His favourite subject was The Clyde and the busy traffic on it. The people travelled to their places of work on the Clyde using Clutha ferries [16]. The Clyde Navigation Trust introduced the first ferries in 1884 to provide passenger services along the river. There were twelve ferries, operating by 1898, collectively known as Cluthas, stopping at ten landing stages between the city centre and Whiteinch. The service was withdrawn in 1903 because it could not compete with cheap and efficient tramway and railway services along the riverside.

Apart from commuting on the Clyde, the Glaswegians, in their free time, gathered in the rowing clubs scattered along the riverside. Rowing was a popular sport among the young. It is important to note that there was a very strong link with the rowing clubs on the Clyde and the birth of football. One of these clubs was the Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club and the early members of the club are credited with involvement in the formation of Glasgow Rangers Football Club. J Allan in his book The Story of the Rangers: Fifty Years’ Football 1873-1923 mentions that in the club minutes of the time, there are bitter complaints of the amount of football being played by members of Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club to the detriment of their rowing [17]. Rangers Football Club acknowledges its rowing roots on a mural in Ibrox. In 1872 the nucleus of what was to become Rangers FC played their first match on the Flesher’s Haugh in “The Green”.

Allan further writes: “In the summer evenings of 1873 a number of lusty, laughing lads, flushed and happy from the exhilaration of a finishing dash with the oars, could be seen hauling their craft ashore on the upper reaches of the river Clyde at the Glasgow Green. As keen then was their enthusiasm for the sport of rowing as it became in later years for the game of football; for these lads were the founders of the Rangers Football Club.”

Epilogue

Mr Charles Carlton was the representative for the Blythswood Ward from 1911 until 1920 when he was defeated at the polls. When he retired he went to Boscombe in Wiltshire, England where he lived at Stresa, Chessel Avenue until his death on 28th December 1933 [18].

In the ‘Wills and Bequests’ column in The Times of Tuesday 8th May 1934 [19], the following was reported:

Mr Charles Carlton of Boscombe, late Glasgow, died on 28th December 1933 and he had an estate of £73,577. He is survived by his wife Jessie Carlton. His nephew was Dr W. H. McLean, M.P. for the Tradeston Division of Glasgow.

Acknowledgements

I should like to thank the project leaders, information officers and the liaison officers of the institution, business and club, as well as all the librarians and information officers for their help and kind permission for letting me use information for the production of the above blog.

Creators of Mackintosh Architecture, the first authoritative survey of the architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (https://www.mackintosh-architecture.gla.ac.uk/)

Rogano Glasgow ( https://www.roganoglasgow.com/)

Rangers Football Club (www.rangers.co.uk)

Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

References:

[1] 1871 Census

[2] ibid.

[3] Glasgow Herald Archives Feb. 5. 1883, p.1

[4]  Post Office Annual Glasgow Directory 1887-1887. P. 188

[5]  Mackintosh Architecture, Context, Making and Meaning.

https://www.mackintosh-architecture.gla.ac.uk/catalogue/name/?nid=AndHLCo

[6] The Man You Know, The Bailie, pp.3-4, No 2303, Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

[7] Marriage Certificate (1885), and 1911 Scotlad Census, both obtained from Scotlands People.

[8] Glasgow Herald, 28 January 1888, p. 3.

[9] Glasgow Herald, 18 December 1900, p. 4.

[10]  Glasgow Herald, 27 August 1884, p. 7.

[11] Op.cit. The Man You Know

[12]  https://www.mackintosh-architecture.gla.ac.uk/catalogue/name/?nid=CarlSon

[13] GAC:  https://glasgowartclub.co.uk/

List of Members from Nov. 1886  to Dec. 1933. Glasgow Art Club Archives, Glasgow.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Whistler’s painting: https://www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk/correspondence/people/display/?rs=1&nameid=Fult_D&sr=0&initial=F

[16] Wikipedia:  Clutha Ferries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clutha_ferry

[17] Allan, J. The Story of the Rangers: Fifty Years’ Football 1873-1923. Rangers Football Club, 1924.

[18] Obituary column of Glasgow Herald, 29 December 1933, p. 1

[19] ‘Wills and Bequests’ column of page 21 of The Times of Tuesday 8th May 1934.