Al Fleming and Linda McIntosh: ‘The 1941 German air crash at Lennoxtown, 7th May 1941’: Thursday 7th December 2023

On 7th May 1941, a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju88 aircraft taking part in a large raid on Clydeside, was shot down by a Boulton Paul Defiant nightfighter of 141 Squadron operating from RAF Prestwick. The bomber crashed on Blairskaith Muir between Balmore and Lennoxtown with two of the four man crew being killed and subsequently buried in Lennoxtown's Campsie cemetery, The grave of one - Hauptmann Gerd Hansmann (observer) - can still be seen there, but his compatriot - Oberleutnant Werner Coenen (pilot) - was exhumed after the war and reburied in the German Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. The other two crewmen were taken prisoner and spent the remainder of the war in Canada, although one was hanged in 1946 for a murder committed in the PoW camp.

Hauptmann Gerd Hansmann and his wife Gisela.
(Public domain)

Al Fleming and Linda McIntosh, local historians and researchers, have unearthed and chronicled the events of that night. In this talk, they will unveil a story of tragedy, murder, and the chilling spectre of mass execution. Yet, amidst the shadows of war, their account illuminates a family's remarkable journey of discovery that traverses continents, leading to an unlikely alliance with Germany and an inspiring, unexpected and heart-warming friendship nearly sixty years later. 

The meeting will be held in the Park Centre, 45 Kerr Street, Kirkintilloch, G66 1LF at 7.30 pm. The annual membership subscription is £10 and visitors are welcome at all of the Society's evening events without charge as a 'taster'.

Visit to Fairfield Heritage, Tuesday 14th November 2023

On Tuesday 14th November 2023, 20 members of the Society were welcomed at the start of a two hour semi-guided tour of the museum which was opened in 2014 by Govan Workplace Ltd. This magnificent A-listed former office headquarters was built for the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd in 1891 and bought in 2009 from Clydeport for £5.8M. The preserved architecture, with its restored tiled floors, marble columns, wood panelling and lead glass windows, houses the many exhibits and displays that celebrate Govan’s ship building history. Over 800 ships were built in the yard’s 150+ years history, and shipbuilding at Fairfield continues today as BAE Systems.

Society members at the original entrance to
the Fairfield shipyard. (© R. Ruddock)

Two members of the Antiquaries listening to one of the
museum's volunteers (left). (© I.S. Ruddock)

From the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries the river Clyde in Glasgow was the centre of shipbuilding in the world, manufacturing some of the biggest and fastest vessels ever built. Engineer John Elder opened a small yard in Govan in 1860 before expanding the business to 70 acres four years later for it to become the world’s first integrated shipbuilding yard where boilers, engines and ships were built and assembled. The efficiency of the compound steam boiler at Fairfield meant that vessels needed less coal, could carry more passengers or cargo, and could travel faster and further than ever before.

On a rather wet and windy day of late autumn we were given insight into the conditions in which the former shipyard workers toiled to support their families and to the hazardous conditions in which they worked.

All in all, a great day’s outing to a museum where shipbuilding history was made.

David Graham

Bruce Keith: ‘Are we nearly there yet? – milestones in Scotland’: Thursday 2nd November 2023

'Are we nearly there yet?' is a celebration of Scottish milestones - not just distance markers and waymarkers, but much else asides. In his talk on Thursday 2nd November, Bruce Keith will discuss early means of measurement and maps, and the travellers of the 18th and 19th centuries whose journals laid the foundation of the Scottish tourist industry. He will also celebrate the 'Top 50 Scots', the sportsmen and women who have gone the extra mile in terms of speed and endurance to set new world records. So, something for everyone!

The cover of Bruce Keith's latest book - 'Are we nearly there yet?,
a celebration of Scotland's milestones. (© B. Keith)

Bruce Keith is a retired chartered surveyor and environmentalist, having started his career on several Perthshire and Aberdeenshire estates. Following 15 years in the Department of Agriculture in Edinburgh, Bruce migrated south of the border as Chief Surveyor with English Nature and then retired nine years ago as Head of Property at SSE (the Hydro Board). Since retirement, Bruce has combined his passion for Scottish history and geography with his interest in conserving our heritage, which has yielded three coffee table type books. 

The meeting will be held in the Park Centre, 45 Kerr Street, Kirkintilloch, G66 1LF at 7.30 pm. The annual membership subscription is £10 and visitors are welcome at all of the Society's evening events.

John Jackson: ‘For the benefit of all – Scotland’s first public lending library’: Thursday 5th October 2023

For the opening of this year’s programme, KDSA welcomes one of its members, John Jackson, who will speak on Innerpeffray Library. The library in rural Perthshire is the oldest public lending library in the UK, having first opened its door to borrowers in 1680. It is a remarkable historical survival from three and a half centuries ago, and remains a focus of interest for historians and academics, as well as a delight to tourists and interested visitors today. It is like nothing else – no longer a lending library, not quite a museum, but with a new life around education and community. We hear its story in this presentation.

The interior of Innerpeffray Library. (© M.Jackson)

John Jackson is a former physics teacher and retired Church of Scotland administrator. He last spoke to the Society in 2019 when he presented the history of Arran as recorded in some of his extensive collection of antiquarian books on the subject.

The meeting will be held in the Park Centre, 45 Kerr Street, Kirkintilloch, G66 1LF at 7.30 pm. The annual membership subscription is £10 and visitors are welcome at all of the Society's evening events.

UPDATE: Doors Open Day and Old Aisle Cemetery Walk, Saturday 9th September 2023

The Society's exhibition on significant personalities buried in Kirkintilloch's Old Aisle Cemetery opened on Saturday morning, 9th September. This was part of its contribution to East Dunbartonshire Doors Open Day and will be available for viewing until Saturday, 16th September.

The William Patrick Library with the Doors
Open Day banner. (© I.S.Ruddock)

Part of the Antiquaries exhibition in the William
Patrick Library. (© I.S.Ruddock)

In the afternoon of Doors Open Day, a guided walk was led by the Antiquaries around a selection of the graves featured in the exhibition, with the assistance of Alistair Strang, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission volunteer guide, who described the work of the Commission and gave brief biographies of some of the First and Second World War casualties buried in the cemetery. To finish off the tour, Kirkintilloch photographer and entrepreneur, Edward Z Smith, entertained the large group of participants by outlining the history of the 'Spider Bridge' which previously crossed the southern end of the Old Aisle Cemetery. This wrought iron bridge was part of a right of way from Waterside to Lenzie station, and was the result of the campaign by John Ferguson (also in the exhibition) in 1885, but was demolished in 1987 and not replaced.

The participants in the guided walk in the Old Aisle Cemetery
hearing about the history of the site and the belfry. (© I.S.Ruddock)

The group at the monument to Father James Bonnyman, the first Roman
Catholic priest appointed to Kirkintilloch for an extended period and who
was responsible for the building of St Ninian's. (© I.S.Ruddock)

Photographer Edward Z Smith, an enthusiast
for the much lamented 'Spider Bridge', giving
the story of its construction and demolition.
(© I.S.Ruddock)
Alistair Strang, representing the Commonwealth War
Graves Commission, describing its work and
the backgrounds of some of the casualties buried
in the Old Aisle Cemetery. (© I.S.Ruddock)

Doors Open Day and Old Aisle Cemetery Walk, 9th September 2023

This year's Doors Open Day in East Dunbartonshire is on Saturday 9th September 2023. The Society's contribution is an exhibition in the foyer of the William Patrick Library profiling significant personalities buried in the Old Aisle Cemetery, Kirkintilloch. In connection with the exhibition, which this year will be on view for the following week, a guided walk around a selection of these graves will start from the cemetery's belfry at the Old Aisle Road entrance at 2.00 pm. The full programme for 2023's Doors Open Day may be downloaded here with details of the Antiquaries exhibition and walk on pages 9 and 10.
The grave of Alexander Bain, telegraph engineer and inventor of the electric
clock, who died in 1877. He was posthumously awarded an 'Emmy' in 2016 for the
invention of line scan for image transmission and is now recognised as the 
'father of television'. (© I.S.Ruddock)