Report on the Summer Outing: Saturday 2nd June 2018

On Saturday 2nd June at 1.00 pm, 33 members and guests of the Society began the journey, by coach, to the Royal Burgh of Dunfermline, travelling en route along the M9 past the Kelpies and over the Queensferry Crossing into the Kingdom of Fife. The first stop was at the Carnegie Library and Galleries which was recognised in 2017 with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award. We were welcomed, provided with maps and invited to find our way around this new facility and encouraged to spot some of the special highlights among the display of historic rare objects including a time line of 700 years of Scotland's Kings and Queens, the Meldrum Loom, the Dunfermline Gala Day painting and a cast of King Robert the Bruce’s skull.

With the weather remaining good, it was easy to appreciate from the top floors of the building the associated beautiful gardens, the sculptures of Tam O' Shanter and Souter Johnny and the magnificent views of the Abbey Church, all of which form part of Dunfermline's Heritage Quarter within easy walking distance of the Carnegie Library and Galleries. The Abbey Church was a particular attraction in part because of its royal associations but also because one's eyes were quickly drawn to the top of its tower by the large lettering of King Robert the Bruce. Time was spent inside the Abbey Church with helpful guides admiring the Tomb of King Robert, the carved pulpit and lectern, the Royal Pew and the beautiful stained glass windows. Thereafter, a short walk took one to the site of the Palace and the Pittencreiff Park but unfortunately time was limited and it was not possible to explore them fully before the group was required to walk the short distance to the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, the second principal stop of the day.

The Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Dunfermline.
(© I.S.Ruddock)
At the Museum we were welcomed by the curator and divided into groups to facilitate visits to the home and the associated museum. We learned that the Carnegie story (1835-1919) began in mid-19th century Dunfermline where his father was a handloom weaver of linen in the family home that comprised a single room with box beds on one side and cooking on an open fire. Times were hard and so the family decided to emigrate to North America where Andrew Carnegie (AC) started out as a bobbin boy and later a telegraph operator. Thereafter, with 'inside knowledge of the market' and financial help from his mother, the entrepreneurial skills of AC rapidly developed with involvement in railways, transport and communications. He then amassed a fortune in the steel industry and in the early 1900s sold the Pittsburgh Carnegie Steel Company for $480M becoming the richest American for the next few years. AC then devoted the remainder of his life to large scale philanthropy with particular emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. He was sometimes referred to as the Scottish-American millionaire socialist.

The curator (right) describing what can be seen in the main part of
the Carnegie Birthplace Museum. (© I.S.Ruddock)
A great afternoon was completed with dinner at the Elgin Hotel, Charlestown. Fife with magnificent views overlooking the Firth of Forth and its bridges. Apparently the hotel has links to Thomas Bruce (1766-1841), 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine, nobleman, politician and diplomat known primarily for the removal of marble sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens, some small replicas of which could be seen in the hotel. Dinner was followed by the journey back to Kirkintilloch past Longannet power station and over the Kincardine Bridge. Votes of thanks were given after a most successful half day’s outing to some of Scotland's historic heritage.

Members having dinner in the Elgin Hotel. (© I.S.Ruddock)

Members about to re-board the coach after dinner. (© I.S.Ruddock)
David Graham

Presentation to The Park Centre: Thursday 12th April 2018

In 2017, the membership of the Society approved a proposal by the committee to make a donation to a deserving local charity or cause. The Park Centre's proposed purchase of a defibrillator was the overwhelming choice of the membership as it was perceived to be an asset to the community of users of the premises. 

The presentation was made to Mr David Clark of The Park Centre's Board of Directors at the Society's well attended Annual General Meeting on Thursday 12th April, 2018. In receiving the donation, Mr Clark thanked the Society but also pointed out that he hoped that it would be a long time before the defibrillator ever needs to be used! 

Dr Ivan Ruddock, the Society's President, presents a cheque to Mr David
Clark (right), a member of The Park Centre's Board of Directors, as a
contribution to the cost of its defibrillator. (© I.S.Ruddock)

Annual General Meeting: Thursday 12th April 2018

This session's Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday 12th April 2018 at 7.30 pm. It is the opportunity for all members to have their say in the running of the Society. Its activities since the last AGM will be reviewed, the accounts will be presented for approval and the membership of the committee - for which nominations are sought for the current vacancies - will be reviewed.

During the course of the evening, the Society also hopes to present its contribution to the cost of The Park Centre's defibrillator to a representative of the charity. And as this is the last meeting in the 2017-18 programme, it is also a convenient opportunity for making any outstanding payments for this year's Summer Outing to Dunfermline.

The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Cottage and Museum (behind),
Dunfermline. (© I.S.Ruddock)
All evening meetings of the Society are at 7.30 pm in the Park Centre, 45 Kerr Street, Kirkintilloch, G66 1LF.

UPDATE: Prof. Gerard Carruthers: Editing Robert Burns for the 21st century: Thursday 1st March 2018

Due to the heavy snow caused by the "Beast from the East", the Society's  meeting on Thursday 1st March has been CANCELLED. However, the Society is pleased to announce that the talk by Prof. Gerard Carruthers is only being POSTPONED by one week and will now be delivered on THURSDAY 9th MARCH - weather permitting - in The Park Centre at the usual time of 7.30 pm.

Phone boxes, pillar boxes and others - the Lion Foundry's contribution to the visual world: Auld Kirk Museum, Barony Chambers, 2.00 pm Wednesday 7th March 2018

Each year the Society hosts an event in the programme of East Dunbartonshire's Local History Week. In 2018 it will be "Phone boxes, pillar boxes and others: the Lion Foundry's contribution to the visual world". It will be presented in The Barony Chambers at Kirkintilloch's Auld Kirk Museum on Wednesday 7th March at 2.00 pm. The presentation will aim to show the impact that the Lion Foundry has had on streetscapes in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The full Local History Week  programme can be downloaded here.

Lion Foundry products in Kirkintilloch's Peel Park. (© I.S.Ruddock)

Prof. Gerard Carruthers: Editing Robert Burns for the 21st century: Thursday 1st March 2018

Professor Gerard Carruthers holds the Francis Hutcheson Chair of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. He is an authority on Scottish literature of the 17th-20th centuries, on which he has published many books, articles and essays. A major activity at the present time is as General Editor of the Oxford University Press multi-volume edition of the Works of Robert Burns. He has many other academic interests. In East Dunbartonshire he is well known for his research into the life of Thomas Muir of Huntershill, the prominent Scottish radical of the 1790s. He is also one of the instigators and leaders of a significant project The People's Voice, to study 'Scottish political poetry, song and the franchise, 1832-1918'.

Prof. Gerard Carruthers. (© Univ. of Glasgow)
Alexander Nasmyth's portrait of Robert Burn.
(National Galleries Scotland; photograph © I.S.Ruddock)

All evening meetings of the Society are at 7.30 pm in the Park Centre, 45 Kerr Street, Kirkintilloch, G66 1LF.