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.